Don’t forget to have fun

I was recently on safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa. On one of our first game drives, just as the last light died out from the sky and we should have returned to base, there was a call on the two-way radio that the rarest of beasts – a pangolin – was clicking. a paved road.

We drove him to the spot but, from my seat in the back of the jeep, I struggled to dodge the outstretched arms of other guests to take a decent photo of the armored mammal before he don’t disappear in the grass. It was a once in a lifetime sighting. Oh, how I wish I had channeled the audacity of a vervet monkey and claimed the front seat before I left. Maybe I should have thrown myself on my neighbor’s lap to take a better picture.

But then I would behave like an animal. Going on safari is a curious mix of primitive and sophisticated. While you’re on your game drive, the only way to go to the toilet is to use the nearest bush (after your guide checks it for lurking lions, of course). In an extreme emergency, you may just need to get behind the jeep. Make yourself comfortable with other passengers – and whatever you do, don’t wear coveralls.

Drinks from the game drive are also de rigueur. A moment that stood out to me in Kruger was when we parked alongside self-guided visitors to admire a full-bellied leopard lying like an artist’s model along an overturned tree trunk. Those in the car had come prepared, holding what looked like cocktails to their lips as we all watched the amazing scene.

We also have lots of drinks in the park, blowing bubbles at sunset and spiking our morning coffees with Amarula, a South African cream liqueur made from the marula fruit (at home, I remember my bottle of Amarula every time I run out of milk and don’t feel like rushing to the shops).

Although the safari experience may seem competitive, especially when comparing animal sighting scores with other guests, it’s important to remember – above all else – to have fun. On our last game drive, we stop for refreshments – and an impromptu game of who can spit an impala pellet the farthest. Turns out there’s more to safari memorabilia than rare sightings and big game – a little game means a lot, too.

The writer was a guest in Kruger Shalati – The Train on the Bridge. See Krugershalati. com

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