The real romance of an African safari experience
Angama Mara, Kenya. Photograph by Adriaan Louw.
My fantasy, as the novice travel writer that I am, is to try and capture the true essence of a time or place in a completely distinct way. It’s what most writers aspire to but as I attempt each piece, each story, I realise how difficult it is. Experience is so subjective and each trip is so unique to the person experiencing it, especially when we each come with our own set of expectations, beliefs, desires, fantasies and even fears.
East Africa is a place that inspires great romance but as the sensitive and analytical person that I have become, I can’t separate the psychological conditioning of knowing what would "sell" (I’m part marketer) and what it honestly and authentically feels like to be in the throes of a great adventure, the deeply personal and creative stuff.
The “African Travel” market is so saturated at the moment that I’ve started to have a physical reaction to seeing the overuse of words like “bespoke” and “tailor-made” and “epic”. And then there is the sales pitch, the “Big 5”, the “Great Migration”, the all-inclusive packages. There are the African sunset shots, the "bespoke" lodge shots and the majestic nature shots, all of which blend into one big, repetitive Instagram feed. And the more invested you become, the more research you do, the more saturated it all feels. We’ve reached the tipping point in Africa.
But then I think about the size of this continent, the abundance of experiences one can have here, the few opportunities most people actually get in their lifetime to experience any of it, how inaccessible it still is to most people on the planet, despite how accessible it feels when you’re in it, and how unique the perspective would be for each and every traveller who looks into it.
There is so much to consider when embarking on a story but really, all I can share is what I discover on each trip I go on, my highlights, my joys, the magnitude of my appreciation, and the mixed emotions that come with exploring new parts of this enormous continent.
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Sanctuary Kusini, Serengeti. Photograph by Adriaan Louw.