I want to talk about a much maligned and underappreciated element of safari tradition. The quick snooze and the nodded off, the out for the count, the away with the fairies, the power nap.
Firstly it should be stressed that taking a nap is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. You might already know this, or you might be one of those unfortunate folks who feel a little bit guilty about resting your eyelids for just a moment. Nappers of the world feel not the envious guilt of the unacquainted!
A lot of people underestimate just how tiring going on safari really is. There is a lot of getting thrown around in the back of a truck and trying too hard to convince everyone that tree stump is a lion. Mixed in with good measures of baking hot sun, dust and drastic overeating. On top of all that, after staying up too late pretending to listen to your guides’ stories of bravado and heroism in the bush, you are expected to rise again at an unholy hour and do it all over again. So, taking your chance to sleep is critical.
Now, taking a nap is not for everyone, but should you be willing, here are three top tips to begin on your path towards mastery of the power nap and a new plane of safari experience.
1. Timing is everything. Inbetween morning and afternoon game drives you will usually have a few hours of downtime to fill as you please. You can go for a swim, tally up that bird list or rearrange the multitude of towels in your room. But please, spare a little time for a nap. My personal favourite is right after lunch, just at that moment when everyone leans back thinking “if I eat another morsel I’m going to burst.”
2. Don’t nap too long. Ten to thirty minutes is perfect. Any longer than that and you are going to wake up looking like a confused gorilla, wondering what day of the week it is, scrambling onto the afternoon game drive, dropping your binoculars on the way as your fellow guests mutter in hushed tones “oh dear he must of over slept”. Thus a proficiency in the use of alarm clocks is an essential skill to aid your power nap.
3. Tickner’s Top Tip. For advanced power nappers only. If this has been rather elementary for you so far then you might like to put your skills to the test with a stimulant nap. A stimulant nap requires no illegal substances but military precision and a book that’s boring enough to send you to sleep after two paragraphs. Drink your coffee after lunch, make your excuses and deploy yourself in your preferred snoozing location. The caffeine will kick in half an hour or so later. You will wake up with a snap and be in pole position to take victory in the afternoon’s leopard spotting stakes.
And remember, practice makes perfect!