From bowhunting.net, bowhunting biologist Wade Nolan discusses some of the myths about traveling to Africa for a bowhunting safari. Below is a small sample of his article. If you want to read the entire document, it can be found here.
Africa will get under your skin faster than a wounded leopard. It’s the majesty, the intrigue and just the sheer adventure we’ve all salivated over from our earliest days in the movie theaters and on TV. Let’s face it, few areas neither hold as much interest and excitement nor conjure up the thing dreams are made of quite like Africa. And yet many hunters hesitate when they hear the word “Africa.” The reason is because they have unanswered questions that make Africa their “Dark Continent”. This article will dispel some of the myths and cast light on this wonderfully wild place.
I’ve been enjoying Africa safaris for 16 years. I love the people and the countryside and I speak from experience in wild places. After spending 17 years in Alaska’s wilderness I promise you that Africa can offer the same kind of wild experience. My Q & A goal is to shed some light on bowhunting and exploring Southern Africa.
Q. Is it safe to travel around in Africa?
A. If you go to the safe countries it is extremely safe. The safest countries are South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. These countries are all in Southern Africa and share common borders. The political atmosphere is stable and has been stable for a long time. Across 16 years of visiting (Sometimes as long as 6-weeks at a time) I have never had a single negative encounter.
Q. What language do they speak?
A. The good news is that regardless of where you go in Southern Africa everyone speaks English. They are taught English in school and they can both write and read English. English is the language of commerce and Afrikaans is their conversation language.
Q. Who are the Afrikaners?
A. Most of the whites in Southern Africa are Afrikaners. It is a European ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from almost equal numbers of Dutch, French and German settlers whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives from Dutch. These are the white farmers/explorers/settlers whose opened up these countries.
Q. Is South Africa like all the Tarzan movies depict? Animal infested trails you have to hack through and natives living in huts?
A. No. Today’s Africa is mostly civilized with quality paved roads linking the major cities. There are still a lot of villages, now called townships, where large black native populations live in concrete block homes with tin roofs. The wildlife that can eat you has largely been relegated to giant national parks. Lions and elephants make poor neighborhood guests.
Q. So is it really a tame region?
A. Not really, Africa is vast. South Africa alone is more than twice the size of Texas. It has extensive mountain ranges and wild country left. In these wild places lions still may eat a guy or two and leopards see you as on the menu. Crocodiles still rule the many of the rivers. In Botswana there are large regions where free ranging lions still rule. Leopards in parts of the Kalahari are as abundant as they ever were. The Kalahari Wilderness Reserve is half the size of Pennsylvania and it is as wild as it was 300 years ago. In parts of Namibia there are only a handful of people and it is as wild as Alaska with gemsbok, kudu, springbok, warthogs and Hartebeest roaming free in the western Kalahari. Up near the Caprivi Strip Desert Elephants still roam.
Q. What are my chances of getting bitten by a poisonous snake while there?
A. About zero, as we visit during the winter when snakes are hibernation. It would be a rare day that you get to see a snake as they avoid people with as much focus as we avoid them. I have never heard of a hunter being bitten by a snake. I recently asked my Professional Hunter if many of his friends or acquaintances in Africa had ever been bitten and he said only twice in his life time did hear of a local snake bite. Your chances are probably the same as getting bit by a rattlesnake on your next Texas whitetail hunt.
Q. What is the weather like?
A. Southern Africa is in the southern Hemisphere so their seasons are flipped. Our winter is their summer and our fall is their spring. During June July and August their winter temps are similar to October in Pennsylvania or March in Texas. Daily highs are usually in the 60-70’s and lows in the 40-50’s. In a word … perfect.