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LICENSED TO GUIDE (article first published : 2005-05-24)

Licensed to Guide is a personal narrative about 22 Safari Guides Susie Cazenove has met and known though her experience as a tour operator in the travel industry.

These guides are, or were, at the top of their profession and their careers are told from the beginning of their early love of the bush as well as its animals and people to the exhilarating, and sometimes nerve-wrenching, experiences of organising and guiding 'safaris'. There are extremely interesting and hair-raising accounts from some of the guides, and the bravery, tenacity and humour of these rugged men is clearly portrayed.

Suzie Cazenove has also told the early history of the camps, who started them and the struggle to survive in the early days. However, it is a sad paradox that these men with such a deep love of Africa can only share it with the rich few who can afford the luxury camps such as Mala Mala.

Ms Cazenove says "you have joined an exclusive club whose members alone truly understand how intense and moving the African experience can be". This is somewhat presumptuous and it is also 'jarring' to read of safari clients racing across the Makgadikgadi pans on quad bikes.

The book is written in a very 'easy to read' style and is interspersed with beautiful photographs of animals and of southern and east Africa. Her daughter, Jessica Hoffman, has made charcoal portraits of the guides and these are also included in the book.

While the book is interesting to those who have lived in the various countries featured or have visited some of the parks, I feel its appeal is limited to the members of Ms Cazenove's 'exclusive club'.

Susie Cazenove was born in South Africa, before moving to the UK with her English husband in 1974. She started work in the Africa-travel business in 1988, teaming up with Henrietta Loyd to start Cazenove & Loyd Safaris in 1993, specialising in African and Indian Ocean holidays. She now lives in England and still travels frequently to her old stomping grounds in the bush.

Published by Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd, Licensed to Guide is available in softback R245, or hardback R299. - Sheina Wood




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