“What is it about the African bush?”-this is a question that was put to me recently by a guest on a game drive. It was something that at first I struggled to put into words, but once I thought about it, I realised that it wasn’t just one thing.
One of the key elements is that nervous excitement when departing on your game drive. You can feel the energy in the vehicle when we leave the lodge – often guests can’t contain it – “what are we going to see today?” This is probably the most asked question of any ranger. That is the beauty, we don’t know either and that is what motivates us to get up early after limited sleep-every day. I have often said to guests that I have the best office in the world, where we are just spectators in a story which has played out since the beginning of time. In a world nowadays which is obsessed with reality shows and soap operas, there are no better real life stories than the ones that unfold in the African bush on a daily basis. Many of you who have been following our lion saga can attest to that.
Here at Sabi Sabi, we are able to go off road to get our guests as close to the animals without interfering or causing them any stress. This has a huge impact on a safari experience, especially in an open top vehicle as you feel more connected to the animal and its environment. In my opinion, this is when the sighting becomes an interaction – the feeling of insignificance when a bull elephant breaks the branch of a large Marula tree with consummate ease right before you. Then you get those more delicate moments when a Nyala mother shows you her newly born baby – so recently born that it can hardly walk. These are the moments where connections are made.
For me, the African bush is a feast for the senses – never have I found another place that stimulates all of the human senses in one single moment as much as the African bush. This is a reason why I feel that people are able to remember their safari experience so vividly. A great example of this is an evening safari. It is something that is difficult to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced it – it is that warmth on your skin of the setting sun, while it slowly descends towards the horizon over a never ending plain. The sun’s rays beaming through the clouds bringing out the reds, oranges and blues of the dusk sky, while a herd of 200 plus buffalo make their way towards a watering hole to quench their thirst. To top it all off, a male lion roaring in the distance – straining his vocal cords, to send out a powerful message to all other males in the area, that this is his land. This is not something that I have dreamt up-these are our experiences.
So then – “What is it about the African bush?” The beauty of it is that it is a very personal experience which touches people in different ways and is open to interpretation. I can only share with you what it means to me. When guests say “this is a once in a lifetime trip”, I just smile, because this is just the start of a love affair with a place that we are fortunate enough to call home.