Africa: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey
A journey through Africa offers several once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Here are a two of my favorites:
Back to the Beginning—Nature as it is meant to be
There are few places on earth where one can feel the presence of the original creation but the East African plains are one of them. The grasslands stretching out as far as the eye can see, the thousands of animals wandering around this proverbial Eden. Travelers remember a world as it was meant to be, before a certain species called Homo sapiens arrived on the scene. I recall seeing three cheetahs on the hunt in Kenya’s Masai Mara, gracefully prowling through the tall yellow grass. I remember Samburu, an arid park for most of the year, but cloaked in a lush mantle of green by recent rains. There were herds of elephants as well as oryx gerenuk, dikdik and giraffe and late afternoon game drives highlighted by the soft striking light of the setting sun.
I remember Lake Nakuru, famous for its millions of flamingos, pelicans and other birds. Game was abundant too: Cape buffalo, countless rhinos and impalas grazing the lush grass around the lake. Just before sunset I was surprised by a leopard which quietly walked by my vehicle. The next morning as I left Nakuru, hundreds of pelicans flew overhead in a graceful show of serenity - I just stood there and gazed at the spectacle of wings that alternated between flying and gliding, the birds spread out in giant V-formations, rising and falling in the early-morning air.
Under the African Sky
My last evening in the Mara was made extra memorable by one of those spectacular sunsets only Africa can offer. The sky turned from bright orange to pink to deep red in a promise of another day to come. Another day filled with wildlife and beauty, filled with the energy that is Africa. That energy seems to get released in the south of the continent at Victoria Falls. Many times I have stood in awe gazing at the waters as they came thundering down. A mile wide and 300 feet high, there are few places on earth that compare to them. I have fond memories of the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s haven of tranquility. Where the waters of the delta submerge a large swath of desert, I floated around the endless waterways in a dug-out canoe. I gained an appreciation for all the small things Africa has to offer: a small frog clinging to a reed, a kingfisher diving into the water, an antelope trying to hide fromview-- It was a great way to regain my senses and restore balance to my soul. And I remember the luxury lodges and tented camps of Africa where waiters spoil you with tea in the morning, refreshing cold towels after a game drive, and many a sumptuous meal. Over a glass of whiskey and a Cuban cigar I reminisced about Africa as elephants moved just beyond the perimeter of camp and a distant lion roared in the night.