Riding in the back of an open jeep, wind in the hair, sometimes freezing in the misty dawn but more often sweltering in the summer heat, swinging your head from left to right and back, and back, and back again, your eyes desperately trying to identify a glimpse of colour or movement in the landscape in the silent competition to be the first in the vehicle to spot a wild animal, and the rarer, the better.
It might not sound appealing to the uninitiated, but lovers of the African Safari will recognise this… the anticipation, the breathlessness; it is pure exhilaration, on your first drive or on your tenth. It can be stressful: you feel an obligation to do your part, to find something to prove your worth; straining your eyes in the glare or forgetting to your drink water can bring on a headache – but it’s all worth it when you find that lion basking on a rock; or a herd of elephants eating, tenderly pulling apart the vegetation; a fish-eagle, perched on a bough and calling mournfully to its mate; that elusive leopard unexpectedly crossing your path; not to mention stopping for drinks to watch that ever-mesmerising quintessential sunset.
Africa speaks to your soul; she is a piece of music that resonates through your whole being. The aching beauty of vast open savannahs and deserts; the wonder of impossibly delicate petals or intricate leaves; chilling or thrilling animal sounds, close and far away; all under that enormous canopy of brilliant sky, astonishingly clear and blue, or crisply black and punctured by billions of stars.
Awe-inspiring wherever you go, wild Africa is hard to leave.