I’m someone who you could deem ‘wordy’. If you know me, you’ll know that I have a complete obsession love of words. I love to write with them, I love to speak them and I love to read them. I arrived at Londolozi with these words just streaming through my mind (a mind that, most times, is incredibly busy). I wanted to capture everything I saw and felt in words and, as you can imagine in a place as stimulating to the senses as this, I found it exhausting to try and keep up with this need to capture everything in words. I began to realise that one of the most wonderful things about safari is that it is completely wordless in its essence. It is an adventure that only the senses can help you interpret. And so, to find something in the world where my chatty brain could get some rest, I found it refreshing to awaken to a different kind of exploration.

This led me to think about the things that are not the ‘mainstream’ ideas of safari, but rather the small, hidden gems of experience. And, in doing this, and as with anything precious that you might find, I thought it only right to try my best to capture these gems in a few words in the hope that they may inspire a wordless journey of your own…

The taste of a fruitful morning: Amarula in your coffee

This one is probably one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. I know that most of the time we all need to wait until it’s 5:00pm somewhere in the world before tucking into the tipple of our choice. Things relax a little when you’re on safari, however, and a splash of Africa’s most loved liqueur – Amarula – in a cup of steaming coffee when you stop for a break after a morning of tracking wild animals is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Made from the delicious Marula fruit of the legendary ‘elephant trees’ in sub-Equatorial Africa, the Marula spirit is distilled, aged in French oak for two years and then blended with cream to create the smooth taste of Amarula. This little tradition has crept into all corners of the world. I know this from tails re-told from guests who have forgone all other treasures at duty-free over a big bottle of Amarula to keep the taste of safari alive upon returning home.

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Enjoy the truly African taste of Amarula in your coffee after a successful morning in the bush

Seeing the world, not through a lens but through your own eyes: A game drive without a camera

The culture of photography is extremely strong at Londolozi. I, personally, couldn’t think of a better thing to do with my time than to capture the incredible scenes and memories that unfold on safari. However, there is much to be said for not having the option of splitting one’s attention between trying to capture the scene and really, deeply seeing what is going on around you in the bush. So, with that in mind, try a ‘photo free’ game drive, where you can relax and just sink into the world around you without worrying about whether you’ll remember the moment and get the shot at the same time. You’ll find that all sorts of incredible images will be committed to memory… waiting to be remembered when the time is right.

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Being truly present on a game drive allows for those small details to become big pictures in your mind. Spend time really looking at the folds of an elephant’s skin. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

A Ritchie Woodpecker

A ‘camera-free’ safari will push you to notice tiny details, like the tiny cloud of sawdust that surrounds this Woodpecker. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

The symphony of nature: Closing your eyes at a watering hole

It’s no secret that I’m big on the small things about Africa. I delight in the way that the sounds, sights, smells, and feeling of the wilderness around me feed all of my senses. In fact, for some, these small wonders don’t just feed our senses, they awaken them. Try to awaken your own senses when the engine cuts off and the symphony of the bush begins. Notice the many decibels of the frog’s call and the way that such a small animal can create such a big sound that reverberates through your whole body. Notice the haunting call of a fish eagle as he sits on the outermost branches of a dead leadwood tree. Feel the energy of a wilder life pulse around you. Close your eyes, just for a few moments, to discover a whole new dimension of both yourself and your bush experience as the healing sounds of nature wash over you.

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Close your eyes and let the symphony of the bush wash over you

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The sounds of the wilderness at night can be incredibly loud if you stop to listen. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

Detour off the main road: Awakening the aroma of the wilderness

The aromas of the bush can sometimes be one of the most foreign things about a safari to those who are not used to them. These aromas are sometimes the hints that a skilled tracker will use to determine which way the wind is blowing, or the subtle behaviour of an unseen animal. The incredible smell of petrichor (the distinct smell of the earth after rain) is sometimes so strong that it can transport you back in time, to another place where rain became something of a spiritual experience. One of my favourite smells, however, is the instant hit of Wild Basil (Ocimum Canum) that gets released when the tyres of a vehicle happen to clip the leaves as it passes. This fresh, highly aromatic smell is synonymous with Africa for me… and definitely worth leaving the beaten track for… arguably the wildest form of aromatherapy you might ever find.

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Venture off the beaten track once in a while and you’ll smell the heady hit of Wild Basil under the tires as you pass by… on your way to the next part of your safari adventure. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

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The incredible smell of petrichor (the distinct smell of the earth after rain) is sometimes so strong that it can transport you back in time, to another place where rain became something of a spiritual experience. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

Taking away one sense to feel the others more strongly: Go on a silent game drive

The wilderness has a certain pulse to it… almost as if the giant heart of Africa hangs invisibly around all of us and gently moves the spirit of this place in energetic waves. It often takes a day or two to truly feel this change in energy. One of the ways to open yourself up to this is to embark on a silent game drive. By silent, I mean a drive devoid of human noises – no talking, no clicking of cameras, murmuring or humming. By removing the element of speech and certain types of sounds, it removes the need to name things and put them in a box. Instead, you get to feel them for what they are, and you’re not told what they should be. By being completely conscious of your own impact on the wilderness around you, you allow the space for this elusive heartbeat to pulse gently through you. Instead of exclaiming at how close you are getting to an elephant, feel its energy envelope you as you commune with it (something that has taken many years for me to get used to!). Rather than chatting away about the exciting things you might see on the drive, allow the silence to amplify the sounds of a bird calling or the feeling of the vastness of a landscape in front of you. If you’re really lucky, you might feel the presence of a leopard as the long grass is pushed aside as it walks… it too soaking up the energy of the bush as it pads past in silence.

