Who are the Dhagga Boys
Right now the great game parks of Africa must look how they appeared when the first man-ape climbed down from a tree and uttered “Wahoo!” (roughly translated as “Oh my giddy aunt!”). Just him (or maybe it was a her), and millions of animals. By the time the people of the world start travelling again the African wilderness will have seen nary a human for several months: it will be like it was more than a century ago, still raw and limitless.
If you have any desire to see the place like the first humans did, you need to start making plans now, to get there before the crowds return and there are more tele-lenses jostling for position than wildebeest trying to cross the Mara River. There may not be a chance like this for another century or more.
There is another gang of characters that is chomping to get back into the wilds. They are the “dagha boys” – a loose affiliation of bush guides and naturalists who collectively represent the most experienced fundis* on the continent. In bush parlance a dagha boy is an experienced old buffalo bull that has left the herd and spends its days alone near water.
There they roll in the mud to get the dagha or clay covering which distinguishes them. One animal you don’t want to cross in Africa is a dagha boy. But ours have been partially tamed, and they are as keen as a cheetah eyeing a gazelle to take you back into the African wilds, to see it like no-one else will – perhaps ever.
From the bush to TED
TEDx Amsterdam - Alan McSmith
One of the old boys by the name Alan McSmith, has been so habituated he’s even been invited to give a Ted Talk (then again it was in Amsterdam, which can be pretty wild).
Elephant Encounter - Alan McSmith
He can be a bit tongue-tied in front of a large crowd, but to see him in the bush is to see something extremely rare: a person at complete oneness with the wild creatures of Africa, including the biggest and, potentially, the most dangerous
Getting back to Africa
If you fancy experiencing the great plains of the Serengeti, communing with mountain gorillas in Uganda, or maybe climbing Kilimanjaro, there’s a dagha boy kicking his heels to be able to escort you back into the Pleistocene world from where we came. You won’t get a second chance.
But there is another, and even more decisive, reason to head back into the bush: to support the animals and the communities that depend on eco-tourism to survive, and ensure the survival of the natural habitat. Furthermore, without the constant eyes of rangers and tourists, poachers have free rein to cause much harm. You need to get back to Africa, just as much as Africa needs you to.
Some of the other “old boys” you could meet on safari would be honorary mountain gorilla Paul Goldring, Okavango water wizard Peter Comley, photography guru Ian Johnson, author and tree hugger David Bristow, guidebook writer Philip Briggs, and old Africa hand John Addison, MD of Wild Frontiers.
To get your safari wagon rolling, just call John.