One type of break that’s always appealed to me is heading off to Africa on Safari. It could be ever since my obsession with The Lion King began when I first saw it that I’ve always wanted to visit South Africa and see real Simbas and Pumbaas for myself but it must be truly amazing to head off on a safari and explore the great plains of an unknown country.
Just imagine trekking in the Savannah, experiencing firsthand the long grass, stubby trees and infrequent opportunities to grab a drink at a watering hole – of course, we’d be safely tucked away in our tour jeeps with our water bottles instead of joining the wildebeest for a refreshing drink, but you get the idea! Then there’s the chance to see an elephant lumbering out of a forest, a rhinoceros basking in the sun and a real hippopotamus escaping the heat by going for a dip in a mud pool. Beasts like these are simply unfathomable in a country like the UK, where the biggest animal you’d see in the wild is about the size of a badger – though, of course, deer and wild horses never fail to make me stop and catch my breath, but – and perhaps it’s because I live here – there’s not a great sense of majesty around such creatures.
Not like polar bears of the Arctic Circle – Canada, Norway and Denmark to name a few – which are breathtakingly impressive in their strength, poise and majesty. That reminds me that Mercedes, the Canadian polar bear that lived in Edinburgh Zoo for many years in a none-too-spacious enclosure has now been moved up near Inverness to enjoy a proper life in a huge nature reserve habitat. Hearing about that recently made my day – I hope she’s happy in her new home!
Going back to Africa, however, the idea of immersing yourself in a whole new country with a different climate, animal population and geography fascinates me – and that’s before you even get to the people and their culture. New scenery, new animals, new rules – though I’m not sure I could be trusted not trying to snaffle a meerkat of my own through customs on the way back!