Your Passport to a World You Can Scarcely Imagine
Guest column written by
David Markus, Tasimba Guest, November 2016
The Professional Guides at Tasimba’s home base camp Linkwasha, are one of the many components that make Tasimba such a transformative safari experience. These guides provide a custom, curated experience that you just can’t get on most other African safaris. Like down-to-earth professors in the field, they connect you directly to a world you can scarcely imagine; their knowledge of African landscape, plant, bird and animal species is encyclopedic. The bush is the backyard they grew up in, and they make it their business to infuse their intimate connections into nearly every aspect of your experience.
Let me give you a single example.
There was a moment on the third day of our stay in Linkwasha camp in Hwange National Park, when our guide, a local man in his late 20’s, takes three of us on foot into a forested area a few hundred yards off the dirt path we’ve been slowly cruising down in our jeep. A quick “walking safari”, he called it.
He directs us to follow him quietly in tight single file through the brush. No sudden movements. And within seconds I see why. There standing before us, no more than 30 feet away, is a large male elephant tearing leaves from the trees with his trunk and wolfing them down as quickly as he can grab them.
It is truly humbling, more than a little sobering, to stand that close to a ten-foot tall, 10,000-pound animal. Our guide signals us to crouch behind him. We’re so close I can count the veins that criss-cross the elephant’s massive ears. My heart is pounding. Our guide never takes his gaze off the bull, who is now looking straight at our huddled group. Our guide slowly pumps his hand downward indicating that we stay put and not move.
As the elephant continues to lock on to us, the guide reaches back into the belt of bullets he is wearing around the waist and pulls one out (Did I forget to tell you he is carrying an old bolt-action rifle?). I am not ready for gunplay and the old carbine suddenly looks like a pea shooter in the current context. As I look down and prepare to meet my maker beneath the hooves of the massive pachyderm, I hear our guide tapping the bullet shell against the metal barrel of the rifle. Tink, tink, tink. I look up. The elephant suddenly flares those huge ears, rocks his head toward us, freezes for few seconds and then turns and nonchalantly walks off deeper into the woods.
None of us move until our guide turns and smiles in our direction.
“What just happened?!” I gasp.
“A young one,” he says. “He didn’t know what we were. Crouched together he thought we were some kind of animal. I tapped the bullet to let him know he was right. We are living things, just another beast in the bush, but nothing for him to fear. My guess is he’d seen (and heard) enough to move along.”
You can’t get that kind of insight, not to mention that kind of up-close adrenaline rush, belted into your seat on a shuttle bus safari that is wheeling you from one animal sighting to the next. The Tasimba safari guides take you closer, immerse you deeper, and leave you with a residue of knowledge and insight that you don’t soon forget. They are the key that unlocks the beauty and mystery of the Bush that few are lucky enough to know.
The Tasimba safari experience is waiting for you. I hope you find it.