Safari – Adventure of a Lifetime or A Let Down?

Safari Review - lioness

My safari review is a little different to most you’ve probably read. I’ve only ever really heard positives and the odd negative has only ever been about the lack of animals.

Well, I saw loads of wildlife, but I still really disliked going on safari.

Most people I meet say a safari is definitely on their dream travel list. I’m a super positive travel lover, so it does pain me a little to admit this, but I’m not so sure. I’m glad it’s a tick on my travel list, but it left me feeling a bit uneasy afterwards.

My Safari Review

Safari Review
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I went to Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, Africa. I was massively excited to visit. I had visions of four-wheeled adventures and aspirations of seeing some of “The Big Five”:

  • Lion
  • African Elephants
  • Cape Buffalo
  • Leopard
  • Black Rhinos

Now I realise you’re probably thinking that my negative experience is due to not seeing these animals, but that’s not true. Save for the elusive leopard, I was lucky enough to see all of them, if not more. I even saw cubs and calves (baby elephants), which as you would expect, were adorably cute.

My group consisted of six of us, plus our ranger/driver and we set off from Nairobi in a rugged jeep. I loved that we were a small, intimate group and more so, I loved our cool vehicle, even if it was baking in there and the suspension was a nightmare over all the potholes.

As soon as we got to the park we were greeted by kudo and shortly after lots of zebras. It didn’t take us long at all to find some elephants, including some calves.

The Safari Chase

Our driver would pull up at a safe distance where we could clearly see them without using our binoculars. We’d spend a good fifteen minutes or so watching them and taking photographs. It was beautiful and amazing to see them so closely without a grilled fence. It was stunning to see these fascinating creatures, watching them interact with each other.

However, what I disliked was that despite those great encounters, our guide would then test his luck and edge closer and closer, until we were chasing them. It was clear the animals found it disturbing and distressing, particularly those with young. Although out of my hands, I felt like a greedy tourist pushing the boundaries.

When something or somewhere is amazing, there are always going to be tourists flocking there in droves. I totally appreciate that.  When we started our safari we hardly saw any other people.

However, midway through I noticed the other jeeps gathering with us. Perhaps before I was too engrossed in the animals to notice, I’m not sure.

Is it Really the Wild?

What became clear was whenever we stumbled across one of the more rare animals, such as a lioness with her playful cubs, our guide would radio the other guides and we would instantly be surrounded by other eager tourists. I really do appreciate that everyone is just keen to see the animals, but I felt sorry for the animals being harassed. It didn’t feel like the wild and instead a glorified zoo.

Although I’ve been slightly put off by safaris, I’m sure there are some more remote ones that don’t have these problems, or maybe I’m trying to be too positive and they are all like this. Have you been on a safari or would you go on one? What was your experience like? X

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Safari Review

P.S. My Kenyan experience wasn’t all bad. In fact I had some amazing times too – see here.

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Comments (4)

  • […] bucket list, wish list – whatever you want to call it, it’s on there. However, I didn’t really rate my safari experience, so as weird as it sounds, that’s why I want to go back. Staying in a traditional […]

  • […] an interesting day of road tripping safari (see my related blog post here), it was lovely to follow the dusty track up to this beautiful lodge. It is located in the heart of […]

  • I’m bemused by your comment that you thought your guide’s behaviour in approaching the wildlife too closely was out of your hands. The guide thought you wanted to get close, but you’re supposed to tell him/her that you *don’t* want to get *that close*, or drive over fragile vegetation, or harass animals tending young. Every safari traveller should make it very clear that s/he is the client and inappropriate guiding won’t be tolerated. If your guide in a gallery touched the paintings or suggested you did the same, you’d be appalled. You’d leave the tour. Why is it so different in our natural environment?

    Taylor Hearts Travel 7 years ago Reply

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and comment. Your insights are really helpful to me and I’m sure to any other readers of this post. As I’d never been on a safari before, I didn’t know that I could instruct my guide on how to behave on the tour. He never made it clear that it was up to me. Being in a group (with strangers) had a limitation because although I didn’t want to chase the animals so closely, the rest of my group had no problem with this. I like your comparison to the paintings, but being mid way through the tour (i.e. in my eyes the middle of nowhere) it would be a bit tricky to leave. If I went on a safari again I would use my experience (and your comments) as a learning tool – I’d probably be more vocal to my guide in future and perhaps choose a private tour. Thanks again.

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