Kerry Moss from Quadrant Travel & Journeys visits the heart of Africa and discovers it’s just not the animals you can fall in love with, but the people too.
It was late at night and I could hear rustling in the bushes outside my tent. I lay motionless and quiet hoping it would stop … or at the very least, for my heart beat to slow to a manageable thump. I had been warned by the guides not to leave my tent at night without an escort, as this was when the animals were most active. As a shadow came over my tent and the canvas shuddered, I let out a scream. I started to think that taking my chances outside the tent would be better than laying here and waiting for what seemed like my fate. So I mustered up the courage, I crawled to the door, I slowly stuck my head out – and there I am face-to-face with my tormentor. An African Squirrel! The length of a ruler, at least half of which was its tail and these sharp little white teeth glistening in the moonlight.
I had imagined my tormentor to be larger and scarier and perhaps a little bit less perky than this. I know now, in the cold light of day that doesn’t seem so terrifying, but this was my first introduction to an African Safari – an experience that I will never forget.
The days following the squirrel episode were filled with animal experiences that I could have only dreamed of. I remember sitting back and watching a mother and her baby elephant bathe each other in the waterhole. They were so close, I could hear their breath, and yet they didn’t have a care in the world.
We startled a herd of giraffe on my way back to the camp one day, and I’m not sure who made more noise – me scrambling back into the 4WD, or the young calling out for their mothers in the rush to get away. I was shocked by the locals fearlessly swimming in crocodile and hippo infested waters. Life seemed far less risky on the beaches of the Mid North Coast! And I will never forget coming across a pride of lions with their freshly caught antelope. The sound of the lion’s jaws crunching down on the bones is something that will stay with me forever.
An African Safari is filled with magical encounters with Mother Nature at her best – and sometimes at her worst. It leaves you with memories that you cannot recreate and stories that your grandchildren will actually want to listen to.
Africa seems to be a world away, both geographically and culturally, but these differences are part of its attraction and what makes Africa a mysterious and fascinating destination. While still very under developed in many areas, it is relatively protected from outside influences – and leaves you feeling like you really are on the set of a movie.
Many people hear amazing stories about the African animals … or at least, anyone who has come within talking distance of me has heard my tales, but what people sometimes underestimate are the people of Africa.
The African people, many whom have come from poverty and many of whom still live in poverty, are willing to share their lives, their families and what little possessions they have with a stranger – a white one, at that! So as I plan my next adventure, I am reminded that sometimes it’s the experiences that you can’t pay for that leave you breathless.