This is a little different post than most you will see here. It is a review of a book of short, autobiographical stories which I read prior to my 2009 trip to Chobe. The book chronicles events that occurred while Allison was a guide, with most of this time spent at Mombo Camp in the Moremi/Linyanti area just west of Chobe.
I found the book entertaining, but a little hard to believe at all times. I also found the book to be dangerous in suggesting behavior while in the bush. Specifically he relates stories of being on foot away from his vehicle and also related to wading in water pools and also in waterways. While in each case he gives reason for the exploits, I am not sure this is wise behavior even for a seasoned guide. Within the book Mr. Allison also discusses pranks which leads to injury for fellow guides, slightly excessive drinking events and snake handling that led to injury of the guide.
Let me be clear, I recommend reading the book. I just don’t recommend anyone trying to copy the behavior noted in the book.
The book is easy to read. Peter clearly isn’t a great novelist, but someone writing about what he has seen or done. The simple writing style allows one to feel the experience. Also within the book are tips that help the safari experience to be better with your next trip. One element I really liked about the book is that it is written as a series of very short, virtually independent tales. Some stories are one page, some are several pages long. This format allows one to stop the book on short notice and begin again without much thought. This is particularly handy if one is reading the book while traveling on a plane or reading while on breaks during safari.
Within the book, you will learn of behavior of both wildlife and safari visitors. You will learn the life of the guide. You will learn of interactions with cape buffalo, lions, warthogs, hippos, crocs, and many other Chobe animals.
I noted that 43 of 54 reviewers to date have given this 5 starts at Amazon, so I am clearly not the only one recommending this as a read. The following information is pasted right out of the www.amazon.com
From Publishers Weekly
At age 19, Australian-born Allison headed to Africa for challenge and adventure, planning to stay no more than a year; having found work as a safari guide, he’s still there some 13 years later. In this fun, fearless memoir, Allison shares his experiences taking “guests” through the African wilderness, trips that often don’t go quite as planned-due especially to the unpredictability of the animals around them. Allison is a skilled, funny and vibrant storyteller, dishing arcane bits of wisdom like an expatriate Alligator Hunter: “I understand a little bit of monkey language, and ‘kwe’ is a sound I listened for. It was an alarm… full blown monkey conniptions were reserved for leopards.” A hilarious chapter recounting a troubled thousand mile trek through the Kalahari Desert finds Allison trying to wave down a passing truck in the middle of the night: “I realized that the driver would have seen what looked like a very animated sage bush with pasty white hands growing from it… he’d probably go straight to a witch doctor… and ask if there was a curse on him.” Along the way, Allison examines his fellow guides, the struggle with exhaustion, getting lost and the temptation to make frequently visiting animals into pets, as well as some poignant asides on love and death.
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From the Back Cover
Whatever You Do, Don’t Run is a hilarious collection of true tales from top safari guide Peter Allison. In a place where the wrong behavior could get you eaten, Allison has survived face-to-face encounters with big cats, angry elephants, and the world’s most unpredictable animals—herds of untamed tourists and foolhardy guides whose outrageous antics sometimes make them even more dangerous than a pride of hungry lions!
Join Allison as he faces down charging lions—twice; searches for a drunk, half-naked tourist who happens to be a member of the British royal family; drives a Land Rover full of tourists into a lagoon full of hippos; and adopts the most vicious animal in Africa as his “pet.” Full of lively humor and a genuine love and respect for Botswana and its rich wildlife, Whatever You Do, Don’t Run takes you to where the wild things are and introduces you to a place where every day is a new adventure!
In 1994 Peter Allison set off for a year-long stay in Africa. More than a dozen years and hundreds of adventures later, he’s still leading safaris and collecting stories. Allison’s safaris have been featured in National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and on television programs such as Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures.
The direct link to the Amazon page is: