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Digital Subscriptions > American Survival Guide > February 2019 > AFRICAN SURVIVAL

AFRICAN SURVIVAL

LIFESAVING LESSONS LEARNED

With the spate of small wars gathering strength in Africa, many more American troops and airmen are being posted to the "Dark Continent" to counter the efforts of al-Qaeda jihadis intent on fomenting violence and revolution. As others follow in their wake, they should know that Africa can be harsh on those who do not know how to cope with survival issues or understand many of the problems they are likely to encounter on a continent that is in a constant state of flux.

That said, safety in Africa is much less of a concern than it has been in years gone by, largely because standards for international travelers are markedly improved. Also, problems, as well as threats and dangers that we should be aware of, are changing … but they still exist.

Given the inaccurate press that the continent continues to endure, it is hardly surprising that many people, particularly those who have not previously traveled in Africa, are concerned about safety. Of course there are risks, but travelers who are alert as to what they should and should not expect will be able to reduce these risks to acceptable levels.

A SURVIVAL TALE

Place yourself in the boots of a young American couple who were recently on safari in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa, one of the wildest and most beautiful tropical regions on the planet. They were out with a local guide in the customary dugout canoe that people use to get about in this part of the continent. They were some hours from camp when their guide pushed out into the swamps (about three times the size of New Jersey in the wet season). Their journey took them through an almost unending succession of waterways, past enormous islands of papyrus and dozens of grunting, chortling hippopotamus pods, some 100 strong.

After a game walk, they ate a modest lunch, and their guide took his requisite midday nap under a tree while the couple decided to try their hand at photographing some nearby zebra.

But each time they got close, the animals would run off some distance before settling down to graze again. An hour or so later, after playing multiple games with the zebra, the couple decided it was time to return to their guide. The trouble was, they soon realized (with rising panic) they were lost—hopelessly so. They had no idea which way to go, because everything looked very much the same in all directions.

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