I know just by assessing my own family that camping isn’t for everyone. Take my older sister for example. The idea of sleeping outdoors in a two by two tent, braving the wilderness isn’t exactly her idea of a good time. Not to mention that bugs, lizards, snakes, birds, spiders… really anything that isn’t our cat or dog freaks her out. So the idea of living in a tent for 5 days having to use a bucket shower and bush loo would be nothing short of hell for her. I would like to think that I am different, that I could rough it being the tomboy adventurer that I am. So when presented with the idea of camping in Africa with no running water or a flushing toilet I was able to test just what my limits were. Needless to say, I survived to tell the tale, but what did I learn about myself and surviving the perils of being in the bush?
- Showers everyday are a luxury: When I packed my bag for the trip, I grabbed my travel bottles and filled one with my favourite Acai berry body scrub, thinking that it would be used in the week. Honestly, I didn’t shower for the first two days of the trip whilst we were out in the bush, and you know what, I also didn’t wash my hair for 5 and I managed just fine (although I am sure my dreadlocked hair would like the plead a different verdict). That is enough to make some of the cleaner people out there shudder and reach for their own loofa. Being on safari, you don’t do a lot of exercise and going in winter means the days aren’t overly hot, warm but not scorching so the risk of sweating and smelling like one of the warthogs is down to a minimal. My work colleagues will be pleased to know that since rejoining civilisation I have taken to maintaining my regular showering routine.
- Eat what you are given: You know the age-old story your mum used to give you ‘eat what you are served or you will go hungry’? This is actually true whilst on Safari. All that know me knows that I only on and off eat chicken so that means no fish, no red meat, rarely do I eat carbs. So when out the in the bush what is the easiest dishes to make… meat and rice. I made the realisation on the first day when we were served chicken drumsticks that I needed to ditch my meatless ways and attempt the drumstick. It had been a good 10 years since I have eaten anything off a bone to say the very least it will be another 10 before I do it again. The chef was kind enough to make vegetarian options for me when meat was on the menu and it was happy day when I saw that leafy salad let me tell you.
- I squeal: You know when you watch the news and a boy band is in town and there are lots of squealing crowds of girls just swooning over them, imagine that contained in one female but instead of it being One Direction or the ‘Beebs’, the squealing happened over a lion or elephant or even the lesser appreciated but never missed impala. Yes… I was THAT person. I watch David Attenborough documentaries relentlessly so this safari was me living out my fantasy and yes there were times where I imagined him voice-overing the days events. As much as I tried to control my excitement, the girlish squeal escaped, every time.
- I can feel the cold: I will get scrutinised for saying this but the winters in Sydney aren’t that cold. I can happily walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and be completely fine. Melbourne is cold; 6am on an African morning in the Middle of July; freezing. The moment I realised that I wasn’t super woman (much to my dismay) was the day I realised my choice of fingerless gloves was the worst mistake I could have made (great for the photo ops, not so great for potential frostbite). On this trip I wore 3 times the layers I normally would; a singlet, long-sleeved knit and my jumper which still wasn’t enough. I had my gloves, scarf and beanie and still felt like I had flown to the arctic tundra rather the savannah.
So, what advice can I give you for your African safari? For starters make peace with the idea that you may not shower for a couple of days and embrace your natural self, get ready to eat foods you aren’t used to and for gods sake get proper gloves and don’t be a smart ass and use the fingerless ones like me.
‘Take only memories, leave only footsteps’