The African bush is full of surprises and one never knows when something interesting is about to happen.
Although ‘action’ is quite high on the list of safari tourists, there is a lot more to enjoy than the much sought-after kill.
I have created my own preference list with interesting occurrences during an African safari. And I have mentioned them in order of importance for myself.
I am curious if your list looks the same or that you have other ‘likes’ that I did not mention. Feel free to leave them in the comments box under the article.
Very few things are more thrilling in the African bush than witnessing a hunt. Predator versus prey is a game that somehow still intrigues us. We watch in awe as we see the stealthy bodies of predators going through the grass and –at the same time- watch the prey being completely unaware about the present danger. Once the spell gets broken and all hell breaks loose can we feel the adrenaline rushing through our own veins and has the old evolutionary battle to survive started again. For me the outcome of the game is not important. The game itself is.
Although many of us hope to see the whole sequence of a kill during their safari(s), many of us at the same time feel uncomfortable with the bloody spectacle that can follow after a successful hunt. We as humans emphasize with twitching bodies whose throats are being cut of and we hate to see the twitching of life-losing legs. There is little mercy in the African bush. Yet, for many to see a hunt, followed by a kill is the crown on their trip.
Eating or drinking animals
As long as animals are not resting or sleeping, there is something to see that can be interesting or just plain fun to watch. The fight for food is an ancient ritual that we all know too well and the interaction between different species for the same source of food is guaranteed to be spectacular.
Animals with off-spring
Watching a lonely lioness can be exciting, especially if she is the first lioness you see. But watching that same lioness with a number of cubs is a lot more interesting. Seeing wildlife with offspring most likely reminds us sub-consciously about the cycle of life and death. It is also the interaction of adult and offspring that stirs our feelings as parents.
Large groups of mammals
I remember watching an elephant herd of about 500 approach in Botswana during a game drive. I stopped my Landcruiser in their path and summoned everybody to be dead quite. About ten minutes later we had elephants coming out of our noses left, right and centre. We were completely surrounded by the herd and although an occasional trunk would be raised to smell us, there was never a moment of panic or fear amongst the elephants. It was a great experience. (Don’t do this if you are not confident!)
Until I set foot in Africa did birds not really interest me. When I got forced to learn all the different kinds of birds for my guides-exam, did I start to appreciate the varieties and habits of our flying friends. Try to get interested in birds on safari, even if you are like me the first time. It will be rewarding.
Especially in areas where there is wildlife, we –in our urge to find all the above- forget to look at the bigger picture. Try to force yourself once in a while to forget about the wildlife and just concentrate fully on your surroundings. I am sure that there is a landscape to everybody’s liking. Tip: Watch the landscape closely, close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose. I bet you will never forget that moment.
Big game (or the big5) are not always present, but very few landscapes are without life. Most habitats have their smaller inhabitants too and it is great fun to look out for them when their big brothers are not present.
One of the few things that always make my day is a nice drink at the end of a dusty, exhausting day in the African bush. It is time to wind down and the best moment to go over the day once more. Make sure you make use of your ‘ sundowner’ drinks before you head back to camp.