As a guide, I am privileged enough to have experienced an array of emotions arising from my experiences in the bush to date. From utter joy and elation to despair and gloom. The range of emotions that one experiences on safari are vast. It has always been refreshing for me to witness as well as share in the emotions that are being exhibited by others in the vehicle.
As I have already mentioned above, the list is almost endless, and so I’ve decided to focus on four main emotions; joy, sadness, apprehension and love.
Under the topic of tears, we will cover both joy and sadness. I will never forget it all sinking in when, within 24 hours, I turned to face everyone in the back of the vehicle on 2 separate, unrelated occasions, only to see tears running down some of their faces.
On the first occasion, it was tears of joy and happiness. We had been following a female leopard for an hour or so until it led us back to a set of boulders in which she was keeping her cub (which hadn’t yet been seen by anyone). She reached deep into a crevice and revealed her tiny cub, less than 10 days old, it was tiny!
After not hearing a word from behind me for a few minutes (only gasps of astonishment) I turned around to see that two of the three guests in the vehicle had tears running down their cheeks. If I’m completely honest my eyes weren’t completely dry… Tears of joy after witnessing the gentleness of nature. Seeing a leopard cub for the first time is likely to bring anybody to tears.
Fast-forward 24 hours and the very same guests shared in tears, this time not in tears of joy. We were privileged enough to bear witness to two male lions killing an injured zebra, from start to finish. A completely different type of sighting that resulted in completely different emotions being felt. Tears of sadness after witnessing the brutality of nature.
Living and working out here in the wilderness allows us to grow accustomed to being around wild animals and especially in close proximity, knowing and understanding their behaviour and traits so as to know exactly what to expect. With this in mind, we do our very best to assure guests that although these are wild animals they have absolutely no intention to engage with us in any way. They are merely going about their daily business and see us as abstract objects just enjoying the scenery along with them. How we go about conducting ourselves when near to the animals also needs to be considered, hence the briefing before departing on our first game drive. As long as we sit still and quiet, the animals usually continue as they would if we were not there.
With this all being said, I can completely understand the apprehension one may have when arriving extremely excited and ready to embark on your first adventure into the African wilderness. Met with an enormous, fully grown male lion within a couple of hours of arrival. As one of the planet’s most supreme predators, weighing in at more than 200 kgs (450 lbs), walks directly towards the vehicle, only to pass within meters. Smiles and elation from seeing the most iconic of species, a male lion, soon become moments of exhilaration as the heart thumps through the chest and adrenaline courses through the veins. Being up close with such a formidable animal, often causes the onlookers nearest to the side that the lion is approaching, to shift seats to the middle of the vehicle, trying to put a little more distance between the lion and themselves.
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The word, ‘fear’ can often have attached to it, negative connotations. Hence the reason for using the word apprehension. As the ‘fear’ I am trying to describe here is a healthy one. One of respect for nature and the weird and wonderful animals that exist within, one that brings us back to our primal roots.
And last, but most certainly not least, love. Without putting a finger on a specific example, I think all those that have had the opportunity to visit the African bush, would certainly agree that it is one of the most romantic settings known to exist.
Being out in nature for hours and hours on end, watching raw Africa unfold in front of your eyes. Unedited, unscripted, unplanned. A place where mother nature plays her role in every outcome. Connecting us all with our inner selves, allowing true relaxation and a chance for us to just be. And what better place to do all of this with your loved one/s.
It might be a warm feeling one gets when they have shared an amazing afternoon on safari with their other half, and after a sundowner, it’s time to huddle underneath the same blanket on the way back to camp where a beautiful dinner awaits. Perhaps it’s the feeling of adventure among friends or family reconnected, who knows. It personally gives me joy, to turn around and bear witness to stolen moments between loved ones in the form of holding hands or resting one’s head on the shoulder of their parent. Taking in every moment while on an African Safari.