Joan McNaughton has been on many safaris in the past 16 years, but even when she goes to the same place, it’s never the same trip twice.
McNaughton is piloting the next Bouchie Lake Lawnchair Travel flight, and she’ll be sharing some of that wonder and excitement as she invites everyone to join her on a safari.
“After being in the Serengeti over a dozen times, I saw things this time that I have never seen before,” she said in an email. “You know it’s good when your driver gets super excited over what is going on around you!”
This flight, presented Monday, March 9 at the Bouchie Lake Hall, will take people to the very northern edge of the Serengeti in Tanzania, where they will board safari jeeps and spend 10 days exploring their way over the south-eastern end of the Serengeti and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The last safari of the trip will be in the amazing caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater.
When McNaughton took this trip to the Serengeti, she was with four people who were complete strangers.
“I had never even talked to them on the phone; we had communicated only via email,” she said. “We met for the first time in the Amsterdam airport. I had a kids’ leopard face mask on my backpack so they would know who I was!”
McNaughton says she was a bit hesitant with not knowing them at all, as they were very close friends who travelled together often, but, typical of a safari, she says it was a great bonding trip.
“By about Day 2, I felt like I had known them for years, and they certainly had me figured out,” she said. “I never let them in on a few secrets though, because I quickly realized these two guys were probably pranksters, and I wasn’t going to give them any extra opportunities!”
McNaughton says she first went on a safari with her mom in 2003, and it has become “a bit of an addiction” since then.
She has been to Kenya and Tanzania well over a dozen times.
“I have quit trying to keep track,” she said. “I always see new things, it never gets boring and I am usually planning the next trip on the plane on the way home. Seeing the expression of people with me as they see an elephant or lion for the first time is fantastic. Their excitement when they realize that they really are THAT close … and their reactions have become an important part of my trips.”
McNaughton says the environment in these parks and reserves is changing a lot, with climate change issues, human-wildlife conflicts and encroaching communities, along with the push by foreign investments for mining rights, as well as poaching issues.
“If you want to see the amazing things you see on wildlife documentaries, you need to see it sooner than later,” she said. “I have noticed big differences in the time I have been going and have seen changes both good and bad.”
Yet, with all that she has seen over the years, McNaughton’s love for African safaris has not changed at all.
“Over the years, I have developed friendships with people there, and my favourite places to stay feel like home,” she said. “Every safari still has me in tears when I leave, much to my drivers’ dismay — but they are used to if now!”
Take off March 9 is at 7 p.m. at the Bouchie Lake Hall. The boarding gates and security open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $8 for First Class and $6 for Economy.
Please bring your own Lawnchair for the flight. This will ensure your comfort and safety while travelling. This also helps the flight crew out in that chairs do not need to be brought out or put away, which includes ensuring they are stacked so many high and in a certain place.
The Lawnchair Travel series is hosted by the Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society, with proceeds going to support the Fourth Annual Billie Bouchie Day Celebrations, set for the weekend of May 30.