Ask the Namibian Guides
Diana Rupp, (Safari Press, 2013, 182 pages.)
Reviewed by Ken Bailey
Long-time Sports Afield editor Diana Rupp first hunted Africa in 2003, a plains game hunt in Namibia. Captured, as so many of us are, by Africa’s magic, she’s gone back several times, including return trips to Namibia. As she relates in this book’s introduction, despite the plethora of information provided by the outdoor writing community about African hunting, she felt something was missing—the in-depth knowledge that only the experience of having conducted dozens of safaris, year after year, can provide. Deciding to bridge that gap, Rupp interviewed 13 established Namibian PHs, asking each a series of questions intended to provide prospective safari clients with informed knowledge not available elsewhere about what they should expect and how they should plan their safari. Ask the Namibian Guides is the culmination of those interviews.
Reading this book, the first awakening I had is that, while focused on hunting in Namibia, the book is equally of value to those intending to hunt elsewhere in Africa. It would be particularly valuable to those planning to hunt in South Africa, a country whose hunting opportunities and outfitting industry are very much like those found in Namibia.
Each chapter focuses on a different topic, from how to select a safari outfitter, to arrival and departure concerns, rifle and gear recommendations, and what to expect on a typical day’s hunt. It even covers the attitude you should bring to get the most out of your hunt. The interviewed PHs provide their thoughts about each question in responses ranging from a single sentence or two to several well-thought-out paragraphs. Not surprisingly, I suppose, depending on the question, many of their responses are similar. A reader could find the redundancies a little tedious, but the astute safari client will recognize that when all of these professionals are saying essentially the same thing, you can be pretty sure it’s true and you should plan accordingly.
Other questions, meanwhile, illicit a wider range of responses, and the reader is treated to several different, yet informed, opinions. It’s quite interesting to see the variation of opinion and provides the reader the opportunity to land on the one that best meets their individual needs or style.
For those who enjoy tales about exciting and memorable hunting exploits from the African savanna, Rupp has you covered. In the book’s final chapter each of the PHs recalls a hunt that resonates with them to this day. Here’s where you’ll read of up-close experiences with elephants, interesting clients they’ve guided, and those rare hunting days when everything goes exactly according to script.
Ask the Namibian Guides is lavishly illustrated with superb photos provided by Rupp and the PHs; your appetite for a little eye candy will be well and truly quenched.
This book is a little different than virtually every other book describing African hunting that I’ve read. But that’s a good thing! In a well-laid out and easy-to-digest format Rupp has captured the answers to those questions about hunting in Africa that all first-timers, and even those on their second or third safari, want to know. As noted, the opinions of these PHs are applicable across much of the African hunting landscape. And if you’re thinking about a hunt in Namibia, the country-specific information provided here can’t easily be found elsewhere in such a tidy presentation