Mashatu would be a wondrous experience under any circumstances, but without a doubt, it is the people that make it so very, very special. While I am sure that all the rangers and trackers are excellent, because everything about Mashatu was, we considered ourselves very lucky to have Elvis as our ranger and Aaron, our tracker.
And not just because they knew their stuff, cold, which they did. Each drive exceeded the last, to the point where my brother joked to Elvis that he fully expected to see the (rarely seen) Honey Badger on the next drive.
It worked so well because not only did they get the jokes, they jumped right in themselves.
And there were more than a few jokes. Doug, Mum and I tend to “situational” humor, and so, it turned out, did our safari companions Michael and Gary. The jokes (mostly made by us at our own expense) flew pretty fast and furious.
I will never forget when we saw the aardwolf, Aaron commented that it was too bad there was a branch in front of its face, but if someone would hold the spotlight, he’d hop down and move it. Gary, bless his heart, immediately piped up that he would… then realized it was a joke and laughed as heartily (but quietly) as the rest of us.
Which brings me to the tigers.
There are no tigers in Africa. Except in zoos. But we figured that since Elvis and Aaron had exceeded expectations at every turn, they’d be able to do the impossible and find us one. I started it, after chatting with Mark Hardon on the Ivory Drive about tiger conservation efforts in South Africa, but it soon became a running joke. As we started each drive, we felt confident we’d finally spot the Tiger of Mashatu.
Next time, I guess…