There are far too many thoughts, to really ever sum up our safari in one post. I am sure we will make a couple posts over time about specific parts of the trip, or reviewing G adventures whom we did the trip with. In the end though, there is an overwhelming amount of feelings and thoughts that you have over a 24-day overland Africa trip. I won’t begin to try to cover it here, but I did want to write out a few thoughts before they fade from memory. (From Erin — the long and short of it is that it is awesome and you can totally hang. [Even we totally hung, and if you ask around, you will find that I am not low maintenance.] If you are thinking of doing a 24-day overland African safari…just do it…it will be amazing. Sure, sometimes you will be uncomfortable, but mostly, it will be just fine. We had a good time on our G Adventures tour — one awesome guide and one fine guide. We are guessing that other operators do it just fine too. Find an operator with a sale going on, and just book it.)
1. A safari is like a really long unedited version of Discovery channel.
Seriously, all the things you see on animal planet are real, and common — not even that hard to find. You can find a sleeping lion next to it’s kill with baboons taunting it for fun, while a jackal tries to creep in and steal some loose meat from the kill.
2. You will appreciate zoos a bit more
I am not talking about sad zoos that mistreat animals. I am talking about ones with breeding programs for endangered animals. Ones that are helping study animal behavior in responsible ways. Even things like Disney’s animal kingdom, which is massive, and really simulates open wild game parks. There are tons of animals in the wild having their habitats split up and destroyed in ways that will decimate the animal populations. Without study and intervention, some species will die because we don’t understand their migration patterns and we destroyed a part of it.
Some of the breeding programs are the best bets to help some animals survive. Also, when an environment is built really well it can help study animal behavior in less invasive and destructive ways than completely invading the space of the few remaining wild groups of animals.
Finally, having seen some animals in a zoo and as a child, I thought the animals just laid around boring like that because they are in captivity — so not true. Free and wild lions will sleep 20 hours a day, and really don’t give a crap about tourists or most other animals if they aren’t hungry at the moment. So, what you see in a good zoo is a pretty accurate sample of their lifestyle. If you are at a humane zoo, you can see real animals behavior without hours in a hot truck. I am not saying that zoos are the same as safaris, or that we don’t need protected parks if we have zoos, I am just saying that good zoos can be part of the overall solution to protect and fund habitats for the planet’s animal population.
3. Everything is 50/50 in Africa.
- Is it going to rain? 50/50
- Will we reach camp before sunset? 50/50
- Does the campsite have hot water? 50/50
- Will we be chased by hyenas when we try to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night? 50/50
4. After the Safari I have come to appreciate some things much more than I used to, a few examples below:
- hooks (particularly in bathroom showers)
- hot showers
- showers that don’t electrocute you (we ran into slightly electrocuting water faucets at two different campsites)
- flush-able toilets (although I will still take the “long drop” over a flush-able squat toilet)
- traffic laws
- a back-lit kindle
- good headlamps or lanterns
- a real bed
- non-instant coffee (thanks Joel, for the coffee pot filter trick)
- really cold beer (this one is for Mauricio)
5. You will watch something amazingly beautiful and brutal at the same time
Probably the most interesting thing we watched on safari was a leopard that carried it’s Red Buck kill across the road and then up into a tree. It was pretty incredible to watch and it seemed a bit odd to so casually watch the rawness of life.
“When you see a herd of animals with a predator nearby, you always cheer for the prey. ‘You can do it, run, run…stay together… ‘ but once it is obvious that the predator is going in for the kill, you begin to cheer for the predator, ‘kill, kill,’ because you realize that the lion is hungry… and you want to see it happen.” -Erin