Safari operators rate guests from around world

WildtuinJulie2014-5_84550 (Small)

MBOMBELA – In a recent survey conducted by, more than 400 safari operators – or Land Rover jockeys as they are affectionately known – were asked to rate guests from various parts of the world, based on a range of criteria.

The Americans were the unchallenged winners, with no less than 85 per cent of the surveyed operators rating them as pleasant to very pleasant, friendly, having great humour and tipping generously.

Italians, on the other hand, were singled out as the least favoured safari tourists with more than 18 per cent of operators saying that they are annoying, or very annoying. They indicated Italians are ruder, seldom on time, and often completely ignore the guide’s instructions. On the bright side, the survey also showed Italians are easy to please.
The survey included other stereotypes. Brazilians are the second worst latecomers, after Italians. A stunning 45 per cent of operators indicated the Dutch to be the worst tippers. Of all other nationalities, only the French came close to them in the “poor tipping” department.

photo: Benno Stander

photo: Benno Stander

Overall, British tourists did very well. Operators hold them in high regard and find them to be polite, on time, and likely to pay attention to the guide’s instructions. The only point of criticism was, according to 55 per cent of operators, the British are hardest to please. Germans are considered to be the most punctual with 61 per cent of operators indicating that they are always on time.

Also read: Tourist guide association to boost Mpumalanga’s economy

According to the owner of Kruger Track and Trails guided safaris, Stephen Pieterse, his experience is also that the French and Dutch are notoriously bad at tipping. He agreed that the Americans are some of the most pleasant guests but felt that Australians and New Zealanders could be added to the list.

“I think guests from the US, Australia and New Zealand are more similar to South Africans than some of the other nationalities. We have the same sense of humour and they tend to be more laid- back and not as high maintenance as some other visitors. They are also very interested in everything around them and have a good appreciation for everything they experience,” said Pieterse.

photo: Benno Stander

photo: Benno Stander

While on a guided drive, Pieterse once found himself in a very tricky situation when an elephant bull in musth came storming towards the vehicle from around a blind corner. There simply wasn’t enough time and space to avoid the bull, which proceeded to try and lift up the vehicle.

No one got hurt in the incident, although Stephen admitted that at the time the guests were petrified. “Luckily they were American guests and it only took them a few minutes to calm down and start making jokes about it, asking whether they would now have to pay extra for the extra close encounter.”

Also read: Country’s best field guide honoured in the KNP

When it comes to difficult customers, Pieterse explained that in his experience Indian, Russian and Norwegian clients top the chart. “I have heard rumours from French and Italian guests that in their respective countries certain establishments refuse to cater to Russians. Whether this is true I cannot say but I have experienced first-hand how unruly and demanding they can get. But in my experience it is very often Indian guests who make the highest demands and are very quick to point out that they expect to see all of the Big 5.”

He added, however, “Although some nationalities do have general traits, I prefer to look at them as difficult individuals, and every country has them.”

Benno Stander
Online editor / features writer

Latest News

Next Story
Photo: Mahalie Stackpole on
Protect your unborn child