The circle of life
Last Wednesday, 12 of us took the Oman Air flight to Dar Es Salaam, then hopped on a charter to Beho Beho camp, deep in the heart of the Selous Game Reserve, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Tanzania.
The special birthday celebration weekend was to take place within an area the size of Switzerland, where the animals take priority. Members of our party hailed from Oman, Kuwait, India, New Zealand, Ireland and England: all joined for a few days of learning about, and showing respect for, those who inhabit the land where the lion is king.
Our 6.30am game drives provided rich results. Onno, the Dutch guide, found us Dazzles of Zebra; Towers of Giraffe; Implausibilities of Wildebeest; and all kinds of other species, large and small. On our walks, we were ‘up and personal’ with elephant and hippos. On our last day, Salam produced the highlight, treating us to a lion kill of a small impala, proving to be exciting if somewhat sad viewing.
More than all this, it was fascinating to see how the human guests reacted to the unusual circumstances. For some, there was fear, particularly with an over friendly snake in the shower, and an elephant who jumped out of a bush right in front of our vehicle. We used all sorts of different combinations of languages at times of stress. Others showed such excitement, particularly Management who wanted to jump out to stroke a beautiful lioness who was sitting under a tree. But all just loved to see how the world of the animals, birds, plants and water really do create the circle of life.
I am new to the world of the safari, but Walter and his team did all they could to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. Nothing was too much trouble for them, and we knew we were safe in their expert hands.
Of course, we enjoyed the party too, with Karen producing some mouthwatering food. And Simba, the provider of beverages, kept appearing on hillocks and viewpoints, with plenty of varied drinks to keep us refreshed. The hospitality and service we all received on our short trip, from those in Tanzania, were exceptional.
We arrived back in Muscat late on Saturday night. Management and I were left to reflect on a truly memorable experience. Would we recommend it to our best friends? Undoubtedly. The fact we could get there in a day from Muscat, with no tiring overnight flights, was also key. The ease of arranging a small connecting plane in Tanzania made the trip possible for us.
Why is this type of travel not possible in Oman? Services of this kind could open up tourism to remote areas, the desert, mountains and beaches, creating jobs and business. As I understand it, this is the tourism Oman is wishing to promote.
I was also left with another thought. I have never spent a few days with such a varied group of people, from different cultures and backgrounds. The fact that we all travelled together, had a truly memorable time, sharing a common interest in seeing wildlife in its own habitat, showed me that we are all part of this never-ending circle of life. Why some of the human race wish to try to destroy so much of this seems even more difficult to understand.
Nick lives and works in Muscat and the views expressed in this column are entirely his own. You can e-mail Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org