For many year’s my husband and I have been watching WildEarth – SafariLIVE, which is an “expert ranger hosted LIVE safari, broadcast directly from the African wilderness into your home.” As nature and bushveld lover’s we find that these virtual safari’s give us an escapism from our everyday normal lives in Johannesburg.
My interest in watching live streamed wildlife programs started many years ago when my husband and I were living in London in 2008. We missed the bushveld so much so we would log into an online live webcam site called Africam (which I believe was started by the same people as SafariLIVE). At the time Africam had a few cameras setup at some waterholes in different game reserves and you could sit and watch to see if anything came to drink. They also setup a live streaming web camera in 2009 at a family home in Johannesburg where a Spotted Eagle Owl was discovered nesting in a Pot Plant on their balcony. I believe the Owl’s family came back to nest in the same pot plant for over a decade – you can find out more about this incredible story on the Pot Plant Owl Facebook page.
As technology improved over the years to allow for real-time live streaming then safariLIVE became the one up on Africam. SafariLIVE has two live game drives a day similar to what you would have if you visited any of the lodges and game reserves that they stream from. There is a 3 hour morning drive usually starting around 6-9am and then an afternoon drive from 3-6pm (times might vary depending on time of year). There is usually three ranger guides each with a cameraman that go out on drive (in different reserves from around South Africa). The rangers will provide commentary around the animals, plants and birds that are seen on the drives and you can even send through questions that the rangers will answer during the drive. The virtual safari’s are very informative and you may also get to see some incredible sightings such as baby leopards and white lions. The drives are also great for the whole family to watch including your pets. Our Scottie dog, Lanark, really gets involved in watching the drives with us often giving the odd growl at a lion or buffalo.
During the current lockdown due to the COVID-19 world pandemic, these virtual game drives have become an essential part of our weekly routine. We will login to watch at least three or four drives a week – sometimes we are unable to watch the whole time due to work or other commitments but we keep the drives on as “background music” to enable us to hear the sounds of the bush.
Although it is so wonderful to hear and see wildlife on these virtual safari’s, it can make you feel a bit bleak as you aren’t able to actually physically be there. However, if anything it has motivated me more than ever to book our next bushveld trip as soon as the current lockdown regulations allow us to do so.
If you enjoy nature and the bushveld, I would highly recommend you head over to watch the safariLIVE Youtube channel – you can thank me later!