I hope this email finds you well. I just finished reading your editorial in the Winter 2019 issue called “The Safari…Experience It.” Thank you for such a thought-provoking description of the safari experience. I found myself getting wonderfully lost in your work as I reflected on the amazing flora and fauna that are Africa. In all of my world travels, Africa is the most amazing and enchanting land I have every visited. The people, the geography, and the diversity of wild game is second to none in the world.
In a few short months I will be making my fourth safari to South Africa to hunt the Cape Buffalo and a few planes game. I never want to wish away a day of this precious life, however, while anticipating my next safari I am sometimes like a small child waiting on Christmas morning. On my first safari in 2014 I was the hunter that was whisk away from the airport in Johannesburg to endure the 4 hour trip in the dark to the outfitter’s lodge. This set what proved to be a rapid pace to hunt my list of “most wanted” and “opportunistic” game. During the middle of the week I called timeout and took a day for my wife and I to do a photo safari to Pilanesberg. It was wonderful. We slowed down and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of the park. This reset the tone for a much more enjoyable finish to this first adventure. I was hooked. I was in love with Africa.
On subsequent safaris, upon arrival at Johannesburg, we started with an evening at the Afton Safari Lodge with the journey resuming the following morning. This is the way to go after a long international flight. In case you are wondering, I already have my Afton reservations for my visit later this year. Prior to my third safari, I made a commitment to always take someone with me who has dreamed of visiting Africa and has never had the opportunity to go. Last fall a friend of mine (74 years old) told me he had dreamed of visiting Africa since he was a child but never had the opportunity to go. I immediately went to work getting the 2020 trip scheduled. I then called him and said, “Guess what Lew, you’re going to Africa!” After he realize this was real, he has been so excited. Can’t wait for him to have the Africa experience. My wife is going to join us to accompany him on two photo safaris (I will be on the first one with them in Kruger for four days). They will go on a second photo safari while I hunt for a few days.
Richard, I mention this because your editorial described exactly how I approach each visit and what I so want my friend Lew to experience. I don’t want him to just see it. I want him to experience it like nothing he as ever experienced before. I encourage hunters to go and experience Africa. I emphasize that you don’t have to break the bank to experience the essence of what this amazing continent is all about. As a hunter, you can pursue an impala and a warthog and go home having one of the most amazing hunting experiences of your life.
Thank you for being a tireless evangelist for hunting Africa. For as long as I have my health and the resources I will return to Africa. Not to pursue an endless list of animals but to experience Africa just as you described.
Lavon R. Winkler