Thursday, March 08, 2007

Safari Sanity

I thought I would bring some clarity to the African safari experience as some of the comments from yesterday’s post mentioned “bet your kid's thought it was great”, “how cool”… “my boys would be in heaven”...

Having spent over a decade working in Africa (many short-term trips prior to moving here full time) I’ve been on many safaris. For that I am thankful but I’ve also learned a few things. Where there is some euphoric state one finds themself in when locating animals in the wild the 3 hours cooped up in a car driving around to find those animals can provoke temporary insanity. ESPECIALLY when children ages 5 and under are cooped up in the same vehicle. Thus the reason this was our first trip to Kruger for such an extensive safari experience involving our kids. And quite frankly, I would have probably waited a few more years had the ‘deal’ not been so great and Rich’s parents here.

Typically the best game viewing is early in the morning or at dusk. Meaning you get to the park when gates open and in our case that was 5:30 a.m. Now you know I am not a morning person but when that euphoric state kicks in I go into ‘driver’ mode and by golly we were at the gate at 5:30 a.m. The travel mugs full of coffee helped with the wake up call.

So imagine 4 adults and 3 children under the age of 8 all crammed into one vehicle at 5:30 a.m. and the intention is to remain that way for at least 2 hours but likely it will be more like 3. Sound like heaven now?

Here is where my learning comes in. Most important lesson learned, if at all resist the euphoric state and just don’t do it with kids ages 5 or under especially if one of them is a rambunctious boy. It is like a drug that starts out with an awesome high but quickly leaves you sick and in a delirious state (not that I would know personally but so I have heard). But if you just cannot resist there are 2 quintessential components that must accompany your trip if there is any hope at all of easing the inevitable delirium. I reiterate these are MUSTS!

One, bring LOTS of snacks. Not one or two items but a boatload and the unhealthier the better as it prolongs the enjoyment and buys you more viewing time. And I am sure it is goes without stating that drinks must accompany the snacks however don’t overdo it on the drinks unless you have a bathroom onboard. To date, I have never seen an RV drive through the parks so the likelihood of a bathroom, other than the bush where the wild animals dwell, is highly unlikely.



Two, bring a portable DVD player with headset and more than 3 hours worth of viewing entertainment. Listen to me when I say the poor eyesight this may cause is worth the peace and quiet that this is sure to create for your hours of game viewing. Aren’t glasses these days inevitable anyway?

These are tried and proven tips that I just tried and my kid’s proved. We had relatively enjoyable game drives thanks to snacks filled with sugar and transfatty acids and hours of unhealthy movie viewing at an eye to screen distance of 12 inches.

Safari Franzen style anyone?

12 comments:

Ginger said...

I can't even imagine the kids being with you...super mom! I saw video's of the TM kids (Alicia) on safari and even the "big" boys had a hard time staying contained in the vehicle.
The photo's from yesterday brought tears to my eyes as I recalled Alicia's trip to Africa. My heart was so touched. Once again my love for your country was renewed. Thanks for sharing the pictures. Someday....maybe someday I'll get there myself.

Lisa H said...

I like "safari--franzen style!" It kind of sounds like our road trips (lots of snacks, not so many drinks and much movie time!), only we don't get to see cool animals along the way, unless you count roadkill! :)

Heidi Jo said...

We tried to do the one hour ride through Bear Country USA in the Black Hills of SD a couple of years ago. Nic was only 4 and very into shooting big game with his toy rifle. So we drove through the park enjoying God's beauty while our son stuck his rifle up to the window and shot it dead.

We didn't make it through a one hour ride without him needing to pee. Me holding an empty pop bottle, him aiming, me gagging....you get the idea!

Shouldn't that redeem some of the points that I've lost recently on my Mother of the Year quest?

Just Mom said...

We haven't done the safari thing (or the Bear Country thing), but we have done the fly-for-eight-plus-hours-with-an-active-preschooler-who-doesn't-understand-why-seat-belts-have-to-remain- fastened thing. Does that count?

gaylafriend said...

If and when we are getting ready to go on Safari, we are doing it Franzen-style! You are one smart mamma.

Lori B said...

That is how we survive our trips too. We pack lots of snacks, beverages, portable DVD players, as well as a bag of books, activity books, and toys. We have actually brought our potty chair along on long trips.

Anonymous said...

You're a riot, Michelle. So not like when just the 3 of us went with Skyler huh? Boy she was an angel!!!
The kids are getting cuter and cuter and I miss them sooooo!!

Give them mucho hugs from Grandma and Grandpa.

Mom

Anonymous said...

You're a riot, Michelle. So not like when just the 3 of us went with Skyler huh? Boy she was an angel!!!
The kids are getting cuter and cuter and I miss them sooooo!!

Give them mucho hugs from Grandma and Grandpa.

Mom

Teresa said...

Okay, since you put it that way....maybe I'll let the kids experience the jungle on their own when they are adults! ha! Actually, the whole idea really fascinates me and I would like to do something like that as a family....with your advice not for many years. :)

Shanygne said...

great tips for any big trip! I have been wanting a portable DVD player for a long time, but so far, no go...

Karen said...

I can't believe that you didn't use the ole threat of tossing children out to the lions if they didn't behave! That's how I would have began the whole trip--with lots of serious threats, striking fear into the hearts of every small child. hee.

Amy said...

We went on safari with some of our friends and their young kids. Honestly, I don't really enjoy going that much, and I have to say I wish we would have had a DVD player along this time, too. (As much for me as for them.) We were in an open vehicle, and we spent most of our time making sure the kids didn't fall out. I probably sound ungrateful, so I guess I should just be happy I have the opportunity to go.