What REALLY happens on safari

We’ll be starting Open Heart Safari 2015 on July 13, beginning our trip in Malawi and traveling as a group of eleven. Here’s the first anticipatory post as I get in the mindset to be on the watch for elephants, hippos, baboons and more… all within easy distance of my hut.

Yes, there are no fences around national parks in Zambia. That means you can count on seeing wildlife in your camp without even paying an entrance fee! So, look before you walk boldly down the path. And listen for rustling in the trees.

Yes, you will hear lions, elephants, hippos and other large mammals near your hut, tent or lodge. In fact, you might even hear stomach gurgling, farting and burping not to mention the well-known roars, trumpeting and grunts. 

Yes, you must stay inside your sleeping abode in the evening. Animals abound. They have sharper night vision than you do. Stay in bed- or peer out your window. 

Yes, you will relish waking up before the dawn. Most animals, including the big cats, sleep in the wee hours of the night, and nearly everything starts to stir as the morning light comes up. The bird sounds alone are worth waking for. So is the increasing activity and chance to see a cat with last night’s kill.

Yes, you can see wildlife anywhere anytime. That’s why most all lodges have staff posted near walking paths. You wouldn’t want to miss seeing a cobra slithering by or mistakenly step into the path of an elephant.

Yes, animals have predictable patterns and rhythms. So, when someone tells you that the elephants will be crossing the river at 7 am and 7 pm, stand the ready so you can see their traverse. And if the guide says that the leopard is likely to return in the evening to eat the impala it killed last night, plan on making the return trip as well.

Yes, you should always be prepared to go out for a safari ride. So, have your clothes organized so that you can get dressed with a moment’s notice. After hearing two lions some 50 yards from my hut, I was fortunate to see the two big males in the comfort of a jeep, in the company of my guide.

Yes, you can see animals hunting at night. Big flashlights don’t deter big cats from their instinctive hunting and socializing. In fact, they may walk right by your jeep heading in a straight line for a buffalo or a mate. Watching the choreography of a 15 cat pride is as good as it gets. (and in Zambia, yours may well be the only jeep… there ain’t crowds in their parks).

Yes, you will be delighted and surprised by the wonderful array of wildlife in your backyard and beyond your doorstep. So, keep your eyes and ears open and enjoy!