I was asked recently, what tips I can give as a private guide working in Africa. The question led to today’s article. I didn’t want to bore you with the usual “packing list” advice, so I tried to come up with some unique things I try to practice myself to enrich this wild experience. So, here we go:
Keep a diary.
On safari every day is filled with excitement and wonder. Your time spend in the bush tends to pass very quickly and you won’t believe how easy it is to forget what happened. Keep a diary of your sightings and experiences, list all the animals you see (there will be much more than you anticipated), take notes of how you felt when you met your first elephant up close, draw flowers and trees… your safari diary is a memory that will stay with you forever and whenever you look at it, you will remember exactly how it felt to be there in the moment.
See beyond the big things.
Elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes – It’s most likely these iconic animals that drew you to the African wild in the first place. And while you can never spend enough time with elephants, it is the small things that will keep you captivated. Many safari guests tend to get over their first excitement of the big “hairy scaries” rather quickly (usually after the first two, three days). – Don’t stop there. Once you have taken a satisfying number of photographs to show back home – that is when the fun really begins. You are free to look for the little things. Ask your guide about the trees, the flowers, the insects. Tune in with one of the last remaining pieces of true wilderness and learn. Immerse yourself in this wild experience and remember what it means to just be. Everything is interesting – if you are interested.
Take time for yourself.
In its origins, a safari used to be a very “male” experience. Going on safari meant going on a hunt, staying in basic tents without much comfort, roughing it amongst the wild beasts. Ladies, times are changing. Safari camps have become much more girl-friendly and the African wilderness is the perfect canvas to reconnect with your wild, intuitive, female nature. Having said this, there are still a few things that need improving.
On safari, many will feel the need to take some time to reflect and rewind. And that is oh-so-okay! In fact, I encourage this on our safaris. Don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you” if you feel like sleeping in one morning. You are probably afraid to miss out, but there is so much beauty to be found when snuggling up under your blanket and listening to the morning chorus of a hundred birds. Let it all sink in and recharge your batteries whenever you feel you need to. There is no point in going on a game drive if you have no energy left to absorb it all.
Don’t cut your safari-time short.
One thing return-clients always say is this: “I wish I had stayed longer in the bush the first time.”
If it is your first time traveling to Africa there is probably quiet a lot you wish to see apart from the iconic megafauna: Cape Town, Victoria Falls, the Garden Route, the stunning beaches and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. And while all of these destinations are beautiful in their own right, I dare say that you can find their equivalent elsewhere in the world. Every continent has its bustling cities, panoramic coastal routes and white beaches. But only Africa can give you a sense of home-coming. The African bush is where we all came from. It is where our bodies developed into what they are today. It is where we learnt to survive amongst all the other creatures that still roam the savannah plains today. Don’t cut your time on safari short. It takes a few days to get acquainted with all things wild and wonderful – and then the reconnection truly begins.
Don’t forget to move your body.
When you think of safari you probably imagine a rather active, adventurous holiday. And while the latter holds true, the former does not in most cases. Truth be told: You will be sitting and eating a lot on safari. Game drives are usually between three to five hours long, with a leg-stretch and a coffee break in the middle. Food is all around and abundant. Your chances to get a proper work-out going – are not. Try not to be lazy. Take any opportunity you get to move your body – be it a quick yoga session on your deck, a few laps in the pool, a guided bush walk or just a good stretch after waking up or upon alighting from the vehicle. Your body will thank you for it – and so will your mind.
Reconnect to all your senses.
We live in a visual age. Social media, television, magazines, bill boards. These days everything is trying to grab our attention. We lead overwhelming, exhausting lives. The constant battle for our focus results in us shutting down most of our senses –otherwise we would not be able to cope with all the stimuli thrown at us every day of our lives. One thing you will notice when arriving in the African bush: It is quiet. And with the absence of traffic noise and the uselessness of your cell phone, your focus will quickly look for other stimuli. Use this time to reconnect to all your senses and turn your new awakening into a game. Ask yourself frequently: What do you hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? See?
It is this new mind-set that turns a safari into the unforgettable experience that it is. And even after your return back home you can benefit from this new sense of awakening.
Your whole life is a safari. You just have to remember it.
PS: If you would like to come on safari with me – click here!