Oct 25, 2016

Whatever You Do, Don't Run

True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
by Peter Allison

Peter Allison always loved wildlife. He waffled around trying to figure out what to do for a living in his early twenties, went on a vacation backpacking in Africa, and never wanted to leave again. When he found out he could make a living as a safari guide he was ecstatic. It was a dream job he'd never imagined existed- spending his time driving around looking for animals and showing them off to tourists. Apparently he worked in various locations for several different safari outfits, even was a camp manager once (but didn't like it, as he wasn't out in the bush observing wildlife) but this book describes his time in Botswana. When I looked for more titles I found he's written quite a few books about his safari experiences, and now I want to read them all. The way the book covers are designed and his goofy shocked expressions give the impression the books are all humor- but that's not true with this one, at least.

While there are plenty of self-deprecating jokes and Allison has no qualms about describing his clumsiness and mistakes that often get him into troublesome situations (drowning several vehicles when he tries to cross rivers, or finding himself too close -on foot- to an upset mother lion or elephant for example) you can tell he really loves the wildlife, and the book is just as much about appreciating the animals. There's also a lot about what goes on behind the scenes in running a safari camp, the ups and downs of the daily grind it becomes, the relationships with his co-workers, the visiting tourists who are often difficult or demanding. And there are some quite serious moments when people fall ill, have accidents, run into dangerous snakes. Or when a kill they are excitedly homing in on to show the tourists some action- lions and hyenas fighting over something- turns out to be the death of an animal they had come to know from long association- so instead it is something quite sad.

I liked this book. It was engaging, funny, heartwarming, interesting by turns and made me want to go look up more by this author. Still a 3- which is a good read in my little system, but this is a 3 that I will keep, whereas the previous book was a 3 I don't mind letting go (it's already swapped in the mail).

Rating: 3/5        246 pages, 2008

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