Now and then at Londolozi we get guests in who are attending one of our retreats. These retreats offer a safari experience at a deeper level and are tailored to allow nature connection and healing at different levels depending on the type of retreat. Recently, I had the opportunity to drive a set of guests who visited Londolozi on a Healing House Retreat.
Throughout the day the guests were involved in numerous therapeutic activities which contained many forms of wilderness healing, hands on treatments and forms of connection to one’s inner thoughts and feelings.
The basic objective of the retreat was to connect into nature and find peace and strength within oneself.
My role came during game drive time. All game drives consisted of an absolutely silent drive (from a speaking point of view). Although a silent drive can be a daunting and challenging exercise for many, it allows for a completely different experience than your ordinary game drive. It is an experience which is difficult to describe but one that leaves you feeling more connected to and tuned into the natural world. From the time we drove out of Varty Camp until we stopped for our sunset drink we never spoke to each other, not once. This experience blew me away and opened a new story to my senses.
In this blog I’d like to share one particular experience which happened on the very first afternoon. And no, it didn’t involve an animal part of the big five or a cheetah or even a wild dog. It was merely driving out of camp for about fifteen minutes and parking at the edge of a watering hole. Arriving at the water’s edge I automatically thought this was going to be like all the other times I had sat in this particular spot. Sit for a few minutes, have a look what is going on, point out a few species and then carry on with the drive. I was wrong in this instance, it was going to be a very different experience.
Without me telling anyone where to look or what was going on we just sat, watched, listened and embraced whatever we desired. We interpreted every single action and sound that happened around us from our own perspectives. We looked at what we wanted to see and listened to what we wanted to tune into to.
Automatically my senses heightened.
I was picking up sounds I had never picked up before. Sounds from animals I had watched hundreds of times in the past yet never quite noticed what they were actually doing, what sounds they were making and why they were actually making them. The longer we sat in silence the more we started to notice. I noticed a pied kingfisher hovering above the glassy water with its rapid wing beats, and a yawning hippo exposing its defensive canines as the ripples of water deflected off its rugged skin. Slowly creatures revealed themselves and I noticed an African fish eagle perched at the water’s edge keeping a beady eye on all the swirls on the water’s surface. The amount of life at this waterhole was extraordinary, each animal was minding its own business and in one way or another they were contributing to whole ecosystem which functioned absolutely perfectly.
We sat at this waterhole for about 35 minutes without saying one word.
For most of us, keeping silent is an unusual thing for us to do, especially around company. It initially feels strange not voicing your first thoughts on something you may have seen, but after sometime it feels natural to observe and admire the natural world in silence as a collective. I noticed more about each of these animals than I had ever noticed before. For once I really tuned into the bush and listened to the sounds of nature all blending into one tranquil song. I found myself taking in deep breaths and really appreciating the position I was currently in. I felt present and full of energy, yet peaceful and completely content. I really do recommend taking at least a few moments, or even just a few minutes to sit quietly wherever it may be and listen, look, smell and see what nature has to offer – you never know what you might discover.
“Silence can answer the question words may fail to answer. If you want to know what silence can do, keep silence!”