Africa Travel and Fear

Fear is an irritating human condition. Without fear, we could do so much. Look at top climbers (Chris Sharma for example,) or others who approach life with this almost 'above fear' type of attitude.

For most of us, fear is a very real part of life. It affects our relationships (do we ask out a girl, approach our boss for a raise or make friends in a new setting.) Fear affects our success in work and business. Fear affects how we build our homes and how we run our societies. And fear is a major factor in travel - most critically felt after 9/11.

Fear of Africa is a major deterrent to travel in Africa. There are some real causes for concern, I can't deny that. It is very sad that this fear leads many people to simply dismiss Africa as a place not to visit. Africa is a continent rich in people, landscapes, and natural history and an experience that everyone who can manage it should have.

Africa needs tourism. It is more of a self-help solution to African problems than large scale hand outs and so on.

So Africa needs tourism, and you should come and see it, and so what do we do about the fear of the place. Well, lets look at a couple of aspects of the of it and try to put it into prospective.

First of all, unrest. Yes, there are wars in Africa. And so there are in many other places in the world. There are also many places in Africa that arn't at war. I have lived in Africa for almost all of my 36 years and have never been in a war. Nobody ever shot at me. I was never evacuated, never walked through a land-mine field. The war and violence is there, and it is just about the easiest thing to avoid. Your travel agent or local safari company is not planning to take you to a war area?!

Secondly, lack of infrastructure. This may not seem like fear, but I think it is. And I think that this simple thing prevents many people from traveling to Africa. The fear of loosing some of your little luxuries. There are two ways to deal with this. Firstly, spend more with reputable operators, and they will wisk you from luxuary lodge to another and take care of your needs all along the way. There may be a bug in the toilet or stuff like that. But on the whole, you will recieve a high level of comfort and luxuary and still enjoy your travels to Africa.

Lastly, the beasts and bugs factor. Now, whatever I said about unrest and so on above, I am not an expert on Africa affairs, and don't want to be. But dealing with the fear of nature is an interesting problem that I deal with often.

The most amazing thing is that what people fear varies so much. It's the reason why this came up in the first place. Guests out in the wilds of Africa seem to find different aspects of nature 'scary' and sometimes for good reason.

Bugs, including mosquitos and other stinging, biting things are common in Africa. Sure. Again, there are other areas of the world that also have their share of bad-biting-bugs and it's neather here nor there which is worse. With these a bit of basic protection helps a lot. Bug spray is a good idea. Summer, or further in the north, rains, bring out most of the bugs. Remember, though, for the naturalist the bugs area also good - they are a food source for many of the reptiles and birds, even small mammals that one wants to see in Africa. Follow local advice.

Bigger stuff. Here using a reputable operator again is critical. Don't acept guides or operators who don't have a respect for the danger caused by wildlife. And that respect should go through to all aspects of wildlife. An Oryx cornered in a confinded area poses a serious risk to your life. Any larger animal can be dangerous. Use those who respect nature and respect the risks.

But the most imortant thing that I want to say is catch a little of the adventure spirit in Africa. Be save, but let go a little. So much of your fear is brought on by the unknown. Being out in wild places, with lions calling nearby or the sounds of owls and nightjars makes an African experience something that you come back for over and over again.

Africa still has that tingle of wildness. Let it. It's so refreshing. Leave the office, the cellphone and instant messaging, get your safari kit out, clean those bins and lets experience Africa in all it's raw nature.
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Davidlind said...

An excellent post. I learned a lot from it. thanks for adding me in blog catalog. I would like to learn more and will bookmark this blog for future study. We just got back from the Bahamas which is of course a different kettle of fish from Africa. But some things are true everywhere. And I have the dings to prove it. Stay well.