Do perfect trips exist in the real world? As a seasoned traveller, I’d have to say, there is no such thing as a perfect trip. Things are meant to go wrong. On the eve of your departure: you will forget your debit card at the ATM, a thunderstorm will ominously circle over clear blue skies, a dormant wisdom tooth will erupt, or you might almost miss a flight during a short nap in a layover.
Now, if the perfect trip is an extremely rare occurrence, then the perfect wildlife sighting is probably even rarer.
Sometimes, you know you’re really close. You can feel it in the air. It’s still with anticipation and the smell of fear. The deer have sensed something they don’t like. Oddly enough, it’s exactly what you would like to see. They try to mask their nervousness. And then, out of nowhere, a distress call. The monkey has spoken. Up in the tree, the monkey has a view you aren’t privy to. Within moments, the grassland is empty again. Was it a ghost or a tiger lurking in the thin blades? You’d never know.
Nature commands patience. You can spend hours, waiting for a Humpback Whale to appear, whilst braving that queasy feeling. Secretly, you begin to imagine, the pictures you would show your friends and family. The happiness of seeing something few travellers do. And then, minutes turn into hours. You try to be hopeful, maybe you’d spot a puffin. No! It’s just not your day. You’d just have to make do with seeing a fin and appreciating the experience of sailing in the ocean. Turns out, fresh air is an excellent placebo for disappointment.
But, we’re human after all. We don’t give up easily. We try walking in a forest reserve. The forest ranger warns you of big cats prowling or wild elephants. But, you’ve come to see the Hornbill. What are the odds of seeing anything else? So, you put those feet to good use. You walk and try to feel one with nature, and almost fool yourself into believing, that you might just belong in this complex ecosystem. You hear a roar. It’s not what you think. A group of three wild elephants (including a mother and calf) have gathered ahead. You don’t belong here. The forest ranger nods his head and you change our course — to turn back. In the far distance, the hornbills put up a show. And strangely, you are happy with just the shadow of the birds and a hazy sky — in the distance.
By now, you’ve had your fair share of disappointments. You begin to understand how nature truly works. How zoos don’t make sense. And as a reward, nature decides to be benevolent. Fortunately, you haven’t given up. Standing before you, is one of the most beautiful animals, you could ever set your sight on. The wait was definitely worth the effort.