I would like to begin by mentioning some thoughts on 1×1, 2×2 and 2×1 safaris. On a 1×1 safari, the only thing I really worry about on the human relations side is my compatibility with the PH. For the most part, I enjoy hunting with young or young-at-heart pros who thoroughly enjoy their job, know their hunting area well, speak the local languages fluently, have a good rapport with their hunting team, have a sense of humour, can hold a conversation about things other than sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll and who do not want to make holes unnecessarily in the animals I am hunting.
On a 2×2 safari, this issue is compounded purely by the additional numbers, if nothing else, and it makes good sense to ensure that you and your companion have a very, very sound friendship before you embark on an adventure of this nature, which can often bring with it stresses and strains not present in the every-day environment. It is equally important for the two pros to have a similar relationship.
In my view, 2×1 safaris should be avoided at all costs. For a small discount, two of you share the services of one PH. In other words, at best, you each have one half of the hunting time. If one of you wounds an animal and you have to spend a day or so looking for it, however, the other member of the team never recoups his ‘share’ of the lost time. Apart from this, the whole concept is flawed and fraught with relationship destroying time bombs. While it is true that, personally, the 2×1 safaris I have shared with my close friend, Derek Carstens, have proved the old axiom, ‘trouble shared is trouble halved, pleasure shared is pleasure doubled,’ circumspection is the watchword when booking this type of safari.
Travel arrangements to and from the hunting area are critical. If at all possible, I try and fly directly to my destination. If I have to split the journey I try, as far as possible, to fly on the same airline, as this reduces the chances of my firearms going astray and, if they do, my getting them back quickly. If I catch a connecting flight in Africa I do not sit in the transit lounge and assume that my luggage, particularly my firearms, are going to catch the connecting flight with me. I remember once in Nairobi having to rescue my gun case from a trolley full of luggage about to be loaded on an Air Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa. I was en route to Harare. It is extremely important to ask to see the cargo manager and ensure that your luggage is loaded onto the connecting flight, in your presence, if this is at all possible and it often is. In any event, I obtain the name, title, telephone and fax numbers of the cargo manager on each of the airlines on which I fly before I leave.
In Africa, one cannot assume anything. In this regard, while I always try to limit my luggage to what I can personally carry, namely, one suitcase, one gun case and one carry on piece of hand luggage, which I can drape across my shoulders on a broad strap, I always take the largest piece of hand luggage I am allowed.
In this I carry as many of my breakables, such as cameras, binoculars, spare telescopic sight etc. as possible, plus a change of clothing and toiletries. And the one area where I do not stint, is my gun case. Apart from the wailing and gnashing of teeth when your guns do not arrive on the same flight as you, there is nothing worse than to find out, when they do eventually arrive, that someone has driven over your soft or plastic gun case in a ten ton tractor and your brand new, custom made .375 plus Zeiss Diavari Z scope are in a state that, only after copious amounts of super glue have been used, will they be fit for a wall hanging and nothing much else.
I know this will seem a bit like belt, braces and hands in the pocket precautions, but I also wrap a broad Samsonite luggage strap around my suitcases. If you have ever flown regularly with African airlines and experienced the vigour with which they pound their aircraft onto the tarmac when landing, you will realize that your luggage is not going to receive any treatment more gentle than that meted out to their planes. As for kid gloves – what is a glove?