One Month After Safari, The Memories Remain

Its been over a month since I left the Djuma & Arathusa Game Reserves in Sabi Sands, South Africa. Wild Safari LIVE was an incredible experience for me and reflecting on it over the past month has allowed me to understand how many different people we connected with. All backgrounds, in all different stages of life were on a journey with the African bush through this exciting project. Not a day would go past that I wasn’t  amazed by the questions, support and kindness of children, school groups, avid followers, and ‘newbies’ all ‘riding’ in the back of our Land Rovers.

When we would be sitting in the vehicles, waiting to for the countdown from 10 to 1: “You are LIVE, you are LIVE,” I would think about so many people around the world and wonder what was “going to be around the next corner” for them today. That was the exciting part: the unknown–no script, just the bush telling the story, and with a bit of luck being in the right place at the right time. The thing that concreted the ‘LIVE’ aspect for me was when you were actually getting questions ‘real-time’ from the viewers and being able to talk with them LIVE from the African bush; it was something else! One of the most exhilarating and emotion packed journeys you could ever wish for as a lover of wildlife.

I remember one day, there was a lady that sent us an email regarding her granddaughter who had some special needs. This wonderful little girl was watching us daily and glued to Pieter and I bouncing around the bush having fun, telling stories, and tracking creatures for people to meet. The grandmother reached out to tell us that her granddaughter didn’t talk–they could could count the days she did speak on one hand. I think from memory she was about 8 years old. Well, the email was to tell us that she hadn’t spoken for many years and as she was watching us at a waterhole, she said “hippo!” It was a milestone for her (and her grandmother).

As I heard this story, I tried to tell it to camera and share with everyone, but something came over me; I had vision of people from all different walks of life, sharing this incredible experience in their own special way… they were feeling the the magic of wildlife with us. (I may have accidentally rubbed a bit of ‘man-chilli’ in my eye at the same time as I told it and had the odd tear in my eye, luckily the camera is behind, so I could get away with it… I think 😉

I was so touched by this little girl’s story, it was hard to look back at camera for a few minutes (until the ‘man-chilli’ subsided).

Seriously, it is something that has stuck with me to this day and just went to show me that all different people of all ages are connecting with wildlife through what we were doing–but it was LIVE!! That was the key!

earthpulse IIIcourtesy of beyond ©NGCIWhy is it that these stories touch our hearts and minds so much? Are animals that magical that they give us peace and connectivity with the planet and ourselves?

It seems that science is finding out more and more, that we have a longing to be close to animals. If you look at the cave paintings in Lasceaux, France you will see we have had a connection for tens of thousands of years. It’s a connection that is hard to describe other than there is a mutual bond. That’s the sort of thing we talk about when we describe our pets or livestock, but what about wild animals? What’s the attraction there?

Well I have always believed that the times I have felt most at peace, most relaxed, is when I am in the presence of wild animals. Animals that I never thought I could get near, but after years of these encounters and knowing that as long as you are aware of the animals behavior and space, it’s one of the best places on the planet!

That mutually beneficial and powerful bond continues today, with people and animals connecting in ways that are essential to the health and well-being of both. I love it, I thrive on it, and giving people the opportunity to go on safari LIVE with us is probably the ultimate!

Keep well


PS…’Man-Chilli’ = guys welling-up but blaming on anything but emotion

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  1. Arlene
    CT USA
    January 29, 2015, 5:22 pm

    We all miss you, and as the drives come to a close and reading your experiences, I have that ‘chilli’ in my eyes.

    Hope WE can do this again.

  2. Mary Jozwiak
    Buffalo, NY United States
    January 29, 2015, 5:42 pm

    I miss you HT! You and Pieter are fantastic presenters and I m looking forward to seeing you again on Live Safaris! Best wishes to you and your family!

  3. Joyce Miller
    January 29, 2015, 5:42 pm

    and we loved your Man-Chillin moments!!! Bring us more HT, bring us more!!

