Meet John Daniel Dunn (affectionately known to most as JD), the Sales Director and Specialist Private guide of TMAC (The Malcolm Ainscough Collection.)
JD was born and raised in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa, the epicenter of Africa’s largest economy, the tentacles of which he managed to ‘escape’ as a young adult. After spending the majority of his 20’s based at safari lodges across the continent, JD eventually heeded the call to ‘reintegrate into civilization’ and has been fortunate enough over the past ten years to call Cape Town, South Africa’s most beautiful city, ‘home’.
My deep love for Africa, her people and her wildlife began on family farms in one of the continents most untamed and enchanting countries – Zambia.
I was fortunate, as a young boy, to be able to spend the majority of my school holidays shadowing my uncle as he went about the daily chores that define the life of a farmer; the giddy anticipation of a fishing expedition, immersed in nature, never far from my wandering mind.
It was on the banks of Africa’s mighty Zambezi river that the flames of my fledgling passion were slowly fanned into what would become a roaring bonfire of desire to pursue a life in the wild. We’d camp on the floodplain, rise with the sun and spend our mornings bobbing and weaving through raucous pods of hippos, whilst in search of an elusive Tiger Fish. As the searing midday heat began to engulf us we’d navigate our way past enormous herds of swimming elephants and towards a blissful afternoon siesta. Our evenings were spent wrapped in the warm glow of a crackling wood campfire and, as eyelids began to falter, we’d bed down to the spine-tingling bellows of lions in the darkness, all under a mesmerizing blanket of stars.
These were the days of magic and wonder and I was in love.
The walls of my bedroom were soon adorned with a collage of African wildlife (cut from the pages of redundant wildlife calendars) and extravagantly embellished with porcupine quills, elephant grass and the odd warthog tusk, all collected and ‘smuggled’ home over the course of past adventures. Stepping into my childhood sanctuary must have been like wandering onto the set of an African Jumanji!
My siblings and I began receiving our first ‘pocket money’ at age 11 with which I’d immediately purchase the next ‘highly-anticipated’ wildlife documentary and my dusty collection of outdated VHS’s remains, to this day, one of my most treasured possessions. ‘Leopard – Prince of Predators’ ‘Lions of Darkness’, ‘Eternal Enemies’ – timeless classics.
It wasn’t surprising then that, at age 23, I left the shimmering lights of the City of Gold behind in pursuit of the life of my dreams. It was a giant leap of faith that, in retrospect, proved to be one of the best decisions of my young adult life. The subsequent eight years were spent guiding enthralled guests across Africa’s most iconic wilderness areas, from the lush tropical habitat of Northern Natal to the hostile, rugged beauty of the Namib desert, Namibia, the remote watery wonderland of the Busanga Plains in Zambia to the predator-dense battlegrounds of the legendary Sabi Sands, South Africa.
The narrative of the adventures, trials and tribulations of my lodge-based guiding years wouldn’t be misplaced among the pages of a Wilbur Smith classic and, in the capacity of a private specialist guide, I relish sharing them (in hilarious detail!) with my guests as we too settle down, after another unforgettable day in Africa, around a roaring camp fire and beneath that omnipresent blanket of stars – reminiscent of how it all began.
My passion is Africa, my calling is to share her with you.