I remember at the end of my senior year of high school going to see Out of Africa, with a group of friends. The film captivated my imagination of incredible wildlife, dramatic landscapes and beautiful golden sunsets. Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep inspired me to live a life of adventure embracing new experiences and learning about different cultures and people. She had once said, “If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.”
Some twenty odd years later after seeing the film, here I was living and working in Africa as an international teacher. So when a friend asked me to go away on Safari for a long weekend, I had no hesitation in saying, “Yes!” echoing Blixen’s love for Africa’s wilderness.
The timing was perfect! Work had been stressful coupled with the fact that I had been recovering from back pain that had been wearing me down emotionally. In addition, I had launched The Bow Tie Challenge in January where I had pledged to wear a different bow tie every single day for 365 days to raise money for Afrika Tikkun – an organization that supports the education of children in underprivileged communities in South Africa, and I was feeling frustrated by the progress that the project had made.
Seeking peace and tranquility, my friend and I set out on Thursday afternoon, armed with the GPS and the road ahead of us, for Tshwene Safari Lodge and Welgevonden Game Reserve. Three hours later, I found myself in the rugged valley of the Taaibos River surrounded by lush greenery sitting in front of a fire drinking champagne. As one would peel the layers of an onion, I began to slowly peel away the stress that had been encircling me over the last couple of weeks.
The peaceful and tranquil surroundings of Tshwene lodge opened up opportunities to unwind and soak up the natural beauty of Africa. The main lodge was decorated in classic African safari style and decor. The textiles, artifacts, and furniture created an inviting and cozy atmosphere. The colors of the rooms mimicked the beautiful African skies and the gorgeous hues of the African soil. My suite featured a sunken bath, indoor and outdoor showers, and a private deck with a panoramic view that provided the space for solitude and self-renewal.
While loving the elegance of the lodge, going out on safari in the early mornings and evenings to see awe inspiring scenery and specular wildlife was a highpoint. The beautiful reds and oranges of the African sunrise greeted the mornings as the safari jeep pulled away from the lodge. Not to be disappointed, I saw a wide variety of wildlife including lion cubs, giraffes, rhinos, impalas, wildebeest, kudu, and warthogs to name just a few. Witnessing these animals in their natural setting left me in awe of their majesty. However, being able to get up close and personal with the elephants was truly a magical experience as they are so beautiful to behold. Evening safaris would not be complete without being able to have the opportunity to stop, set up the bar and have sundowners. The golden yellows and deep orange and red hues of the African sun spread across the sky highlighting the splendor of the landscape and it was in these moments that I felt at one with the earth and the wildlife.
For a couple of days, time moved at a slower pace. I was able to take in nature, and forget about the daily grind that I had left behind and relax and recharge my batteries. And, while I was sad to leave, I knew as Karen Blixen had once said, “If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.”