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36 Travel Namibia F rom the word go things had gone well on this safari. It usually depended on the clients. A British honeymoon couple; an Italian fashion designer and his much younger wife from Milan. An American travel agent. With the British, you had to watch your step. Test them fi rst. They're unpredictable. Keep them where you can see them. They can sometimes be your best clients, but they're the most erratic. " I come from a family with a proud history of shooting Englishmen," I once said to a British client, tongue in cheek. My remark was reported and became the subject of discussion at a council meeting. Fortunately my managing director, an English- speaking South African, was a man with a sense of humour. Apparently he exclaimed: " That's the kind of man I want for the Skeleton Coast." Italians from the north are known for the generous tips they leave. They usually come from Turino, Parma, Milano or Bologna. Moreover, they are wonderful people. They show sincere appreciation for everything you show them and do for them. Americans who take the trouble to come and explore the Skeleton Coast are some of the best clients you can ever hope to meet. The British honeymoon couple were carefree and in love. He was an economist and she an attorney. Young and successful. The Italian, his beautiful wife and I clicked immediately. ( Neither was I blind to the way she was looking at me.) The American travel agent had been all over Africa. He knew the industry and helped to make things easier. We became instant friends. August is a rough month in the safari industry. There is very little respite. It was the end of August and I was having a tough time. As a plane landed to fetch the one group of clients, the next group would get off the same plane. On the fi rst afternoon we drove to the coast, where Mathias Koraseb died a hero's death and lies buried among the driftwood on the Christiaan Bakkes with a Himba child GUiDInG The Himbas welcomed us warmly, as usual. No matter how I tried to play down a visit to the Himbas, the clients were always amazed by what they saw. The sophisticated traveller from Piemonte or Massachusetts stepped into another world as soon as he got out of the Land Rover DIG Skeleton Coast write It made headline news: a young game ranger was attacked by two crocodiles and lost his left arm. Fifteen years on, Christiaan Bakkes has become one of Namibia's most sort-after and colourful guides. Here, in an extract from his book In Bushveld and Desert: A Game Ranger's Life, he describes a safari on the Skeleton Coast. DIDInG DI DIDI DANA ALLAN

Travel Namibia 37 Christiaan Bakkes lost his arm in a crocodile attack Far left: Tourists play with Himba child Fun in the Skeleton Coast dunes MIKE MYERS WILDERNESS SAFARIS