I left home with the excitement of a child. I was about to see African animals in the wild. The journey was longer than any other I’d endured in the name of travel, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I arrived in Botswana with my mother, I had the biggest smile on my face. We settled into our tents that night and went to bed after a long day. Despite the exhaustion that threatened to drag me under I lay awake that first night and I listened to the sounds permeating the tent. There were so many new interesting, intriguing noises. All the clicks and clacks and the outrageous sounds I couldn’t have placed in a million years. Before I go any further let me tell you this; I am not a bug person. There were spiders on the walls the size of my hand. My stay at the camp could have been more comfortable if there had not been giant spiders above my head. That being said, I’m glad it wasn’t. Travel is often sugarcoated. Especially in the age of travel influencers who dominate Instagram it is easy to forget that sometimes travel is not comfortable. Travel is not just sitting on a beach with a tropical cocktail. Sometimes there are giant spiders all over your tent walls. And sometimes you just have to deal with it. I think it makes for a better traveler to feel a little uncomfortable every once in a while. So, despite the spiders I was able to lie in complete darkness and listen to the sounds of Africa as I drifted off to sleep.
The following days were filled to the brim with excitement and the achievement of life long dreams for many people. Seeing African animals on safari was something a lot of people dreamed about doing since they were children. We saw elephants, impalas, hippos, lions, giraffes, water buffalo, and many more. The only animal that eluded our eye was the leopard. I have experienced so much culture and so much beauty in my lifetime, but I have never felt something so pure and true as I did when I saw the elephants. They were huge majestic creatures who towered over me and made me feel like maybe we humans were not as important as we thought. I looked into their eyes and they stared back in bliss. They continued to chew their leaves while staring right into my eyes unphased by our presence. They looked at me and I saw a kind of wisdom and grace I have never seen before. I looked at them and I felt they knew more about the world than me or any other person ever would. When I was around them, I felt calm like nothing else mattered. They left me at a loss for words which does not happen often. I felt that they had the secrets of the universe locked up tight and they were the only ones with the keys.
The other animal that had an incredible impact on me was the lion. We came across a whole pride of them one day. Our driver took us in closer, and closer, and closer until we were ten feet away from them. It’s hard to explain the feeling of unease that collects in your stomach when you are that close to wild lions. They were right there, just lying around and dozing. Lions, elegant and deadly right before my eyes. I felt uneasy but at the same time comforted since I was in a seat in a vehicle. Even though I knew at any minute one of them could jump through the vehicle and we wouldn’t stand a chance. The lions humbled me. The beautiful animals made me feel that I was not the best, I was not on top of the food chain. They were so peaceful and content and the most majestic creatures I have ever seen. They yawned and I saw their deadly teeth and I knew they were the ones with the power, and I was okay with that.
There are so many things people think about when they hear the words African safari. I will now forever think of the elephant and the lions that changed the way I thought of humans. We may think that we’ve got it all figured out. We may say that we rule this world. We don’t tend to realize that we do not in fact own this world, we share it with thousands of creatures big and small. We see our technological advances and our advanced society and think we know best. Mistakes are being made every day by people and we continue to brush them aside. The elephant’s wisdom and the lions pride made me understand a little better. This was an experience that happened to me five years ago and I look back and realize these animals were saying more than just how small humans are. If that elephant could speak it would have said “When will you start paying attention to us instead of what’s in your wallet?” We and our corporations are killing our planet and I am tired of sitting around and watching it burn. If we don’t get on top of climate change, there won’t be any safaris to go on. Imprint tours is working to offset carbon emissions for the flights of our employees, please consider doing what you can to offset your own emissions. Below is the link to offset your flights. I implore you to take the climate crisis seriously and acknowledge your part in it, then do something about it.