I’ve written here already about wild animals and you know we cover conservation, but let’s take a minute to talk about another important part of the safari experience. Luxury. The “tents” with wood floors and hot water bottles. The hibiscus flower arrangements and tablecloths out in the bush, so you can breakfast whilst gawking at hippos in the river.*
*Remember: there’s always a 4-1 hippo rule: four you can’t see for every one you can. You are probably surrounded. Enjoy that muffin.
And of course, who can forget the crown jewel of the luxurious safari? The sundowner. The moment when you stop watching wild dogs and hyena battling over a fresh kill, or lion cubs playing, or a leopard dragging a baby giraffe carcass into a tree and drive somewhere semi-safe to nurse your gin-and-tonic and watch the sunset in the lurid, red-streaked sky.*
*Actually, you should probably not stop watching any of that. Sunset is the best time for wildlife! Even if you’re not able to see the safari in person. Which brings me to…
The Joy of Armchair Drinking Safaris.
Yes, Armchair Drinking Safaris. It’s officially “a thing,” starting… now!
Hear me out. Have you ever watched Safari LIVE? It’s TV for 2018: the soothing, chatty commentary of The Great British Bake-Off meets the visceral rush of Game of Thrones. They call themselves the “Safari Soap Opera” for a reason. If you’re not already watching these live safari installments, I have to ask: where, exactly, are you getting your fix of wildebeest giving birth? Are you not entertained? In our current political climate, is this not more cathartic television than anything short of Arya’s Frey Faceoff?
Starting this Sunday after the Big Game (get it?), the show is airing for five straight nights. The program broadcasts game drives from Sabi Sands, South Africa, and the Maasai Mara, Kenya, zooming in on all kinds of wildlife, from big cats to bugs. It’s the circle of life and you’re all up in it.
As co-founder Graham Wallington puts it, “Everything about how we build our safari experience recreates exactly what it feels like to be on the vehicle.”
I’ve tagged along in the back of Mara Safari LIVE vehicle and watched an impressive amount of broadcasting, and let me tell you: watching from home has its benefits. All of the excitement of a game drive, none of the danger of tumbling-while-tipsy out of the vehicle to being eaten by lions.
Note: Throughout the week of February 4th, Safari LIVE is giving normals-like-us the chance to win a full luxury African safari by playing interactive bingo.*
*I, on the other hand, am offering absolutely nothing for you to play my SAFARI SUNDOWNER DRINKING GAME except the utter joy of it, so you should definitely prioritize mine.
Without further ado…
THE SAFARI SUNDOWNER DRINKING GAME:
Well, okay, one more ado. For our purposes, a “drink” is a sip of your favorite poison. A proper sundowner is a gin and tonic, but we’ll forgive you if your tastes run less to, um, imperialism and more to…anything else.
THE TALENT (The animals, not the people):
- If the Musketeer cheetah coalition appears: one drink
- If Scarface and the lion Musketeers appear: one drink
- If a guide explains that there are cheetah Musketeers and lion Musketeers so that the previous two entries make sense for you, the reader: two drinks
THE TALENT (The people, not the animals):
- Brent assures you this broadcast is 100% LIVE: one drink
- Jamie says “Hello!” to you, the viewer: one drink
- Jamie says “Hello!” to an animal: two drinks
- Tayla’s car (or Tayla herself) gets stuck in the mud: stand on the tallest available surface; wave cheerfully for help; finish your drink
- James shows you something in the bird book or on his phone: one drink
- You see or hear a cameraperson: one drink
- Anyone uses the words “ominous” or “epic”: two drinks
THE INTERACTIVE AUDIENCE (you, via social media):
- Someone asks whether the cat onscreen is a cheetah or a leopard and you don’t know: two drinks.
- Someone asks whether the cat onscreen is a cheetah or a leopard and you do know: one drink and a lofty explanation of how to tell the difference (hint: black tear tracks = cheetah).
- Some viewer’s Twitter handle sounds like they made it when they were in high school in 2003: one drink.
- Some viewer’s Twitter handle sounds like they made it when they were drunk in high school in 2003: two drinks.
- Someone manages to tie a question back to dinosaurs: try to finish your drink with T-Rex hands.
THE BUG ANTICLIMAX RULE:
- If (read: when) the broadcast producers, for some reason, cut from cheetahs getting it on to bring you the strange colorations on a preying mantis, do a shot.
THE POOP ANTICLIMAX RULE:
- Ugh. Double. Triple if Ralph holds animals dung and tells you he can do so safely for dietary reasons (the animals’ diets, not Ralph’s).
THE DANGER, WILL ROBINSON AXIOMS:
- If Ronald the Rover (the remote control camera) shows up: one drink
- If Ronald the Rover gets kicked: one drink
- If Ronald the Rover gets gnawed on: two drinks
THE CONNECTIVITY COROLLARY:
- Complain loudly and finish your drink any time the camera feed cuts out during an exciting moment.
THE WTF NATURE RULE:
- If a guide offhand mentions something that is patently absurd about wildlife (Warthog poop is bigger than kudu poop! Termites genetically engineer their children! Hippos produce their own sunscreen! Giraffe babies have to drop six feet onto their head as they are born, so they have biologically evolved to bounce!), finish your drink.