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I had the pleasure of meeting a Botswana travel aficionado from Germany on my recent travels. On one of our nights there, we were treated to singing and dancing from the entire staff. Everyone was on their feet, smiling, and enjoying the lovely night air- both guests and camp staff.

 

“I love this stuff,” my new friend told me. “But I always wonder if it’s real, if it’s authentic.”

 

It’s a great question. Everyone wants an authentic travel experience, but many things become incentivized and become rote performances for the benefit of the tourist instead of genuine expressions of humanity and culture.

 

As we all chatted, we decided that the real test of authenticity is whether or not the experience is being enjoyed. When the camp staff is dancing and they don’t want to stop, when everyone is grinning from ear to ear, and when the night is made into magic by the shared camaraderie, then you know the safari experience is real. There is no other test you need.