Positive Narratives

Colleagues, families and children often ask us what they can do to ‘change the narrative’ of their lives – to ‘think positive’ – to ‘have positive stories or experiences or information to dwell on, rather than to live with a focus on fear or loss’.

This question made us reflect on the story of the 3 orphaned elephants adopted in Buffelsdrift (above). Experiences or adventures often lead to being exposed to new stories, new information and to learning – this occupies the mind and it expands the mind – encouraging growth and life.

We have been asked to provide examples of #positive and enjoyable #adventures in #CapeTown #SouthAfrica where good clinical evidence is followed such as facilitating social distancing at all times and general hygiene, which is relevant in this context.

1. #Buffelsdrift in Oudtshoorn (photo) where Mr Andries Van Schalkwyk is committed to the safety, enjoyment and relaxation of his guests. Social distancing is facilitated at all times, even during #game drives, where solo game drives are offered. This is not offered by all #safari or game farms in South Africa (we have checked). We were inspired by the story about the adoption of the 3 baby #elephants and their journey, and relationships with the staff. We recommend a visit.

2. #Villiera game drives, close to #Stellenbosch – very educational and lovely environment.

3. #MonkeyTown in Somerset and #WorldOfBirds in Houtbay are committed to rescue #animals and education. Children love the #monkeys – they are free roaming.

4. #EagleOutreach in #Spier wine farm, close to Stellenbosch, and #Cheetah Outreach in Somerset share their commitment.

5. #Boulders famous for hosting #penguins shares their commitment.

6. #Crocodile tours offered by Andrew at #LeBonheur close to #Paarl is most educational. We have never seen cleaner areas for animals. The farm also offers excellent food and accommodation.

7. #4×4 #GearUp with Sam and Jarred – very educational to prepare for challenging terrain.

8. #BikeSavvy with Brent – very educational and teaches safe #motorcycle techniques. Many villages in islands can only be reached by 4×4, motorcycles or boats.

9. #Snorkel with Craig Foster in Cape Town’s waters – there is no better place for peace, silence and beauty (and interesting relationships). Please see ‘My #Octopus Teacher’ on Netflix.

10. #Sailing in most areas and #boat trips to #CapePoint – most spectacular. Lessons are available locally with accredited teachers. Dolphins, seals, penguins and Southern right #Whales are often seen when sailing.

Based on our or our colleagues’ experiences at the time, these were some of the most enjoyable experiences in recent times.

We always recommend to avoid close contact with wild animals (and never feed them). If they approach you, we usually recommend to slowly and calmly move away. If they jump on you (monkeys for instance), calmly move towards the guide and ask him or her to assist you – always remain calm, so that the animal will remain calm. If there is no guide, the animal will often become bored and move away. Don’t have food or drinks on you when visiting places with animals (they will be reluctant to move away then and risk can increase). Wild animals are wild, and this is often in their best interest and in yours or your child’s best interest. Guides will offer help and give advice, however, remember to also follow your own gut and mind with these decisions if you feel or think that guides are too confident or taking unnecessary chances, which seldom happens, although it can happen (eg if a guide tells you that you can go closer or touch the animal). It is important to follow the guide’s advice when he or she tells you to stop or move away or not touch or feed animals or return to your vehicle. Most guides prioritise safety and have years of experience in maintaining safety for animals and humans.

#Animals can #teach us a lot and can be especially helpful in #social and #emotional #development for #children – such as forming a healthy #attachment and #learning about #interaction #communication and #responsibility – we recommend introducing animals to children at a young age (safely and in age appropriate ways).