If you have visited The Outpost Lodge before, you may have met Dean Oelofse, one of our incredible guides. Dean fell in love with the bush as a young boy and his passion led him to become a key member of our team. We chatted to him about what a typical day looks like at The Outpost Lodge in the far north of the Kruger National Park, his top safari moment to date and his top tip for first-time safari goers.
1. WHAT MAKES THE OUTPOST Lodge SO SPECIAL?
The Pafuri area is absolutely unique – its outstanding natural beauty, diversity and remote location sets it apart from any other area in southern Africa. Furthermore, it has an energy that allows us to truly connect with the bush. Its diversity, the abundance of birdlife and the spectacular landscape allow us also to focus on all aspects of nature, big and small. From searching for the notorious Pel’s Fishing Owl along the rivers to experiencing the breathtaking Fever Tree Forest – this area has truly captured and inspired me.
2. TELL US HOW YOU BECAME A FIELD GUIDE AT THE OUTPOST lodge
I have loved the outdoors since I was a boy and always knew that someday I would work in the bush. My passion for wildlife was further sparked by weekend visits to a childhood friend’s family game farm, where counting game, fixing fences and learning about the trees and birds, was really rewarding for me.
After school I decided to do the necessary courses that enabled me to become a game ranger and field guide. I have a FGASA Level 1, and a Lead Trails Guide and ARH qualification. I have also completed numerous short courses such as horseback guiding, kayaking, photography and a PH, Game Farm and Wildlife Management Course.
3. DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY…
Waking up to the morning calls of the spur-fowl and francolins, we start preparing for the day that lies ahead. The plan is discussed over boiling kettles and the clinking of cups as we pack and prepare our hot boxes to be used later at one of our scenic coffee breaks. Then it is time to wake up our guests with a knock on their door – this is one of the best parts of my day, on our walkway listening to all the birds come alive and watching the colour of the sky changing. While waiting for the guests to gather in the main lodge area, we complete our final preparations before heading out on our safari – every day offers a new experience and an abundance of opportunities to learn.
On arrival back at the lodge, there is always some good banter about who had the best sightings before sitting with guests for dinner – sometimes under a lantern-lit baobab, a truly special experience. Before the call of the pillow, plans are discussed for the morning.
4. WHAT’S THE ANIMAL YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF SPOTTING IN THE WILD?
Elephants, without a doubt. For me these majestic creatures are the true kings of the bush. Their strength, intelligence, and sometimes human-like behaviour never fails to amaze me.
5. TOP SAFARI MOMENT TO DATE?
To be honest it’s very difficult for me to choose. I have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing encounters with elephants on foot, and in every one there was something unique and special in its own way, so to exclude one would not do them justice.
6. TOP THREE THINGS TO PACK WHEN GOING ON SAFARI?
Binoculars are a must. Camera. Hat.
7. TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE OUTPOST AT THIS TIME OF YEAR?
Summer is here, everyone is waiting patiently for the rains to replenish the bush. We had some incredible rain last season so the area is in a healthy condition and the animals are flourishing. Impalas have dropped their young, warthogs and their piglets are running around, little tails in the air and there’s an abundance of birdlife. The pan system is drying out so animals are concentrated along the Luvuvhu River but this will change with the coming rain. At the moment the Limpopo is relatively dry but flowing.
Every season is unique. Winter months allow for better game viewing, whereas summer months you see amazing environmental changes, flooding rivers, and thousands of migratory birds making their way home.
8. RECOMMENDED READING FOR THOSE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE BUSH?
10. TOP TIP FOR SOMEONE GOING ON THEIR FIRST SAFARI?
Open your mind to all aspects of the bush, do not focus on chasing certain species. If you appreciate Mother Nature for what it is, she will provide.