If you thought we were offering safaris with Austin Powers himself, fear not, because private guide Mike Myers is just about the loveliest company you could have on your trip.
NS: You’ve been guiding since the 70s, how would you say the job has changed during that time?
MM: “It’s changed completely. When I started guiding Maun was more of a hunting town than geared to photographic safaris. We worked mostly in the national parks and we had to be completely self-sufficient. Dietary requirements were mostly non-existent and our camping was rudimentary. Also, there were very few Motswana guides, management staff and pilots which started changing in the early 80s. That’s now the norm which is great to see. The big difference is that it is so much more sophisticated now than it used to be.”
NS: What would you say is the most important part of your job as a private guide?
MM: “Reading your guests and tailoring the guiding experience to their needs and wants.”
NS: In which species’ company are you most comfortable?
MM: “I am comfortable with all wildlife and was lucky as a young guide to spend so much time with Bayei Polers who taught me a lot. I have only really had problems with hippo over the years and am wary of them in canoes and mokoros.”
NS: Please share a photo from one of your trips and tell us the story behind it.
MM: “This is a famous leopard from the Xigera area we called Madiphala. She was one of the first leopards to become habituated and because, in time gone by, we had a very nomadic lion population she successfully raised several litters of cubs. Many of those are still in the area and in turn were relaxed with the vehicles and have themselves had cubs. She had a last cub and must have been 15 years old the last time I saw her in April 2020. Even then her body showed no sign of her age just her ragged ears gave her away. She was beautiful.”
NS: If you could guide any three people, living or dead, who would you choose and where would you take them?
MM: “Hard question but I would say Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Trevor Noah. I would take them to the Central Kalahari and the Okavango Delta.”
NS: What’s the one safari highlight that you always look forward to?
MM: “Finding a leopard, even though I have been watching them for years they still take my breath away when I see one.”
NS: Do you have a favourite place to guide? If so, where is it and why?
MM: “The Okavango wins that one for sure. It’s just so picturesque and beautiful and any wildlife you find there just looks amazing. It’s a photographer’s paradise.”
NS: What’s the best piece of guiding advice you’ve ever been given?
MM: “Always be honest, if you don’t know say so, go back and look it up and then give the information to your guests.”
NS: If you had to shape-shift into any African animal, which would you be and why?
MM: “I have to say an elephant in the Okavango – I think they lead a charmed life.”
NS: Please tell us your favourite campfire story.
MM: “Years ago in Savuti we had a lone lioness in the Harvey’s Pan area we called Scarleg. She had a wound on the inside of her right back leg hence her name. She raised her cubs away from the pride more like a leopard than a lion. She was a great hunter and we all loved seeing her. I left the Savuti area and started guiding in the Delta but my friend Harry Cantle ran South Camp in Savuti and he told me that when she was old and dying she came in to the camp and lay at the bird bath. He was able to fill it with water for her and chase the hyenas away during the night and she passed away peacefully. What brought her to the camp and how had she come to trust us? In the last four years I have come across two other lionesses like her who came into the Lodge at Xigera and never worried us.”
Photos by Mike Myers
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