  4. Janet Veader
    United States
    January 29, 2015, 5:53 pm

    Thank you, Hayden, for this wonderful blog entry. As Wild Earth Safari Live Djuma 2014/15 comes to a close, I am reminded of all the drives we shared with you and Pieter in November and December. There is no way that you can understand how many different ways you have touched the individual viewer, but I can tell you that I will always cherish the time spent on the Jigga and Zenele with you, Pieter, Marc and Scott. I learned so much, laughed, cried, and pondered the meaning of our lives and the lives of the animals. I will forever look forward to what is around the next corner!
    From a big fan in Baltimore, Maryland
    Janet Veader

  5. Theresa Williams
    Virginia Beach, Virginia/USA
    January 29, 2015, 5:54 pm

    HT thank you so very much for the magic & wonder you shared as WE explored the bush. I have wonderful memories to last a lifetime! It is my fondest wish that National Geographic & WildEarth will be broadcasting live safari drives again in the near future. Being a part of these epic adventures is a dream come true and the best the internet has to offer. Hope to see you again, my friend, very soon around the next corner.

  6. Barbara Gardner
    Belvidere N.J.
    January 29, 2015, 6:30 pm

    Hi HT Glad to know the safari live experience meant so much to all involved. I just found it while channel surfing on Sat am of bigcatweek. Saw safarielive and thought what could that be about. Have become a safari addict with all the rest of the tweeters. Thankyou x 3.Most wonderful and fulfilling, exciting ,educational, and peaceful couple of months. Miss you.

  7. Inge
    The Netherlands
    January 29, 2015, 6:33 pm

    Strong stuff that Fisherman’s Friends. 😉

  8. Mechele Cremeans
    Toledo, OH
    January 29, 2015, 7:04 pm


    Thank you and Pieter for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us. The most memorable moment I had with you guys was the day the wild dogs got the pregnant impala. Those moments were surreal, but yet so natural. The same with the Birmingham Boys and the buffalo. Thank you for sharing the real and unscripted Africa. As a follower of the Djuma and Pete’s Pond cams, you only get to see so much. I hope we get to join you again on a safari!

  9. Vicki Wisehart (wild-woman)
    January 29, 2015, 7:22 pm

    HT….I don’t think anyone on earth could have said it any better. Thank you so much for understanding, just how much, the live drives mean to us. (You obviously feel the same). THANK YOU SO MUCH!
    PS….It;s ok to cry….it’s in our nature 🙂

  10. Carolyn Haist
    Philadelphia, PA USA
    January 29, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I can appreciate your feeling of peace when around the animals. It is indescribable as it encompasses not only a comfort and relaxed sense of well- being, but an awareness of another kind that I find hard to describe, one that awakens the soul. Pure joy and happiness envelops us. I know I would have the same peace if I were with the wild animals as my compassion reaches out even as I see the Wild documentaries on TV and have a connect at those times when each animal is presented and you have a chance to “feel” their presence within you and the peace and compassion for them. Being with them as you were would only enhance such an extraordinary experience. For those people who are not able to ever have this inner peace or a warm and truly compassionate connection with animals, I feel that they are missing out on one of the most wonderful and majestic experiences in our lives before they leave this earth. It is a gift from God. Thank you for the wonderful experience you and the others have given us. I know so many more people have been awakened to the wild animal experiences and will go on to explore their world in their hearts.

  11. Sharon McDorman
    Dallas, texas
    January 29, 2015, 7:33 pm

    WE love you, HT!!

