Safari for the first time, every time.

“Hold tight” our guide Geoffrey said as he put the land cruiser into reverse and put his foot down. With her trunk in the air and ears flapping this female elephant was clearly not having one of her better days and she was not prepared to let us pass. Once the vehicle was at a safe distance we stopped and soon saw why this elegant, dainty albeit rather large lady was standing her ground.

A baby elephant who was all trunk and ears peeped round the bush to see what was going on. Still getting used to its trunk this little one then started to mimic its mom, to much laugher from our guide and the rest of his guests; although I am sure there was a bit of nervous laugher the first time safari goers on the vehicle. This was our welcome to Zambia and the South Luangwa National Park.

Having grown up in South Africa with monkeys in our garden I have somewhat become complacent about this wonderful continent that I call home. Being on a game drive with guests who have never seen a monkey in the wild let alone a elephant reiterated to me that going on a safari for the umpteenth time, should be like going on safari for the first time. When visiting places like Istanbul, Agra and Cairo you know are going to see the Blue Mosque, the Taj Mahal and the great Pyramids on safari you simply do not know what each drive, walk or boat ride is going to bring and to me that is that is the excitement and the enjoyment of being on safari. Some of the guides I have met have been guiding for twenty years or more and still start each day like it is there first time safari, except, they have years of knowledge and experience to handle any animal that may be having a bad day.

During the course of the game drive you generally stop for a coffee and a snack and it was then I asked my fellow guests how their first safari going. Both of them where beaming, and could just not get over what they had seen and also secretly admitted their heart was still beating a little faster than normal due to our encounter with the elephant. They were just as amazed to see a young, shy, female leopard being chased away by one seriously grumpy male baboon as they where to see a lilac breasted roller chirping away on a nearby brunch. For them it was a dream to come to Africa and go on safari and anything that Zambia threw at them they were going to absorb it all in and enjoy every moment.

On the way back to camp we stopped to watch some hippo enjoying some sunbathing, and amongst a whole lot more saw some puku who was on the run from something and not forgetting my personal favourite animal the warthog who stop and stare at you giving you just enough time to try and get your camera to focus before they shoot off with their antenna like tails in the air.

Each encounter along way just made me want to see more and the other guests where already talking about coming back next year. You see once you have experienced Africa it will stay with you for a lifetime and keep calling you back for more.

On arrival back into camp I heard the call of the fish eagle which always reminds me if being in the bush and this time it was just a bit more special as it is the national bird of Zambia. It was almost like it was saying I hoped you enjoyed your drive and you are looking forward to the next instalment of excitement…..and with that we are asked to get back into the vehicle as they were going to drive us back to our tents as there are some buffalo walking through camp.