I’m someone who you could deem ‘wordy’. If you know me, you’ll know that I have a complete
obsession love of words. I love to write with them, I love to speak them and I love to read them. I arrived at Londolozi with these words just streaming through my mind (a mind that, most times, is incredibly busy). I wanted to capture everything I saw and felt in words and, as you can imagine in a place as stimulating to the senses as this, I found it exhausting to try and keep up with this need to capture everything in words. I began to realise that one of the most wonderful things about safari is that it is completely wordless in its essence. It is an adventure that only the senses can help you interpret. And so, to find something in the world where my chatty brain could get some rest, I found it refreshing to awaken to a different kind of exploration.
This led me to think about the things that are not the ‘mainstream’ ideas of safari, but rather the small, hidden gems of experience. And, in doing this, and as with anything precious that you might find, I thought it only right to try my best to capture these gems in a few words in the hope that they may inspire a wordless journey of your own…
The taste of a fruitful morning: Amarula in your coffee
This one is probably one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. I know that most of the time we all need to wait until it’s 5:00pm somewhere in the world before tucking into the tipple of our choice. Things relax a little when you’re on safari, however, and a splash of Africa’s most loved liqueur – Amarula – in a cup of steaming coffee when you stop for a break after a morning of tracking wild animals is one of life’s guilty pleasures. Made from the delicious Marula fruit of the legendary ‘elephant trees’ in sub-Equatorial Africa, the Marula spirit is distilled, aged in French oak for two years and then blended with cream to create the smooth taste of Amarula. This little tradition has crept into all corners of the world. I know this from tails re-told from guests who have forgone all other treasures at duty-free over a big bottle of Amarula to keep the taste of safari alive upon returning home.
Seeing the world, not through a lens but through your own eyes: A game drive without a camera
The culture of photography is extremely strong at Londolozi. I, personally, couldn’t think of a better thing to do with my time than to capture the incredible scenes and memories that unfold on safari. However, there is much to be said for not having the option of splitting one’s attention between trying to capture the scene and really, deeply seeing what is going on around you in the bush. So, with that in mind, try a ‘photo free’ game drive, where you can relax and just sink into the world around you without worrying about whether you’ll remember the moment and get the shot at the same time. You’ll find that all sorts of incredible images will be committed to memory… waiting to be remembered when the time is right.
The symphony of nature: Closing your eyes at a watering hole
It’s no secret that I’m big on the small things about Africa. I delight in the way that the sounds, sights, smells, and feeling of the wilderness around me feed all of my senses. In fact, for some, these small wonders don’t just feed our senses, they awaken them. Try to awaken your own senses when the engine cuts off and the symphony of the bush begins. Notice the many decibels of the frog’s call and the way that such a small animal can create such a big sound that reverberates through your whole body. Notice the haunting call of a fish eagle as he sits on the outermost branches of a dead leadwood tree. Feel the energy of a wilder life pulse around you. Close your eyes, just for a few moments, to discover a whole new dimension of both yourself and your bush experience as the healing sounds of nature wash over you.
Detour off the main road: Awakening the aroma of the wilderness
The aromas of the bush can sometimes be one of the most foreign things about a safari to those who are not used to them. These aromas are sometimes the hints that a skilled tracker will use to determine which way the wind is blowing, or the subtle behaviour of an unseen animal. The incredible smell of petrichor (the distinct smell of the earth after rain) is sometimes so strong that it can transport you back in time, to another place where rain became something of a spiritual experience. One of my favourite smells, however, is the instant hit of Wild Basil ( that gets released when the tyres of a vehicle happen to clip the leaves as it passes. This fresh, highly aromatic smell is synonymous with Africa for me… and definitely worth leaving the beaten track for… arguably the wildest form of aromatherapy you might ever find.
Taking away one sense to feel the others more strongly: Go on a silent game drive
The wilderness has a certain pulse to it… almost as if the giant heart of Africa hangs invisibly around all of us and gently moves the spirit of this place in energetic waves. It often takes a day or two to truly feel this change in energy. One of the ways to open yourself up to this is to embark on a silent game drive. By silent, I mean a drive devoid of human noises – no talking, no clicking of cameras, murmuring or humming. By removing the element of speech and certain types of sounds, it removes the need to name things and put them in a box. Instead, you get to feel them for what they are, and you’re not told what they should be. By being completely conscious of your own impact on the wilderness around you, you allow the space for this elusive heartbeat to pulse gently through you. Instead of exclaiming at how close you are getting to an elephant, feel its energy envelope you as you commune with it (something that has taken many years for me to get used to!). Rather than chatting away about the exciting things you might see on the drive, allow the silence to amplify the sounds of a bird calling or the feeling of the vastness of a landscape in front of you. If you’re really lucky, you might feel the presence of a leopard as the long grass is pushed aside as it walks… it too soaking up the energy of the bush as it pads past in silence.
It is my hope that with this piece of writing,, you have been transported you into a world where you too can go on a sensory journey in your mind’s eye… even if only for a few fleeting moments before the rest of the world catches up with you.