  12. Maggie Blecha
    Valley Center, Kansas USA
    January 29, 2015, 7:52 pm

    How I enjoyed be in Jigga or Wendy with you. Your knowledge and compassion for our Wild Critters was amazing. I was with you that day of your “man-“chili” moment. Men with emotion is Wonderful and how great for that little girl to be with you also.
    I found live Safari with the last trip several years ago. Was glad WildEarth did it again.
    I may get to experience African life myself in October. Just waiting to here if trip is finalized. Thanks to all of You, I will view Africa with tons of knowledge about what I see.
    Thanks to you HT and Pieter and now Scott and again with Marc. What a Trip it has been!
    God Bless All of You and Hope we get to do this again
    From Kansas Maggie with My Love! <3

  13. Janice Compton
    Green Bay WI
    January 29, 2015, 7:52 pm

    Although we love Marc & Scott we miss you and Pieter very much! This is a sad week for all of us who have been in the bush starting with Big Cat week…..
    We are all hoping that soon there will be more live Safari’s and I’m surely hoping to see you and Pete again too!

    Your little story of the girl who didn’t talk is a wonderful memory. See what this does to people. I have so many pictures and my screen saver does all the talking…..

    Miss you!

  14. Janice Compton
    Green Bay WI
    January 29, 2015, 7:53 pm

    PS It’s okay to get teary eyed…….

  15. Hayden Turner
    London UK
    January 29, 2015, 8:00 pm

    Hi there! I just wanted to put this out to you all and dedicate it to the team at Djuma, Graham, Emily, Will, Peter Alex, Pieter and all else involved in WildSafariLIVE!
    A heartfelt thanks to Scott, Marc, Jason, Wium, Bryan, Alex and all the team for bringing us some extraordinary WildSafariLIVE moments over the past 50 something days.
    You are amazing people and have delivered some incredible experiences that have touched many a wonderful soul around the planet.
    The followers of WildSafariLIVE are why we are out there and without them we would just be a bunch of blokes telling stories around the fire at the end of the day.
    WildSafariLIVE allows us to share these incredible moments and interact with you LIVE! Thats what its all about! LIVE…no script, no plan, just get out and get amongst it!Thanks guys, you are amazing and we will miss you!

  16. Binky
    Jacksonville, NC
    January 29, 2015, 8:01 pm

    Hi Hayden,
    Thank you for a fabulous safari with you. Sure hope we all can do this again soon. You were and are an asset to Wild Earth. Hugs to you and stay safe!

  17. Milly in cold Cleveland Oh
    January 29, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Thank you, Hayden. That was a touching article. I loves first thing in the morning to turn on the Safari. You have a great gusto for animals. I have been watching the from the beginning…plus before the drives I sat in front of my computer watching still pictures of animals in Africa. Every 30 seconds you could refresh and see another picture. Not nearly as great as a safari but at the time it was AWESOME. I can’t wait much longer to visit SA it is my dream and someday it will come true. My husband passed away 17 years ago and the animals of SA kept me from losing my mind. Thank you and all who were involved in bringing back the drives..even for such a short time..Bet Jack was glad to see his Dad as much as you were to see him… God Bless

  18. Marion Treichler
    Albuquerque, NM USA
    January 29, 2015, 8:48 pm

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed these live rambles through the bush. We learned so much about animal behavior. It was incredible. Thank you so much

  19. Mary Williams
    United States
    January 29, 2015, 10:10 pm

    HT, I live in Missouri. I watched the safari’s as much as possible. Sometimes life got in the way, but I was there in the back of the land rover watching the animals with you and the birds. I loved your dung class and I will never forget it. I was there when you got the “Man-Chili” and guess what, it just showed that you were a compassionate person! I had ‘Girl-Chili’ in my eyes. I didn’t think I would enjoy the safari after you and Peiter left but Marc and Scott had their own way of presenting. Did I miss you, yes I did, but I did enjoy Marc and Scott also. I wish you could have been there today to see the elephants play. If you get a chance, check WE to see if there is a video. It was the best Elephant encounters ever. I think you would agree. I am rambling, so will sign off. Thanks again for letting me paint your pictures. Hope to see you again sometime!

