A True Inspiration

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

I recently went on a an expedition to the Moremi region of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The trip was part of an educational that was arranged by Karibu Safaris who run authentic safaris in the region.  My expectations of the area were certainly surpassed and I left with some great memories and images that were created by the sheer beauty of the area and the abundant wildlife and birds that inhabit its unique biosphere.

The most lasting memory however, was provided by a gentleman that joined us on the trip.  His name is Dick Siebel and he resides in the USA. The story that he shared was most certainly inspirational to me, so I thought I should share it with you all.

Dick is 85 years old and here he was embarking on a safari that would lead him through Botswana and the the greater Kruger National park in South Africa.  When we initially met , I thought that this was his “once in a lifetime ” adventure .  I could not have been more wrong in my assumption.

Dick is a well traveled octogenarian who is still exploring new destinations.  He is taking his battered hat to at least 12 countries this year, including eight or nine new ones!

The major part of his career was as a patent attorney in Southern California and in the latter part of his career the travel bug bit big time! He continued to work part time and for the rest, him and his wife Stephonie visited all the continents barring Antarctica – several times EACH!   They have also experienced many of the World’s Island archipelagos.  The entire scenic West coast of the US has been experienced. He even convinced his whole family to ” float ” through the Grand Canyon for 18 days in a wooden boat – the more conventional rubber rafts were a bit tame!

His recent interests have included watching wildlife and has been to most of the great wilderness areas in East Africa – Serengeti , Rwanda and many reserves in Kenya.

When he turned 75 , he treated himself to a “special trip”.  He decided that a 2 week hike to to Everest base camp would be in order! To take out some time out for some much needed rest and recuperation after this ordeal, he spent the rest of the month searching for tigers and rhinos in Southern Nepal .

The “mountain bug” had bitten, so a few years later he embarked on another 2 week trek along the Baltoro glacier in Pakistan ending at the base of K2.  . He has viewed, close up, most of the 8000 meter peaks of the world.

Dick is much less interested in the urban sites of Europe, although he does promise to visit them when, “I get a bit older! ” He liked the idea of putting a trip together to search for the snow leopard and is keen to join us for our trip to Svalbard next year!

Here is one of Dick’s wildlife images with a few of his thoughts.

“This image was with the little backup camera I began using instead of my SLR.  (It zooms to 840 mm but I don’t know how far I had it for this image.)  I refuse to be intimidated by folks with more expensive gear.  In Brazil I got pictures of a jaguar from a canoe.  A professional in a nearby canoe had two 1000 mm lenses on heavy tripods and  more than two top of the line Nikon camera backs he kept switching around.  I guessed he had over $50,000 of equipment in that precarious position.  I don’t know if he got any better pictures than I did with a hand held 300 mm lens.”

Image by Dick Siebel

Next time you see a great trip advertised and you say to yourself , “I would love to experience that sometime” , think of Dick and how travel can fulfill your life and provide some abiding memories.

Good luck Dick Siebel – you are an inspiration to me!

Jono Buffey

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