Why a Great Safari Guide Makes All the Difference
As afternoon edged toward sunset in the private game reserve, our guide slowed the Land Rover to a halt as he studied the ground on the side of the sandy track.
“There’s a leopard around here,” he said, in a hushed voice. Our eyes immediately turned to the treetops. “No, down low. He’s right around here somewhere.”
He rolled the Land Rover forward at a crawl. We waited, silently, till suddenly my son pointed furiously, his face animated, barely able to contain his enthusiasm. “There it is! A leopard! It’s right there!"
And indeed it was, lounging alongside the road not 8 feet away, the sun’s sinking rays illumining its regal face. The leopard remained still, as we captured amazing photographs.
When the leopard finally moved on, its tawny coat and black spots merging seamlessly with the tall grass, we turned to Anton, our guide, and began peppering him with questions. “How did you know it was around??” was foremost.
Thus began our first lesson in tracking. Anton, who grew up in the Okavango Delta region and knows its landscape and wild residents intimately, explained that he had first seen the hoofprints of running impala on the edge of the sandy
Without an excellent guide’s local knowledge and expertise, we would likely have driven right by, missing this captivating encounter with an elusive predator.
The next day we were graced with another leopard sighting, equally due to Anton’s well-honed power of observation in the bush. He stopped the vehicle and pointed to the high branches of a large acacia tree about 50 yards away.
“Look -- there’s a leopard with an impala kill.”
We looked hard, and one by one we started to see what Anton saw.
“There it is! Oh my gosh!” “Oh, yes, I see it now!” “Wow!” “How on earth did you see that as we were driving by?” We were all incredulous.
Again, our good fortune was due to Anton’s expert eye. He had seen a flash of color that stood out, high in the tree. It was the golden coat of the
We looked closely with binoculars, awed by the strength of this gorgeous animal to haul his kill to such heights.
Throughout the rest of our
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