Here in the southern hemisphere, not only has the Christmas countdown begun, but “silly season” has also officially commenced simultaneously. Here, the festive season also just so happens to coincide with the official start of the summer holidays, so you can imagine where the season gets its moniker. Everyone’s social calendars are jam-packed, the festive drinks are flowing, the sun is shining, the beaches are filling up and (summer) holiday mode is kicking in big time.
So in the spirit of silly season and not taking life too seriously, today’s blog celebrates the often hilarious things our rangers see and hear while on safari. There’s no denying that rangers certainly get asked some fascinating, often mind-boggling questions, especially from first-time safari goers who, in their defence, certainly wouldn’t know any better.
We love our guests and we encourage their keen curiosity about the natural world. Let’s be honest, we’d much rather they ask lots of questions to glean as much as possible from the interpretive experience than keep quiet. There is no such thing as a stupid question, in fact, the silliest question is the one not asked.
With this in mind, the following is just a light-hearted blooper reel of some of the most innocent questions and entertaining moments our rangers have experienced. All names have been removed, not only to ease the rangers’ guilty consciences, but also to protect the egos of our most charming and humorous guests.
What’s the funniest question you’ve been asked by a guest?
“If they could get out of the vehicle and feed the hippos some grass.”
“Do elephants eat meat?”
“Why is that warthog getting so close to that rhino? He’s going to get eaten!”
“Driving down a road with a large amount of elephant dung scattered along it, a guest points out and asks, ‘That must be impala dung?’”
“Why is the giraffe not hunting the impala?”
“How many times have you witnessed hippos extinguishing bush fires?”
“Do the antelope ever jump into the vehicle and bite?”
“If they could get out of the vehicle and take a photo next to a bull elephant.”
“Why aren’t you a vegetarian? Rangers should be vegetarian!”
“Why does the sun set over there?”
“At what age does the hippo grow a horn and become a rhino?”
(Pointing at a windsock on the airstrip) “Is that a giraffe feeder?”
“Can you see Mt Everest from here?” (South Africa)
“I was explaining hippo behaviour to a group of guests as we sat at a waterhole. When I mentioned that the hippos come out of the water to feed at night, one of my guests looked at me in utter amazement and exclaimed, ‘Hippos have legs?!’”
“Do giraffes eat lion?”
“Is ‘cheetah’ a South African name for a leopard?”
Image © Howard Cleland
“When will this ostrich fly?”
“After receiving a full orientation on Indian wildlife and already going on two game drives, a guest innocently asked me why they hadn’t seen any giraffe or zebra yet.” (India)
“Why are the warthogs and impala so close? Can’t a warthog eat that impala?”
“Do you get Bigfoot here?”
“While on a nature walk, I was once asked how deep the sand was in a dry riverbed. Before I could answer, the lady’s husband told her not to be so silly and proceeded to explain to her that &Beyond as a company had shipped the sand in to landscape the area. Needless to say, I had to find a diplomatic way of letting them know that it was in fact all natural.”
“Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches from slamming their faces on trees?”
“Can baboons commit suicide?”
“It was our guests’ first time in Africa. They asked us about termite mounds so we pulled up to one just as a warthog was scurrying out of its burrow. One of the guests asked if that was a termite.”
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen a guest do on safari?
“I had one guest who would quack like a duck at random, but regular, intervals throughout the entire safari. I still don’t know why he did it.”
“I asked my guest what he was hoping to see and he said he was only interested in getting photos of animals doing a #2. I didn’t question it, but after two days of sitting with different animals, waiting for them to do their ‘business’, my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to ask. He laughed and explained that he was in charge of decorating their newly-renovated bathroom back home. He wanted to frame pictures of wild animals in their ‘bathroom’ as an inspiration to the person on the throne.”
“My tracker and I got out to investigate lion tracks. A guest tried to follow, giving advice.”
“I had one guest who would stand up and try to grab the thorniest branches every time we went off-road. I also had a couple that just made out non-stop. It was rather awkward for the other four guests on the vehicle.”
“One guest took off his pants, saying it was a very hot day!”
“My guest, who was three months pregnant, tried to stand on her seat while the vehicle was moving! I almost had a heart attack.”
“I saw a guest going for an early 05h45 unsupervised ‘stroll’ in his striped pyjamas from a mobile camp in the Serengeti. I only saw him (1 mile out of camp) because of the pyjamas!”
“One guest tried to jump out of the vehicle into a pride of lions so that he could take a photo of the vehicle and the lions together. He wasn’t happy when I stopped him, telling me he had been a professional hunter for 15 years.”
“I once had a guest that would pretend to shoot every animal as we drove out of a sighting, which obviously didn’t sit very well with me.”
“One of my guests tried to urinate in a hot water bottle. Thankfully I caught him on time!”
“While at a buffalo sighting, the man sitting next to me in the front seat decided he wanted to climb out of the vehicle and try to ride one of the buffalo. Needless to say he jumped back into the vehicle at the speed of light once the buffalo realised his intentions.”
“One of my guests asked me to stop for a bathroom break. He got out of the vehicle and found a big pile of elephant dung. He then proceeded to remove his pants and pretended to use the same spot for his bathroom break while his family took pictures of him.”
“While I was busy talking to other guests at a lion sighting, one guest decided it was the perfect time to jump out of the vehicle for a bathroom break.”
“One guest pulled out his Leatherman to ‘protect’ his girlfriend from lions.”
“When my guest arrived for our nature walk, she was wearing a cerise pink jersey. After a lengthy explanation of why this wasn’t safe, she headed back to her room to change into something more neutral. Once I completed the safety briefing, we headed off into the bush. A few steps later, I turned around to explain something to the group and the very same guest was happily walking along behind me, holding a large red umbrella that was opened up and being carried high above her head like a giant beacon in the sparse winter scrub.”