We caught up with safari guide, safari-seller, and author Peter Allison with some of the burning questions you’d sent in…
You’re known for your stories of life in the bush, what story would you love to have from the bush that you haven’t got yet?
“One where I see a small-spotted cat! This is the least known of southern Africa’s cats and one I would love to get a look at. Another story would be about how I got into a Zorb ball and spent time with elephants, but everyone keeps telling me that is a ridiculously bad idea.”
If you could undertake any adventure through areas of Southern Africa, what would it be?
“There are so many! I’d love to walk with the guides from Uncharted across the Makgadikgadi Pans at full moon (something they have done in the past); if you count Angola as being in the region, I’d love to get there and to the source of the Okavango; I want to go find that bloody cat that has eluded me; and I’d be very keen to undertake something that is being developed in the Khwai Private Reserve where you spend a full day following elephants on foot learning about them as individuals as much as them as a species.”
What sets Natural Selection apart from other operators?
“I think we are returning a sense of fun to safaris! The conservation aspect of what we (and other safari companies) do is very important and serious business, but the people that travel with us are on holiday so we don’t want to be too earnest the entire time. Have fun, enjoy watching wildlife, have a gin, and save species while you are at it!”
Which is your favourite NS area and why?
“That’s like asking someone which is their favourite child.”
Which is your favourite NS camp and why?
“Oh dear. You really want me in trouble, don’t you?”
Which upcoming camp are you most excited about and why?
“Shipwreck! Such an amazing area that has been off limits for way too long, and the coolest new property in Namibia for many years!”
If you had to be an African animal for the day which would you be?
“As much as I love elephants I’ll say a tortoise because I might actually survive a full 24 hours. For most animals life is brutal and they only survive because of skills they have developed over a lifetime. I don’t have those skills.”
When are you going to write another book? (Kathy Schleen/Tee Hamilton Goodman)
“There is no free time! So I’ll get to it as soon as my daughter stops running straight into danger at every opportunity she has. I wonder where she picked up that habit?”
When you do, what will it be about?
“Perhaps something on travels and disasters outside the bush environment, like the time I exposed myself to about twenty birdwatchers in California.”
When are you going to lead another safari and where to? (Kathy Schleen)
“Very soon! As of 2019 I will be leading trips again, into Botswana and Namibia and perhaps beyond to some even wilder destinations.”
What would be the best place to go on a family safari where you’ll see cheetahs? (Danielle Kane Yohn)
“Namibia! They have more wild cheetahs than any other country, and many places to see them. Also so many different places to take your family to, and an easy combination with Botswana or Cape Town (also great for families).”
If you had two weeks to spend in Africa with your family, where would you go and why? (Kit Boey) “We are lucky because we’ve had the chance to get Rosie onto two safaris already (before she was 18 months old!) But for families in general I think the ideal is mixing it up and giving something to do each day that wasn’t done the day before. In Botswana this could be done by mixing the Kalahari with Okavango, so over a week long trip you would get on game drives (still the best way to get close to wildlife); boats; mokoros; horseback as a possibility; quad biking (insane amounts of fun!); scurrying along with meerkats; walking with bushmen; and so much more. No one can ever complain of being bored through that!”
What qualities make a good safari guide, and how do you ensure you get a great guide when planning a safari? (Michael Willis)
“Great question! Guides anywhere in the world make or break your trips so it is really worth looking for places that pride themselves on their guides and brag about them – that’s a great start.”
Any Good Book Suggestions? (Michael Willis)
“In a similar vein to what I wrote about my safari experiences try Africa Bites by my friend Lloyd Camp; for other books about Africa I have loved try Zarafa by Michael Allin (whimsical and a great history lesson), King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild (brutal and an even better history lesson) and for fiction try the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.”