November 26, 2012
Book Review: 'Ask the Namibian Guides'
By David E. Petzal
Now here’s an original concept—a single book dedicated to safaris in one African country, rather than a book filled with chapters on different countries that leaves you saying “Yes, but…” when you get to the end. Diana Rupp, who is Editor of Sports Afield and an experienced Namibia hand, has interviewed a dozen PHs from that country on the ins and outs of safaris there, and set down what they had to say between these covers.
I know a number of otherwise experienced hunters who have never been to Africa, and the reasons they offers are unstable, corrupt governments, odd incomprehensible regulations, strange diseases, outrageous costs, and the difficulty of getting there and back. While this is a pretty fair description of the United States, none of it applies to Namibia.
This country, which is on the west coast of Africa, is larger than Texas, has a population of 2 million, 42 species of huntable big game (including all of the Big Five), excellent infrastructure, a stable, rational government, a lot less crime than here, and fewer repulsive diseases than you can contract at a SHOT Show. When I was there it was, and I believe still is, the least expensive of all African countries in which to buy a safari.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries Namibia was a colony known as German South-West Africa, and its citizens are so terrified the Germans will come back that they’re on their best behavior. Namibian PHs are highly skilled and rigidly screened. I believe the only other country whose licensing standards are so high is Zimbabwe. I could go on, but basically it’s Africa without the worries.
What Ms. Rupp has done in this handsome, 182-page book is ask 12 PHs with different specialties every conceivable question that you might have when considering a safari, and put down their answers. There are copious excellent photos of everything from game to lodges to scenery to the PHs themselves. If, when you get to the last page you still want to say, “Yes, but….”, you ask too damn many questions.
It’s hardcover, $34.95 from safaripress.com; 800-451-4788.