4:00am is an unreasonable time for any Camp Manager to wake up and start their day, we leave the early mornings to the rangers. However one cold drizzling morning we decided- as a team- to start our day a bit earlier and go for an early morning sunrise coffee on Ximpalapala Koppie… one of our favourite spots to soak up the view.
As I hear the piercing sound of my alarm go off at 4:00am I immediately regret agreeing to this early adventure the night before. Nonetheless I successfully manage to peel myself out of my warm bed and try to mentally tell myself that it will all be worth it. As my friend, and fellow Camp Manager, comes to my door to make sure I am awake – she is smiling from ear to ear, excited for the morning ahead. I tell myself to change my attitude and embrace this adventure.
As the six of us climb onto the vehicle you can clearly see who the morning people are. There is minimal chatter and a few laughs while we begin our cold drive to Ximpalapala Koppie. As we make our way I realize that this is the earliest I’ve been in the bush and start to notice different things around me. The faint puff of cold air being released from the mouths of those speaking, the silence of the bush with just a few chirps from nearby birds, and the beautiful olive green colour of the grass shining with droplets of dew resting on each blade. About 20 minutes later we arrive at our destination, a large rocky outcrop, locally known as a koppie. We all jump out of the car with a spring in our step and set off toward the koppie.
With coffee plungers, mugs and rusks (a traditional South African biscuit) in hand, we start our ascent. The rocky journey up this Koppie isn’t an easy one however, we know the view will be worth it. The ascent consists of many fumbles, constant chatter, and much excitement. We eventually make it to the top and all of a sudden all of our frivolous chatter dies down as we notice what is around us. A breathtaking panoramic view of the wilderness. The evergreen landscape is something to be in awe of and I believe it’s safe to say we all were. As we all found a safe and comfortable spot to perch on I found myself just gazing at the captivating landscape in front of me and getting lost in its beauty. The sound of everyone’s voices faded away and I found myself focusing on and noticing all the new things around me. I took a moment alone for myself and took one deep breath of air in. I felt the brisk bush air fill my lungs and exhaled fully. This moment was so peaceful and calming and really put it all into perspective. Our everyday lives are so fast-paced and loud that we miss so many beautiful moments. We may feel that there is no time in our day to take a moment for ourselves but there really is. Take a moment and just breathe and allow the bush to calm you.
Sitting on top of this koppie waiting in anticipation for the sun to rise (which never actually happened due to overcast weather) allowed me to be reminded to breathe and not let the hustle and bustle of busy days haze my view of the privilege of living and working in this beautiful, calming environment. They say coming to the bush has a way of realigning your spirits and this morning was the epitome of that. The tranquil atmosphere one feels when they allow themselves to be completely immersed in the bush is something extremely difficult to explain… you have to feel the air yourself. So I encourage all who are planning on visiting Londolozi to completely step out of your mind and let yourself soak up all that is around you- I can guarantee that you won’t regret it. Have you ever been up Ximpalapala Koppie – let me know in the comments section below…