We have done a number of trips to Africa since our first trip with you several years ago and have always enjoyed very good guides and experiences. There is something more special, however, about traveling with you. I think much of it being special to us relates to your depth of experience and knowledge, patience and humour, your knowledge of the photographic aspects, and the fit of our personalities and expectations for the trip with yours…you know we are there to enjoy every aspect of the trip, not just checking off the list of big animals and moving quickly onward. You are willing, even excited, to spend longer days and cover more kilometers with us than any other group in the camp. You have such great skills in animal and bird identification, behaviour and tracking, and you know that we are willing to spend the time with you to figure out the story and to sit on a sighting, animal or bird, to get the most of the experience. So, this trip had a number of memorable happenings and sightings that were combinations of your knowledge and experience, long days and distances in the vehicle, interest and investigation, patience, and, yes, that touch of luck that favours those prepared and determined to get the most out of a trip.
Among the memorable happenings, I think of the tracking down of the lioness and her two cubs over a couple of hours of tracking and observing the behaviour of birds, monkey and antelopes. I think of your spotting of the big leopard in the tree and us waiting to see what would happen (actually us dozing while you watched and woke us in time), and your excitement when the puku wandered under the tree and the leopard got ready to jump on it. First time I have seen a guide get so excited he tried to climb on top of a canvas roof vehicle for a better view. I think of us teasing you about finding a Pel’s fishing owl and much later us randomly picking a sausage tree to get out to photograph the flowers on the ground and a Pel’s bursting out of an adjacent tree with you yelling “Pel’s!, Pel’s!” Followed by a cackle of joy and satisfaction at the sighting. I think of the sighting of wild dogs on the road when they hadn’t been seen in the area in a long, long time. Not only wild dogs, but the beginnings of a hunt with adults to the sides and young dogs playing in front of us on the road as they tagged along and we tagged along for several hundred meters. What a great sighting of behaviour’s and pack life!
I think of the standing elephant and other unique elephant behaviour encounters including the “great chase,” where an elephant was quite determined to kill us if she could. Your knowledge and calm in reacting to that very real threat was very important in getting us safely away. I could continue with more recollections, but I’ll end with a related event that I think illustrates another aspect of your sensitivity to our overall experience. Flash forward a few days after the great chase. Elephants in the road and on both sides at dusk. We wait for them to clear with the motor and lights off. It gets dark, really, really dark in Africa. Elephants in front, on both sides and, now, behind crunching and moving in the brush all around us. Darkness and silence except for them moving closely around. You thinking to quietly ask “Is everyone okay?” Barbara admitted she was getting very anxious, perhaps thinking back to the threat of the great chase, but you quietly reassuring her and explaining why it was okay now and that they would move along soon. Another memorable moment. What a great trip! Barbara and I are ready to go to Africa again and, especially, to go with you. We’ll have to make that happen soon.
– Steve & Barbara Tomasovic