The word safari conveys a much deeper concept than modern travel marketing might have you believe, and the commonly understood idea of bouncing around in a 4×4 looking at animals barely scratches the surface. The word is Swahili, derived from an Arabic word that roughly translated means journey. The title of this post translates from the Swahili as Travel Well. Beyond viewing elephants and lions, understanding this concept can open you up to a lifetime of extraordinary travel experiences in Africa.
Seeing the marquee animals of Africa’s wildest places for the first time is nothing short of a revelation. But if safari is synonymous with sitting in a Land Rover, then anyone other than the keenest animal nut or photographer will get their fill in 5-6 days, before your lower back gives out under the pressure of dirt roads and early mornings.
But understanding that to safari is to travel can allow things to get properly interesting and the true journey – the true safari – can begin. There are places you can go and things you can experience where animals are not the focus, yet the overall experience is just as exciting, compelling and revelatory as being surrounded by a breeding herd of elephants, or seeing lions take down a buffalo mere metres away.
In my opinion, Kenya is one of the best places to embrace this approach. There are places that have to be seen to be believed. Places that will fry your mind. Places so staggering in their grandeur that any photos you take won’t do them justice. Places where it seems like whatever creator you happen to adhere to, was either drunk or angry or both when he made the landscape. Places like the Kenyan part of the Great Rift Valley with vast soda lakes where hundreds of thousands of flamingoes concentrate… Mountain pinnacles that you can only access by helicopter… Lava fields, and sand dunes… Volcanic ponds you can swim in… You get the idea.
And experientially speaking, though it may sound basic in some ways, to my mind there’s no more luxurious experience than moving through the wilderness on foot, away from the internet and the annoyances of modern life. Your camp loaded on the backs of camels while you wander along a river bank, quietly chatting with your Samburu guide. A meal cooked over the fire, eaten off your lap under a sky full of stars is truly one of life’s great pleasures.
Some of the pictures above go some way to capturing what I mean. Few do any of this better than Ol Malo Nomad (https://www.olmalo.com/activities), a place where with 3 nights you can have an amazing experience, but with 6 or 7, you can have the kind of experience that will leave an indelible mark.
The ‘Big 5’ are undeniably great but then again virtually everything about Africa’s vast and varied ecosystems is like seeing under the hood of the world. Some of these experiences are dirt cheap and some are rather more expensive but when it comes time to close the book on your life, I wager you’ll remember the experiences, not what they cost.
Dan’s depth of experience in Africa is matched by his enthusiasm for the experiences he can help put together there, and his approach is what Safari Njema is all about – traveling well. Contact him here for ideas and discussions.