“See Isaac Jump” or “What do a Black Mamba and Hippo have in Common?”

Isaac Seredile

Isaac Seredile

These two incidents happened on separate occasions, but I have to give Isaac a little bit of good-natured ribbing…

I’ll preface the stories by saying that when Evan and I share our Africa travel experiences with friends, we are inevitably asked, “Weren’t you afraid of (you name the animal) the lion or leopard jumping in the vehicle? the hyena choosing to snap your arm off?, the elephant or hippo charging the vehicle?, etc., etc., etc…”  And to be perfectly honest, I’ve never considered myself to be an uber-brave individual, so why do I always emphatically say “No, I wasn’t afraid”?  It’s ALL because of the guides.  I put my full faith and trust in these people, and, oh by the way, my life.   It’s not that Isaac, or any of his compatriots, are dosed with some extra machismo (well, maybe a little), nor are they carrying a gun (not allowed in Botswana) – so why do I feel so safe?  Bottom-line, they are smart and they never stop paying attention to our surroundings – so there is little chance they’ll be surprised.  One guide shared with us on a previous trip when asked the question about how he deals with not being able to carry a rifle – the clear answer was “a rifle can make you cocky, without the rifle you learn to avoid a problem before it becomes one”.  I think we all could take that to heart…

Anyway, back to Isaac.  Evan and I always ask our guides if there is any animal or reptile that they are afraid of.  It gives us a little glimpse into their inner workings.  And if a guide ever said that they weren’t afraid of ANYthing, that’s when I would be concerned.  So, one morning on our way out of camp, we asked Isaac if there was any animal he didn’t like.  Very quickly, he said “Snakes”.  Evan and I immediately hatched a plan – I was sitting right behind Isaac so played an integral role in the scheme.  Evan launched into the story that we had been told by another guide in Duba two years earlier.  Evan does a great job really enrolling the listener in the story – ultimately achieving the greatest emotive response possible.  In the story “Solly” is driving along a road with a thick overhang of tree branches and finds himself with a Black Mamba (one of the most deadly African snakes) in his lap after the vehicle’s tall roof knocks it from the trees.  Just as Isaac is taking this all in, I run my fingers along his neck trying to mimic the feel of a snake falling from a tree.  I was so focused on getting my timing right with Evan’s story that I failed to notice that Isaac had just lifted his cup of morning coffee when I “made like a snake”.  Isaac practically jumped out of the vehicle, but in such a controlled fashion that he did not spill one bit of his coffee (and he wasn’t using a travel cup!).  I remain in awe of his incredible control.

My second story involves a much larger, but just as deadly creature – the Hippo.  And in retrospect, I think I was getting a little payback for making fun of a guest on a previous evening who was petrified to be walking in the darkness after dinner.  One of the cardinal rules in Africa is that once the sun goes down, you don’t walk anywhere by yourself.  The guides are responsible for taking you safely to and from your tent.  One evening after dinner I was walking with one of the guides who was escorting me and a young Italian woman back to our neighboring tents.  Selinda is right on the spillway so there are always hippos in close proximity (sometimes their snorting is so loud it’s hard to sleep at night).  The young Italian woman was visibly frightened and waving her flashlight in all different directions as she scoured the darkness for danger.  In the midst of this “light show” she asked the guide if the hippos were asleep (hoping against hope) and was visibly distressed when the guide told her that this is the time, in fact, when they got very active… Needless to say after that, her “light show” became even more frantic.

Anyway, my payback ultimately included Isaac and Evan because as we were returning from dinner on the next night, we came face to face with a hippo (we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of coming between the hippo and his precious water).  The resident hippo around our tent had decided to venture a little further from the water a little earlier than usual and we startled him as much as he “startled” us.  (FYI- we were staring right into his eyes – and if we were staring into his, you know he couldn’t miss us!).  Isaac was one step ahead and stopped us in our tracks before we fully “engaged” the grass-munching multi-ton beast.  He finally gave us the all clear and told us to run – which we most certainly did.  Isaac took his own meandering route back to camp to avoid another surprise encounter.  Ah, just another day in the life of a safari guide…

Kealeboaga, Isaac!


2 thoughts on ““See Isaac Jump” or “What do a Black Mamba and Hippo have in Common?”

  1. Isaac Seredile

    Hi Lisa

    Hahahaha!!!!!!! you right your timing was perfect on that demonstration of the snake story that Evan was telling me, and boy you figures gave just the right creeping that i was imagining.

    Thanks for refreshing memories of one of those life time experience and nice picture.   Isaac Seredile Camp Manager/ Professional Safari Guide Cell: 267 75481435/ 267 76217242/ 267 73615267 Conservationist at Heart.


    1. laholzwarth Post author

      Hi Isaac,
      Great to hear from you! and glad that you enjoyed it. Did you get a chance to read my previous post, “Living in the Moment” – it covers that amazing morning we had with the leopard, hyenas, baboons and lions? Evan’s pictures are the icing on the cake.
      Hope you are well and enjoying more incredible days in the bush. Still more blogging to go, so stay tuned!


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