CONGRATS to 2015 Safari Guide of the Year Ian Lombard of Phinda Private Game Reserve, as well as to the category winners, finalists, judges, organisers, hosts, sponsors and guests. THANK YOU all for an unforgettable week based at Nkambeni Safari Camp at the Kruger National Park.
Special thanks to the team at Africa Direct Tour and Travel Operators (below with Ian) who bring us this phenomenal initiative, which is endorsed by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. We are grateful for the opportunity to have captured it all in stills and video, for the third year in a row.
As always, the contestants were required to dig deep across 7 categories of skill. Well done to Ian – who was presented the winning trophy by 2014 Safari Guide of The Year Nick Du Plessis – also for taking the top spot in the Game Driving, Story Telling and Photography categories, Adrian Bantich of Passage To Africa for his excellent overall runner-up position, Rudi Venter of Tswalu Kalahari for winning the challenging Shooting and Tracking assessments, JP Le Roux also from Tswalu Kalahari for the best Birding results achieved to date, Andrew Kearney from Shamwari Game Reserve for winning the special Walking category, and Chris Erasmus from Singita Lebombo for rounding out this year’s superb line-up of finalists.
The top photo shows them all under the expert instruction of judge James Steyn on the shooting range. Tension was running high there but not so in the photo below, which followed the fabulous awards ceremony that featured a host of sponsored prizes, great entertainment by Bernie Williams and an insightful presentation from Dr Sam Ferreira, large mammal ecologist for the Kruger Park . . . before the celebrations began in earnest!
Throughout the week, the accomplished judges put the guys through their paces from dawn until dusk and afterwards by the fireside, as side-splitting stories and moving experiences were freely shared, adding to the tremendous camaraderie that characterised the competition. It was our privilege and pleasure to have Nadav Ossendryver, celebrated founder and CEO of LatestSightings.com as our 2015 guest presenter. He contributed valuable insight and inspiration of his own, also delighting some of his vibrant, interactive community when we came across them in the park.
Watch this space for our 2015 SGOTY video, featuring Nadav’s engaging commentary and the rest of the compelling content from this once-in-a-lifetime week that had us mesmerised by the magnificence of our natural heritage, including seeing the Big Five during game drives and on foot. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this. In the meantime, to view all our photos from the finals, take a look at our OV&P Facebook albums. Enjoy!