Interview with a Safari Guide

Baobab Ridge is an intimate, family-run lodge in the Klaserie Private Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger Park. It is one of our favourite safari lodges at the Unforgettable Travel Company. We sat down to talk to Jason Fleischer who is the head guide, co-owner and manager of the lodge to chat about all things safari.

Jason - Baobab Ridge
Lion Game drive - Image credit Baobab Ridge

How long have you been living in the bush?

11 years at Baobab Ridge.

What do you love the most about living in the reserve?

The unique privilege to live in an environment full of wild animals.

What is a typical day for you?

If I’m guiding, I wake up before sunrise and guide for 3 or 4 hours in the morning and then again in the afternoon. I also spend a lot of time networking with the surrounding lodges to share information on where the animals are and what they are up to. The day is long and by 9 pm, I’m in bed. Believe it or not, guiding can be tiring you need a lot of energy driving finding animals and teaching people about the bush!

Other days I focus on the numerous maintenance tasks for the lodge, elephants tend to dig up our supply pipes!  I still go on game drives alone in the afternoons if I have time. I live my life by sunrises and sunsets, days of the week don’t count out here.

Baobab Ridge -Room
Vervet Monkey

What makes Baobab Ridge so special?

The relaxed homely atmosphere.

What is your most memorable animal sighting?

I’ve had too many, from elephants giving birth to dung beetles rolling dungballs and scorpions hunting termites.

One that sticks out in my mind is when I was guiding one morning, and we stopped to marvel at the construction of a Wahlberg’s eagle nest high in the canopy. Then a face peeped over and we just saw this head looking at us, a leopard! She had scaled up the tree! My favourite animal in the bush is a leopard, second would be the Bateleur Eagle.

How much trouble does the wildlife cause in camp? Those monkeys cause havoc!

We have a wonderful agreement with the monkeys. They do not hassle us, and we do not hassle them. We have set out our territories fairly and this prevents conflict. They arrive at the lodge at exactly 14h00 – lunchtime! But we never feed them!

Any advice for people booking their first safari?

Expect nothing, this is a totally new experience, you are on a unique vacation. Allow interest in everything not just what you see on National Geographic. Big 5 is never guaranteed, this is a large area, animals move long distances and we might not always find what you expect. Ask questions and learn, it’s fascinating. Stay at least 3 nights, not 2, you will be sad to leave.

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