How to make your African hunting safari extra special
As I’m writing this, I’m assuming a few things: 1.) You’ve booked your hunting safari. 2.) You’ve done your homework when choosing your hunting outfitter. 3.) What part of the country you’re going to visit. 4.) What time of the year you’ve planned your safari for. 5.) Which species of animal you’d like to follow.
All you have to do now is wait for the day to arrive when you’re safari will start. Well, other than a few long walks and doing a few practice rounds at a shooting range (to brush up on the various field positions), all you CAN do is what in anticipation.
But, have you ever wondered if there are other things that you can do that will make your trip extra special? Let’s forget about getting a new calibre rifle for a moment, or equipping yourself with the latest gear for your trip. I’m thinking more towards making the time you spend when you’re not hunting more meaningful and engaging. I’m talking about the moments in between where you can sit, reflect and let your mind soak up every last little detail around you; from the sounds of nature to the ambience of the bush.
Now, you might be thinking that you’re going there to hunt, however, there are times, such as during the evenings, where you’ll be sitting around a camp fire, sharing stories and forging friendships. I’m talking about the camaraderie. In my years of being an outfitter these are the times these are the more memorable moments, the times when you can REALLY relax, and possibly gather your wits as you prepare yourself for a new day to come.
In my life as a hunter, guide, and traveller of southern Africa, I’ve come to the conclusion that very few people realise (initially) that one of the major reasons they come to Africa is to relax and unwind. Halfway through a trip, sometimes towards the end of it, someone around the camp fire will realise just how relaxed they truly are. This normally comes from the excitement and the adventure of the day’s trip as well as the time taken to bond with the people who share the same camp fire with you. That, and two of man’s other vices: a quality cigar or a high-end, smooth scotch whiskey from either the Islay or Speyside origin.
These are the ingredients that help build lifelong memories. If this sounds appealling, then I’d suggest you start searching for bottle of good Scotch, a packet of quality stogie or a good, hard-to-find pipe tobacco mixture. A decent medium cigar, the likes of a Montecristo #2, a Monterey Corona or a Coriba can put a man (or woman) on top of the world and drape you in a satisfying feeling after day of rigorous hunting, complimenting the experience you’ve may have had. The combination of these complex tastes and wonderful flavours that a top quality cigar can offer whilst you’re sitting around a Mopani fire somewhere within Africa, whilst being surrounded by the sounds of a black backed jackal or a little nightjar can create a memory that you’ll never ever forget.
And whether you are of the “old school” variety or you’re a young up-and-comer” with style, nothing makes a man sigh with content like a good pipe and a briar filled with a good mix of Virginia/Latakia. Add a bit Perique and you’ll be recognized as a true connoisseur. Bent stem or straight. Filter or no filter. This matters not. Make sure, though, your tobacco will have the camp staff trying to beg some off you.
In closing, a good day of hunting and great, crackling fire at the end of a hard day in Africa will, without a shadow of a doubt, not be complete without a glass or two of good firewater, complimented by the aromatic smell of tobacco, all to help embellish the tales you can tell of that day’s adventures you’ve had.
A word of warning, though. Do not go unprepared. Your experience with these two trusty companions in your travel bag will surely make your trip more memorable. That’s a guarantee, my friends.
I tip my hat to you.