In terms of wildlife experiences it hardly ranks up there with viewing a tiger a few feet in front of you or watching hundreds of wildebeest stampede across the African plains, but it does rate as a close encounter. Really close. This morning I had a butterfly stuck to my face. OK – it wasn’t there for long and it wasn’t a unique experience (as a quick web search proves), it was nonetheless strange and looking back I feel grateful to have been selected for such an honour.
Not all brushes with wildlife are of the classic safari type that you picture in your mind’s eye. In fact, some of the most memorable are the unusual and unexpected, witness the accounts below.
Let’s start with this example as recounted by a professional safari guide in Botswana, an eye-watering cautionary tale:
Adam told us a short story about when he was eleven. He went to the toilet, and when he had finished his business, he went to wipe his bottom with what he thought was a stick, but it was actually a snake. He went to snap it in half, but after he had tried and not succeeded, he realised what it was. The snake wriggled up his arm, and he was really scared and went to the clinic to get him some medicine from the shop.
Oh – that could have been so much worse… Adam works at owner-run Nxamaseri Island Lodge in the Okavango Panhandle, if you want to hear some more of his tales and see the wildlife for yourself.
I have to admit that his snake probably trumps my butterfly.
Reading through the feedback submitted by our clients I’ve come across further examples of slightly off-beat encounters. Let’s start with the unusual. Alison developed a fascination for termites, or more specifically their mounds, while in Kenya :
A termite mound could just be part of scenery but not when we travelled towards our first camp with Harry. His wealth of specialist knowledge of the start, development and expansion of the mounds was fascinating and from then on we tried, and succeeded, in spotting all the stages as we travelled around. Brilliant.
Apparently they come in various shapes and sizes and are full of tunnels and ventilation shafts, all crafted the tiny worker termites. If you want to see them for yourself, stay at Mara Porini Camp, like Alison, which we can add to your Kenya safari itinerary.
Now for the overlooked. Though jaguars are the perennial scene stealers in the Brazilian Pantanal, it was another creature that captured Christopher’s attention:
It was amazing to see a yellow anaconda climbing out of the river up a bank and into a hole. Although its tail was still visible, it managed to hide the rest of its body. It probably thought we couldn’t see it!
Try our Jaguar Safari and see what else you can spot as well as these beautiful big cats. Caiman, capybaras, anteaters and hyacinth macaws are all there, as well as Christopher’s anaconda.
And now to the uninvited, as reported by Anne and Julia in Tanzania:
We returned to our tent after the morning game drive when I suddenly noticed some large objects and legs in the nearby bushes. It was a female elephant with baby and juvenile. They proceeded to graze by our tent, coming so close we could have touched them. We hardly breathed, certainly remained stock still and silent. The result was tremendous video footage and photos of this little family group munching their way around our tent, relaxed, well fed and unalarmed by our presence.
Phew! Elephants are frequent visitors to Selous Impala Camp, and hippos have been known to wander beneath the tents (they’re set on raised wooden platforms) at night, so if you like your wildlife up close and personal, this is definitely for you!
And then there’s the downright intriguing. Our very own Sinead was captivated by a humble dung beetle on her recent trip to Tanzania, as he carefully rolled his perfect sphere of dung across the road to safety.
See for yourself!
Unexpected, unusual, overlooked, uninvited and intriguing, nature has many fascinating guises, all waiting to be discovered. What will be your butterfly?