  20. Rosie
    United Kingdom
    January 29, 2015, 10:52 pm

    Hah HT, you did NOT get away with the “man chili” moment, we could tell by your voice, but we were ALL having that same moment along with you, all round the world people were wiping away tears. You became dear to us all then, because not only did you suddenly realise what was so wonderful about the drives for all those of us that had ridden along in Jigga for those years before, and for all those new to the drives also, you weren’t afraid to show emotion in front of the rest of the Wildearth family, for family WE are ! I so hope that National Geographic will do this again for Big Cat Week, and that it will be at Djuma again and that you and Pieter will be a team again !

  21. Sherrill
    Los Angeles area
    January 29, 2015, 11:31 pm


    I stumbled on the drives around the beginning of this round in November and have been completely addicted to them ever since. I am going to feel a big hole in my day without them (although, I may get a bit more done around here and get to work on time ;).

    I have been deeply touched and have sincerely enjoyed watching them, not only for seeing the animals and learning about them and their behavior, but for making what feels like a real connection with the guides and cameramen and being able to see their obvious enthusiasm for what they do. It has been great hearing about everyone’s backgrounds and experiences and all the little stories and anecdotes were priceless.

    You were a big part of my enjoyment of these drives and while all of the guides and been just wonderful, I was particularly sad when your tour ended. I am sure it was hard for you to be away from your family for so long and I appreciate that they allowed you to be shared with us. But, I sure wish these safaris would continue and we could have you take us on more adventures where you never know what is going to be around the next corner.

    It has made we want to start planning an actual visit to the area and how I wish I could have you as my personal guide! Your knowledge and passion for the land and animals would make it an invaluable experience. I know you have a guide business, but I have a feeling you are not the actual guide for every trip! 🙂 Darn!

    See you just now! MISS YOU, Hayden! Come back soon! 🙂

  22. Tracy Massey
    USA,West Virginia
    January 30, 2015, 1:25 am

    After this safari season is over when will it be back online again?

  23. MJ
    Houston Texas
    January 30, 2015, 1:48 pm

    What an incredible ride! Then to find out we get an extension!
    Thank you so much for sharing in this wonderful adventure. It was even more amazing for me having visited Arathusa and the Gowrie Dam in May of 2014.. I hope is to see you all again and to make it back to the African bush at least one more time.
    In Friendship
    MJ/Mudjie in Houston Texas

  24. Hayden Turner
    January 30, 2015, 3:42 pm

    Thanks to you all for your wonderful support and thoughts!
    You all have this connection;-) the love of the natural world!
    The incredible news just in is that WildSafariLIVE is to continue! My blogs will continue as well, wherever I am in the world. Wherever I go, you will be with me!
    You never know whats around the next corner!
    More coming soon! HT

  25. ellie | Timeshare attorney
    united states
    January 31, 2015, 1:47 pm

    tnx for share

    suva, central .FIJI
    February 4, 2015, 7:48 pm

    hi..!!!!!….Mr Turner……thanks so much for your wonderful stories of yours as for me I really get some knowledge about exploring the MOTHER NATURE like yours. Well some better understanding for me as a Geographer student I wish one day I would be like you explore, adventurous, chill with the environment…..THANKS SO MUCH MR.TURNER……..


  27. Lisa Osborne
    Pocono Mountains PA
    March 2, 2015, 1:51 pm

    Hayden it was so wonderful to see you and Pieter on the drives. I am so happy they have been continued with Marc Weiner, Brent Leo-Smith and Scott Dyson along with Andrew, Alex and Bryan on camera. Having access to this wondrous world 8000 miles from where I am is simply amazing! I Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all and hope you will be back for another run in wilds of the Sabi Sands. 🙂

  28. Pattie
    Webster, NY
    March 5, 2015, 6:29 pm

    Hayden, it was delightful to see you and Pieter on the drives. I am so thrilled that WildEarth has chosen to continue SafariLife with Marc Weiner, Brent Leo-Smith and Scott Dyson along with Andrew, Alex and Bryan on camera. Having access to this from across the world is amazing! I Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all and hope you will be back at Djuma in the Sabi Sands.