Khaki Fever: That dreaded ‘disease’ of the African bush. It sneaks up on you the way a leopard stalks a newborn impala, striking you down just when you are most vulnerable. You can’t buy preventative medication, there is little you can do to cure it when you catch it, it hits harder than any other illness in Africa (because it targets your heart) and you will struggle to find a list of symptoms in your bush guidebook.
Aah, Khaki Fever, the age old aliment of being attracted to a man in uniform that spreads like wildfire through the savannah where rangers in khaki gear are found. Although, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just women that are susceptible to catching khaki fever; as someone once told me, “there’s something about a woman behind the wheel of a large Land Rover that is a real turn-on”.
So next time you head towards the bush, be aware of the following symptoms, just in case you find yourself suffering from a bout of dreaded Khaki Fever:
1. Your game spotter has got nothing on you.
When on safari, it’s not uncommon for every grey, round rock to elicit calls of “rhino”. You suddenly find yourself staring deep into the heart of the bush, wishing to be the first one to spot something that your tracker missed, just so you can be the one to point it out, resulting in a “well spotted” accolade from the guide and that gold-star feeling you had in kindergarten.
2. You are weirdly scared of your own imagination.
Just when it starts to get dark you call your safari guide to your room. You are not sure what you saw moving in the corner of your room but you can’t check it out by yourself and there is no way your husband could go and investigate (he could get hurt after all). You just happen to be wearing your skimpy nighty and call your guide to remove… as it turns out; nothing.
3. You’re suddenly a huge fan of walking safaris.
Game drives just don’t do it for you anymore, you much prefer the thrill of a walking safari as it gives you a chance to check out your guide’s khaki-clad butt as you cower close behind him upon coming across a lion, for which he fearlessly brandishes his looooong…. rifle.
4. You suddenly know nothing!
Your questions about the bush surpass general curiosity until you are annoying every single guest at your lodge. Your incessant need to engage in conversation with your ranger means that you are suddenly interested in the intimate lifecycle of every single insect in the bush and even the technical specs of the Land Rover. And if your female guide can answer the last set of questions, then you, as a male tourist, are now sure to contract full blown Khaki Fever.
5. You are suddenly a huge fan of khakis.
The last and perhaps the most obvious symptom of Khaki Fever: Those long socks, two-toned shirts and too short shorts which are the object of ridicule back home in the city are suddenly quite appealing. You find yourself buying a matching set from the over-priced gift store at the lodge, and flaunting them in the boma that evening as you try to transmute a little Khaki Fever of your own.