Feel the calm, sacred energy of elephants envelope you as they walk past your vehicle. Just a note… if you are interested in an experience like this, I would recommend booking a private vehicle…

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Let the pulse of the wilderness beat around you as you watch the world unfold in silence. Photo: Amanda Ritchie

It is my hope that with this piece of writing,, you have been transported you into a world where you too can go on a sensory journey in your mind’s eye… even if only for a few fleeting moments before the rest of the world catches up with you.

About the Author

Amanda Ritchie

Marketing & Photography Manager

Amanda joined the Londolozi team early in 2015 & immediately took the Londolozi Studio to an exciting new level. Her unflappable work ethic & perfectionism are exemplary, & under her guidance the Studio has become one of the busiest areas on Londolozi. The ...

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on 5 Things That Will Awaken Your Senses on Safari at Londolozi

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

This is such a lovely blog Amanda. You really transported me right back to the bush. Experiencing the sights, sounds, smells. Totally agree with you, can’t go on a morning game drive without Amarula in your coffee. A wonderful African tradition.

Amanda Ritchie

The Amarula trick really is the best-kept secret of safari! Thanks for your comment, as always, Marinda!

Mary Beth Wheeler

What lovely thoughts, Amanda. I’ve tried to go on a camera-free drive and never succeeded! Best to leave them behind to avoid temptation , I guess. And, of course, Amarula with morning coffee – one of the joys of safari!

Amanda Ritchie

Thanks, Mary Beth! Hope to see you and Bob again soon 🙂

Wendy Macnicol

Hi Amanda
As I read your article I was taken back to my bush holidays on my aunt’s farm which I started going to from the age of 4. In a couple of weeks I shall be turning 80. Many years of bush holidays! My husband and I have only just retired last year from working. For my 80th Birthday on 3rd April guess where we will be going? Correct. Another bush holiday – a luxury one this time – our first luxury one. I have learnt the name from you of Petrichlor – the bush after the rain. There is NO other smell like it ANYWHERE! It lifts one up and makes one feel alive again! I have often smelt animals before seeing them. The blend of the animal smell and the bush after rain – there is no blend like it! It is absolutely GREAT. Thanks so much for your lovely, descriptive article! Takes me back in time and bush experiences. Bless you. Wendy

Wendy Macnicol

Important “P.S.” to my response earlier – our Amarula bottle is safely residing in our lounge wall unit cupboard! Delicious …. Wendy (and Neil)

Lucie Easley

Amanda, I so agree with your suggestions and wish I had experienced a silent game drive and one without camera. It would have been incredible experiences. On my first trip to Africa I did taste the delightful Amarula around a campfire in Botswana. It did become my “must take home” from safari. I was so excited when it was imported and I could get in Pensacola, Florida. While still delicious, and a reminder of Africa, it never tastes the same as it did around that campfire so many years ago.

Jeff Rodgers

Always love the Ranger’s Special coffee stops . . . and everything else you describe. Open all your senses to all the bush has to offer and it will always be a memorable game drive.

Denise Vouri

What a wonderful blog Amanda. Your descriptions took me right back to my safaris experienced just a year ago in three countries. I loved early morning starts before the sun rose, when other guests were still sleeping – the smells and sounds were amazing. Not a word was spoken, nor did a camera shutter click. It was an hour of bliss. Your prose is lovely and not too wordy. I look forward to meeting you next year as I’m planning another trip to RSA, Sabi Sand area. Keep up your writing!!

Michael & Terri Klauber

Amanda, thank you for the special blog! It is the little things that you experience in the bush that are our favorite to keep in our minds. We love the idea of enjoying the sounds and bouquet of a true Safari experience. Thank you for all that you have done to elevate our experiences at Londolozi!

Callum Evans

I really like the idea of the silent safari, and it’s been too long since I last smelt the aroma of wild basil in the bush! And I love taking time to watch the little things in nature! Incredible photos too!!

Betty-Lou Luijken

Thank you for a lovely blog. I always go on gamedrive to make images, but that never stopped me from enjoying the wild and seeing it through my eyes and not through a lens. It’s about the perfect balance for me. I always took in the smells and sounds and there is nothing better in life than going on gamedrive. I really come to life in the bush.

Sasha Lahaye

This blog is beautifully written and has taken me back to my most happy place – the bush! Your pearls of wisdom further enhance this extraordinary experience. I look forward to visiting Londolozi in the near future. I am wistfully yearning for some Amarula for my morning coffee…

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