April 2024

Safari through the eyes of a child


Safari through the eyes of a child

Stepping into the vast wilderness of Africa, one can't help but be captivated by its raw beauty and untamed wonders. Yet there are so many versions of the wilderness - each being entirely unique.

As a guide we have the privilege to see Nature in so many of her various forms. We may observe the entire life of a leopard, from a clumsy cub, to a dominant force, and old age. The first steps of a newborn giraffe or the dying breath of an impala. We see the seasons as they come and go, in the colour of the grass or the course of the river. The natural world is ever changing, and we are fortunate to bear witness to it.

From those we guide, we also get to see Nature through a myriad of different eyes. We see first-hand the joy it brings people as they experience some of Nature's most powerful spectacles. Undoubtedly my favourite is the sense of wonder that plays out in the eyes of children.

This month we welcomed a family to Boulders. The children walked hesitantly behind their parents upon their arrival. Not a moment later however, a herd of elephants appeared in the river below the lodge. I invited the children to walk to the edge of the deck with me. They peaked through the railings at the giants in the river, unsure of what to make of the sight. The elephants were splashing around, and the water glistened in the afternoon sun. Suddenly one elephant came from below the deck, its huge grey back moving effortlessly through the vegetation below. The children stepped back and held their breath.

Unnoticed until then, a troop of monkeys jumped above us in the enormous jackalberry tree. Two youngsters sat and peered at us, their long tails hanging down from above like a scene out of the Jungle Book. A buffalo bull lay undisturbed in the gentle flow of the river and a giraffe gracefully walked past on the horizon.

Looking back down at the children, their eyes were now filled with wonder. Any sense of uncertainty had disappeared, and in that moment, I felt like a child again. There we were under an ancient tree, on the wooden deck, suspended in the middle of the African wilderness. A sense of excitement overcame us as the monkeys played above our heads and the elephants splashed in the river below.

During their stay we sat quietly together and looked at a chameleon, changing colour in front of our very eyes! There was no need to explain the physics involved in the dispersing or contracting of pigment granules in the cells of the creature - we wanted only to marvel at the spectacle.

We watched as scarab beetles immaculately rolled their dung balls, and spoke of their ability to use celestial cues to find their way home.

We stared up at the heavens and invented our own “new” constellations with a star pointer. We felt the Land Cruiser vibrate as lions roared around us. We marvelled at the iridescent blue light scattering off the feathers of a starling, and watched a leopard playing lovingly with her two cubs.

To witness the bush through the wonder-filled eyes of a child reminds me that every day is different, and that you cannot become complacent with the world around you. It requires you to take note of the small details. And somewhere amongst this attention to the “ordinary”, it allows us a passage to experience the extraordinary.