Must Haves That Ensure the Experience of a Lifetime
Guest column written by
David Markus, Tasimba Guest, November 2016
When you Google “African safari vacations,” you get about 750,000 results.
With so many folks chasing your safari dollar, and so many dollars in play, how do you make the right choice, that perfect “once-in-a-lifetime” decision that’s best for you?
First, don’t just plunge in looking for the most appealing deal. Think, first about what inspires and satisfies you most when you travel.
If your list includes words like inspiration, surprise, off-the-beaten track, educational, out of my comfort zone, culture, connection…put your pencil down. We have some talking to do.
Here’s the thing. Most people go to Africa to see the animals. And pretty much wherever you go, if you select a reputable safari operator, you will get an amazing glimpse into Africa’s astonishingly diverse animal population and their natural habitat.
But there is so much more to be had from a safari experience, which my wife and I learned when we chose to join Tasimba, a California company affiliated with Wilderness Safaris, one of Africa’s top ecotourism companies.
First the camps. Linkwasha camp, where we were based, is owned and operated by Wilderness Safaris and is something out of an Isak Dinesen memoir. It is simple and sturdy, with carefully constructed tents covering beautifully appointed living areas where you can sit and gaze at the elephants drinking at the waterhole a stone’s throw from your tent.
You have electricity, state of the art plumbing, canopied beds, showers, bureaus, desks et al. Best of all, Tasimba reserves the entire camp for their groups. No other tourists shuttling in and out, just you and your group for seven days (typical safaris schedule three days per site, then it’s on to the next). You can’t help but become deeply invested in the people you are with, this place and this time.
And then the guides. It’s impossible to overstate the positive impact of these men and women. Most of them grew up in the local villages and, with Tasimba’s leadership duo of Hugh Coppen and Heather Weaver, they are the intermediaries and interpreters of your experiences. Through them you are introduced to every imaginable flora and fauna. Their encyclopedic knowledge provides you insights that no amount of advance research could equal. But it is their special ability to connect the animal and human worlds, behaviorally and emotionally, that is a constant revelation.
- Visiting experts like executive coach Vernon Cresswell, who connects the lessons and insights from the Bush to the professional and personal challenges we face in our everyday lives;
- The daily diet of inspiring curation from Hugh, who joins you in every aspect of your experience, sharing his lifetime of knowledge and insight into his homeland and its amazing natural environment;
- Add to this many exquisite touches that he and Heather deliver – like side trips to local villages to meet the village leaders, interactive activities with primary school children, and visits with the anti-poaching units who protect the Hwange wildlife;
- Symbolic gifts by local craftsmen left on your pillow at night;
- Introduction of daily activities to heighten your awareness and to deepen your connectivity with everyone and everything around you;
- Sundowner cocktails in the Bush to welcome the evening activities as the sun sets remarkable day after remarkable day.