Meeting Peter Comley - urbane, thoughtful, well-informed – you could, quite wrongly, assume him to be the city lawyer that he once was. But the sound of elephants at his gate will soon dispel any notions of a conventional life.
Peter lives on the mighty Zambezi River, where Botswana borders Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. They have many a tale of hippos, crocs and ellies in the garden. It took four years to negotiate the lease of the land from the local community, and they lived in a caravan whilst the delicate process of traditional discussion continued.
Peter is not a man to boast, and only slowly do you discover that this jovial, intelligent man is actually as wild as they come. He forewent life as a Jo’burg lawyer in 1979, in favor of life in northern Botswana. In those days the area was completely undeveloped, its tourism boom was still a decade away, and by no means was the area promising.
Peter gave up a legal career for a life in the wild
Peter started SGS, Safari and Guide Services, taking intrepid travelers into the wilds on tented safaris. Whilst other operators cashed in on the Okavango boom, Peter kept on pushing the boundaries.
His mobile safaris ventured into remote parts of Namibia, Zambia and Uganda. He has led gorilla treks on every mountain these primates are known to inhabit, and pioneered canoe safaris across the Okavango and down the Bakotga gorge below the Victoria Falls. Meanwhile, his ‘Bushlore’ trips provided a master class in bushcraft for professional guides and also enthusiasts from around the world.
Peter’s expertise has found its way into print. His ‘Mammals of Namibia’ and ‘Mammals of Botswana’ are standard works used by safari guides. He has also written a ‘Traveler’s Guide to Botswana’ and is now writing about ‘Django’ a little dog who accompanied him on many expeditions. He is also a published poet and columnist.
Of all the places he has guided, it is Botswana that stands out for Peter, and here he has lived for over 30 years, and followed its rapid and exciting development. Peter is deeply involved in conservation and he hosted the 6 nation gathering of park wardens to design the KAZA trans-frontier peace park. He also supports an orphanage in Kasane (Botswana) and with the help of his clients he has built schools in Kasane and in Uganda.
Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 19 Sep 2010
Location: Southern Africa | Botswana
Themes: natural world, travel | national, safari guide