Client Testimonial Peter Dowling

October 3rd 2023  |   Testimonials  |  by   Peter Dowling
Fish Eagle

My Aardvark Story

It was early in 2005 when my wife Sally and I decided that the time was ripe to scratch the itch that had been building for a long time – we wanted to be introduced to Africa and its peoples, animals and birds. Only one way to achieve that – we had to go on safari!

Peter Dowling Client Testimonial

Where to start, how to plan – and most importantly – how to execute? We needed help. Someone told me that there was a small company not far from our Hampshire home, operating out of an old army barrack block in Ordnance Road, Tidworth that might be worth a call. To be honest, the garrison town of Tidworth seemed a most unlikely environment for a safari operator … but I gave them a call on the off chance.

Experience, knowledge and enthusiasm

Glad I did, for it was our introduction to Aardvark Safaris, Richard Smith and Francis Naumann. Aardvark Safaris may be ‘small’ in terms of numbers, but they have turned out to be ‘huge’ in terms of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm.

Looking back, Aardvark Safaris’ approach to our first African experience was perfect. Not really knowing what would ‘float our novice boat’, Francis and Richard carefully exposed us to two cracking full-on safari camps, (Xigera Safaris Lodge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and  Nsefu in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia), interspersed with luxury at Victoria Falls, Colonial majesty at Shiwa Ngandu and then deserted beaches on Benguerra Island, off Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. That first safari was 26 days and lit the fire that has burned brightly ever since.


Xigera Safaris Lodge, Okavango Delta Botswana

Xigera Safari Lodge, Okavango Delta Botswana

We have now been on three further safari holidays – and each time we have gone with Aardvark Safaris. Why? Why didn’t we ring the changes, play the market, look for new faces – after all there is certainly no shortage of firms touting for our business?

Planning is critical

Here is the answer: going on Safari is a serious affair and planning is critical, especially as costs are inevitably moving in an upwards direction – evidenced by the fact that our initial foray of 26 days has never been surpassed, indeed 2023 was 16 days! At the same time, our own depth of knowledge has grown significantly, accompanied by shifts in our focus. Above all, our knowledge of Aardvark Safaris and theirs of us has been a mutual education, based on friendship and trust. Each subsequent voyage has reflected our growing knowledge of each other – before we start planning the next trip there is a known track record of where we have been, what we have seen and what we have learned – and that is really valuable. All we have to do is discuss new possibilities ………… and decide where we want to go next.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: Aardvark Safaris are very well respected in Africa and their protégées are assured of a warm welcome everywhere they go. That’s worth a lot too.

Talking of shifts of focus, for me 2023 was the year of the bird. There are over 1,000 bird species in Kenya and I felt that they would be my focus. The animals are going to come along anyway, but birds are a different matter – harder to spot, more difficult to photograph, but intensely rewarding. So at each camp I asked my guides to focus on birds, birds – and more birds. To a man, they were delighted and proceeded to overwhelm me with their uncanny ability to see things which I couldn’t spot.

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

So I came back with over 2,700 images. A huge number, the product of multiple exposures made in the hope that at least one in each ‘target shot’ would have the bird looking at me and smiling! So after post-processing the total reduced to about 500 and I built a website to showcase this latest safari. I have included a few images from previous trips for good measure.

If you would like to take a look, the web address is https://pd-images.net Enjoy!

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the exclusive stays and trips mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

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