It all started one night in July when I got one of the usual “There’s a cheap ticket deal wanna go for a long weekend” text from one of my best friends Chrissy. This time it was for South Africa for only $625.56 round trip nonstop. Not even realizing what I’m committing to I’m like yeaaaah!!! (16 hour plane ride and a 6 hour car ride to stay somewhere for two nights…yes I said TWO). I must say a safari was never on my bucket list. It’s not like I’m some animal hater or anything, I just don’t know that much about them, and have never thought it would be possible to save money for a safari knowing how much the airfare costs alone. Low and behold, it happened. Don’t limit your dreams by saying or thinking “never”, you never know what life will throw at you. This seems to be one of the many lessons I come across over and over again in this fabulous life I live.
Panic attacks, Malaria Pills and many late night secret phone calls to Chrissy trying to back out, me and 4 of my crazy girlfriends boarded a flight to South Africa. The airline itself was nice and the staff was super friendly, thank God, but once you’re on a plane for more than 10 hours, you just start to go a little nutty thinking it’s never ending. We landed early in the morning and met our driver Mr. Big, who was going to drive us to the camp. I think I literally slept the whole way because when I awoke, we were in the park with a flat tire.
We were staying at the Baobab Hill Bush House, an old rangers’ quarter, situated in the middle of Pafuri Camp equipped with our own chef and house-keeper. The house was stunning. We even had a swimming pool in our backyard in which the elephants would visit for late night refreshments.
It sounded great in theory when we booked the house…super luxurious and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong I loved the house but when night falls, and the cook and house-keeper left, that’s where my imagination and anxiety got the best of me. Being in the middle of a park where there are deadly animals, no cell reception, just a “walkie-talkie”, which was located at the entrance of the house, bugs the size of house pets that could be poisonous, the threat of malaria, dinky screen doors for protection (sorry but an elephant could have totally barged through it if it wanted to), 5 girls staying alone, in a foreign country…yeah, I basically came up with worst case scenarios. What if someone tried to capture us? Who would make it to the walkie-talkie on time? Where would we hide? In the house or with the WILD animals outside that can eat us. I know I sound ridiculous but for someone who does not have a clue about animals and was fearful from the beginning, yes these were thoughts that ran through my head. The last night we were there the electricity blew. Well…The frantic calls coming through the walkie-talkie to the rangers must have been hysterical! I can totally laugh about it now but then it was pure utter panic.
During this trip below are just a few things that gave me anxiety:
- Animals that can eat me
- Our screens
- Being alone at the house
- Our truck not having sides, a cheetah could easily climb in if they wanted to
- Being taken or held hostage for a ransom
- Dying from Deet overload
We had an amazing tour guide named Sarah. She was super shocked that we flew all the way to South Africa for two nights. Sarah knew everything about the animals, and their behavior. She stressed how lucky we were because we got to see the “Big Five” in just two days, something that is not common. It was so nice to see someone so passionate about what they do and I learned so much from her. She had her hands full with us for sure. We took two safaris a day, one starting at 5AM and one starting late in the afternoon coming home past sunset. We would relax at beautiful view points, enjoying BBQ snacks and wine. All our meals were cooked for us and the food was AMAZING! During the day we had down time since it was a billion degrees and relaxed by the pool. We would be in bed by 8PM every night and would stay up to see our animal friends explore in our backyard.
Most used phrases:
- Where is the DEET?
- BRI THERE’S A SPIDER COME GET IT!
- I’m scared
- Can we go back in the Jeep? (me)
- Do you have white wine?
- Should we open wine?
- Is there gonna be wine?
- Is there more white wine?
- Guys calm down
- Can I sleep with you? (no one wanted to sleep alone except Les, LOL)
- This heat is brutal
- WTF was that?
- Is this safe?
- I thought we were going to be in the Jeep
Despite all my fears it was one of the best decisions of my life to go on this trip. I learned so much about animals and myself and what I’m really capable of. I met amazing people and saw amazing things that most people never get to see in real life. I am so grateful for this adventure. Looking back on this trip I can see that my fears were silly, as most are. If your looking to go on a Safari trip I highly suggest visiting this park and ask for Sarah to be your guide! https://www.returnafrica.com
Total cost of the trip: $1725.56 which included food, drinks, accommodations, hotel transfer, flight, tipping and souvenirs.
Link to Video: https://youtu.be/otHysraXRBM
Packing Tips: With our frequent long weekend getaways I’m use to cramming all my stuff in a carry-on. I overpacked on this trip because I didn’t know what I would need and didn’t want to feel like I needed something. Its not like I could run down the street to the store if I did! All my medicine took up most of my bag, lol. Below are a few things I would say are necessary for this trip, and things you can leave at home.
- Workout leggings and tops, the kind that absorb sweat because thats all you will be doing is sweating. (may vary depending on time of year you go, I went in November)
- A scarf you can wrap around your mouth and nose…it can get quite dusty at times
- Cough drops, throat can get scratchy from the dust
- SPF!!!! I can’t express that enough…like the highest number you can get your hands on
- Hat if needed and sunglasses
- Don’t bother with makeup none of us touched it…you sweat it off in two seconds
- Don’t bother with doing your hair totally not worth it and the animals could care less
- Light long sleeve top for sunset because when the sun goes down it can get cool
- Adapter for charging all of your cameras
- Mini notebook to carry so you can take notes on all the amazing animals you will see
Some random info I took away from this trip:
- SA has some of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed
- Elephants are the most amazing creatures
- My spirit animal is the “Heart Attack Bird”
- Just because you see a lion or cheetah it does not mean it is going to come maul you
- Buffalo have a crazy stare down tactic used to intimidate…and it works
- Zebra are hard to spot because they blend in with everything
- The Lion King is real…I swear the camp looks just like the movie
- Your risk at this specific camp of getting malaria is quite low, calm down
- Elephants sense fear like dogs so try and stay calm
- At 5 AM it is already super bright
- Deet melts your nail polish off
- Animals are amazing creatures
- I have the best adventure buddies in the world ❤ (well I already knew that)