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Game Warden

Safari of a different kind...

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Soukous

No offence @@Game Warden but the ladies look better than you do without the helmet too. :P

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Safari Cal

Great stuff GW, are you going to lead tours to this safari destination in future?

 

Really enjoying the look on everyones face when the pith goes on! As well as the Pith Helmet, I hope you also took along plenty of 'Enos Fruit Salts' on this safari to preserve your constitution... !!!

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Game Warden

Wednesday proved to be the day of awards at the WTM. Was it to be third time lucky in the afternoon, or was I to jinx any hopes of those I accompanied winning anything?

 

Prior to the event I had received an invite to attend the Amadeus and WTM Travel Experience Awards and thus sat with Grant Woodrow and Caroline Palazzo from Wilderness Safaris, www.wilderness-safaris.com and perhaps each of us felt out of place, removed from the wilds of Africa and placed into a corporate environment where everyone was sharp suited and camera's flashed and loud music played. It wasn't the ambient sound that I was used too. I don't think anyone expected a pith topped bearded adventurer to gatecrash their party. Wilderness had been nominated for two awards, Room With A View and Authentic Travel. I believe that the winner of the first award was a worthy nominee, it wasn't Wilderness but a hotel in which guests stay in a glass bubbled bedroom with an amazing view of the Aurora Borealis - www.theaurorazone.com. One thing that was obvious to me, not being a judge was that there was no consistency in the photographs used. Each nominee's property had one promotional image, some showed the view from the room itself, some showed an image not taken from the room. IMO this was a bit of a fluff award but even so there should have been a more consistent series of photos. However, Wilderness did win Authentic travel for their work at Desert Rhino Camp in Namibia, working with the community and conservation organisations. Here's a picture I took then of Grant with the award. Despite my urging he didn't wear the pith when accepting the prize...

 

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Atravelynn

That pith topped bearded gatecrashing adventurer is probably still the talk of the convention.

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Game Warden

From awards to networking: the start of my evening began with The Responsible Travel Networking event at which I got to meet some of the award winners, talk responsible safari tourism and say hello to a few people, a couple of whom already knew me and Safaritalk.

 

From here, it was a short trip across London to Waterloo were alas I'd missed out on...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpL4xbfmXlQ

But London at night in the winter, everybody wrapped up warm: there's a buzz about it. Oh how I'd love to see roasted chestnut sellers on street corners, a Dickensian throwback. But I slpped into the bar and was greeted with recognition, this was the annual ATTA evening and it was obvious to those on the door that I was part of it. Of course it grouped together a number of players in the tourism industry, some of whom I knew personally, some I didn't but by the end of the night did. Mohanjeet Brar from Gamwatchers Safaris, partner of Jake Grieves-Cook last year made me feel very welcome and this year too: Mohanjeet is ATTA's East Africa director - the beard is always a talking point :)

 

A most informal evening, with much beer and laid back chat, I was joined by @@PersonalPangea, who, for those who had attended the last London GTG will know is fine company with a beer or three and some food, (tonight consisting of all manner of dishes, Mexican, Italian, American all provided care of ATTA - www.atta.travel), and in fact it was Nigel Vere Nicoll, Chief Executive who was keeping plates refreshed with food. The pith of course always draws comment and many people want to try it on, know it's history. Well, of course as you know, it belonged to an officer in the King's African Rifles based in Kenya during WWII: however that history pales against the family history of @@Rupert Finch Hatton who joined Alex and myself for dinner. I had never met Rupert but he knew of me and ST - it was obvious the first question I would ask him related to Denys who was his great great uncle. (So, from seeing the Karen Blixen named plane upon my arrival in Gatwick, here was I held rapt with stories and personal recollections of the Out of Africa story and Rupert proves to be a good story teller recalling his family's long distant communications with Karen Blixen herself. You know what a sucker I am for anything connected to the history of Safari...) Rupert told me of Denys's work to have the Serengeti gazetted and I persuaded him to jump onboard ST and open up his photo archives for us to see so you'll have to be patient on that for a while but fingers crossed it's coming...

 

It so happened whilst drinking and eating that I plain forgot any thoughts of taking photos despite the fact there being a whole herd of interesting grazing species at this specific water whole. In fact, one of the local park rangers was so impressed at my bearded and bepithed, (and after a few drinks bedraggled), appearance that he said I should be in films. @@tonypark therefore please bear me in mind when Hollywood options and starts filming your books...

 

I know we've had the discussion here on ST on whether guides should interact with wildlife, ethics in safari photography and even if we are getting too close to wildlife, but this next particular nocturnal creature had obviouly been habituated to humans from an early age, I'd even go as far as speculating, hand reared so I had no compunction in making close contact and attempting some form of communication. This resulted in the following encounter which was photographed for posterity...

