With safaris you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes, you get elephants. Sometimes, you get lions. Sometimes, you get lions eating an elephant. And just sometimes, you get absolutely nothing.
You go to say, Zimbabwe, and to a park where on a bad day in the summer you’ll only see four hundred elephants near a watering hole and just a couple of lion prides. But you won’t go in summer. You will go just after the rainy season. When animals can drink anywhere and the bush becomes so dens you couldn’t even see the animals a few hundred meters away from the watering hole anyway.
You see a few waterbucks, maybe some impalas and you gaze into a whole lot of nothing. You doze off in the truck, because the very kind guide is trying to give you a glimpse of some animal – any animal – and is therefor driving longer and longer distances.
You don’t really mind all that much, because there will be a night safari and a morning safari. There is still time.
You spot the rare serval. Or, more accurately, you spot something moving in the grass, take a random shot and then, when you zoom in fully, you spot a blurry picture of the serval.
You get to the night safari only to be told that the guide is not allowed to use a spotlight. You get to the road drive a bit and then stop at a spot where you can actually hear the elephants eating. It’s amazing, but because people on the truck are talking, the guide decides to leave the spot. Only giving you one glimpse of the herd of elephants and one crossing the road when he briefly ignites his lights.
You stare at a watering hole for about an hour. The bright lights only just not reaching the far edge, making you sure there are animals lurking beyond your field of vision. You try not to mind. You’ll go on another safari the next morning. There is still time.
The morning will be cold. You bundle up and again you drive. And drive and drive as the sun starts its ascent into the heavens. You see zebras and become nearly ecstatic because there are finally animals around. Someone will spot a dungbeetle and start to wonder if you could ever get interested enough in insects to enjoy the sight of a beetle pushing around a ball of shit.
You start to mind, because soon, there will be no more time. And this is the worst of safaris. Followed by something quiet strange. As the sun starts peeping out and touches your frozen fingers, you see something else. You feel something else.
The beauty of your surroundings, the delightful contrast of chilled air and warm sun touching your limbs and the soothing rhythm of the care bouncing around create their own type of happiness. You become calmer. No longer frantically looking for animals. For new shoes. For your next career move. You just become. Here and now like you’ve scoffed about when people drinking too much of the mindfulness cool-aid tried to tell you what this feels like.
In a strange and weird and subdued way you are happy. Even if it’s still the worst of safaris.