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What does going on safari mean to you?

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gallery_1_1110_158683.jpg

 

If you were to describe to someone who'd never been what going on safari meant to you - what would be your words?

 

Photo taken by @Safaridude at the Little Makalolo log pile hide in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

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Not even sure where to begin.   Disconnect: my job can be hectic and demanding so to get away from that is a joy. In addition, I am very affected by what is going on in the world and environment (haven't learned how to not pay attention) so to be able to ignore everything and not feel compelled to pay attention is absolute bliss....I really can't stress that enough...absolute bliss.  I specifically look for no Wifi or tech connection. It is essential to becoming whole again, if only for a little while.    Smells: Sage, burning wood, dung... the smells of Africa can send the mind wandering.   Sounds: oh so many...the African Fish Eagle, the Woodland Kingfisher, the Ring-Necked Dove (work harder, drink lager), the rhythmic sound of Ground Hornbills, the spine tingling sound of lions roaring or hyenas whooping/laughing, the "rumble' of an elephant.....such sounds are the candy of Africa.  Sights: even harder to describe...the beauty and soul changing experience of watching elephants interact, a sunset/sunrise, watching lions prepare to hunt or just interact...impalas leaping (I love impalas), vultures soaring, mongooses playing peekaboo, termite mounds, gorillas playing....ok, this is the true "candy" of Africa......  I am so lucky- my eyes and ears and nose have experienced so much peace and beauty.  I could go on, but this will suffice  :)

 

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For me, first there is the wildlife.  It's so simple to say but so difficult to explain.  To see so much in such a beautiful, unbound natural habitat is truly a blessing.  As an animal lover, it's what drives me there and what keeps me going back.  Waking up in the morning and not knowing or having any control over what you see that day, and being knocked off your feet with something incredible or beautiful or tearful or joyful.

 

What I didn't expect though, and what I've come to cherish, is the perspective it gives me when I go.  There is the very important disconnect that @lmonmm mentions but for me the one unexpected take-away on the first safari and each after that is how little I am in this massive world.  That's not meant to belittle myself but to realize that I, my problems, my work, my challenges are so insignificant compared to what else is out there.  I'm not explaining this well enough...  I was just so taken by how vast and expansive the world is, and it's most apparent when you're somewhere like Africa where you can see nothing but land and sky for miles and miles and miles.  It's the first place I'd traveled that made me realize how large the world is, and how small my part is in it.  I usually return with this sense of realignment and perspective, that has me not so uptight over the little things and not as cutthroat about the big things.  That wears off eventually, but I've become better about reminding myself of my place in this world we live in.  As profound as that all sounds it really is refreshing and invigorating.  I dunno, maybe I'm strange!

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Immersion in the exhilarating.  Escape from the everyday.  Sustenance for the soul. Stimulation of the senses. Transformation of your perspective that lingers beyond the trip. A little bit of sun, a little bit of dust, a little bit of smiles.*  Charismatic mega-fauna, captivating micro-fauna, both in abundance.  It humbles and inspires and might just feel like going home.

 

*Ugandan explaining his country to me on a flight to Entebbe.

 

---------------------------

@Game Warden, That photo, that title, that pith are perfect!

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I have no idea if this is the right place for this, but this is one of the most awesome things I've read in a long time. It is an article about a blind man going on safari. I talked about the "candy" of Africa- smell, sound, sights...others talk about the stimulation of senses. This is truly an article to address how Africa inundates the senses- whichever ones you have that work. It helped remind me of the time I was able to sort out the sound of Ground Hornbills and closed my eyes so I could pick out their rhythmic call- it's one of those wonderous safari moments that will stay with me forever. Take a few minutes...this really is a great read.

 

https://www.afar.com/magazine/a-blind-mans-trip-will-change-the-way-you-think-about-safaris

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That's an excellent article, @lmonmm, thank you for sharing that.

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The privilege of being allowed to observe the interactions of so many animals and the awareness of how fragile their ecosystems are. The sense of perspective that comes from being ignored by almost all of them (at least when in a vehicle).  

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@lmonmm Thank-you for that article - very thought provoking. I will closing my eyes in the Madikwe this weekend but I know I won't have the sensitivity of the author of that piece.

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@lmonmm - thanks for posting that article.  By coincidence, I am planning to take a group of blind people birding next spring to enjoy the sounds, smells and sensations of a spring morning in a Longleaf Pine forest.  As all birders know, one's ears are as important as one's eyes in terms of finding and appreciating birds.

 

To get back on-topic:  Safaris for me are part communing with nature, part escaping hectic modern life, and part "time travel" - glimpsing the world as it used to be...

 

 

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I found this quote (author unknown) after my first African safari in 2006 which sums up how I feel and why I am returning for a third time this November and would go more often if I could afford it.

 

"Once you have visited Africa, you never leave it and Africa never leaves you.  It's dust, mostly red, sometimes white, often black, settles on the heart...and remains forever...".  

 

When I was in Zambia I meet a 80 year old doctor from the UK who had been returning to the same camp for 10 consecutive years.  When I asked him why he kept coming back his reply was "why would I go anywhere else".  That statement has stayed with me ever since. 

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This, more than anything:  "why would I go anywhere else".   Indeed.

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Its so different from 'normal ' day to day life.

if you fly in on a light aircraft when you get out the plane it hits you in the face - 

the smells , the sounds, the air , it just feels wonderful.

All your problems just melt away, its almost like being on a different planet.

The wildlife, the camps, the landscape, the people, the sounds, the sunrises and sunsets, 

Sundowners, breakfast in the bush, dinner in the evening at the camp, everything just blitzes your senses.

No other type of holiday will ever come close to the experience you will have on a safari. 

 

 

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