Why Local Knowledge Makes a Difference

When in doubt, ask a local.

So goes the unwritten rule of travel. And while this ethos may serve in London, Paris or Sydney, on the plains of Africa or in the wilderness of Patagonia, ‘locals’ can be few and far between. You’re unlikely to round a thorntree thicket to find a Maasai warrior that happens to be fluent in English, casually reading a newspaper and able to proffer directions to the nearest 7/11.

This is why local knowledge can be the difference between an average safari and a magical journey handcrafted to your specific requirements and wishes.

Local Knowledge, Safari Guides
Photo: ©Suján

In more populous regions, a local can be easy to find, and the universal language of hand gestures may be enough to find answers even when the words cannot be understood. But on a Rothschild Safari, these places are rarities and you often need to commit your journey and your trust into the hands of strangers.

For us, ‘local knowledge’ is twofold, each as equally important, and beginning before you even book your adventure.


We pride ourselves on being industry-leading specialists in all we offer. We work diligently to create the very best bespoke journey, exclusively designed for each individual client. This ensures that you will receive the best service at the most appropriate and exceptional properties and that every request and requirement is catered to.

As an example, one client, who happened to be diabetic, refused the chocolate left on his pillow at each night’s turn-down service. After the second night, a staff member approached him and mentioned the chocolate. “I’m sorry”, the guest replied, “I can’t eat those because I’m diabetic”. The reply astounded him: “yes sir, we know – we have flown in diabetic-friendly chocolates just for you.”

Local knowledge isn’t restricted to an acute awareness of the region; it incorporates every aspect of a client’s experience.

Only in the rarest of circumstances do we take a client to a property or destination that we haven’t investigated firsthand. We visit every lodge, meet every staff member, confer with hosts and owners and explore far and wide so that everything we recommend we do so with prior experience and absolute confidence.

We might not be locals in the truest sense, but we have met the people with whom you will be sharing your journey and have developed the utmost faith in their skills, talents and ability to care for our guests.

Local Knowledge, Safari Guides
Photo: ©African Bush Camps

When a guest first inquires with Rothschild Safaris, they are asked to share their ideas, rather than their specific wishes. They may want to see a certain animal or landmark, they may be an avid hiker or photographer, they may have a country in mind, but are advised not to limit their wishes to a preconceived notion.

This is because it is better to receive the advice of a seasoned traveller than commit to the suggestions of an impersonal guidebook.

Exploring every corner of the world we share with clients, we can suggest the most appropriate itinerary based on our personal travels, and much of this will not be found on a website or in a brochure. 

Having connected with staff members and grown to know them personally, we can also make requests beyond convention, such as in the case of the diabetic-friendly chocolates. A property can be asked to attend to a guests needs, but without local knowledge there is no assurance that they will be met, and certainly not in the most intricate details of your journey.

There may be an occasion to celebrate – a honeymoon, a birthday or an anniversary. With our local knowledge, we can plan the most appropriate itinerary, but also arrange the finest specifics. A complimentary bottle of wine is not beyond expectation, but your preferred grape from your favourite vineyard is something that only local knowledge can produce.

Local Knowledge, Safari Guides
Photo: ©Suján

This extends beyond camp. We have met and travelled with the majority of the safari guides at our partner properties. Because of this, you can be assured of their expertise, but we are also able to request personalised touches, from providing appropriate snacks to searching out your favourite creature or catering to physical necessities, such as for the partially sighted or disabled.

When time comes for you to venture into the unknown, we know that we have entrusted you to the best possible team to care for you and provide all the ingredients for your dream-come-true.


In the truest sense, local knowledge is the wisdom of the residents you will meet along the way, and here too, we ensure excellence.

With a fervent passion for supporting communities wherever we travel, many of the properties we connect with employ staff from nearby villages and townships. Having been raised from birth in the vicinity, they will, of course, possess acute personal experience and knowledge of a region’s flora, fauna and topography. However, they will also hold something that no amount of education can inspire: passion.

Just as we share the places we love with our guests, so too do local safari guides share the places, wildlife and wisdom that has been developed over a lifetime and that they will feel profoundly passionate about.

It is from this passion that visitors glean the excitement and admiration for their surroundings and a more immersive world opens. Local villages, traditional customs, ancient remedies and the uses of the endemic flora – these are things that even the most talented staff members from elsewhere are often either unaware of or not privy to, and though they may be highly skilled, they lack the ability to show you the local’s perspective of a destination.

Being shown a lion in the wild is stunning, but when you learn its name, its family tree and the personal moments in its life that your safari guides have witnessed, it takes the moment from stunning to sublime.

Local Knowledge, Safari Guides

Through the local knowledge of staff, you can gain intimate insight into each destination you visit. Chefs may share family recipes or samples and facts about regionally sourced ingredients, house staff will regale you with stories of their childhood or magical moments that have long passed, and your safari guides will know the heartbeat of the world around you. He will know when certain animals may be seen in a specific area, the best time of day to find them and when a newborn litter of leopard cubs can be expected to emerge.

This acute local knowledge reaches beneath the surface for more in-depth impressions of your journey. Local staff will be able to tend to your wishes, and also know where, when and how to fulfil more personalised requests. 


In addition to those points mentioned above, local knowledge is imperative to your safari journey. Without having insight into your destination’s cultures, hidden secrets, and flora and fauna, there is so much that can be missed.

Customs and ceremonies that occur on specific dates, locations beyond the beaten track and the rhythms of nature that afford us the most intimate scenes and occurrences can all so easily be overlooked without the wisdom of a true local. Added to this, the incessant repetition of your specific requirements becomes arduous when having to be reiterated time and time again as you travel to different lodges and camps. With local knowledge, staff will know these facts in advance and will have prepared every necessity prior to your arrival.

At Rothschild Safaris, we have spent the last 25 years developing relationships with staff, safari guides, management and operators on the ground to assure excellence in every step of your journey. Without this, we would simply be another travel agent, booking packages that we have little or no personal experience of and without the assurance that your adventure will be of the utmost standard. This sets us apart and, with such extensive personal comprehension, has elevated us to being among the world’s leading experts in safari travel.

When planning your adventure, it is essential to do so with an open mind, presenting ideas and wishes to your travel designer, but placing your faith in our local knowledge and that of all staff who will guide you along your journey.

After all, memories of a lifetime are as much about the people you meet and discovering the unexpected as they are visiting new destinations.

Contact your Travel Designer to discuss your next journey, and discover the value of local knowledge.

Header Image: ©Kicheche