Written by Ilse van den Berg, 28 October 2019
The truth is, it’s impossible to go on an African safari just once in your life! Your first safari will for sure not be your last one. But, if you still need some convincing, here are some reasons why you need to go on a safari at least once in your life:
Marvel at the most incredible creatures: The first and most obvious reason… Whether you may hail from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, or Johannesburg, seeing the beautiful beasts of nature in their natural habitat is a remarkable experience.
Silently witnessing a leopard female from a distance, ever so quietly and expertly preparing to catch her meal, holding your breath when a parade of elephants cross the road, or hearing a male lion grunting in the dark on a night game drive, makes one feel awestruck and terrified all at the same time.
Contribute to the African economy: Africa is without a doubt the continent with the lowest GDP per capita, but at the same time, it is the top destination in the world for wildlife safaris. Did you know that more than 30 million tourists visit Africa every year? Though more than half of these international visitors come for business purposes, 15% of people visit purely for tourism purposes and 30% to see family and friends.
In 2011 alone, the tourism industry provided 12.8 million people with jobs, directly and indirectly. The following year, this sector contributed over US$36 billion (2.8%) of the continent’s GDP.
It is therefore clear that the tourism industry is one of the most important sectors for the continent!
Connect with nature: Connecting with nature is vital for our health and wellbeing. A recent article on Science Daily states that there are hundreds of studies that have revealed how spending time in, and experiencing nature, is associated with increased happiness, social engagement, easier manageability of life tasks, and decreased mental distress.
According to senior author Gretchen Daily, faculty director at the Stanford Natural Capital Project, experiencing nature is also linked to improved cognitive functioning, memory and attention, imagination and creativity, as well as children’s school performance. “These links span many dimensions of human experience, and include a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life,” says Daily.
You could argue that a walk in the park opposite your apartment in the city is also “connecting with nature”, and I suppose I could agree to an extent. No matter how beautiful your city sunset may be; a smogless orange sunset in the bushveld will almost always exceed a smoggy orange one in the city. There are few places that offer a connection with the raw beauty and honesty of nature like in the bushveld, on a safari.
Recharge your mind and body: If it’s not social media, it’s news bulletins. If it’s not news bulletins, it’s emails. If not emails, text messages. And if not text messages, phone calls. There is hardly ever a chance to escape the daily grind, unless you do so purposefully. By focusing on the beauty of the bushveld and distancing yourself from constant connectivity you could possibly notice a decrease in anxiety levels and I can almost guarantee that you’ll sleep much better. The quiet of the bushveld, being surrounded by nature, and observing majestic creatures in the wild, will no doubt have a positive effect on both your mind and body.