A safari changed my life

Exotic as its connotations are safari is a Swahili word meaning journey. In British history it has come to be linked with pith helmets and big game hunters, men who were adventurers and explorers setting off into the deepest darkest jungle hunting exotic wild beasts like nothing Europe had seen and returning with pelts and strange stories.

Books like Tarzan and films like Jungle Jim fed our interest in the unknown jungle and more people began to dream of the howl of the wild, the buzz of the camp mosquitoes and the lure of the jungle. Once only the wealthy were able to go on a jungle safari but later the deep, dark jungle began to open up and more people started to explore it. Hunting began to be done with lenses rather than rifle sights and camps were built both to protect the world’s remaining jungle and to house visitors more comfortably, but a safari is still thought of as a romantic adventure into uncharted territories.

Having spent much time in Africa I feel blessed to be part of both hunting and camera shooting safaris over the past 30 years and I would have no idea where to recommend you begin, there is just so much to see. The most valuable advice in these times of greater accessibility is to choose the animals you hope to see on your journey and to travel into those areas where the populations are the largest.
Lions always referred to as the kings of the jungle are more prevalent on the Duba Plains and those of the Masai Mara and the salt basins of the Etosha National Park. Leopards, their sleek dukes, dwell on the Sabi Sands and within South Luangwa’s boundaries. Rhinos are best sought and spotted in the Hluhluwe-Unfolozi Park, the open expanses of Damaraland or the magical Ngorongoro Crater and their cousins the more docile looking, but no less dangerous hippos have healthy populations in Liwonde and Selinda Parks. If it’s wildebeest that fascinate you there is no better experience than the annual Serengeti migration, to my mind one of the world’s seven natural wonders.

My personal favourites are the ever surprising elephants, more agile than you expect and living in family groups, I’ll never tire of watching them, even though I’ll permit there is less action to be expected than from some of the big cats. I’ve seen elephants all over Africa but my favourite place was in the Okavango River Delta region where I came upon an entire group playing with their young ones in the water. Spraying each other and giving gentle nudges like barges, this was the most incredible thing I have ever seen and inspired me to get involved with Elephant Care International. So it was literally a life changing experience.

More inspiring Safaris

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