1 Elephant, 2 Elephant, 3 Elephant
My idea of a fabulous time on safari is exploring by mobile tented camp, going from place to place, deep in the bush. To make that experience even better, add the possibility of tracking and counting herds of wild elephants in Botswana. No, I am not daydreaming of my own perfect little world – the idea was proposed just last week while on a call with Great Plains Conservation. As I listened to Great Plains co-founders and filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert update us on the camps, the news got me jumping out of my seat.
Let me set it up for you: imagine a small group of friends spending the days exploring the bush tracking and counting elephants, with plenty of time on hand to see other animals in the area. At the end of the afternoon, you pull into a small, comfortable tented camp, in the middle of nowhere. With bucket showers and a drink waiting for you before dinner, followed by an evening around the campfire. The conversation about the day’s finds winds down, and you’re off to bed for a good night’s sleep. Like I said, this atmosphere makes mobile camps one of my favorite ways to be on safari. You feel closer to the land and the animals, and you get to know your camp staff well. Don’t think for a second you’re putting up your own tent. The trip is fully supported and a whole world away from your girl scout days of camping.
But why count elephants and what’s so appealing about it to me? Botswana is home to the largest elephant population in Africa, and counting the animals assists with keeping track of the population. The lightweight camps will put you further into the bush, which in turn helps to cut down on poaching by virtue of having a presence in more remote areas and more eyes on the elephants. Ultimately the goal is to collect data to contribute to scientists’ understanding of elephant movement in the region, in order to better implement conservation strategies, and contribute further to the fight against poaching. So it’s the opportunity not only to enjoy the bush but in a small way to help in trying to protect it.
Yes, as an Africa planner I want to get out of the house and back to Africa. More than just to travel, for me there is something about being there that makes me feel I’m in the right place – whether it is the smell of the land or how the light hits, it’s right. Like everyone else, I have been homebound, unable to travel, whiling away hours on the internet daydreaming, doing zoom webinars, and just chatting with friends. While a lot of it is forgettable (not the zoom meetings obviously), occasionally I’ll come across something that strikes just the right chord. This safari idea is one of those.
After a year of staring far too much at a virtual life on a flickering screen, I’m looking forward to real life again, and there’s nothing more actual and immediate than a herd of enormous huffing and puffing dust-covered wild African elephants. Sign me up.
After being confined to barracks for 10 months, we might have to let Yvonne disappear into the bush for a while to get her balance back. If ever someone’s enthusiasm for what they do was contagious, it’s Yvonne’s. You can email her here for more details or more ideas. Dont suggest a zoom call’.