Traditionally a non-hunting companion is perceived to be a wife or partner accompanying the man in their life on safari; this is, however, not necessarily always the case. Over the past few years I have increasingly hosted father and son safaris, where only the fathers are hunters, or only the sons are hunters, as well as husband and wife safaris where only the wives are hunters. My absolute favorite safaris are, however, family expeditions with some family members, often of successive generations, are hunters and others observers.
The question still remains – do non-hunters have a place on a trophy hunt?
My answer is, absolutely and unconditionally – YES!
Now let me tell you why!
Sharing an experience as special as an African trophy hunt with the person/people that you love places you in the very special position of being part of their magical memory-making process. You will now not only be a bystander when stories of the great African experiences, adventures, hunts and trophies (as well as of the big ones that got away) are told, but in fact, form an integral and special part of those memories. Sharing in a passionate sport such a trophy hunting with the hunter(s) in your life will give you a better understanding of the reasons for their passion, as well their relentless quest for new hunting fields and species. Just one serious warning, though: the romance and seduction of Africa can become additive, and you will want to return to our magical continent – often!
My beautiful country, Namibia, is the ideal destination for the first-time observers on a trophy hunt. Namibia’s infrastructure is very well developed, our people are friendly, hospitable and peace-loving, our medical facilities are excellent, the accommodations and food on safari are great, and the shopping is world class – ‘Branjolina’ knew exactly what they were doing in choosing Namibia for the birth of baby Shiloh!!
I would also encourage anyone traveling halfway across the world to stay on for a few extra days in order to see more of our beautiful Namibia. Your hunting operator can arrange a variety of sightseeing trips for you, ranging from visits to the Etosha National Park, the Skeleton Coast, Namib Desert, Sossusvlei or many of the other magnificent destinations that our land of contrasts has to offer.
What to bring: Most hunting camps have a regular laundry service, so 3 sets of outdoor clothing, depending on the season and area that you choose, will definitely be sufficient. Dress appropriately; in comfortable sports clothing, with long sleeves for sun protection and material that can withstand some moderate wear and tear in the bush and daily laundering. Shades of green or dark Khaki are definitely preferable to the popular traditional light khaki colour, which often looks white in the sharp Namibian sunshine and will alert game. Add something comfortable to wear in the evenings, as well as clothing to wear to town for that inevitable – and highly recommended – shopping trip, and you will be all set in the clothing department. Comfortable, well-worn shoes, a hat and good sunglasses are essential. Be sure to pack all the toiletries that you use regularly, as well as a high protection-factor sun block and a rich moisturizer (the Namibian climate is extremely dry). A small selection of medicines is also a good idea – you may wish to consult your M.D. in this regard.
Some good information from those who have been there: Be prepared to ride in an open vehicle, and sometimes to walk, for varying distances when you accompany your hunter into the field. Hunting is called hunting because game is not waiting for the hunter; it must be found, stalked and shot. You will be asked to be very quiet at times when you would rather talk, to walk carefully and silently behind your hunter and the P. H., when you might like to be right up in front with them. You will be expected to make your hunter’s priorities your own, going where the P.H. says to go and waiting when the P.H. says wait. Although this is a wonderful chance for family members and/or friends to share a great adventure, the hunter is the star, the P.H. is always in charge, and your role will be to support your hunter and to remain in the background while the hunt is in progress. After the trophy has been taken, you will joyously join in the celebration, the photo session, and the victorious return to camp. If you follow these suggestions while in the field, your hunter – and his P.H. – will be grateful and the safari will be a pleasure for everyone.
Do prepare yourself for your adventure by reading up on Africa, specifically Namibia. The publication, Huntinamibia, is an excellent source of information on Namibia. Also consider reading “Safari, The Last Adventure” by Peter Hathaway Capstick, which has some fine, practical advice about going on a safari. Some of my favorite African books include: “I Dreamed of Africa”, by Kuki Gallmann, Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinensen), “The Poisonwood Bible”, by Barbara Kingsolver, as well as, of course, the hugely popular “Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, by Alexander McCall Smith.
It is also highly recommended to bring a few books to read while on safari, as well as a journal in which to record your many and varied adventures, since you will be amazed at the little special moments that you will forget in the thrill of the safari, which your journal will bring back to you later!
Bring cameras and more film – or more digital storage cards – than you think you will need. Believe me, you will be snapping photos from morning to night! If you can use a video camera, that is a wonderful way to record the hunt, always keeping in mind that the filming is secondary to the hunting, and must be done unobtrusively.
If you approach the safari in the spirit of adventure, with an open mind and a sense of wonder, Namibia – Africa! – will repay you one hundred- fold, with spectacular sights, sounds, tastes; with new friends and beautiful photographs; with magical memories unlike any you will ever find elsewhere.
Karen Blixen wrote:
“ There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne – bubbling over with a heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”
I would like to propose a toast to the beginning of your love affair with Africa!