What’s it really like? We get this question a lot and we answer it this way: Imagine immersing yourself in wilderness – where possibly you and the animals you see are the only living things from horizon to horizon, and then returning to an oasis of civilization, comfort and cuisine for a refreshing break, swim in the pool or sumptuous meal. Safari is like that…a journey of extremes.
The typical day might begin with predawn tea or coffee and toast, followed by a game drive as the natural world begins to meet a new day. You might drive for a few hours, tracking a hunting cat or following the herds or watching elephants as they begin their 17 hour daily browsing binge. Returning to your lodge for a hearty breakfast, you may decide to take in a walk or lecture if there’s a resident naturalist, a dip in the pool, or to take up a post in a comfortable chair and let the game come to you. Safari lodges by definition are sited for spectacular views; animals seem to know they have nothing to fear from lodge occupants and wander, in some cases, right up to your bedroom window. I remember distinctly watching treetops right below our room sway and shake, and suddenly 3 elephants came into view, oblivious of their proximity to me or the building, bent solely on selecting the choicest morsels.
Lunch is a multi-course culinary excursion. Interestingly, lunch and dinner always seem to start with soup, and the soups are uniformly excellent (as is your appetite…all that fresh air, you know). Cream of pumpkin garnished with roasted cashews, asparagus, beef goulash and “Masai Consommé” were a selection of what we enjoyed. The afternoon game drive usually begins around 4 PM, the day is cooling down and the wildlife is wakening from their beat-the-heat midday siestas.
There will probably be a day you spend entirely on a game-drive...when your destination is too far off the beaten track to return to "civilization" for lunch. Leaving your lodge early in the morning, you'll set out when it's crisp and fresh, watching the resident population begin foraging for their breakfast. Maybe you'll be bound for far-off hippo pools, or to the bottom of the Ngorongoro Crater, or to let time stand still for the space of a day i n the Serengeti. It's days like these when you can really appreciate just how wild this world is. Your expert driver/guide will find a shady picnic spot where you break out the enormous box lunch your lodge has supplied. As you munch on cold roast chicken and exotic fruits you'll have a chance to watch and wonder...we were once entertained by the passing wildebeest migration, passing for the better part of an hour and totally oblivious to us as they continued "on their mission." There's something special and wild and primitive about picnicing in the bush (the same something that accounts for the popularity of the "Bush Dinners" most of the lodges do)...and I guarantee the experience will heighten your senses for the post-picnic game-viewing you'll enjoy in the afternoon.
There’s time for a shower and then an exotic cocktail creation in the lounge before dinner, which is where the chefs really show off. African barbeque nights are popular and do try the local specialties whenever they’re featured. Another very popular option is the “Bush Dinner” – which is a gracious meal, formally presented and served actually out in the wilds and an incredible experience. The blackest night, stars blazing, your table candle and torch lit, nighttime sounds crackling, and with guards posted against the possibility of wildlife that might decide to get a little too curious. Unforgettable.
There will probably be a special, scheduled evening event, a cultural program, maybe Masai dancing featuring standing jumps to over 3 feet in height, or maybe a wildlife or conservation film, after which you’re more than ready for bed.
As you fall into your very comfortable bed, with mosquito netting neatly in place and, in chilly climates there’ll be a hot water bottle for toasty tootsies, the effects of all that open air and good food and the amazing sights you relive from the day – contribute to the kind of happy tired that quickly brings on solid sleep.
And the following day you’ll do it all over again. Same structure…different sights. Every day in the bush is different.