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on safari *south africa*

9 June 2014

Continuing our South Africa adventures…

For me, being on safari was less about capturing the best photographs and more about absorbing it into my whole body. The smells, sounds, emotions, the knowledge of our guides and the proximity to these wild animals.

I sat relaxed in the high, open Landrover, breathed in the rush of air on my face, let my eyes fall gently over the landscape and felt such privilege and joy to be there. Rather than hurting my eyes trying to spot everything, I let those with good eyesight do the searching. I felt immense gratitude for the loved ones around me who explained where to look when animals were spotted. This saved my eyes for the most important moments – the ones where I leaned forward, or turned around and curled up like a kid in my seat, my mouth hanging open or in a child-like grin, sounds of awe escaping my lips. As our group sat quietly talking and taking photos, I would try to take in the details, thinking to myself "I’m legally blind and losing more vision each year, and this is what I’m filling my memory bank with. I am so lucky!". Sometimes I still didn’t find what was pointed out to me, but I was so bowled over by how much I did see that I didn’t mind. I was warned not to expect to see everything, or indeed The Big 5. With my vision, I lowered my expectations even further, with a calm acceptance that whatever I did see would be wonderful.

I saw the Big 5 (Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Rhinoceros and Leopard) with my own eyes!!! Memorable moments…

Danced in my seat and sang (badly) Hakuna Matata when our small plane landed on the unfenced airstrip and a family of warthogs ran along beside us. Laughed the loudest at the joke that we had reached a zebra crossing when a herd strode across the track in front of us. Relaxing moments on the African soil as we stopped for sunset drinks on our drives. Marvelled at the impala’s ability to spring so gracefully from a stand still. The look of contentment on the lions’ faces as they rested on full bellies from the day’s kill. The cracked grey skin, hairy chins and worn tusks on the old elephants and being almost close enough to touch them. Entertained by the antics, guttural noises and yawning prowess of hippopotamuses swimming in a waterhole at sunset. Choked up when our thoughtful guide took my shoulders to turn me in the right direction to face the hill over which his village was – to know he had figured out how to help me meant the world. The cute giraffes and their ungainly gait – the one that stood calmly watching us while he chewed his food, always moving his jaw to the same side. Seeing the elusive leopard and its nose twitching as he raised his head to the breeze. Sadness at the cruelty of an animal trap that had caught the leopard the week before, but relief that the work of the rangers had saved it. Symbiotic relationships between small and large animals. The groovy chameleon as he appeared to dance on our guide’s hand. The wildebeest that bucked around happily in front of us after apparently "scoring with the ladies". Correctly naming different antelopes. Fascination with the prevalence of poor eyesight among mammals and how they compensate or behave as a result. Admiration for the guides’ knowledge of animal behaviour and respect for them when a female elephant started to charge at us, and his noises stopped it.

Many times I thought to myself. This is what we live for. Travel. Love. Experiences. I’m so very grateful.

12 Responses
  1. June 10, 2014

    Your words and photographs work so well together Lucent. A wonderfully evocative post.

  2. June 10, 2014

    This may be my favourite post to date! Incredible photos, and your description left me breathless. Now I want to go on safari asap!

  3. June 10, 2014

    oh I am so glad that I followed the blog hop from Bec and found you! What did I find – that you had a trip to Africa! I grew up in South Africa,and now live in tropical North Queensland, Australia. You found the essence of Africa, I can tell, by the way you described it all. I dont know if you saw Betty Churcher on Q&A last night. She has been losing her eyesight and went to the art galleries in England and Europe and drew some sketches of her favourite pieces. She says that “fixed” the images in her brain so she would never lose them. I imagine your lovely photos are doing the same thing.

  4. June 11, 2014

    I was smiling as I looked at your images first. You did take the best photos and your words made me feel as if I was sitting there with you seeing those amazing animals in the natural surroundings. That whole experience will take some beating! Sarah x

  5. June 11, 2014

    your photos are stunningly beautiful. but it’s your words that so capture your experience, I can feel it in your writing, the guide showing you his village, the delight that you did see the big five after all, and most of all, your love of live. thank you for your beautiful words.

  6. June 12, 2014

    What stunning photos! I’m so glad you were able to see the Big 5, and to share them with us. I don’t expect to ever go on an African safari (but who knows!). So, not only did you get to see them, but we get to see them, too. What memories to save up.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Tonight we’ve been out to choose glasses for my husband (normal middle-aged eye aging), seems much of life for us at the moment revolves around issues with vision and hearing and your blog reminds me to be grateful for every bit we have, and to live life to the fullest. Have a good weekend!

  7. June 13, 2014

    Those moments of mouth hanging open in awe are the best. You create such a magical space with your words and photos.

  8. June 13, 2014

    You always move me – your attitude, your writing and of course your photos. I look forward to swapping stories in person (hopefully soon!) x

  9. Megan permalink
    June 13, 2014

    Lucent I love the photos of those beautiful animals in their natural habitat! I’m horrified that anyone could leave a trap there but thankful the rangers were able to save the leopard.
    Superb sunset!

  10. June 13, 2014

    Wonderful! Good to hear you had such a fabulous time. My aunt went on a safari in South Africa recently too and I greatly enjoyed her photos as well. Also, may I ask what camera you use?

  11. June 15, 2014

    Awwww, I would looove to go to Africa. I can just imagine how overwhelming it must feel to actually get to see the big 5 in their natural habitat up close – just, wow!

    I agree, that is what we live for. Travel. Love. Experiences.

    Clare x

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