The Jeep lurched side to side, tossing my belongings everywhere, potentially ruining my camera equipment. I paid for the best tour available, and this is what they gave me. A rusted heap with a wild, turbulent fan causing the radiator to guzzle water faster than fuel.
Constantly stopping to add more liquid to the rad made others upset, but I could always use the break. We were easily downing a gallon of water a day in a vain attempt to stay hydrated.
The scorching heat of the African plain did a number on my face. SPF 30 with a thick moisturizer did nothing. People told me the sun was different down here. But I didn’t realize it was this hot and dry. Sweltering doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe a sauna tossed into an 1800 watt microwave is more suited.
The other members of my party kept laughing at my attire. Head to toe khaki. My hat, my long sleeve shirt, pants, and even my boots. All worn and dirty from our trek. Getting here was draining. I wanted this trip more than anything, but I felt overworked; sleepy.
“Please, can you slow down?” a colleague asked.
“Not here, too many predators.” I boasted. I actually had no idea, I just wanted to get my shots.
It was my first time on an African safari, and you could tell. Besides my clothes, I just had to take pictures of everything. I was determined to fill multiple flash cards before returning home, where I would spend weeks looking at my shots. Only the best were good enough for Nat Geo.
One thing that is difficult about tracking animals, is the vast distances they travel for food. When we felt we were on a promising trail, it ran cold. I frequently wondered how they could simply vanish. No markings, no foot prints, no stool. Poof.
On day 4, we finally found them. I could hear them laughing away for almost a kilometre. They got a kill, the pack of them. As we drove through the wake of dust left by the lead Jeep, I saw them. Spectacular species.
We calmly exited the heap of bolts we used as transport. Our vehicle, no longer known as “The Jeep” but had been aptly renamed to “Rusted BBQ”.
We approached slowly, and for the first time ever I got up close and personal with the rare and seductive, brown hyena.
Featured images by Christian Meermann