It is a bright morning as the Bay Area mist clears to reveal the silvery-blue Pacific seaboard through the large conference room windows at the offices of Guided Safaris. I have just flown home from a trip in the south of France and sit here with my copy of The Sarcastic Lens and its glossy postal wrappings on the table.
Page after page transports me to a rare, high-treat privilege to see over-the-shoulder, actual places revealed from our Guest’s perspective of journeys that were tailored right here in this very room. Descriptions of camps and regions conveyed to the mind’s eye before they actualized in person on travel, captured and printed in this fantastically weighty document full of life-on-safari experiences. Occasions for laughter and pathos, all the best-loved impressions from a couple’s ample companionship in life and adventure through 40 countries.
When Richard and Amy Lynn returned last summer from their latest African adventure we received a special email of thanks in our inbox. It began with a simple “We are back” and “Job well done” going on to recount their “Single greatest wildlife experience of all time”. They had a front-row Land Rover seat when the sad events recounting the last moments of Lady Ravenscourt were shed at Singita Game Reserves in South Africa. This resident alpha female leopard, one of Africa’s great legends and a constant subject for enthralled rangers and travelers in their magnificent records and photographs brought home, met her fateful maternal stand off against a dominant male on that wintery encounter. The email followed through with photos and a tale of sympathy torn from a very personal account. A morning that started with the mother and cub frolicking in the sunlight to the sudden entry of a third leopard on the scene. In their words, “Wow and horrific at the same time”.
We pasted this leaf from their journal into our blog and received an outpour of empathy from travelers who had spent time with this beloved leopard and her photogenic posing to the delight of safari guests the world over. Their tale was witnessed as though in person by each traveler dropping in with Guided Safaris that afternoon.
When one is so passionate about animals, a candidly shared moment from a travel encounter quickly becomes a personal issue that one finds mutual empathy with amongst likeminded souls. That is the beauty of venturing out on safari and staying in these small and intimate camps, sharing a vehicle and guide to explore the bush and campside stories swapped till late hours around a bonfire. Back home, boots and duffels are wiped clean of the ancient red dust of Africa and photography is largely what evokes rich memories of favorite episodes recounted again to friends. It’s really what we all, whether on a maiden safari voyage or those for whom Africa is now second home, hope for when setting out on safari: Cameras are invested in, batteries and chargers packed in great anticipation of the photography ahead, for this is what will log the tale of our journey. The Lynns have a proud kitchen wall bulletined with photographs of ‘Welcome to’ signs from all 50 US States. A simple joy of travel; to document and share with others.
Yet, a first-time traveler strolling into safari inspirations published in hardcover will oft find in their hands, either; the professional portfolio – a scope with a photography viewpoint that is steeper then trying to pronounce Makgadikgadi for the very first time, not to mention the dedicated months input by the pro-photographer in gaining just the right angles that a casual safari traveler would only expect as hopeful and lucky capture on the camera they carry. Or, in the case of the Wildlife naturalist’s book, the language seems more foreign than the places you’re about to visit – and we’re not just talking latin names. At worst, one pushes aside a biased brochure selectively designed for the armchair traveler. As a growing trend, books on Africa tend to mostly look and read the same, covers aplenty of the lone half-lit acacia against blazing sunset and mishmash of Out of Africa directorial clichés. It’s refreshing to find something current and cosmopolitan, a realistic account by a traveler to demonstrate the possibilities with a camera of normal means.
This is the kind of simplicity you find in The Sarcastic Lens; as the delightful cover choice and title dedication imply: It is the visual account of an ordinary couple brought back, elegantly printed and straightforwardly presented with as much enthusiasm, humor and passion for the African wilderness and beyond as one might expect a lively conversation amongst friends gathered around a kitchen nook to be recounted. Documenting journeys from the ’80s to today’s frantic air travel world, the Lynns meet and relay their odds and familiars with a salt-of-the-earth charm. The photography is realistic and the beautiful subjects wow you to reach for your camera and set off to far-off lands. The animal encounters come packed with characterful anecdotes. It is an enjoyable and purely inspirational read, one that you probably will not do all at once. Like spinning a globe and shifting a trail down the table of continents, flip over to destinations that appeal on that particular day or mood, the book spread open before you, as it is before me now, finding yourself joining in conversations and chuckles that pick up from one chapter and region to the next. An inspiring companion to count down the days with, till you venture out on your own far-flung adventure.
Grab your copy here: TheSarcasticLens.com
Yours in the spirit of adventure and the colorful experiences it forever brings,
Safari Traveler (and Chief Executive of Guided Safaris)
Fall 2014 – San Francisco.