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.
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…
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.