Interview With Charles Ratcliffe: A Stellar Cape Town Guide

Have you ever arrived in some far-off destination and wished you had someone on hand who had all the local knowledge of the place that you were visiting at their fingertips? Maybe you were staying for a short while and really wanted to immerse yourself in that destination and get the most out of your trip? We have just those kinds of people at our disposal and felt it was time to highlight some of our private guides that always get fantastic feedback by adding their own blend of magic to our client’s trips.

Charles Ratcliffe

Charlie one of our star guides doing what he loves best in his spare time

First up on our list of star guides is Charles Ratcliffe. Based in Cape Town, Charlie predominately looks after our guests wanting to go on a Cape Town safari or visit the Winelands, Hermanus, West Coast and the breathtakingly beautiful Garden Route. For birding enthusiasts, Charlie is the perfect choice as he has a vast knowledge and interest in our feathered friends.

Mini Interview With Charlie

  • Do you have a specialty? (History, photography, wine, birds) Birds, photography, hiking, natural history.
  • Where is your favorite place to take visitors? Please give one urban and one nature destination. Old Biscuit Mill Market, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
sunbird on protea

With their bright jewel-like plumage the Cape Sunbird is often found in the Kirstenbosch Gardens amoungst the Pincushion Proteas

  • How did you get into guiding? (What was your profession before you became a guide?) I did a game ranger apprenticeship and guided for a year or two and then became a “professional student” studying anything that ended in “ology”. A Masters degree in ornithology was the final outcome which entailed research into issues affecting bird populations. Married with two kids resulted in me drifting back into guiding with Cape Town being my home base.
  • What is the feel good factor about being a guide? Giving people a real WOW expression in terms of what you have just showed them, or explained to them. It’s about educating people using one of the richest scenic and cultural places on the planet as your canvas.
Aerial view over Cape Town

Aerial view over the breathtaking city that is Cape Town

  • Do you have a most nerve wracking or nightmarish tour guiding moment in your career to tell us about? Barbara, you know who you are, never come back!! Some folks are just from the shallow end of the gene pool, enough said.
  • What is the most amazing/ off the charts/ thing that you’ve done with your clients? Either scuttling around like rats through a tour of the storm water system beneath Cape Town’s streets, or mountain biking through big game territory near the Kruger national Park.
  • What is the best part of your job, and what is the worst? The best, being outdoors and not behind a desk. Worst, being the messenger that gets shot when things do not go according to plan!
  • What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to become a guide? Enjoy chatting to people, the knowledge will come in time, but if you are not a people person, this is not for you.
  • What skills do you need to make it in this business? Enthusiasm, flexibility, thirst for knowledge and confidence.
  • What is your favourite wildlife moment? Helping to dig out a baby elephant from a muddy waterhole in Savuti, Botswana, and then assist chasing off the local lion pride that tried to take her down.
Elephant calf and its mother

Rescuing a baby elephant calf in Botswana counts as one of Charlie’s best wildlife experiences

  • Do you have a preferred nationality and why? No, just not Barbara!
  • If you could only go on one trip in your lifetime, which one would it be? Fly-fishing on the flats of various islands close to the Seychelles.
  • Some quick one answer questions:
  • Favourite animal? Wild Dog
  • Favourite food? Oxtail

We always try our utmost to match our clients with the perfect guide and for any safari near Cape Town Charlie is the ideal choice because his natural passion for nature has him bringing the ‘wildlife’ and ‘on safari’ aspect into the Cape Town portion of your trip even though you are in a predominantly urban environment.

You rock Charlie! Keep up the good guiding.

 

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