chameleon africa

Courtesy of Londolozi.

Most people go on their first safari because, understandably, they want to see Africa’s famous big animals —  lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and the like. But one of the best and biggest surprises that a safari has to offer is how much the little things begin to stand out after a little while, the way they begin to enhance the whole experience in unexpected ways. People who have never looked at a bird through a pair of binoculars, for example, often soon find themselves absentmindedly scanning the trees overhead hoping to catch even a fleeting glimpse of a mighty eagle or a colorful kingfisher.

What they are slowly starting to realize is that what makes being on safari so special, even magical sometimes, isn’t just the opportunity to see the big charismatic mammals that star in nature documentaries; it’s the thrill of becoming enmeshed in the vibrant, buzzing diversity of intact ecosystems, of true wilderness. It’s the countless little things you didn’t expect to see.  It’s the way a safari teaches you to pay attention.

Take this chameleon that was photographed last month crossing a road in Londolozi Private Game Reserve, for example. Nobody goes on a safari to see a strange little green lizard cross a road. But seeing a strange little green lizard cross a road is one of the countless little, unexpected miracles that, collectively, make a good safari great.