Botswana

The Magic of a Morning Safari in the Bush – Part II

Our Collective

Louise Monsey

5/24/2020

On a walking safari, using our senses becomes all the more important. In fact, it is what keeps us alive. That sixth sense I spoke of before has, I’m sure, kept me alive on more than one occasion. There have been times when I have turned a sharp ninety degrees in the middle of the bush, or even completely around, back-tracking upon myself because I had an uneasy feeling and my ‘gut’ just told me not to go that way.

Cracking branches may indicate elephants feeding, and the shrill call of oxpeckers flying up from the backs of what could be rhino or buffalo up ahead. And no guide (or guest) ever forgets a warning growl from a lion or leopard. Sometimes you don’t even need to see them; sometimes just the thrill of knowing they are there is enough.

Buffalo smell a lot like cows and whilst walking I will often announce that ‘I can smell elephants’, which is difficult to describe but imagine smelling a really big horse! Sometimes, if you are close enough, you can even hear their dung falling to the ground. Well, it is quite a long way to fall! Their low rumbling, contact calls can give them away, but unless they are feeding it is surprising to most just how quiet an elephant can be, and unless you are really tuned in to your environment, you could walk yourself in to trouble pretty quickly.

Seeing Africa on foot is a completely different experience to being on a vehicle, and a great way to make your senses come alive. You often don’t see as much large game as from a car, as even when we think we are walking quietly it is amazing how much noise we make. Most animals, sadly, have an inherent fear of humans, especially those walking upright that might be carrying rifles, and will move away long before our comparatively out-of-tune senses hear, smell or see them. But it is a great opportunity to concentrate on the smaller things that you just don’t see from a car, and instead of being a mere observer you are now part of the environment.

You will get that lovely tired feeling in your legs from treading dusty, ancient elephant paths, as you evolved to do… walking on islands constructed by termites, hearing the crunch of grass and leaves beneath your feet and breathing in the smell of ‘petrichor’ – that most glorious smell of the earth after rain.

As you walk, looking at all the tracks of the animals that have walked there before you, maybe less than an hour ago, one of my favourite things to do is to get people to picture those animals walking that same path. They all did – the evidence is there and it is an incredible way to appreciate the abundance and diversity of this most magical of continents.

Put on your headset on and emerge yourself in this sensory adventure:

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