The year 2020 has affected everyone in some way that you probably never planned. For me it was the year I could finally share my passion without losing friends or boring everyone at the party. Let me explain…I am totally passionate about the wildlife and tribes of Africa. It’s been part of my life since childhood. You see, I’ve spent the last 40 years setting up, organizing and leading people on photo safaris to most of the big game countries in Africa.
I’ve taken thousands of photos on film (slides) and basically filed them away. I also filed away (in my head) the hundreds of adventures and experiences I’ve been so blessed to have had. I never wanted to be the guy at the party boring everyone with his stories, so I simply kept them to myself all these years…or at least until last May when I was convinced to post a few safari photos on Facebook. Every photo had a story and the memories just flooded right back.
Guiding close to 30 safaris there’s quite a lot to share and suddenly I felt like I was reliving every moment…every detail and feeling. I was finally sharing the stories and adventures in living color (to date over 60 adventures with more to come). I’m having a wonderful time returning to each experience and hope you can enjoy these little bite sized adventures.
Every single word is exactly as it happened so there’s no need for me to exaggerate or embellish anything. While I keep a journal of each safari, I seldom need to refer to it. The photos are all mine, for better or worse, unless I’m actually part of the image. Well, that’s my story. Please make any comments you wish. I will respond to every comment and usually have fun with them. You may have been on safari before, but I want you to feel like you’re experiencing each adventure along with me, so if you’re ready, let’s go on this safari together.
A FOREVER MEMORABLE MOMENT
In my attempt to share some of these incredible experiences I offer this as one of the best…ever. It had to take place in Botswana’s Okavango Delta because that’s where so many of these things seem to happen to me. I was riding shotgun (the seat position not the weapon) with Nandi, my favorite guide, on our afternoon game drive. We were in the Moremi Preserve and had been out for almost an hour when we came across this mother cheetah with four young cubs.
They were about 6 months old and she was obviously an excellent mom to keep all her cubs healthy in area with such an abundance of other dangerous predators. We kept our distance and stayed with them while they played and instinctively practiced some of the skills that would ultimately be necessary for them to become successful hunters and survivors. After about an hour one of my group members asked if we were going to leave the cheetah to look for other game. I explained to our group (4 others in our completely open, topless and windshieldless Land Rover) that the key to the most amazing game viewing has literally been my motto: Patience…patience to just wait and observe their behavior. Patience so you can be there as something unfolds that might have otherwise been missed. So, during the next 1/2 hour everyone just settled in as we enjoyed the show. I was interested in seeing how comfortable the cheetah would get with our Land Rover, especially since they seemed very relaxed and chilled with us…and there were no other vehicles to distract them.
While mom seemed to ignore us the incredibly cute cubs seemed a bit more curious. It was at this point that I noticed how one cub that I kept looking at seemed to be making eye contact with me as well. As I looked around at the other people in our group no one else seemed to be paying much attention to this little guy. Now, he very slowly started moving toward the front of the Land Rover. What a curious little bugger. Remember, I’m in the front seat next to Nandi, who like me, is watching this little guy. Nandi sees him coming and keeps poking me (like I’m not glued to every move). At this point I asked everyone to remain quiet not make any loud noise or move too quickly ‘cause my little friend is looking directly at me while leaning on and peeking across the bonnet (hood). Such a curious little guy…The next few moments become the best safari moments of my life as he effortlessly jumps up on the hood and with only minimal trepidation, very slowly walks toward me!! He got so close I had no way to use my camera, nor did I want to. (Remember, there is NO windshield.) This little guy kept coming. I could feel his breath and literally hear him breathing, while mine totally stopped. It was the most amazing moment I’ve ever had. For those few moments this totally wild young cheetah was eye to eye with me watching so closely, but showing no fear of me and I had no fear of him.
Frigging Magic! Everyone in the vehicle later told me they were all frozen in place holding their breath. Well, unfortunately, it only lasted an incredible few seconds because Nandi waved his hand and my new friend turned to leap off the hood. I instantly lifted my camera to take the fastest grab shot I ever attempted. I just had to have something to prove to myself it wasn’t just a dream.
Now, many years and many great and wonderful adventures later and yet I still feel that little cheetah’s breath on my face and still feel that momentary yet awesome connection. So….might you ever wonder why I love doing this so much? For me there are few experiences in the world that could compare with these incredible adventures I’ve already enjoyed (or in some cases, happily survived). Taking people on incredible photo safaris over the past 40 years and introducing them to nature’s wonders has been my greatest pleasure. If you got through this one why not join me again on another adventure.