The $50 African safari

Full disclosure: This isn’t my story, it’s my friend Tommy’s.

Tommy is a super adventurous traveler. He’s also an absolute train fanatic. He loves trains, especially old steam trains. He travels all over the world just to ride on interesting trains that are still in service.

A few years ago Tommy and another friend of his were touring countries in southeastern Africa, riding various trains as they worked their way up the coast. At a hotel in Zimbabwe, they decided that as long as they were in Africa they really should go on a safari.

So Tommy asked the hotel manager about how he would go about going on safari. The manager immediately told him, “No problem, I can arrange that for you” and began to reach for the phone.

Tommy stopped him. “No, you don’t understand. I don’t want to go on an American safari. I want to know how you, as a Zimbabwean, would go on safari if you were going to.”

The manager thought for a moment. “I think I understand what you want,” the manager finally told him. He picked up the phone and made a call.

A little while later, the manager’s 20 year old nephew and a couple of his buddies pulled up in a rusted out old Chevy. Tommy and his friend each paid the guys $50 plus they stopped at a liquor store for a case of beer and a couple of bottles of whisky.

The guys drove Tommy and his friend out into the bush in a nearby national park. They saw as many animals as you would expect to see on any professional safari tour. And they didn’t pay $3,500 to do it.

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Of the travel stories that are not my own, this is unquestionably my favorite. It is the type of travel I aspire to. It may be much too adventurous or risky for your taste. If that’s the case, I hope you were at least entertained by it.

However if even the tiniest part of this story resonates with you, I hope you will do like me and keep hold of that tiny part. Use it as your mantra and your guiding compass needle when planning your own travel adventures.

(Also note, the photos are not Tommy’s, they are my own. They are also not from Zimbabwe, they are from several different trips.)
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