by Bob Sparrow
I hear a low snorting sound just outside my tent . . . or was it inside? I lay perfectly still and slowly open my eyes and furtively search the darkness for movement. I hear rhythmic breathing and feel the warm breath of an animal on my face – or am I just imagining it? As my eyes adjust to the darkness I see the rustling of the canvas tent next to me. The snorting becomes louder, the breathing heavier. What’s out there . . . or in here? My imagination is running wild. We were forewarned that the ‘Big 5’ (Lion, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and Rhinoceros) are curious animals and might wander into camp looking for food. I wondered: Am I food? I slowly rolled over to glance in the direction of the breathing . . . it was my wife. I wake up in a cold sweat in my bed at home.
I’m headed to Africa this week, so my imagination may be turned up a few notches, but if you, like me, thought all the dangers were out in the African savanna, think again. Like any good traveler I’ve been doing some research on points of interest that I’ll be seeing over the next couple of weeks and while I’ve learned what the ‘Big 5’ of African wildlife are, I’ve compiled my own ‘Big 2’ that I’ll be looking out for as well:
- S. Africa has one of the world’s highest rate of murders, assaults and rapes
- Over 17 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have died of AIDS
- Around 50 people are murdered in South Africa every day
i. Cab drivers will scam you, rip you off, take you for a ride
ii. Safari drivers have little to no regard for you back or kidneys
2. Mosquitos - Every 30 seconds someone in Africa dies of malaria
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Those at the South African Chamber of Commerce will tell you that all major cities around the world have high crime rates. I looked up – New York, in the summer when crime is the highest, has about 50 murders a month. But I know that if I stay away from the wrong people and wrong places in Africa I’ll be fine – as long as they stay away from me. Here are the ‘Big 5’ ‘animals’ I’m going to try to avoid:
- The Robber
- The Mugger
- The AIDS carrier
- The Malaria-infested Mosquito
- The Cab Driver
Indeed, it is a jungle out there. So why go to Africa, you ask? It is a beautiful country with an incredibly rich history and lots of amazing animals – and I want to see where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie get their kids.
All kidding aside (I really wasn’t kidding) below is the abbreviated itinerary for your Man-on-the-Savanna to bring you an up-close and personal look (from my warped perspective) at Africa.
LAX to London
London to Johannesburg
Johannesburg to Cape Town (Finally!)
Cape Town site seeing (3 days)
Sabi Sand Game Reserve – (3 days)
Johannesburg – 1 day
Victoria Falls, Zembabwe (2 days)
Signing off from LAX where I will be packed, sardine-like, into a metal tube floating through the sky for the next 26 hours.