My family and I love to take extended adventure holidays and sometimes we’re away for weeks at a time. Knowing everything is in safe and capable hands whilst we’re gone allows us to get on with the enjoyable task of having fun.
Coming to look after my menagerie is a bit of a safari by itself. I don’t have the big cats of Kenya, but I do have three fussy Siamese residents that all have different dietary needs. Just as we plan our itinerary when going on safari, we make sure to also plan a daily itinerary for the house-sitter. Who gets fed what and when is an important part of the checklist, particularly when one of the animals needs daily medication, as ours do.
Whilst we’re fortunate enough to be spotting hippos and crocodiles on the Mara River in Kenya, our house-sitter is feeding the ducks in our pond. But just as conservation efforts take organisation and many hours of routine work, our domestic animals have their own routine and that gets included on the checklist.
Africa is my favourite of all the places I’ve visited on safari. I’ve seen wild zebra in Malawi and ridden camels across the Sahara Desert. The feeling of isolation in the desert is astonishing. Dunes stretch as far as you can see, making a golden landscape that’s incredibly beautiful.
You can’t beat Mozambique for real adventure. The Victoria Falls in Nairobi are spectacular and for even better views you can do what we did and take a balloon ride across the waters, getting a bird’s eye view of the landscape; breathtaking.
Lions are among my favourites of the big cats and lion projects in Africa let you help out by taking cubs for walks. Seeing the amount of data that’s collected often reminds me of what’s happening back home with my own domestic zoo. I always make sure my house-sitter has a comprehensive list of important numbers to ring in case of emergency, as well as complete instructions on how things work and where things are kept. Little things like spare keys and the names and addresses of helpful neighbours if advice is needed all help keep the home fires burning safely.
Organised adventure tours give a real sense of exploration, but at the same time a feeling of safety. Guides know what’s safe and what isn’t and although some of the camping facilities can be a little basic, at least you’re not digging holes in the ground.
The national parks of Africa are best explored in 4X4 vehicles and you should be prepared to spend up to six hours in the vehicle. When there’s wildlife to be seen it gets exciting, though. You can’t imagine the thrill of seeing wild, free-roaming elephants until you experience it yourself. Of course, the only shooting allowed is that done with a camera and I have a fantastic collection of photographs from my travels.
Next year I’m planning trips to Central America and to Asia. I love to travel and see new places, especially places off the beaten track that have a sense of adventure and exploration. Thankfully, my house-sitter is always willing to come over and help with the home-zoo.
About the author:
Deborah Jones writes regularly on safari holidays for a range of travel websites and blogs