“Ferrari Safaris”

I am not sure if is only me on this one, but the private safari guides that enter the Kruger on a daily basis from lodges and towns outside the National Park for one day game viewing experiences frustrate me enormously. I have no problem with the fact that they are in radio communication with one another as this serves as a useful tool to let each other know what animals have been spotted and on which roads. With the recent explosion of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, real time sightings information is available for all other visitors too. What I do have a problem with is how the guides behave once they have heard these updates. This is when my hackles rise!

Ferrari Safari (2)

On countless occasions I have watched these large safari game viewers come motoring past me, well over the speed limit of 50km per hour in hot pursuit of a sighting. One can compare them to vultures descending on a carcass so as to not miss out on any scraps. For the fear of being disrespectful to one of nature’s finest scavengers, maybe the better comparison might be that of tow truck driver racing to the scene of a road accident in the big city. All to try and secure business for a scrap yard, ultimately resulting in good commission.

Apart from breaking the speed limit on the way to a sighting, once they arrive, they often manage to jostle and bully their way into the best position blocking opportunities for smaller vehicles behind them. These private vehicles also have visitors that are just as excited to see a lion for the first time as the guests sitting in these game viewers. Before I rant any further, I would like to state that my objection is certainly a generalisation and it should not be assumed that every single guide that operates in the Kruger National Park behaves like this, but from my observations, unfortunately, many do. The sad thing is that because of this, I personally reconsider which camps I will stay at during peak holiday periods and steer clear of any entry and exit roads to avoid the hustle and bustle of these insensitive “Ferrari Safari” guides. There is a lot more to a whole safari experience than only seeing the Big 5.

Working in the industry, I understand that rangers are often under enormous pressure from some naive guests to deliver on unrealistic expectations set by brilliant marketing teams worldwide. Not only that, but it seems to be an industry standard to pay poorly as it has become know that the unbelievable lifestyle alone attracts “good” people, even if they don’t last long. Being able to watch and appreciate the sunrise each morning in the knowledge that you are in the middle of 2.2 million hectares of natural wilderness. To breathe the fresh air. To watch the circle of life and to see the seasons change. To be able to experience the watch the survival of the fittest and resist the temptation to interfere. To be able to work with like-minded people who are as passionate and concerned about conserving the environment. To delight guests from all corners of the globe by allowing them to admire the animals and assist them with subjective interpretation of their behaviours. To be able to share unbelievable past experiences. In my eyes… that is what being a game ranger is all about. Certainly not about ignoring the interests of others, pushing ethical boundaries and chasing the BIG 5. This is what often leads to generous gratuities. Greed seems to be what this bizarre behaviour boils down to.

In conclusion, and contrary to the subject of this article, it must be said that I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to meet and be taken on safari by many of these guides while growing up. I have fond memories of wonderful times spent with friends and family in the Kruger National Park. Perhaps I wrote this entry to see if any others share the same frustrations as I do. Maybe by reporting some of these actions to Park Authorities we can eradicate unwanted and unethical behaviour in our National Parks. What are your thoughts?

15 Responses to ““Ferrari Safaris””

  • gavin povey:

    I agree it’s very sad really I say kick them out the park and as for the speed some people drive it’s sick I could not believe it when you in the park you should be relaxed chilled something needs to be done I got cross with a bus driver blocking my view think they the boss with the big buso and then the private camps think they own the land very sad the park brings bk some amazing memories for me but with people like that there its going down

  • Catharine Hall:

    Totally agree Andrew! I was in the park a week back and whilst looking at 4 rhino,the Ferrari Safari just comes speeding past spoiling the sighting…I guess rhino had been ticked off their agenda for the day…

  • Andrea:

    This year I have been the second time in Kruger. I love it! Wish I could stay longer than a week. I also think you need time. For example we saw a rhino on the street…near the lodge, close to door closing time…but I said let’s wait…another car overtook ours….and the rhino made a jump and was close to the car! I think in some years maybe we are not allowed to go without guides…like in Serengeti…
    Also friends of mine want to visit SA…two days KrugerNP…I think it’s to short…it’s not like a shopping trip.

  • Hansie:

    Agree, and very sad that they overcrowd the sighting and block everyone else from seeing anything even if you spotted it. You will get pushed out of the way. Something needs to be done.

  • Guilherme Faria:

    I agree, but unfortunatly they are not the only problem. The Supply truks also speed trying to reach the camps on time to deliver the products we all need. Maybe they could use the roads at noon when most os the animals are hayding from the sun. The Army also is a problem, now infamous with the hippo caw killing. Very sad indeed. Another big problem is the KNP staff that works in the park and speed home 30min before the main gate closest to home closes… They scare animal of the road on one of the best time for game viwing… KNP is very diferent now, and for the worse.

  • Glenda:

    I think that each camp should have one refrigeration vehicle and one delivery vehicle and that all products should be stored at one place outside the Park and each camp can send these two vehicles every day to fetch stock. NO OTHER DELIVERY VEHICLES SHOULD BE ALLOWED IN THE PARK AT ALL.

