Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Big Five...

Safaris are really like cruises where pampered tourists are carefully shepherded about by keepers -- called guides -- who give them a taste of the wild and then deliver them back to posh hotels for sumptuous meals served by attentive servants. It disturbs me that I actually like this.

The comparison that safari organizers really want you to make, of course, is not to cruises but to 19th and early 20th century wild game hunts. The roads in national parks in eastern Africa are inordinately bumpy and crude; there is no Internet and I think things may be kept this way, at least in part, to better give the flavor of wild adventure. I am overly suspicious, but when our safari truck got mired in a middy trail and our guide had to call for help on his radio, I really had to wonder if it had been staged. This driver has been at the job for more than 20 years and he had only hours before been berating other drivers who didn't know enough to stay out of mud holes. Hmmm.
Lion at Masai Mara

The biggest conceit stolen from the old game hunts is the search to shoot the Big Five of Africa's beautiful animals. Of course, today, all shooting during safaris is by camera. During four days of safari this January, we bagged all five. I've never seen a leopard in the wild before and so, for me, that was the best.

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