Safari Bingo: Beating the boredom bug

Making travel fun again
Tanja Bause
“When I heard we were going on another game viewing trip, I quickly put the game together. I really just developed it to make these trips, which were really becoming boring for, exciting and fun again,” Clara van Heerden (15) who developed the Safari Bingo game, said.
Clara was born in Windhoek and she is currently in grade 9 at the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule (DHPS).
“My father is in the tourism industry and since my childhood, our holidays as a family have always included numerous sightseeing tours. After a while, it became really boring to see the same animals over and over again. When you’ve seen 100 zebras, you’ve seen them all; one looks just like the other. I wanted to make it interesting again. And that’s how the game came about; you can take it along with you and everyone can enjoy it.”
The family has travelled to the Zambezi region most often, but trips to Etosha and a farm are also common. Two years ago, they were in the Zambezi over the Christmas holidays when Clara's parents announced early one morning that they were heading to the Nkasa Lupapa National Park for some game watching.
Small beginnings
“I just thought no, not another boring trip. So I quickly got some photos together and created a small Bingo game that Leon, my brother, and I could play while we were in the car. That was really the beginning of the idea and the game.”
The first Safari Bingo is about animals in Etosha and is therefore named Etosha Safari Bingo.
The game consists of four cards with pictures of animals you need to spot. There is also an information sheet with interesting facts about each animal or bird. The rules are clearly laid out and a pen completes the package.
“I also decided to include birds, so that people will also be on the lookout for them.”
Clara decided to start with Etosha because most tourists visit there.
“The game can be played in two ways. Advanced players have to find a blue wildebeest, while beginners may tag any kind of wildebeest they find in the park.”
The Etosha Bingo has five predatory animals, 13 large animal species, four small animal species and 14 bird species that must be found to win the game.
Family fun
“This is a game for the whole family. It’s my idea, but my family worked on it together. I came up with the rules myself and changed and improved them along the way. For example, when you see an animal, someone else in the vehicle must see the same animal before you can flag it. My brother tried cheating with birds, saying he saw such and such a bird, only to say right after that the bird flew away. That's why I made the rule!”
At first, Safari Bingo was just something Clara wanted to do to curb her and Leon's boredom.
“I spoke to my mother about my idea and she suggested that I design it properly so that it can be sold. At first I thought she was joking but the more we spoke about it and exchanged ideas, the more the game took shape.”
The photos for the game were taken by the family. The most difficult part was to distribute the animals fairly on the cards so that everyone has an equal chance of winning.
“Each card has a predator, a small animal, an easy buck species and a slightly more difficult buck species, as well as a small and large bird species. We put all the animals’ names on a list and then began eliminating them. If the animal only appears in the park at a certain time or at night, it was removed. We wanted it to be as fair as possible.”
The next Safari Bingo game that Clara is already working on, is one for the Zambezi which includes animals from the Bwabwata, Nkasa Lupara and Mundumu parks.
“The pandemic really actually helped us. My parents work in the tourism industry and there were no visitors. Everyone who helped is in the same industry and was at home. This turned out to be a big advantage because we could sit down and work on the game. Covid gave us the chance to do things we normally didn't have time for.”
Although Clara adores the country and its nature, she is not interested in the tourism industry.
“It's just not for me. I am interested in graphic design, but I would actually like to go to Germany and join the army there. I am sporty and, like many other Namibians, can already shoot. So I want to join the army and then study graphic design through them. After my studies, I would like to return to Namibia. It’s just too cold in Germany to want to live there. Besides, I’ll miss my family and my country too much.”
A word of advice to others?
“If you have an idea, tell your family, a good friend or someone close to you about it. Someone who will support and advise you. Then just start and talk about your idea. If it's not fun, don't do it, but if it is, work for it. Build on your idea and talk to someone about it and start working on it!”