The never-ending pandemic has become rather frustrating to a large number of us, especially to those of us who love to travel, explore and watch wildlife in their natural habitat. To fill the lockdowns and times of unemployment due to this dire situation, reading has become somewhat of a relaxing escape to imaginary worlds. One of the books I read during this time was “Legendary Safari Guides” by Susie Casenove.
This book focuses on the lives and achievements of some of the most outstanding safari guides in Africa. The stories of each of these guides seems somewhat unreal and, in some cases, rather Indiana Jones like, but at the same time, you can just picture the scenery and the adventures that these guides found themselves in.
Not only did Susie describe in great detail all of the guides she has been so fortunate to meet, but she also does a great job of describing the countries, the reserves and the camps themselves to really set the scene and send your imagination wild just picturing all of these places. The descriptions of each place were so well written that it has inspired some future travel ideas for my own journeys to Africa. Africa is a land of adventure, and these safari guides were some of the very first in the industry and set up a number of the guide training camps now found in many different areas throughout Southern Africa.
While reading the accounts of each of the guides, I was quite aware of how lacking the health and safety appeared to be in the early days of the guiding industry and makes some of my “scary” moments in the bush seem rather tame in comparison. Some of these guide’s stories are inspiring and endearing, it only makes me want to get back to the bush more, however the imaginary land in my head will have to do for now and with a book so well written, it is really not difficult at all to picture yourself there.
The chapters are segmented into countries and regions, with the sub-chapters then being each of the guides that Susie meets in those areas. The first chapter is called “The World of Safari Travel”, something I feel can help the unexperienced bush goer prepare themselves for what’s to come.
The Chapters each start with a quote that prepare you for what you’re about to read, but also are words to really digest and think about before your next adventure to the African bush. The chapters are set out really well and gives the book a really good flow. A few of the guides that Susie writes about are interconnected and have sometimes crossed paths and it’s nice to see what a community the safari guiding industry is.
Not only are the guides safari guides, but a number of them were pioneering conservationists, helping to set up, run and manage different reserves, projects, wildlife populations and so on. Guides really are guardians of the wilderness and to read about where it all came from and started, really starts to emphasise what it means to be a guide.
Having wanted to go into safari guiding since my teenage years, I’m all the more for reading anything and everything about people who have lived this life before me. Due to personal reasons, it looks like I might never go and do it myself, but living the experience through the lives of others helps to fill in the space of what I feel I’m missing out on. Susie has portrayed every single guide she met in such a respectful, fun and imaginative way, so that after reading about each one of the people she mentions, you feel like you know them as well as you know an old friend. The guides in this book were so passionate for their work that the phrase “if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life” comes to mind. But how could you not love waking up to the sounds and sights of the bush every day and educate new clients and old clients about the environment you call home.
I think the feelings I gained through reading this book could be summed up as fortunate and envy. I feel fortunate because of all the experiences I’ve had myself out in the bush, and reading this book brought up some of my old memories of guides I’ve met and the things I got up to, but also envy for the lives that these guides have lived.
To anyone who is missing being out in the wilds, exploring and watching wildlife, I strongly recommend you purchasing this book as being able to escape into an imaginary, but familiar world might just lift your spirits a little. This book will also give you so many ideas for future travel plans, and perhaps the idea of preparing for a big adventure in the future will help to get you through these hard times, it is certainly one of the things that has kept me going.
To purchase the book, click here: Legendary Safari Guides (I do not earn anything from you using this link)