Resident guides know their areas very well, they drive or walk out each day and they get to know the movements of some of the animals and when they may be coming down to feed or drink from waterholes. They also know where to look for special sightings such as knowing where a new hyena den with cubs is.
However, I would highly recommend travelling with your own private guide. The main reason is that from the beginning of your family safari, the guide gets to know you all, your main interests and what you are most attracted to.
The safari camps you stay in, the beautiful food and comfy beds, even the outside showers and all of the animals you see and experiences are all certainly memorable, and never forgotten, but it is the guide that brings it all to life and who will bring it together for you. You spend a lot of time with them and undoubtedly they will become a new friend and awaken many new interests.
What makes a private guide and vehicle so appealing is that you have control of the vehicle and sightings therefore optimising your experience, whilst also working with the onsite guides and managers. These private and most experienced guides have many years of experience – many have worked and explored in national and private parks and conservancies across Africa and so bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that you simply could not replicate by any other means.
When private guides travel with you, you don’t have to repeat yourself about your specific interests as they will already have a very clear picture of these and so will focus their attention on showing you all of the wildlife and eco systems and perhaps specifically the elephants or honey badgers that you may wish to see from your list.
Having a private guide and vehicle becomes even more essential if you are travelling as a family with younger children. You may only want to venture out for a couple of hours in case your children may get fidgety after a while and so having a private guide who specifically can teach your children about wildlife, tracking and making the safari fun, serves to keep them enthralled and engaged throughout your safari. Happy children make happy parents and holiday!
If you are a keen photographer – then you simply must have a private vehicle and guide, especially one who has the same interest. This specialist has experience of getting you in the right position to take the pictures you want, with the right angles and light. Their experience and knowledge of how animals may move around, ensures that you are in a position to take that perfect shot. Patience is the key and your guide will sit with you for hours if that is what takes, just to get the photo you want.
Alternatively, if you are a keen birder, then your private guide is just the person you will need. You can go off to a specific area - perhaps park up and sit at a waterhole or along a river, watching the birdlife or search the riverine forest or open grass plains. You can take your time and you do not have to think of anyone else in the vehicle who may not share your interests, really absorb yourself into the environment and most importantly tick off all of the species on your must see list.
Your guide may also have a case full of other special skills and knowledge such as cultural traditions, local history, tracking, astronomy, walking safaris, riding safaris or have a particular interest in insects, reptiles or botany.
In short, your private guide and naturalist, completely smooths your journey, facilitates and enables your once in a life time journey to this glorious continent to be above all, the most memorable experience you could wish for.
Pictures use by courtesy of as follows:
#1 #3 #5 Kwandwe South Africa
#2 #8 #9 Grant Nel – Private guide
#4 #7 Ride Botswana David Foot
#6 Albie Venter photographic guide