Hatari! was a 1962 film directed by Howard Hawkes with music by Henri Mancini. The film featured John Wayne, Red Buttons, and an international cast. They were big game hunters…
but for zoos. It’s been a favorite film of mine since I first saw it and it ignited my fascination with Africa.

On our twelve-day African cruise we went on three safari excursions and each was very different. On day three of the cruise, the ship’s port of call was Mossell Bay, South Africa. We visited the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve.

Situated on 4,200 hectares, Botlierskop is a family-owned and privately-operated game reserve that is malaria-free and home to four of the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino.)

We spent a memorable day on a safari game drive. Riding in retrofitted Land Rovers allowed for close encounters with Rhinoceros, Lions, Elephants, Buffalo, Cheetah, Giraffe, the rare Black Impala, Golden Wildebeest, Mountain Zebra, Hippos and more! The BotGame Reserve provides homes to more than twenty-six different species of animals and more than two hundred resident birds species.

Open vehicle game drives usually take between four and ten people, in a vehicle with three rows of seats behind the driver. These tricked out range rovers had us seated higher than the driver where we sat up high to get a good view of the landscape but they were not a comfortable vehicle. The reserve is situated on rocky, mountainous terrain so the trails the trucks drove on were narrow, steep and rutted. Our guide drove fearlessly laughing at the steep curves (his name was King David) which had us literally hanging on to our hats. Our ride reminded me of a scene from Hatari! where greenhorn maagazine photographer’s first game drive. The truck and ride were so rough she couldn’t take photos.

At the start of the outting, our driver-guide reminded us that we’re in a wild animal reserve and not a zoo so there were no guarantees which animals we’d see. However, King David said he’d been out canvasing the reserve prior to our arrival to see which animals were out and their locations. And during the drive, the guides relayed sighting information over walkie talkies.

King David was quite knowledgable about wildlife and made a point to stop whenever we found a new animal to talk a little about it while we took photos.

It was a beautiful day and we saw four of the big five — lion, elephants, rhinos, and African buffalo. We also saw giraffe, impalas, various antelopes, wildebeest, and zebra.


But, the show stopping siting was a pride of lions napping in the warm sun after feasting a day before. (Can you guess which film I’m referencing?)

Special thanks to my husband Larry Buerk for taking hundreds of photos for me to choose from. I’ll post more as I get them into WordPress.

As I close this post, I’m making a list of movies and songs about Africa or African animals, add to that list as you think of titles. Thanks.

Looking at life from a different POV,
Debora Buerk
The Right Stuff

More Animals Sighted

4 thoughts on “Hatari!”

  1. I found Mosselbay on my atlas! Great pictures. Hatari is a favorite of ours too; we bought it on Amazon Prime and watch it at least once a year!
    When we lived in Arusha, it was shown in local movie theatres at least once a year too. Ha ha.


  2. I’m glad Larry got so many great pictures! Another favorite movie about Africa is “Gods Must Be Crazy”. There’s also a sequel, but I liked the first one the best. It starts with a Coke bottle being thrown out the window of a small plane and landing in a peaceful village of bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. The village people found many uses for the Coke bottle and thought it was a gift from the gods. They started fighting over who would get a chance to use it. The tribal leader tried to throw the bottle back to the gods, but it returned to earth every time; so, he decided to go to the end of the earth and throw it off. The movie covers his adventures and the people he met, including a cute love story between a teacher and a biologist studying animals in the area. It contrasts the cities’ craziness and political turmoil with the peaceful lifestyle of the bushmen.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.