Botswana Bucket List Safari

Marvin Peguese

25 Oct 2016


Safari simply means journey in Swahili and Arabic. And that’s all my yearly trips somewhere in the world really are: explorations scratching an itch for more unique and transcendent experiences. Safaris to certain African countries used to mean trips to hunt wild animals; but now, thankfully, the more common purpose is to see them in the wild and take the kind of shots that leave them unharmed. As anyone can see, I enjoy doing that.


The camps are located in some spectacular game-rich areas of southern Africa that have had a hold on me since I first visited them years ago.  Where staff can make or break a trip, the workers here always deliver: hosts and other support staff are eager not just to be helpful, but to be genuinely curious and engaging with this guest; guides are trained professionals who are often so inspired by and intimately connected to the landscapes and wildlife they show us that you forget it’s just their job; and the international (and even better local) meals chefs prepare with flair, abundance and pride are one of many quality finishing touches to the comfortable accommodations.

This trip checked several boxes. As more and more high-rise buildings eat up urban skies and leave much of New York City in deep shadows by mid-afternoon, I appreciated being able stand in open horizons under a relentless sun, special effects-like cloud formations, and a clear, sparkling Milky Way.  

As residential and commercial developments force Americans interested in wildlife to travel farther for dwindling pristine sites, I treasured being able to sit on my deck and have birds and other creatures pass or pause so close that they seemed to come visit me.  

As a range of first-world cultural developments erode even the inclination for contemplative awareness of our environments (and of ourselves!), being grounded somewhere beyond their reach for a little while recharged that spark of humanity ensuring that it fuel another quest like this one soon. 

Humans remain the top predator everywhere, but it was again mysterious, humbling and occasionally awesome to feel a little vulnerable, but never actually threatened, in truly wild spaces like my ancestors once navigated and that we’ve had the good sense to preserve.  

Some folks will always doubt or mock the significance of these journeys; safaris are a cliché to them. They might roll their eyes at images of African sunsets, until they’ve sat quietly beneath a particularly striking one. They might think national parks are just harmless open-air zoos, until they’ve witnessed the violent grace of attempted kills by rippling, ferocious cats and dogs, or seen and smelled the aftermath of recent successful ones. They might never feel any connection to the creatures we intrude upon, until one of these creatures seems to connect eye-to-eye in a way that makes you wonder what’s going on here. They might only come to see the Big Five (once in a lifetime!), and leave untouched by the generous people and rich landscapes that welcomed them. Well, not me. 


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