How You Know You’ve Found the Perfect Safari Buddy

Written by Thomson Safaris

Travel brings people together – family, friends or even just coworkers. Two Thomson Safaris staffers experienced that firsthand when we got the rare opportunity to send them to Tanzania at the same time.

Nicole and Angela saw baby animals, rode in the Serengeti hot air balloon and became closer friends all the while. What makes traveling with a buddy special? We’ll let them explain.

Nicole: You Encourage Each Other to Try New Things

angela nicole on hot air balloon in serengetiAngela and Nicole in the Serengeti hot-air balloon.

I’m not usually the type to jump at trying something new. However, when we were on safari, Angela’s excitement to seize every opportunity really encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone – and having a companion to try everything with really made the experiences fun. We did the balloon safari, got up early to explore our camps at sunrise – and even milked the cow at Gibb’s Farm! I don’t know if I would have tried these things without Angela, but I can’t picture our experience without them now. For that, I’m so thankful we were together.

yoga at thomson eastern serengeti nature refugeAngela and Nicole practice their yoga technique at the Thomson Safaris camps.

We also weren’t afraid to let loose and be a little bit silly, too. We both committed from day 1 to rock our safari hats without caring how ridiculous we might have looked. We also decided to try out the new yoga platforms at camp and take some pictures while we did it. Even though we looked a little crazy (and not skilled at yoga), we laughed so much – and it was one of my favorite memories from the trip.

Angela: Your Experiences Bring You Closer

Although Nicole and I sit a few feet away from one another in the Thomson Safaris office, our roles are very different, and we haven’t had too many opportunities to connect at work or outside of work. Traveling together on safari allowed us, and the rest of our group, to bond over everything from the sounds we heard at night to card games before dinner to new Swahili we learned each day. We even gave everyone in the group a nickname based on their safari spirit animal. Nicole was known as Tommy (the Thomson’s Gazelle), and I was known as Hyena. The friendship we built with one another, along with folks on our trip from across the country and all different walks of life, will hopefully last a lifetime (and hopefully those nicknames will too).

Nicole: You Help Each Other Out

angela with maasai children in tanzaniaAngela Interacts with Maasai children – this became one of her favorite moments!

I’m notorious in the office for being an obsessive planner. But even the most careful planners forget things while traveling sometimes! It was such a nice feeling to know that Angela could help me out in a pinch if I needed something while we were in the bush – extra sunscreen, a turn using her binoculars, or toiletries I forgot. We really helped each other out.

Along those same lines, if you’re traveling with a friend – no need to pack a selfie stick! We had so much fun taking selfies during the trip, and taking pictures of each other enjoying the experience. Angela got some photos of me experiencing the trip that I’ll have forever as keepsakes and memories – but my personal favorites are the ones I got of her interacting with a group Maasai children. I cannot stress enough how much fun we had capturing these moments. I joked that we were each other’s personal paparazzi.

Angela: You Can Laugh (and Cry) Together

safari can be emotionalSafaris can get emotional!

I often find myself in a fit of giggles (hence the nickname, Hyena) and Nicole and I certainly had our share of giggle fits, but who would have guessed that I would also find my ideal crying buddy (happy tears, of course) on safari! Nicole let me know that it was okay if we cried during every single baby animal encounter, when we heard the beautiful voices of school children singing to us in Swahili, and when we said goodbye to each camp staff or to our group and guides at the airport. If it wasn’t for Nicole, I would have tried to contain all of these emotions, but between the two of us, there was no holding back.

Angela: You Keep Each Other Positive

happy thoughts on safariNicole soaking in every moment.

One of our guides, Freddy Mushi, shared his mantra about “the power of positive thinking” with us, and it quickly became a theme that we took to heart throughout the trip. One of my favorite moments was when it started to downpour while we had the pop-up roof open. I looked at Nicole who was definitely in the “splash zone” in the vehicle, but she would not let any amount of rain dampen the day. Instead, she fully embraced the rain, its smell, and the temporary break from the dust, and her positive attitude about the rain encouraged all of us to enjoy every moment.

Nicole: You’ll Share Your Memories Forever

nicole and angela with thomson safaris guides at ngorongoro craterGuides Ojukwu and Freddy with Angela and Nicole at Ngorongoro Crater.

There really isn’t any other way to put it: going on safari is a life-changing experience, and having Angela there to share in that experience made it so much more special. I know we’ll be sharing our memories and reminiscing about the trip together forever; it’s a bond formed only by experiencing something so wild for the first time together. I feel honored to have been able to not only experience the trip for myself, but also watch someone I care so much for experience it alongside me. I wouldn’t change a single thing about our journey.