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The best safaris should be highly sensorial journeys that – when curated well – reinvigorate all five senses, leaving guests deeply refreshed, soul-soaringly inspired and planning their return trip before boarding their charter flight home.

Safaris - A Feast for the Senses

Most travellers mistakenly believe African safaris are solely about observing lions, rhinos and elephants up close in their natural habitats. While extraordinary visuals are the undeniably thrilling feature, the best safaris should be highly sensorial journeys that – when curated well – reinvigorate all five senses, leaving guests deeply refreshed, soul-soaringly inspired and planning their return trip before boarding their charter flight home.

A safari offers a pollution-free escape from the incessant humdrum of street-level noise, screen fatigue and the dull routine of daily commutes. Time in Africa’s rugged, untamed bush compels guests to physically, mentally and spiritually reset as the wonder of nature envelops their sensibilities from serene sunrise to starry nightfall – not the mention the deluge of happy hormones released by the brain thanks to spiking, sunlight-invoked vitamin D levels and an endless string of novel experiences.

From the caress of a deliciously warm breeze brushing past your skin; the raw fragrance of the untamed flora; the chirrups, rumbles and barks of the birds and beasts; the nourishing tastes of fresh and foreign cuisine to the sight of majestic wildlife, one thing is for sure: a feast for the senses will be a part of your sensory journey.

Holly in Rwanda

The Sounds of Africa

One way to ensure guests enjoy the most ‘healthful’ visit to Africa is to draw their attention to the benefits that focusing on the sounds of nature around them can deliver.

Research is shedding light on the impact that ‘natural sounds’ have on the body’s resting activity. It appears these natural auditory stimuli can help regulate stress and promote relaxation by positively influencing both the flight-or-fright, as well as rest-digest systems of the autonomic nervous system.

From the African white-backed vulture to the lilac-breasted roller, a great number of different birds call Africa home, and their songs and calls fill the air. Depending on which region they visit guests will hear the loud, booming duet ‘oomph-oomph,’ given on early mornings by the southern ground hornbill, or even the red-billed oxpecker’s scolding ‘churrrr’ and a hissing ‘zzzzzzist.’ Those most attuned to Africa’s natural symphony may even catch the beautiful whistles from guinea fowls, and the hilarious laughter of spotted hyenas among a myriad of other exotic bird, animal and insect sounds.

Another unmistakable safari sound is a crackling, popping campfire. It’s the perfect spot for storytelling or simply staring deep into the heart of the flames in silence as you relive the day’s adventures.

Going to sleep and waking up to the sound of nature can spark a sense of wonder that is unmatched. Going on a safari means you’ll be surrounded by a cacophony of glorious sounds that can transform your thoughts and inspire you in ways you never knew possible.

Image by: Jamie Masters

Smell of the Wild

An African safari holiday is a truly sensory experience, and one of the most evocative senses that will be stimulated during your journey is that of smell. From the moment you step off the plane, the rich and varied aromas of Africa will engulf you, awakening your senses and transporting you to a land of untamed wilderness and exotic wildlife.

Holly in Rwanda

Your safari

As you venture out on your safari, the first thing that will hit you is the smell of the savannah. The dry, dusty scent of the grasslands is intermingled with the sweet, earthy smell of the soil, creating an atmosphere that is both inviting and invigorating. It’s a smell that you’ll never forget and one that will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.

Greeted by wild animals

As you make your way through the bush, you’ll be greeted by the unmistakable smell of wild animals. The musky scent of a lion’s territory marks their presence in the area, while the pungent smell of a hyena’s den will make you hold your breath. But it’s not just the big cats that leave their mark on the air – the scent of antelopes and zebras will fill your nostrils, reminding you of the incredible diversity of wildlife that you’re lucky enough to be experiencing.

And then there are the plants. Africa is home to a vast array of vegetation, and each one has its own unique aroma. The sweet, floral scent of acacia blossoms will fill the air, while the fruity, floral scent of marula trees and their fruit with warm, nutty undertones will invigorate your senses. And, of course, there’s the unmistakable smell of leleshwa, also called African wild sage, a bush growing throughout lower East Africa. Used by animals and humans alike, this bush has anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and insect deterrent properties, which has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.

As you sit around the campfire at night, you’ll be surrounded by the rich, smoky scent of woodsmoke, mingled with the mouth-watering smell of the evening’s delicious dinner before heading to bed for the night.

The area of the brain that processes your sense of smell is located next door to your memory centre, which explains why certain smells can bring back powerful memories. By taking note of the scents around you during your safari getaway, you’ll be even more likely to remember every special moment of your African stay.

Tactile Experiences

An African safari holiday is a feast for the senses, and one of the most immersive experiences is the tactile stimuli that you’ll encounter. From the soft, warm fur of a lion cub to the prickly thorns of an acacia tree, the textures of Africa are as diverse as its wildlife.

One of the most exhilarating sensations you’ll experience on an African safari is the feel of the open air around you. With the wind whipping through your hair, you’ll feel truly alive and invigorated. Whether you’re driving through the savannah in an open-top jeep or trekking through the bush on foot, the touch of the elements on your skin is an unforgettable experience.

