I have, for many years now, taken great delight in reading the daily Londolozi blogs.
In fact, whether it is at my desk or on my phone, as I journey around the lodge during my day-to-day dealings with guests at Londolozi, something that peppers my day with joy is to find a rare spelling mistake that James Tyrrell has let slip in. And yet, despite my enjoyment of these daily safari stories, I have never managed to find the time to start to write one of my own. As I spend more time at Londolozi, meeting guests from all over the globe, and doing what I do, it has pushed me to begin to put pen to paper and send out a monthly blog of the things that come up – somewhat behind the scenes – and that I think are worthwhile for people to know about.
And so, without further ado, it makes sense for my first blog post to be for those of you who have never been on safari before, and who are possibly looking for a few (five, in fact) pointers before you depart on your great African adventure…
1. YOU NEED TO KNOW NOTHING AT ALL!
The very first thing you need to know is… nothing at all! Being on safari is going to be a whole new concept for you, and something that you haven’t had any experience with before. You are going to be sitting on a car and you’ll have a ranger who is showcasing the wilderness that unfolds before you. This ranger is going to take you into brand new experiences, and he/she is going to awaken you to what’s out there; landscape, flora, and fauna, and more specifically, how they are all connected.
While you may feel anxious about the fact that this will all be new to you, you don’t need to have any idea of it at all. A Londolozi guide is going to share his knowledge and experience with you while you settle in under a huge African sky. Your whole experience is going to be orchestrated. From the minute you arrive, you’ll have a camp manager telling you what’s going on, how things work and when you need to be where. So, if you want to read up and prepare yourself as best you can, go right ahead. Just know that everything you need to know will be shared with you from the minute you arrive and jump onto the safari vehicle for the first time. So rest easy, you don’t need to know anything at all!
2. YOU NEED TO KNOW NOT TO HAVE TOO MANY EXPECTATIONS
This one is probably more easily said than done. Of course you’ll have expectations… you are traveling a long way, you have paid a lot of money and you’ve probably been waiting for this for a long time, and so its only human that you will have your own expectations of what you’ll see in the bush. Most arriving guests will wear the keyboard thin with research before they arrive. They’ll expect to see the big five all in one afternoon. What I have found is that what people think they are going to experience, and what they actually experience are totally different… and what they actually experience is invariably better.
If the big five is what you’re after, don’t be wedded to that, just arrive with an open mind and allow the nature of the place to do its thing. People that arrive with no major expectations (particularly in the bush) generally see the best things, as their awareness is open to everything – from the big to the small, and everything in between. That’s why I would recommend not getting too hell-bent on whether you’re going to see this or that or have a good time. You will have a good time, but it will unfold as it should.
3. YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT THE MORE WE KNOW ABOUT YOU THE BETTER WE CAN PREPARE FOR YOUR VISIT
We have wonderful relationships with the travel industry, and we usually push the travel experts who do the bookings with us for information about their clients, and you, our guests. What we find sometimes is that people are loath to part with that information, and I’m not sure why. The more we know about you, the better we can prepare for your visit. If we know how old you are, what your interests are, what your specific dietary requirements are and if you want to sleep in a King sized bed as opposed to a twin bed,it puts us into a position to have an understanding of who you are before you have even arrived. From that point of view we can tailor the experience for you, right off the bat, and better prepare so that there is no delay in getting you what you need. This allows us to tailor-make a luxury safari for you ahead of time, so that – regardless of your expectations- we are able to do everything we can to meet them. Whether you book through us or you book through a travel agent, the more we know about your preferences the better we are positioned to allocate you with like-minded guests, pair you up with the right ranger and prepare the food that you like (we are not as remote as some places in the world but there’s certainly no grocery store just around the corner…).
This doesn’t mean that we won’t be excited to get to know you and your quirks when you arrive… it just means we’ll get off on the right foot from the moment you touch down on our airstrip!
4. YOU NEED TO KNOW NOT TO FORGET YOUR CHARGER!
This is one of the more technical tips that I can provide. You would be astonished by how many people forget the charger that powers the camera that they are bringing for pictures that they want to take back as a memory of their safari. So, at the risk of stating the obvious, don’t forget your camera either, and don’t forget your charging devices. We have all kinds of different charging contraptions to assist if you do, but the safe bet is not to forget it in the first place.
5. YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW MANY OPEN PAGES YOU HAVE IN YOUR PASSPORT
My final piece of advice for the new safari traveler is to check your passport. You will have waited such a long time to come, and you will have been looking forward to it (I hope!). The last thing you want is to get to the airport of the country that you are departing from, only to find you have one blank page in your passport instead of two. In addition, make sure you have checked your visa and all the seemingly obvious things that are frankly a pain, but that can absolutely cripple your whole safari experience if not handled in good time.
Follow those five simple pieces of advice, and your safari – and indeed your whole trip – will be life-changing!