  • Eileen:

    I totally agree. We recently spent a weekend in the park on the birding weekend and we laughed at the number of trucks that roared past game hidden a little way off the road (which we saw) because they were in such a hurry to get somewhere else!

  • Doug Lumley:

    Why not introduce a system whereby visitors have a “licence” to conduct their business in the park. If they misbehave, points are assigned to their licence, and penalties are applied. Once they reach a maximum level, they lose the privilege to bring visitors into the park.

  • Guide in KNP:

    I have been guiding for some time now, and everyone says ban these OSV’s in the Park, everyone is always complaining on what we doing wrong! But no one complains about the closed car that blocks the view, is always the OSV skild, if we hear a good sighting each driver has his way of getting there some fly and some keep to the speed limit, but also understand our point, some of these guests come here saving for a long time, some of them are police men or nurses, so is a once in a life time oppertunity, some guest see the things ons wild tv programs in there one country and some think, you will see the big five is 10 or 20 minutes, some guest just come to see a elephant or rhino, its from person to person, but I never rush to sighting I take my time and at the end of the day we must give the guests al life time experance that they will never forget! Our aim is to show them as much as we can because they come to see these african animals. But to come back to the farrari Safari side, Next time when you in the Park see how closed cars treat us and scream and swear at us, at the end of the day, we both want to see the animals, what is all the companies stand together and band all closed cars in the Park and only allow you to drive form the Gate to the camp, and if you want to go out use a tour operator? How do you feel about that? So at the end of the day stop blaming us for everything and also look how some people speed in the park because that want to be there first in there closed cars, because they use all these apps on there phones? Where are the days when, there where no apps used? Those where the days when Game viewing was not one sighting to the next, is what can you find with your own eye, and how can con you be with that specail sighting you found and be alone, we as guids also sometimes don’t call in every sighting we get, but if is something really specail we stay some time alone and then we call the others, last thing, if Game viewing is not you hobby stay away because the park is about enjoying the wild life, and not to see what all these OSV are doing wrong.

  • Francois:

    @ Andrew Nicholson & you guys who actually really do care. I agree with all you wrote. I’ve visited the Park for 37 years. I worked in Lodges in the KNP. I now work on another big reserve, but go through to the KNP regularly. I love this bush to the depth of my soul..But it’s not what it was & it’s getting worse. I do not have to tell you all that which you already see & know. What about if “someone” starts a web site, opens it up to Everyone & Anyone who actually does give a damn. Gathering all the negatives on a daily basis, pictures & events, (People do not know where to vent their anger at this situation)then you put it all nicely wrapped-up in front of the people who have to manage these situations. But you do it in the public eye for all to be part of, reality wildlife, fixing real life problems in real time by real people. We can complain as much as we want….Unless the people who care doesn’t do something, you will keep wishing upon a star!! How long will we wait for “someone” to fix this if we don’t start..So..

  • Kylie:

    Yes I agree that some guides are most definitely like this but what people seem to forget while begrudging the guides constantly is that MANY self drive people are even worse! Alot of South Africans come to the park and because they are bored with the general stuff they spoil sightings for other people by racing past or chasing the animals away. Yes like I said some guides are bad but I have had many, many encounters with self drives and staff that are way worse.

  • Sherol Mortimer:

    I have to agree, as a regular Kruger Parker my husband and I have been amazed at the total disregard for other game viewers by these private lodge rangers and their guests, they race to the sighting and then park across the road blocking both lanes, of course then the others are notified by radio and wham you have a Joburg traffic jam, never mind the poor private viewers, they cant even pass to continue on their journey, let alone take part in the sighting, these lodges are very expensive, and have their own quota of the big 5, so why dont they keep their own guests in their own private areas and leave the Kruger to us genuine animal lovers.

  • Guilherme Faria:

    I think this link says it all… I´m Portuguese and I make a huge effort to collect the Money for a trip to South Africa. a country that I love above my one. If this had happaned to me I would feed this guide to the Lions…

  • Mike Fryer:

    I have been reading through all the posts and was amazed at the response of the tour guide, first of all your suggestion to all stand together and ban close cars and force people to use tour companies, who do you think you are, exactly this sentiment that get people’s hackles up, you think you own the parks, and it shows when we see you around with your safari vehicles just as mentioned, pushing in front of others and blocking roads etc, so maybe that is why the people in close cars swear at you. Maybe we should lobby against all private concessions/lodges etc from entering the park in their vehicles and should use designated SANPARKS vehicles from gates, with SANPARKS guides, while you wait at the gate, that will create more job opportunities for extra SANPARKS guides. Secondly,do you think local South Africans who come to the parks etc do so without also having to save up to visit the parks, we pay toll, fuel, accommodation and conservation fees just like your guests. Do you think people visit or waste money to visit the parks if they have no interest in the parks. I agree with Sherol Mortimer, keep on your own private areas then. The guides get tips if they get good sightings from their wealthy guests, and many of these overseas visitors think because they have money or paid for these trips they have preference. I have first hand experience with these type of demanding guests as a bush pilot/guide in Nam and Bots.

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