Safari guiding essentials: the spotlight


Celia the Spotlight

I’ve got a new toy! And I’m really looking forward to testing it out. Any guide will tell you about the constant struggles they have with spotlights on their safaris. It’s like war. Us vs. Them. And they almost always win and leave us in the dark. Literally.

It’s like they’re determined to not work. They have many tactics they employ to meet this end.

Their cords get broken and need to be re-attached, their bulbs or switches break and need to be replaced. Only to break again almost immediately. Then the red filters go missing. Like, who would want to steal a red filter? But at the last lodge I worked at, it happened ALL THE TIME. There’s someone living near Pilanesburg game reserve with a giant box full of little plastic red filters (um, R475 a pop to replace) that they just don’t know what to do with. How about just not stealing them in the first place? It’s some great conspiracy between the theives and the spotlights themselves. 

But sometimes (rarely) the problem isn’t the spotlight. Where I am now, the lodge is pretty unique in having a set of good quality, near flawless spotlights; but in this never ending war, the vehicle fuses simply can’t always cope with all that awesomeness. There’s got to be a trade off. The spotlights make it that way.

All of these faults wouldn’t be much  bother if they happened occasionally, but in my years and years of guiding I’ve found these nightly spotlight problems to happen all the time. On a near-daily basis. It’s stressful! Darn you, spotlights. Darn you all.

And I hope I’ve eliminated that stress with my new investment:

Meet Celia; a lovely new LED, cordless, rechargeable spotlight. Love, joy and bliss.

Celia will find me animals. And she’s under my full control. She won’t break. And she’ll be locked up in my room where she can’t be influenced by other, naughtier spotlights.

Celia’s coming out with me tonight on game drive and I’ll give a full review at some point in the future once she’s been given a real workout in tough conditions.

Until then, what do you guys think about spotlights on safari? I’ve been surprised but happy to have had a few sets of guests in the past months who have requested that we don’t use one, because it isn’t fair to the animals. It really got me thinking again about safari ethics. Thoughts? Nocturnal animals: light ’em up or just let them be?


The red filter: one stupidly expensive peice of plastic. But totally necessary for ethical up-close animal viewing at night…


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