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"Most of us are savages at heart. Deep down in the smug contentment of that hollow thing we call civilization there smolder the fires of our Berserker ancestry " Owen Letcher - The Bonds of Africa

Of Africa's 53 countries, only a handful offer professionally organized safari hunting to international guests and each varies greatly not only in terms of species, habitat and geography but also in terms if hunting methods, hunting styles and hunting set-up. This is perhaps the greatest misconception held by non Africans approaching the shores of this mighty continent with gun in hand – that all of Africa is much the same – her species are uniform across the savanna and the forests, her people are similar, they are after all African! Africa is far from that, remains the unruly wildcard we have known through history, and one can never truly claim the dream – I hunted in Africa - unless you are prepared to accept the realities of the heart of darkness.

















As a rule those countries which offer the best of the continent's adventures of pursuit are those with a strong colonial background – mostly British yet others occupied by Germany, France and Belgium also feature. The perception of romance and adventure laid down by the great white hunters of the early 19th century is firmly rooted in the earlier real life exploits of the first explorers of the day in search not of ivory or trophy but more hell bent on proving the source of the Nile or rewriting the maps in the pursuit of fame. The first ones - Burton, Speke, Livingstone, Stanley, the Muirs - all spurred the toughened men that were to follow and coin the name 'great white hunter' - Selous, Cunninghame, Bror Blixen, Denys Finch-Hatton, Phillip Percival – those we today regard as hero's the ones who created a culture and industry which flourishes in a myriad of forms and manners – the modern day safari hunt.

The exact quantification of a proper Safari hunt has remained something which is at best a page in the story of Africa – history and modern circumstance has shaped this thing we call safari hunting into something to suit every pocket, every person and every country – no longer an adventure exclusive to kings and lords, it is difficult to pare this activity to the exclusively rich and famous anymore. Across the continent the face of safari has changed, is ever changing, in answer to various forces and modernizations – air travel, repeating firearms, medicines, human expansion, encroachment, empathy, conservation – all have had their say in the definitions which portray safari today.

Herein lies the key to an African Safari Hunt – there is no exact wrong or right for the safari you are about to embark upon, only a series of differences as much to do with which country you are arriving in as the different types of game you are pursuing. In short, each holds adventure in one form or another, each is a hunting safari with all it's complications and rarities, with the uncertainties and hope filled dreams you aim at fulfilling. The disappointment comes then, mostly from within and the perceptions held or created, often gleaned from friends who have been over, the image and dream built up incorrectly based upon dis information and the very darkness of the continent itself.

The term African Safari is no more or less fulfilled in Africa as it is in the heart and soul of the beholder – this most personal of activities and sports, one which is inherently a self imposed code of conduct can only be completed within the hunters soul, not within the activities he alone experiences in Africa

If you venture to the southern tip of the continent - Cape Aghulas - you stand in awed silence staring out across the vast swelling oceans driven by winds out of the Antarctic, a barren desolate landscape with low slung hardy ocean scrub known as Fynbos. It is here that the Bontebok, one of Africa's rarest and unique species survives at it's strongest – this is their home ground. Around you, you'll notice fancy double story homes studded along the beaches and roads leading this way and that and you'll feel very far from the savanna's you read about in Roosevelt's account of this massive continent. Further inland, where the coastal plain runs up steeply into jagged escarpments which eventually form Africa's inland plateau, you may find yourself glassing a small insignificant grayish stone colored antelope standing alert a thousand yards distant – the Vaal or Grey Rhebok – one of the continents most alert and sought after species. Again you'll see below in the distance a highway with trucks floating along and the dotted edges of a civilization, yet here you will toil in the freezing cold to gain a few more yards for a shot at this small antelope

What differs in these safari moments to standing 20 yards from a cape buffalo bull, your double rested casually on a pair of shooting sticks waiting for a clear shot on Africa's most feared adversary? Is it the size, the danger involved that suddenly make this more of a safari than toiling for 2 weeks after a small insignificant woolly antelope found at high altitude? Is this what makes our perception shatter and fall short of the dream we have created within our minds, do we expect to be charged at or even gored as the 'white hunters' were. Perhaps, the visions of Roosevelt and his entourage tend to dominate our desires and nobody, especially professional hunters, outfitters or booking agents are going to shatter this dream – they know they are selling something which is subjective and unquantifiable, this is what they rely upon and often why they survive!

Thus the ever present advertising and marketing phrase – the real Africa – prevails amidst some pretty shoddy service, poor hunting grounds and inexperienced individuals. Yet they manage to survive, involved eek out an exisitence, some because of their elaborate BS ability and others who despite inexperience rely simply on the grandeur that is Africa – and there are some pretty awesome parts of this continent to hunt in!

Don't Diss Africa – the continent is far too appealing, simply get the real facts about your choice of hunting destination, it will be real and it will be an adventure – just make sure it fits with your dream!

Africa - Quick Facts

* Total area: 30,221,532 sq km's OR 11,668,598.7 sq miles

* Total population: 922 Million

* Countries: 53

* Mammal Species: 1100