Hosted Namibia Riding safari with Alice Gully
As part of a series of hosted trips led by some of the most experienced in the Aardvark Safaris’ sales team, Alice will be co-hosting a riding safari in Namibia in September 2021. Full itinerary details can be found here and if you are considering joining Alice on this trip of a life-time we thought you might like to know a bit more about her.
Alice exploring in Botswana
Over to Alice ….
I am one of the owners of Aardvark Safaris and have been involved in African travel since 1995. My interest in all things African started with a zoology degree at Newcastle where my entomology tutor inspired with stories of exotic creatures only be found in Africa. When a second degree in veterinary science did not go according to plan, I decided to fulfil my dreams of working in Africa.
My first experience was on an island on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba. As a fresh faced 21 year old I had little idea what to expect and my boss, something of a safari legend, was every bit as colourful in person as the stories that had preceded him. After a couple of days in Harare stocking up with supplies, we set off with a heavily overloaded truck and trailer for the tiny village of Sinazongwe where we picked up the boat to Chete Island. Navigating our way through the broken trees, lethal to boats, which are part of the landscape on Lake Kariba was quite an arrival.
Chete was nothing like the camps and lodges I work with now. We arrived to find a dead hippo in the pool and a rodent outbreak the previous year that had given rise to a huge snake population – there were great fat puff adders everywhere. In my three-month stay we only had six guests but I had a very happy time here with plenty of freedom to indulge in my zoology interests. I also enjoyed studying a family of seven elephants and have many happy memories sitting on boats or walking through the island just watching them interact with each other.
One more alarming memory was trying to tie up one of the sailing boats in a strong wind and seeing my boss slipping into the crocodile infested lake. As he splashed about I saw two large crocs slide into the water. While I was desperately trying to haul him back on board he was shouting at me to save his new digital diary! Thankfully, both ended up safely back in the boat.
After three months I decided to look for a more traditional lodge and found a job working on the Zimbabwe side of the lake. It was another eventful journey as I hadn’t noticed my passport had been defaced on Chete and was arrested on leaving Zambia. Fortunately, a businessman on the same Greyhound bus noticed I hadn’t returned to my seat and paid the bribe to get me released. Otherwise I would have been parted from all my belongings and money.
Once settled, I ran Sail Safaris with a fellow Brit, showing guests the shores of Matusadona from a catamaran. It was an incredible time with plenty of amazing wildlife encounters. I remember one night sitting with a beer watching some lions hunting impala. They caught it near the shore but as they were catching their breath a crocodile snapped it up. Back then there were plenty of large tusker elephant around and it was great to watch lone bulls wade through the lake with tusks as low as their feet.
We lived in a simple house by the campsite in Kariba and anyone who has been there will know how prolific the wildlife is. We’d often get back to find the baboons had moved in, they made a terrible mess and seemed particularly fond of tomato ketchup. I remember one unfortunate incident when my face was very swollen after a spider bite. I could just about speak but my eyes were almost closed –the whole episode coincided with the start of a safari and I will never forget greeting the new guests who must have wondered what they had come too.
From here I moved to Hwange and to a riding safari where my role was to do the background hosting as well as look after and ride 30 horses. Quite simply one of the best times of my life. My boss was an incredible guide, amazingly knowledgeable, and calm with everyone and everything whether it was human, equine or wild.
The lodge comprised a number of open sided rooms with the most amazing views over the valley. We would ride on the ranch and then take wildlife drives in Hwange. It really was the best of both worlds, with fantastic wildlife on our doorstep in the national park together with a private farm with lots of wildlife to enjoy while on horseback or on foot.
This was Zimbabwe at its best and the riding safaris and horses became my life as we tried lots of new routes and experiences. A few were never repeated including “moonlit rides” which involved riding after supper under a full moon. Although the moon gave enough light to ride, we didn’t factor in all the nightlife which spooked both the wildlife and horses. The upshot was my being caught up with panicked buffalo stampeding away from lion, my horse and I being forced through ‘wait a little thorn’ at speed. We were covered in sharp spikes and it took a lot of TCP to return us both to full health.
In another cat related story, the horses had been upset by some lions hanging around their paddock. One morning I found a four year old outside my room with his front two hooves on my veranda. I picked up some of the grooms and trackers and we found plenty of chaos and horses scattered far and wide. Luckily none had come to any harm and we managed to round them all up without further incident.
After a couple years here I returned to Scotland and set up my own safari tour operator, merging it with Aardvark Safaris in 2003. Now married, and mother to three daughters, riding is still a big passion and I compete and hunt when time allows.
I’ve travelled extensively in Africa and count the riding safaris I’ve experienced among my most exhilarating adventures. I’ve hosted rides in South Africa, Botswana and Kenya and have enjoyed making sure everyone in the group has the most wonderful safari. I’ve visited Namibia several times and can vouch for its incredible beauty. To ride across the wilderness here is something very special and I look forward to sharing it with you.
If you would like to join Alice on this wonderful Namibian riding safari, or would like to chat about any aspect of the itinerary or riding safaris in general please do get in touch. Just send us an email or give us a call and we would be delighted to help.