If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know as an article contributor to JD African Safaris, I’m a non-hunter, and a lady. What you don’t know is, I’m originally from the mid-west. This story talks about the very first day, on my very first safari in Zimbabwe, which sets the tone for what was to be a lesson in safari game hunting.
It all started on a 30-minute, very bumpy ride. We passed village roundhouses (huts) and fields, dodged acacia thorns that grew high enough to reach us in the bed-seat of the bakkie, we carefully avoided a very large stump that was right in the middle of the road. That stump was always accompanied by what I referred to as the “stump lady” (you’ll hear more about that in a future post.) Anyway, the road narrowed to roads that were more like rarely used paths. We stopped to look down a dry creek bed, and that was where I saw my very first safari animals: a troop of baboons! They saw us and were running away, with the exception of a particularly large one who seemed to throw us the “stink eye,” before he daringly moved on.
We continued on until the path nearly turned to all grass, surrounded by woods, and stopped the vehicle in location you ‘know’ there was no one around. I didn’t know why we stopped. Maybe the fellas had to pee? All I knew is we all got out of the vehicle and meandered toward a mountain top ridge with a gorgeous vista. We looked through binoculars down onto a beautiful valley, in which, the guys were pointing out things only they could see that were miles away. I was ready to get back in the vehicle and get this show on the road. That’s when a little reality set in. . . .on safari, it’s all walk and stalk. Mmmm, wait, we gotta walk? That’s not what I’ve seen on TV…when the jeepy-type vehicles go screaming through a field along-side a running animal. Oh, well, how long can this last?
Everyone loaded up their rifles and gear out of the vehicle, then basically began a very steep descent down the mountain-side. First the PH seemed to jump down, out of sight (as if he were jumping out of an airplane) followed by the trackers, game warden, hunters, then little ol’ me, followed by a videographer. Not wanting to slow anyone down, I made-haste and followed as closely as possible as I took my place in the “procession” line.
We slid down the mountain as the rocks rolled beneath our feet; it seemed to last forever. I just thought, ugh, going back up sure isn’t going to be any fun. I also quickly learned that Africa has an awful lot of thorny bushes, as a bush seemed to reach out and grab my “very” stretchy spandex/polyester t-shirt. I didn’t realize one had me firmly in its grasp until I seemed to meet some serious resistance and was spun around. I saw this thorn had not only snagged me, but it stretched my shirt out about 2 feet!! When I unsnagged my shirt it had mis-shaped my t-shirt in a place that made me look like I had a huge, deflated, 3” nipple, resembling a pointy pill bottle drooping straight down, on the left side of my shirt. What was really embarrassing is that the videographer saw the whole thing! Thankfully, he saw it as funny as I did, and we both busted up in muffled laughter. I’m surprised it didn’t show up on the video, but I’m probably on Youtube somewhere, lol
Cutting to the chase, we hiked several hours, snapping a couple pictures along the way, when everyone came to a stop. Yeah, if you’ve read my previous post, you know what this means…but at the time I didn’t. I looked through an opening in the forest revealing a grassy field of what must have been 40-60 African Cape Buffalo! Well, I didn’t know the guys saw it, as in my excitement, I yelled, “There they are!!!!!”
This was quickly followed by what felt like an earthquake as 50+ buffalo stampeded, thankfully not toward us, away from the obnoxious, possibly dangerous, short, blonde, American female shouting at them. There is no accurate description of feeling the ground below your feet as the concussion of 200 hooved-feet carrying tons and tons of buffalo pound the earth.
After several minutes, the loud rumble subsided, and the forest regained its peacefulness, the PH slowing walked toward me, I said, “Why did they run away?” He said nothing, but gave me a look and a small, very small, grin, I meekly spoke once more to say, “Was it me?” Realizing it “was” because of me, I truthfully rationalized my innocent action with, “The cows in Indiana don’t move when you yell at them.” It was at this time, everyone realized I was not properly pre-advised, they laughed, including the PH, and I was immediately given some great advice, “Don’t do that again.” True story!
Well, I got the stink-eye more than once that day. And, in the process, learned lots of lessons on my 1st day of my 1st African safari: 1) Expect to walk, and then some. 2) Don’t wear spandex anything! And most important, 3) Be QUIET, when on a real safari! If you’d like to read the continuation of this story, click here! Or are you ready to create some of your own memorable experiences? “Step up your game” and contact us for more information!