As you explore the African wilderness, you’ll encounter a myriad of textures that will captivate your senses. The rough, sandpaper-like skin of an elephant’s trunk, the bristly hair of a wildebeest, and the soft, velvety ears of a giraffe are just a few examples of the textures you’ll encounter during your journey.

The plants and trees of Africa also offer a range of tactile experiences. You’ll feel the cool, smooth bark of a baobab tree, the rough, thorny branches of an acacia, and the soft, fuzzy leaves of a fever tree. Running your fingers over the textures of these plants is a great way to connect with the natural world and appreciate the beauty of the African landscape.

An unusual texture you may have opportunity to discover is that of wild animal scat. Trackers and rangers are able to examine droppings to work out how old they are, aiding in finding nearby animals for the best viewing experiences. Some lodges even have local animal skulls and horns on hand for educational purposes, often allowing children and guests to handle them.

And let’s not forget about the incredible accommodations on offer during an African safari. Many lodges and camps offer luxurious touches such as plush bedding, soft towels, and silky robes, providing a comfortable and indulgent experience after a day spent exploring the wilderness.

Overall, an African safari holiday is an immersive experience that engages all the senses, including touch. Whether it’s feeling the warm sun on your skin or the prickly undergrowth of the veld, the textures of Africa are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Holly in Rwanda

A Gastronomic Exploration

An African safari holiday is a culinary journey as much as it is a wildlife adventure. From the flavours of local dishes to the exotic fruits and spices that grow in the region, the tastes of Africa are a delight for the senses. Let’s take a closer look at the mouth-watering tastes you can enjoy on an African safari holiday.

One of the best ways to experience the local cuisine is through traditional dishes such as bobotie, a savoury dish made with minced meat and spices, or chakalaka, a spicy relish that’s served with bread or rice. You can also indulge in a traditional South African braai (barbecue), where you’ll taste succulent meats cooked over an open fire, served with a range of sides and sauces.

The fruits and vegetables of Africa are also a feast for the taste buds. The sweet, tangy flavour of a juicy mango, the creamy texture of an avocado, and the refreshing taste of a ripe papaya are just a few examples of the delicious fruits you’ll encounter during your safari. You can also try local vegetables such as spinach and sweet potato, which are often served in stews and soups.

And let’s not forget about the incredible selection of wines that South Africa is famous for. You can enjoy a glass of crisp chenin blanc or a full-bodied pinotage while taking in the stunning views of the African landscape.

Finally, the spices and flavours of African cuisine are truly unique. From the aromatic scent of cinnamon to the fiery heat of chili peppers, the flavours of Africa are sure to awaken your taste buds. You can try a range of spices and condiments, including peri-peri sauce, berbere spice, and harissa paste, which are used in a variety of dishes throughout the continent.

Overall, an African safari holiday is a culinary adventure that’s sure to delight your taste buds. With a range of local dishes, fruits, wines, and spices to explore, you’ll experience a culinary journey like no other.

Image by Lions Sands Tinga

Exceptional Wildlife Viewing

An African safari holiday is a visual feast, offering a stunning array of landscapes, wildlife, and sunsets that will take your breath away. From the vast savannahs of the Serengeti to the towering peaks of Kilimanjaro, the sights of Africa are truly unforgettable.

One of the most iconic sights of an African safari is, of course, the wildlife. Whether it’s watching a pride of lions lounging in the shade, witnessing a herd of elephants crossing a river, or observing a group of giraffes grazing on the treetops, the diversity and beauty of Africa’s wildlife is a sight to behold. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard or the majestic cheetah in action.

Beyond the wildlife, the landscapes of Africa are equally awe-inspiring. The rolling hills and grasslands of the Maasai Mara, the rugged cliffs and canyons of the Namib Desert, and the lush forests and waterfalls of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are just a few examples of the stunning natural beauty you’ll encounter on your safari.

The sunsets in Africa are also something to behold. As the sun sinks below the horizon, the sky is painted in hues of orange, pink, and purple, creating a breathtaking spectacle that’s hard to put into words. And as the day comes to a close, the stars light up the sky, providing a dazzling backdrop for an evening of stargazing.

Image by: Jamie Masters

Diverse cultures and traditions

Finally, the cultural sights of Africa are also a highlight of any safari. From visiting a Maasai village to learning about the history of Apartheid in South Africa, the diverse cultures and traditions of the continent are fascinating to explore.

Image by: Angama Mara

A visual feast

Overall, an African safari holiday is a visual feast that will leave you awestruck at every turn. With stunning wildlife, landscapes, sunsets, and cultural sights to explore, an African safari is an unforgettable journey that’s sure to stay with you for a lifetime.

Going on a safari in Africa allows you to engage all your senses and experience the natural world like never before. Your days will be filled with stimulating sounds, scents, tastes, sights, and moments that will rejuvenate and inspire you. The immersion into nature helps to fire up your imagination, ignite a sense of adventure, and leave you with lasting memories. So, the next time you are planning a trip, consider a safari in Africa and be prepared to experience a feast for your senses.

In this article
  • A Feast for the Senses
  • 1. The Sounds of Africa
  • 2. Smell of the Wild
  • 3. Tactile Experiences
  • 4. A Gastronomic Exploration
  • 5. Exceptional Wildlife Viewing

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