This month I want to talk about what motivates people to visit Africa and then cover some alternatives to the mainstream reasons for your consideration.
We are usually told that the guest wishes to “see the big 5”. Seldom are we told by these guests that they want to “experience” Africa and its wild life. Let’s discuss this for a moment. I can certainly understand the request to see the big 5 as these are the animals that are given prevalence in all the many documentaries that are shown on Television and other media. Yes, they are BIG, dramatic and can be either extraordinarily exciting or as boring as watch the veld grasses grow! Lions, in particular, spend a huge amount of time sleeping in the shade during daylight so this is the most common sighting!!
Elephant on the other hand are always entertaining to watch. They are on the move most of the time as they need to feed and eat prodigious amounts of food each day – and the babies are SO entertaining to watch as there is never a dull moment with them. I can watch a herd of Elephant all day and not be bored for a nano second!
Leopards are much more secretive but always offer great sightings whether on the move or in a tree. The cubs are just wonderful to watch playing (as are Lion cubs I hasten to add). Leopards are also nocturnal and do much of their hunting at night so they can be seen during both day and night.
Buffalo are either seen in big herds or the solitary “dagga boy” who has been ejected from the herd and lives a life on his own or with a couple of elderly mates. They are impressive animals but are not nearly as interesting as, say, Elephant to watch.
Finally, we come to Rhino! This prehistoric looking creature is being poached to extinction – and some species have now disappeared altogether. They are amazing creatures but the young calves are the entertainers amongst these guys. So ugly that they are adorable!!
So what is my point? Well, there is just so much more to be “experienced” in the African bush! Some examples:
- A pack of hunting African Wild Dog (Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog are some other names) hunting or bringing food back to their den and regurgitating for the mother and cubs left behind is an amazing sight. I have been fortunate enough to witness a number of hunts and watch the tactics employed and the speed at which they move and then devour their prey. Quite fascinating!
- Hyena. Much maligned but a very clever animal with defined social behaviour. The Pups are really cute even if mum and dad are not exactly winners of the bush beauty competition.
- Beautiful antelope. Impala leaping when on the run. The majestic Kudu with it spiral horns and simply huge ears. The magnificent horns of a Sable. The cuteness of Steenbok, Duiker and Klipspringer. The magnificence of a big herd of Eland or Oryx in the desert.
- Then for hours of amusement watch a large group of Baboons and their babies feeding or at play. On this subject the tiny “Bush Baby” or Night Ape (Nagapie in Afrikaans) is capable of jumping massive distances – up to 3 metres – from branch to branch at night.
- Birds. Large and small are always a pleasure to see and experience even if you are not an avid “birder”. The many raptors, the regal Secretary Bird or the tiny Bee-eaters are all wonderful.
- A Mongoose family scampering around and chattering away are always good for a few minutes of careful study.
And then, of course, Africa has superb scenery from desert to delta to rain forest to plains and the savannah, to magnificent mountains and spectacular water falls.
We always try to give every one of our clients different “experiences” by combining the various wild life with the many bush and scenic areas that we know so well. Most importantly don’t rush your itinerary – spend time at each place and take it really easy on game drives. There is no need to rush back to camp!! The breakfast will still be there! We like you to spend at least three nights at any lodge – four is better still. Otherwise your trip is more travel than relaxing and fun!!!
So why not treat yourself to an “experience of a lifetime” and come and see for yourself? It only takes a quick e-mail or phone call to start the process.