View Full Version : African Safari Tours

05-19-2011, 07:37 PM
I'm tentatively working on a story set in an African safari tourist camp/resort and have done tons of research on it.

I'm hoping someone has visited one and can tell me how it smells when you're out on the savanna looking for animals and such.

Right now I'm leaning toward focusing on the Masai Mara reserve area, but any info and experiences would be great.


Chris P
05-19-2011, 07:46 PM
I remember Masai Mara smelling very dusty. I went in May, and it was dry that year. It was breezy pretty much from a few hours after sun up to just before sundown.

05-20-2011, 10:31 AM
I've worked as a safari guide in South Africa, and I'm writing memoirs about it. I'm aware of all the advice to try and describe smells to the reader, but here's the thing, it didn't smell of much to me at all - so I don't really describe it much at all.

Like Chris says in the dry season it's dusty. In the wet season it's wet and smells of rain and damp. If your protagonist is on a game drive instead of a walk, the strongest thing he or she is likely to smell is diesel fumes from the vehicle.

Individual things smell. Bull elephants in musth (i.e., in heat) stink as do waterbuck (all the time), fresh droppings smell (carnivores' much more than herbivores'), various plants and trees, e.g., when in flower silver clusterleaf trees smell strongly of old socks, animal markings sometimes smell e.g. wildebeest rub trees and leave a secretion on them that smells different, but you have to have your nose to the bark to get it.

I've also visited the Masai Mara and didn't notice any particular smells there.

Thing is savannah is mostly grass with some trees (by definition). So that's what it smells like if anything I guess - which is not much. It's not like a thick lush forest.

Sorry I can't help more...

Purple Rose
05-20-2011, 10:39 AM
Going to Botsawana with the family in early September. If you're looking for other information at that point, I'll be happy to share my experiences. Until then, I'll be checking this thread every now and then for information relevant to my trip :-) Thank you for the post, Motley.

05-20-2011, 05:17 PM
You might shoot a PM to AW writer KTC, who spent time in Kenya and is planning a return, too. He's a helpful guy. Tell him I sent you if it feels like barging in on a stranger.

Maryn, planning to stay home

05-21-2011, 04:22 PM
Thanks so much, guys. You've all been very helpful.

It's good to know it didn't smell any particular way for the most part. Old sock tree flowers, huh? Lovely. :)