If you have visited us at The Outpost before, you may have met Matt Plaistowe, one of our amazing field guides. He's been with us for three years and our guests are constantly singing his praises. We chatted to him about how he became a guide, a typical day in the bush and his top tip for first-time safari goers.
1. WHAT MAKES THE OUTPOST SO SPECIAL?
The diversity of this northern tip of Kruger is incredible – there are birds that can be found here but no where else in the park and the trees are amazing. Plus, it is not as busy as other parts of the Kruger – it is extremely peaceful here. It’s such a privilege to wake up and get to experience what happens here every day!
2. TELL US HOW YOU BECAME A FIELD GUIDE AT THE OUTPOST
I studied through FGASA to become an accredited field and trails guide. I did my studies here at the Makuleke EcoTraining camp, which is how I learnt about The Outpost and luckily came to be a field guide here.
3. DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY...
I wake up really early, much earlier than anybody else on the team because I like to be awake for when my guests come down for morning coffee. Then we chat about the sounds that the guests experienced during the night as it can be very busy outside while you are snug in your bed – hyena can be heard almost all night long! We then head out into the early morning for a walk or a drive into one of the far corners of the concession. We can be out all morning as there is so much to see. On return to the lodge, I enjoy a well-deserved hearty brunch and chat about the morning's experiences. I will then clean my CZ 550 .458 and the Land Rover to make sure they are in tip top shape for the afternoon. I love to keep fit with the other guides and will get in a good workout before heading down to afternoon tea to meet my guests and then out to watch another spectacular sunset. However, every day brings something different and you need to expect the unexpected.
4. WHAT'S THE ANIMAL YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF SPOTTING IN THE WILD?
The honey badger is by far my favourite animal. They might be small but they are the world’s most fearless creature! They will eat anything and everything. They even have a resistance to snake venom and can merely sleep off a snake bite. Snakes are one of their favourite meals as are tortoises, which they can crush with a few bites. They even partner up with birds to find food, such as dark chanting goshawks and honeyguides, which are known to literally guide them to bee hives! If this is not enough they even use tools, just have a look on Youtube!
5. TOP SAFARI MOMENT TO DATE?
I was lucky enough to once see every member of the Big 5 within less than 200m of one another, which was crazy!
6. TOP THREE THINGS TO PACK WHEN GOING ON SAFARI?
- A good pair of binoculars
- A camera
- Bird book
7. TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE OUTPOST AT THIS TIME OF YEAR?
All the Knobthorns are now in flower. As well as the flame creepers and caper bushes along the riverine areas, which are bathed in an incredible jasmine fragrance. Some of the African migrant birds are returning for the summer – we have already seen a Wahlberg's eagle and a yellow-billed kite. The bush is still fairly thin and after the previous rains there is still a fair amount of water, which is making for great walking conditions.
8. DO YOU CRAVE ANYTHING ABOUT CITY LIFE?
Pizza. I love pizza!
9. RECOMMENDED READING FOR THOSE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE BUSH?
10. TOP TIP FOR SOMEONE GOING ON THEIR FIRST SAFARI?
Don’t only focus on the Big 5. Be open and enjoy all things great and small that the bush has to offer, from the birds to the trees and even the insects. If you are open and willing to learn, the bush will come alive during your stay and could possibly become a life-long passion of yours.
Keen to learn more about The Outpost? Watch our video for a glimpse into our special part of the world or get in touch to book your stay.