“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and a passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were travelling rather than making.”  – Rebecca Solnit

Recently I took some of my friends on a walk into “The Land Before Time”. Ok, that’s a slight misnomer, but it’s a chunk of land on Londolozi that I absolutely love because it is such a large area, with no roads running through it. It means you have the chance of losing yourself in it without ever being disturbed. It’s kind of like the apex when it comes to pristine Nature here.

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, Manyaleti, walking, Elsa Young

The Manyaleti River runs through the northern parts of Londolozi. This northern section is my favourite part of Londolozi due to the large blocks of land that have no roads running through them. It means you have the opportunity to really immerse yourself in pristine Nature.

It was late afternoon and rich, golden light was filtering through the trees. There was not a whisper of wind and the stillness around me mirrored the deep stillness and joy I felt in me to be sharing the moment with such a special group of women. We meandered through a grove of Tamboti trees, feeling drawn to one in particular that was enormous and commanding and felt very much like the ancient grandmother of the grove.

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, trees walking, Elsa Young

A group of guests being led through a forest in the north of Londolozi. “Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.” – Rebecca Solnit

As we walked, I was reminded of the author and visionary whose work has been popping up for me recently. Rebecca Solnit speaks of walking in a way that really resonates with me.

“Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.”

For me, this is exactly what that afternoon offered me. It was an opportunity to head out into the bush and to move in whatever direction called to us. To stop and look at a flower or a track or a bird and then to meander some more, is pure bliss. To me, that feels like truly engaging with this wilderness because it is completely inclusive and it means I don’t have to forego a path that excites me in order to stay vehemently on tracks. It helps me to stay open to possibility and random moments of inspiration and for me that is presence and creative living.

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, walking, Elsa Young

“…when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind and walking travels both terrains.”- Rebecca Solnit

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, impala lily, flower

An impala lily, one of the smaller aspects of the wilderness here that can go unappreciated from a vehicle. When you’re walking, you have the opportunity to stop and appreciate these smaller things as well as wander in whatever directions calls to you. For me, it is one of the best ways to get to know a place.

“Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals.”

We turned and headed northwards towards the rocky outcrop above Marthly Pools, a spot that allows you a vantage point over the Manyelethi River and then outwards over the rest of Londolozi. As we headed for the outcrop, we unexpectedly came across two rhinos that had been resting in the shade of the riverine thickets. We spotted each other at the same moment and the rhinos leaped to attention in the characteristically athletic manner that belies their size. For a few long moments, we all stood watching each other in a way that feels very familiar because it’s so ancient. There’s something that makes you feel very vulnerable and thus alive about being so close to something so big and wild with nothing between you but a mutual curiosity. They smacked their lips together loudly and swivelled, trying to pin down the presence they were sure was there but couldn’t quite make out.

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, walking, rhino

Two rhinos that we came across on our walk. It really is a whole different experience viewing these animals on foot. Without the safety of the vehicle, you have to become much more attuned to the environment in order to stay safe.

“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors — home, car, gym, office, shops — disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”

Londolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, walking, rhino, Elsa Young

“…to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender…” – Rebbeca Solnit

This is particularly true of our reality here. To have your feet on the ground is to feel this land so much more intensely and the vulnerability of being exposed to wild animals like rhinos makes you aware. You listen to the world around you and you engage with each element of your senses. It takes you from a scramble of thoughts to thoughtfulness.

As those rhino galloped away from us I was reminded that you don’t have to be tracking something to find it. Sometimes all you need to do is wander and you’ll bump right into it.

Rebecca Solnit says, “being out on your own, being free and anonymous, you discover the people around you”. I say, when you walk out here, you discover the person within you.

About the Author

Amy Attenborough

Media Team

Amy has a rich field-guiding history, having spent time at both Phinda and Ngala Game Reserves. This diversity of past guiding locations brought her an intimate understanding of different biomes across South Africa, and she immediately began making a name for herself as ...

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on When You Give Yourself To Places, They Give You Yourself Back

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Marinda Drake

Lovely blog Amy. I walk every morning. It realy connects you with yourself. So special to get out in the fresh morning air. Awesome video.

Amy Attenborough

That’s awesome Marinda. So glad that you’re seeking out fresh air, nature and some connection time even when you’re not in the bush. Beautiful!

Jeff Rodgers

Ethereal and beautifully written. Well done.

Amy Attenborough

Thank you Jeff!

Jenn Anderson

THANK YOU Amy!!! Lovely post that further solidifies my desire to experience Londolozi for myself someday…it’s at the top of my “bucket-list”! 😍 I have a very close group of friends…my beautiful soul-sisters & “tribe-mates”…who I would LOVE to share Londolozi with, especially on a walk like you’ve described.😆

Amy Attenborough

Hi Jenn! I have no doubt that you’ll get your tribe here with you one day!! And when you do, I would love to take you on a walk like this 🙂 Wishing you a beautiful day!

Ann Seagle

Amazing!! I’d love to do a walk.

Amy Attenborough

I’d love to take you on one Ann!

Rich Laburn

This is a great blog Amy, I totally agree that walking tunes the mind out of its spinning cycle and relates it closer to the rhythms of nature. What were some of other other small details you noticed on the walk in addition to the Impala Lily?

Amy Attenborough

Thanks Rich! I know you know what I’m talking about! We also had some really fresh leopard tracks on the walk. They were on top of general game tracks on the game path but going the opposite direction to us so we knew he had already passed by. Another amazing moment happened after we’d settled high up on the koppies. We heard a noise and realised it was the lip smacking of the rhino. They came out and fed around the base of the koppies and we watched them for about 30 minutes without them knowing we were there before they wandered off. You should join us next time!

Rich Laburn

I definitely know what you are talking about. One of my favourite elements of a bushwalk is that of scent and the different smells of the wilderness. I find that the bush smells particularly sweet in the early morning just after the sun rises and right before a thunderstorm. I will definitely join you next time 🙂

Leonie De Young

A really nice blog Amy and very thought provoking. When I walk in the bush I am totally at peace and enjoy the birds, look up at the sky and watch a seagull or hawk circling around and just the scent of the plants and trees. A feeling of complete peace. Thank you.

Callum Evans

Beautiful post!! Speaking as someone who has walked (and slept) in a wilderness area, I can safetly say that I know and crave those feelings that you describe! There’s something undescribable about walking through an area where the only paths are those made by the animals that you could encounter at any point.
Also loved the video, with two unusual bird sightings and some Tsalala Pride history!

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