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A Walk on the Wild Side in Timbavati and Sabi Sands

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19 hours ago, Athene said:

@AtravelynnWe will be in Mana Pools, staying in Goliath camp and Chikwenya camp with Doug Macdonald, who is guiding us. I have already told him that this will be my first walking safari and that I am a bit anxious. I know you have also been guided by him and enjoyed it a lot. I am trying to stay positive and I am sure Doug will do anything to avoid dangerous encounters.



@AtheneMany of us here, including me, have been guided by Doug in mana (and elsewhere).  He features in many trip reports here on Safaritalk.


You could not be in better hands

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22 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

@Athene- we were with Doug in Mana a few years ago (2016 I think) can’t be in better hands on a walk!! Absolutely no drama getting too close to dangerous animals. So he’s guiding you from Goliath camp? Good idea!!

Indeed it was 2016 when @madaboutcheetahand I and @SafariChickwere guided by Doug.  Agree about being in fine hands.  Good that you have shared your feelings with Doug.  He'll arrange walks in areas that will make you comfortable.   Mana Pools is such a beautiful and prolific area that you'll see lots wherever you walk and whatever distance you wish to keep between you and the critters.

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Thanks for reading along and your kind words @Kalaharikind, @Athene, @Biko, @Zubbie15, @Peter Connanand @Atravelynn!


On 9/30/2021 at 12:18 PM, Kalaharikind said:

What an amazing trip! Elephants, rhino, lions and leopards and wild dogs, jumping impala... and buffaloes,of course.


I had a good chuckle about your crested barbet ID skills - well done!


I'm really glad to hear that both you and the guide are ok after that encounter. And kudos on going back to the bush right after that experience - it shows your deep love for this wild and unpredictable continent. I can just imagine your future safari fireside chats... 

I'm not too sure how often I will tell it to others, not everybody will feel as comfortable after hearing it I guess.


On 9/30/2021 at 9:01 PM, Athene said:

What an exciting trip you had @LarsS

I am glad to hear that you are ok, but I am having second thoughts now about our first walking safari next year. Maybe I should stick to a vehicle safari:rolleyes:

I really hope you won't hold back on what might turn out to be an epic experience for you. Like others said, you're in good hands with this well known guide. I haven't been guided by him, but as far as I know he is top of the bill. I'm not done with walking safaris. I can recall several guides I would have no issue trusting them enough to go on a walk. Just tell how you feel and get comfortable at walking. At the same time, only go if you are behind it. This is only one story, would be sad to let it spoil something beautiful. On this forum I haven't read a similar story before, that also tells something about the chances of this happening. *touches wood* Looking forward to your future trip report and find out if you enjoyed walking or not. :) 


On 10/3/2021 at 1:02 AM, Biko said:

@LarsS I have just finished reading the last part of your TR. Such a horror story, that sure was a narrow escape. It’s great though that you were able to go out again in the afternoon, and end your trip in a good vibe. It is a reminder for me too that walking is never without risk, as is going on safari in general. Until now I might have been inclined to go on a walk with a Masai with only a spear, but going with a guide and an armed ranger makes much more sense after reading your story. I hope you won’t have any nightmares after this terrible incident. Take care.

No nightmares at all, although it kept my mind busy. I had to think about what happened a lot, mostly because I felt the consequences every day. Now that's behind, days not thinking about it at all become more frequent.

The best protection is not the rifle or spear, it's precaution and being aware of surrounding. So even guided by a Masai with only a spear, you can have an enjoyable walk. Although I must admit, that's not the first kind of walk I would do next. Just ask the questions you need answers to and determine if you feel comfortable enough.


On 10/8/2021 at 12:40 PM, Peter Connan said:

What a story to tell! I too am very glad you are alive and relatively un-harmed to tell it. Buffalo are incredibly powerful, I guess we have all seen videos of them tossing fully-grown lions high up into the air.


With regard to the behavior of the guide: none of us can predict how we will handle a situation like that. Not even if we have been in a similar situation before. At that moment, one is probably not thinking but merely reacting. Certainly the response will be influenced by training, but it remains unsure. I suspect his action was not the result of a conscious thought process evaluating whether or not he had enough time to use the rifle, but I could be wrong too. For what it's worth, depending on what rifle ha had and in what condition he was carrying it, it could take anywhere between 1 and 20 seconds to fire a shot. 20 is unlikely though, that amount of time would only be required if he was carrying the rifle slung over his back and the ammunition in his pockets rather than in the rifle's magazine or chamber/s. Let us just say if a guide is not expecting trouble he is unlikely to be able to react in time to a situation like you describe.


Thanks Peter! That's definitely true. No matter how experienced, trained or prepared one can be, you only know how you react once it is reality. I'm not blaming him for that. Thanks for explaining the time it takes to use a rifle. Another factor that plays a part, is ofcourse the shot needs to be effective as well. A miss or minor injury doesn't help either and might result in an even more aggressive animal. The guide was fearing for his own life as well, so if he had time and ratio, no doubt he would have done everything to get us out of that situation.


On 10/9/2021 at 3:50 AM, Atravelynn said:

Petting an African wildcat?  I guess that is how cats became domesticated so long ago.  What an experience!


Hard to watch the limping lion in the video, but good to know it was not thought to be a serious injury.


That pot is a top sighting.  Cool!


How nice your rhino encounters on foot ended with the rhinos being relaxed, even if it meant you had to view from 100 meters.


Oh my goodness, the buffalo incident.  That you and the guide survived and are ok is most important.  When you alerted the guide, it may have saved you both.  How absolutely terrifying.  It reminds me of something I read and also experienced in a car accident. "I only had time to say hello to death, but did not have to invite it in."   I can hear the buffalo hooves you describe hitting the ground and the scream of the guide.  Gives me chills just to think about it.  A Walk on the Wild Side Indeed.  I'm sorry you were in pain for quite a while and had to cut short your trip, but at least you did recover and it appears the guide did as well. What are the odds you would both be ok?  Probably not very high but you beat them.  I wonder if the buffalo consciously spared your lives or just caused enough havoc and decided to move on.  We'll never know.



That's a good saying that definitely applies to this experience. We really beat the odds yes. I think the buffalo decided we were harmless and there was no need to spill more energy on us. We obviously didn't fight back and were fleeing away, that might have been signs for the buffalo we didn't pose a threat to him.

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pedro maia

What a horrifying story @LarsS, it´s pretty obvious that you and the guide are very lucky to be alive and without major injuries.


It´s impossible to judge what really went wrong and of course walking safaris have a intrinsic risk (even safaris on OSV have), but I think it´s fair to say that a sense that not everything was properly taken into account security wise remains after reading the story.



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Thanks @pedro maia! Definitely feel lucky to walk away from it without more serious injuries and not with a trauma either. Would have been a shame if I developed a fear for safaris. I hope to bother everyone here with more tr's in the (near) future.

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WOW!  That's just unbelievable and I'm so glad you are OK....It's a good warning to never let your guard down (not that you did) I would imagine there are very few people that live to tell the tale....holy smokes....I'm shaken and I wasn't even there!  Again, so glad you and the guide are OK!  

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