Hey everyone, this is Dana Crone from Hills of Africa Travel. We wanted to do something a little different for the next few weeks. We will have a guest share his personal story and experiences with you. I met David almost one year ago while visiting John’s Camp in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. He is truly one of the most passionate and knowledgeable guides out there. His enthusiasm for his country, the animals and even plants shows through in all he says and does. My hope is that you learn something, laugh a little and have a glimpse into the life of a guide in Zimbabwe. First, a little about David’s upbringing and what led him to become a guide, in his words:
Written by David Amyot, Professional Safari Guide, Zimbabwe:
I was born at the end of the Bush war in the then Rhodesia which soon would be re-named Zimbabwe. My family spent much of their time in the outdoors. My father, a keen botanist, when not on our family ranch checking on his cattle, would at every opportunity walk with his extremely well-used copy of Coates Palgrave (a popular reference to tree identification). He carried this book in a bag made from old curtaining my mother had hand-sewn for him. It would be draped over his shoulder during most outings. It was from this passion of his that for me grew a complete love for the African Bush and its wildlife. As I grew older I finally got my driver’s license and would spend all my entire school holidays on our family cattle ranch living the dream. I would drive a series 3 Land Rover to check on cattle in their different paddocks or oversee dipping* along with the various chores I had been given. I would spend many hours simply walking through what I considered to be “God’s country”. At the end of the school holidays, mom would phone the ranch to give a stern reminder that I was starting school the following day and that I should be back in our home town of Bulawayo. This I would reluctantly do.
And so after a few years, I did the inevitable and joined the safari industry as a learner guide eventually working my way up to becoming a professional safari guide. So I applied for work with two companies, a hunting company and the other being a photographic company, seeking a position as a learner guide or hunter. The first call came from the hunting company, they liked me and offered me a job. Ironically two weeks later a call came from the photographic company. The die had been cast and my course was set as a learner hunter. In time I would learn a set of skills, to read and follow tracks which later would help to track and find the big game on foot. There is a strong precedent for generations of hunters and guides to maintain high guiding standards that are maintained in Zimbabwe. * Cattle dipping is an exercise where you drive the cattle into a cement lined tank filled with water and chemicals known as a plunge Dip tank. The cow jumps in and swims to the other side through the chemical mixture thus killing ticks. Without dipping, cows can get terrible wounds and diseases.
Next week in our series, David will give us more insight into the training process and what it takes to become a professional, licensed guide in Zimbabwe.