Africa Guide
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Guide to Africa

Safari Guiding with feeling

Written by Neil, a professional safari guide in South Africa

Safari Guiding
Safari Guiding

Just before first light - the time of unanswered hyena whoops - just before the francolins wake and as the first lion greets dawn with shattering voice my day begins. A waking realisation that my actions today will increase my opportunity tomorrow, and a simple understanding that I, like all the other inhabitants of the African bush, will go about my business with an innate evolutionary cause - survival!

My actions in daily routine are written in the air and in the sand - my smells, footprints and noises tell stories of my behaviour, my development and my function within this place of greatness, of great sadness and joy, of fear and compassion. This place is called home, and within it - my life.

Observation is unequivocally the first rule of interpretation, and then like the first light of dawn, a clear picture begins to brighten around us, and with it, an opportunity to interact and communicate, to re-establish the instinctive mechanics of our behaviour - our physical and emotional security, our physical and emotional status, our position within our environment, our wants, our needs and more importantly our past lessons - just like all the other animals in the bush.

Safari Guiding
Safari Guiding

The first things we do when we get up are self-assessments. We yawn, fart, rub our eyes, etc. Some of us shout "Good Morning" like the francolin, and some of us remain silent like the Leopard. After that, individually, we have routines - and after those, some sort of social bonding or territorial display occurs - just like all the other animals in the bush.

On safari - coffee and tea in the morning can be a fascinating observation. The amount of re-establishment that goes on by way of question like;

"Good Morning, how are you?"
"Did you sleep well?"
"Did you hear that noise during the night?"


The subsequent answers to those questions, and then the induced conversation - the discussions we have about the new day, our itinerary, etc. All make up a behaviour amongst us that will provide a basis for how we communicate and interact with each other during the day. How we will see and hear and interpret our encounters with the other animals around us, and will tell a lot about our individual boundaries and personal needs within this interaction - Just like all the other animals in the bush.

Vehicle on Safari
Vehicle on Safari

External or peripheral danger, a sense or feeling of instinctive trust or mistrust and our ability to register stimuli that we do not necessarily perceive are all sensations and intuitions that have evolved with us for millions of years - just like all the other animals in the bush.

These feelings are all processed irrationally until they are coupled with our ability to recognise signs, to process information from these signs and then when we are truly watching, listening and feeling where we are in any particular situation, we are able to interpret, anticipate and predict a startling amount more than we thought was possible - just like all the other animals in the bush.

All this is only possible with continual practice, re-affirmation and acquired knowledge through supported reading and physical observation. Relying on one's intuition without this knowledge and practice can land you, as a guide, in an uncomfortable situation - "I sense the presence of a lion!" or "Will you marry me?" Without a reasonable and fundamental understanding of why you uttered the remarks may not have the desired effect.

I continue to sit quietly under the stars with my guests in order to 'see' what communication we can recognise, and what stimuli we can process while life 'talks' to us.

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