A typical day on Safari
Imagine if you will.......
You wake up to a knocking noise and a strangers voice calling "Good morning".
It takes you a few moments to remember where you are. That's right I am on safari!
You try to muster up a good morning to placate the persistent housekeeper, it comes out more like a gargling grunt, but it does the job and then you hear the housekeeper's feet padding away outside.
Having arrived the afternoon before, it took you a while to drift off to sleep last night, excitement for the first full day of safari the next day keeping you awake, along with a cacophony of strange noises that definitely sounded like lions just outside what your guide calls a tent. But this is not a tent, this is more like a canvas palace!
You drag yourself out of bed and over to the door to discover a tray with coffee and oat crunches has been left for you. With just over half an hour until the time you arranged to meet your guide for safari there is time to sit on your elevated verandah and watch as the first promise of light tickles the horizon.
Sitting here looking out on to the African savannah, sipping your coffee as the light strengthens, you reflect on how long you have anticipated this trip, years of wishing and hoping to do it, followed by the excitement of the planning and now you are here...... and it is stunning.
You wonder when last you sat calmly like this with an uncluttered mind and just spent time reflecting, funny but this place seems to do this to a person. Finishing your coffee you shake yourself out of your reverie and realise it is time to get out there.
Your guide is waiting for you at the lodge's main reception area. Although you have not been out on safari with him yet, it was immediately apparent yesterday, upon meeting him and as he chatted easily last night over dinner shared with the rest of your fellow guests at the lodge, that a good guide is clearly of utmost importance on these safari trips. Your's has a kind face, a ready smile and although you have seen none of the things he was talking about last night at dinner, it was clear to see how passionate he is about his country, this place and its wildlife.
After a quick briefing from your guide and having clambered aboard the open-sided 4x4 vehicle you are off. You mention to your guide that you think there were lions surrounding your tent last night roaring, adding with a just a hint of sarcasm, that it was just a tad unnerving. You briefly catch the hint of a smile cross his face, but it is gone as quickly as it appeared. He explains that he did hear lions calling, but that they were very far away and that he is pretty sure that my lions were actually an antelope species called impala. The males are in rut, he says, and make grunting roars as they chase and challenge each other. You are clearly not convinced by this answer but the guide says nothing more and carries on driving.
The morning safari is a revelation; never would you have expected to see so much on the first drive!
Giraffe, warthog, hippo, zebra, 4 different antelope species, including the graceful Impala, whom we see are indeed rutting and the males do indeed sound like the lions that surrounded the tent last night, as they chase and jostle each other with their scythe-like horns.
Your guide is surpassing all expectations, not only was he right about the "Impala lions" but his ability to spot an animal, which is seemingly like a needle in a vast African hay stack, is bordering on the supernatural. Whats more his ability to read, understand and explain the animal behaviour we are seeing gives one a whole new perspective, elevating the experience to being akin to a live nature documentary.
The landscape is huge and ever changing in character and vegetation. We are alone too, not a soul in sight. It is only after three blissful hours watching nature unfold that we see two other vehicles from a distant camp. Stopping next to one of the other safari vehicles, we exchange pleasantries and the two guides have a quick conference. As the vehicle drives away your guide turns to look at you with a big grin on his face. Lions have killed a giraffe he says....do you want to go to see them! And so off we go.
More than a mile out your guide points out the vultures diving down from on high, beginning as specks in the blue sky and eventually all converging to swoop down in the exact same spot in the middle distance. Upon arrival we join the two other cars to find hundreds of vultures in a seething mass on the ground, the guide points out that under there somewhere is a giraffe carcass, not that we can see it through the mass of bills and feathers.
Where are the lions though...........we don't have to wait long. It seems that the lions, after having their fill of fresh giraffe meat, are now enjoying a game which consists of repeatedly creeping up on the mass of vultures and rushing in and trying to pluck them from the sky as they launch themselves up into the air in flight.
It is a game that one particular lioness seems to never grow weary of despite her lack of success.
A truly amazing sight to finish off your first drive and head off back to the camp for a bit of lunch and a relax before the afternoon safari.
Arriving back at the lodge, you can't help wonder, how this safari can possibly get any better after that drive and with that thought still percolating in your mind you arrive in the lodge's main area and your eye is drawn beyond a beautifully set lunch table and down to the camps waterhole 40 metres in front of the thatched structure. There, surrounding the waterhole drinking, splashing and squirting water all over themselves is a wonderful herd of elephants. They stay though out a magical lunch, silently disappearing into the bushes just as a delightful fresh fruit dessert arrives at the table.
A quick dip in the pool and a few chapters of your book sat relaxing on your verandah precedes a short nap and then refreshed and ready to go again you head down to the lodge for an afternoon drive.
This afternoon is a more relaxed affair after the initial morning drive and all the excitement that went with it. You didn't really think that you were very interested in birds but quite a number caught your eye this morning being that they are so spectacular and colourful and now your guide points out a few of them to you....they really are quite spectacular.
After seeing the elephants at the waterhole, you find yourself really hoping that you can see them again and spend more time with them, being such peaceful and fascinating creatures. Your wish comes true and you get to spend 45 minutes sat watching the herd and a delightful episode as a baby learns how to use his trunk.
Leaving the herd you head off to find an elevated spot, where your guide sets up a little table and snacks as you watch the sun go down over the back of a dry sand riverbed whilst sipping a gin and tonic.
Back at the lodge and dinner is really fun with all the guests at the lodge really hitting it off. You are regaled with tales of one of the groups guided walking safari that morning, they spent 2 hours tracking a rhino and eventually saw it too, its a unique experience they say and much different to seeing the animals from the vehicle........Looking to your guide in askance, he smiles, nods his head and says "see you at 6am, bring a hat and suncream."
The above blog really does represent a fairly typical day on safari and although not every day will always be this eventful, it is not unusual.
On Safari-in welcomes you to give us a shout and we would love to organise your perfect safari, tailor-made according to your needs and interests. On safari-in is run by an experienced nature guide, guide trainer and lodge manager with over a decade's experience in wilderness areas across Southern and East Africa.
Phil Bennett- Founder, Private guide and safari specialist