Being On Backpacking Safari

How do I put into words my experiences of…

  • Seeing elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, crocodiles, rhinos, wildebeest, water buffalos and a cheetah, all out in the wild, while walking on 2000-year-old rhino paths
  • Sleeping on baboon ledges under the stars and being serenaded each night by a symphony of frogs
  • Being awakened in the early morning by the sound of baboons on the ledge right above us
  • Sitting on the rock ledge in the sweet pink light of dawn with a cup of muesli, gazing out at the riverbed… not ‘watching’ but ‘being with’… inhabiting space and enjoying the continuous ebb and flow of animals and birds, silence and sounds
  • Bathing (if you can really call it that) in muddy water upriver from huge crocodiles
  • Washing pots with elephant dung (it makes a great brillo pad)
  • Being without a phone, calendar and computer for 12 days
  • Being silent for 4 out of our 6 days on safari
  • Seeing how thoughts become forms that are just clutter, creating unnecessary static
  • Afternoon siestas spent snoozing in the shade during the hottest hours of the day
  • Using leaves for toilet paper and always requiring another woman to accompany me when going “number number” (aka number 2)
  • Carrying a heavy backpack with all that I needed for the week (including a plate, cup and spoon that I used for all meals, a plastic water bottle that got filled up in the river, a food sack that thankfully dwindled down to almost nothing by the end of the week, and my torch)
  • Being guided, inspired, entertained and protected by two men (Vuyani and Zondi) from the Zulu tribe who encouraged our own direct experience in the wilderness, rather than filling us with information
  • Crouching down in the dirt to see huge lion tracks, putting my hand side by side with them to compare size
  • Spotting the trail of a crocs tail in the sand by the river from the safe vantage point of the baboon ledge
  • Not ever having really clean hands or fingernails
  • Getting scratched by 1 and 2-inch-long thorns growing from ‘the coward’s trees’
  • How delicious the simplest meals tasted out in the bush, especially our lunches that we prepared and ate with fingers and pocket knives and dinners that were prepared for us over a campfire by Vuyani
  • Night watch
  • Hearing hyenas calling to each other during the night, ‘Yoooup… Yoooup’
  • Unwinding and letting go of ‘doing life’ while surrendering and softening more deeply into being

Ahh… just like our eyes are for seeing, yet we see with more than our eyes, words give me a way to point to and attempt to share these experiences that are so beyond words. May these words give you a taste of the sublime wild pleasure that was safari.


Photo Credit: Dr. Saida Desilets. Taken while on the Wild Women In The Wilderness Retreat in South Africa.

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