 

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Despite a quick flick through my well thumbed copy of Este's The Safari Companion I couldn't identify the species and had to rely upon the experienced eye of Finch Hatton - it turned out to be a rare example of an Emliy Cottingham from www.langadventuresandtravel.com. I don't think the flash dazzled her, but I was on hand in case of predators: I think I'm more comfortable holding the camera, my arm isn't that long so it's not a Safaritalk selfie, not that I want to take any selfies to be honest. I may not have led the adventurous life that some of you have, alas my face says different... I wish it didn't.

 

But the night was cut short by the Cinderellaesque train timetable and the fact that if I didn't return to the lodge by midnight my transport would turn into a pumpkin and my clothes revert to rags so I bade my farewells and shook Nigel's hand leaving him obviously bewildered for he had no idea of who I was and probably nor why I was present at the ATTA event...

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Game Warden

My last day on a London safari - and so I'll wrap up my visit to the World Travel Market by making mention of the plethora of sightings I'd had before bidding farewell to the show for another year.

 

I was keen to talk with Bruce Fox of Foxes Safari Camps, (www.tanzaniasafaris.info), who I met last year at the same event: extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife situation in Tanzania as can be seen from his topic here, but always with a constant stream of visitors, I managed some time with him on Thursday during which we talked about the recent visit of @@africapurohit and Niyam as well as conservation issues affecting the country. I nagged him about writing for Safaritalk and he couldn't escape the Safaritalk Pith...

 

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Game Warden

Close by, another Bruce, this time, Bruce Simpson from Wilderness Safaris. (www.wilderness-safaris.com) Yesterday I'd been at the Amadeus Awards with Wilderness, (Thanks to Jo Bestic who is the WS social media Guru), and today I dropped by their stand. Not surprisingly their stand is one of the busiest in the show but I managed to squeeze in a couple of minutes with Jens Kozany from Segera Retreat in Kenya. www.segera.com. (In the New Year I hope to be speaking more with him about it.) I've met Bruce previously at last year's event and like then, he probably has no idea who I am or what Safaritalk is, but sportingly donned the ST Pith anyway...

 

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Atravelynn

I'm impressed with your dining companions! Still hoping you have your roasted chestnut sighting.

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pault

Aha, the sightings continue. Still back in the UK now?

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KasperW

No offense, but it seems there are no big bulls left in UK? Did they take out the prime game?

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samburumags

Is there recognised "Big Five" in that area? e.g. The Queen, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, London Bobby, Big Red Bus???

 

Brilliant TR GW, I got to it a bit late I know but it was well worth the read.

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Game Warden

No time for cultural sight seeing on this London Safari @@samburumags : it was wildlife or bust and the last day gave me the opportunity to drop in on...

 

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Marc Reading and Byron Shirto from www.talkingstickmktg.com who were representing Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe - www.ngomasafarilodge.com: Marc is also on the board of The Southern Africa Travel Organisers Association (SATOA) and did a stirling job hosting the dinner on Tuesday night and raising funds for Save the Rhino Internal. The Botswana Tourism stand was large with many properties represented and alas I did not have the opportunity to photograph everyone in the ST pith helmet...

 

A stand that proved to be very busy across the three days I was at the show was the next one, and, the one at which I'll end my London Safari experience. It was a great shaded location in which I got to sit down in the heat of the day and just watch the migration pass me by in the company of...

 

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Anke Cowan from Kafunta, (Zambia) - www.luangwa.com.

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Pippa Turner from Kafue Camps - www.kafuecamps.com representing Mayukuyuku Bush Camp.

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Laura Sommariva from Konamoya Lodges, (Kafue NP) - www.konkamoya.com

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Lastly, Tim and Mandy Henshall from www.kamilisafaris.com who were representing a number of properties in addition to those from Zambia above. Every morning my welcome to the Excel Center was "The Bush Breakfast" which Tim and Mandy hosted, at which various presentations were given covering different countries: this invited some good conversation and a chance to meet and get to know everyone before the more serious part of the day began. So a big thank you to them both for making me feel part of the whole event: their hospitality did not end with the bush breakfasts and I was made to feel very welcome at the Kamili stand and there was always time for a chat. Both Tim and Mandy are very passionate and enthusiastic about Africa and this is evidenced in the way they interact with people who dropped by during the day. Without them, their kindness and friendship over the three days I was there, WTM would just not have been the same.

 

And thus as I left London Docklands behind, standing amongst other wearied travellers on the DLR, there was a sense that everything was over and the buzz which had been evident especially on the Tuesday was now gone. I was like a balloon a few days after a party, one sellotaped to a wall but that was deflated and going wrinkly. I had blisters on my feet, my legs ached and I was tired but knew that I could sleep on the plane on the way home.

 

Would I choose London as a Safari destination in the future? Yes. Of course. Same time, same place, in 2014... WTM London, I'll see you there :)

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Super LEEDS

I'm at ExCel next week, @@Game Warden, for the BETT Show - I wish this exhibition was still on!

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Game Warden

@@Super LEEDS You'll have to come down in November for WTM :)

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samburumags

One fabulous trip report, deserves a pith with bar! Great writing, you could help Mr Park out any day.

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alexabram

Right!

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