As a guide we are programmed to interpret what is happening around us; be it a male impala filled with testosterone chasing females around or a male lion sleeping in the shade during the heat of the day. A lot of what we see has been documented before, which we then learn and impart onto our guests.

impala

A male impala during the rutting season. These males, filled with testosterone, making strange rasping sounds and spend their days chasing females and fighting with rival males.

I’ve always said to my guests that we can never really have all the answers though; sometimes we see things that just go completely against the book and I often use a catch phrase, “the animals don’t read the same books we read.” This to me is the reason why what we do is so special, it keeps us coming back each and every day. The fact that we don’t really know what may transpire on a game drive means every drive is different.

I recently embarked on a game drive where we all agreed we’d be completely silent throughout it. Apart from the infrequent transmission on the radio, no other words were spoken on the vehicle for the entire experience. No questions from my guests and thus no explanations were needed from me. Complete silence…

elephant, vehicle

An elephant wanders past the front of a vehicle out on safari. Moments like those need no explanation.

One may think this is quite a bizarre concept as guests come here to learn about the bush. The act of not speaking taught me something about this incredible place though; the African bush does not always need a narrator, it has this amazing ability to speak for itself. I found that not speaking heightened my other senses, and the energy I was receiving from what was happening around me was increased drastically. The bird calls I was hearing sounded so much closer, I could hear hippos at a distance I wouldn’t normally hear, even the wind blowing through the leaves seemed to be much louder and more present.

It was one of the more incredible and moving drives I’ve done in my guiding career, and certainly made me realise how powerful the African bush can be and the affect it has on a person. It was a very humbling experience as I saw the effect it had on my guests and realised how privileged I am to call Londolozi my place of work and my home.

I’m certainly not trying to take anything away from a guided game drive as I do believe interpretation is a key aspect of the Londolozi wildlife experience, but every now and again when an elephant is drinking or the sun is setting, a little silence can go a long way. If ever you find yourself in a peaceful part of nature, I urge you to give yourself 20 minutes of silence, I guarantee the experience will be worth it.

I’ve put together a few photos of experiences I’ve had where no explanation was needed, nature just spoke for itself.

Enjoy…

One of the Tsalala females pauses to observe an nyala as she crosses over the causeway. Fin Lawlor and his guests enjoy the sighting from the opposite end, completely in awe.

The Nanga young female walks towards us over a termite mound. We spent a good two hours with the two of them, really getting to follow their movements and better understand the close bond between mother and cub.

A female buffalo was separated from the herd and found herself following a large herd of elephants around for a while. The young elephants of the herd were very confused with their new member and would often show their concern.

One of the most memorable lion sightings I’ve ever had. The two females from the Tsalala breakaway pride stumbled across the remains of a hoisted impala kill from a leopard. The two of them climbed the tree and fought over the kill on the branch. The Tailless female came out tops and was the one to finish the kill off high up on the branches of the Marula tree.

On our return to camp one morning we were greeted to the beautiful dance of the male Nyala competing for dominance. We watched in silence as these two handsome antelope battled it out in their typically peaceful manner.

A mother elephant nurses its calf. There never seems to be to much explanation needed for a sighting like this. I think as mammals we know how special the bond is that is being formed between mother and young.

Who’s watching who? My guests and I were contemplating if Melvin Sambo and his guests were watching the Piva male or if it was actually the other way round.

I’ve spent many hours at hyena dens over my years in the bush, and a fair amount of those hours have been in silence. The curious and naughty nature of the youngsters is something that can keep me entertained for ages.

This little rhino was an absolute treat to spend time with. Whilst its mother was feeding, we were charged numerous times by the baby. He would get to about ten meters from us, panic and then run back to the safety of his mother.

Sunrise a few mornings ago. I always take time to appreciate the sunrise and sunset, there’s something very special about being able to experience the start and end of a day in contemplative silence.

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Kevin Power

Field Guide

Kevin hails from the small town of George, but we try not to hold that against him... After obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance at the University of Stellenbosch, Kev realised that town life wasn't for him for the moment, and ...

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9 Comments

on Silence in Nature…

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Jazz Doc

Wonderful images and text. Really enjoyed these vignettes on a Sunday morning!

Lucie Easley

The silent ride must have been incredible. I wish I had experienced a journey through the wildlife in such a way.

Amy Attenborough

It really is an amazing experience Lucie. Come visit again and we’ll make sure we do one for you. Thanks, Amy

Alison Smith

interesting perspective Kev! a good read!

Darlene Knott

Loved the stories, especially the baby rhino charging! How cute is he??? Loved the pics too! Thanks for sharing.

Susan Strauss

Absolutely beautiful and true, Kevin. Silent game drives are almost like a meditation but simultaneously like Times Square as you are so focused and open (like meditation) but soon notice so much happening it is almost overwhelming (definitely Times Square for me!). Hope you are well!!

Amanda Ritchie

I totally agree, Susan. What a great analogy!

Amanda Ritchie

I absolutely love this post, Kev! I love the idea of being quiet and heightening your awareness to the surroundings. I am definitely going to try a silent drive soon 🙂

Eulalia Angédu

Kevin power has very beautiful pictures that has endless complements of the beauty of the wild.The whole scenery of the dry grassland complementing the various species of animals simply bring out an unimaginable view.Keep up Kevin Power.

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