The WildernessBuffalo at watering hole
Last week Wednesday was a public holiday, Heritage Day, here in South Africa. The 24th September was formerly known as Shaka Day, after King Shaka, King of the Zulus, who united disparate tribes in the early 1800’s. ‘Heritage Day’ is a newly-named public holiday in which South Africans reflect on their cultural heritage and identity. It’s also known as National Braai Day, in which people spend time with families, gathering around the fire, braaing (barbecuing) their boerewors (farmers’ sausage) and drinking beer. Also, of course, celebrating in different ways, reflecting on our rich history and heritage.
We took the opportunity to go to the low veld on the public holiday at the invitation of owners of a private game farm close to the borders of the Kruger National Park.
O what joy to be in the wilderness.
There’s something wondrous coming across these leviathans appearing so suddenly, making barely a sound. Here one moment, gone the next.And to see rhino, especially as they’re under such threat of extinction from poachers for their horn. The line in the photo is the aerial of the landrover.
The regal cheetah in the shade of a tree, looking almost as curiously at us as we were at it.
There is something regal about all the animals in the wild. They’re so at home in their world, one with mother nature, living perhaps with uncertainty for who knows how Nature will express herself – drought, fires, raging thunder storms …
Being in the wilderness and experiencing Nature brings it into my own wilderness. Sitting around a great and blazing fire in the evenings with only lanterns on the dining table, being quiet for a while, each with their own thoughts, looking at the sparks of the fire, made an inner connection with me. Walking away from the group and looking up at the stars and the new moon on that first night made another inner connection. Walking as we did early one morning, Iain in front with a rifle just in case, listening to the overt sounds of the bush and listening more keenly and hearing other more covert sounds.
One of my most enduring experiences was watching a herd of buffalo, maybe 500 or 600, coming out from the bushes, and in an orderly way making their way to the water. When we thought that no more could appear from the bushes, then more would appear. Once they’d drunk their fill they walked out on the other side of the water and exited from view to another part of the bush on the periphery. There were some buffaloes on the outside of the herd who seemed to be marshalls ensuring that there were no stragglers going out of line.
There is something soothing about connecting with Nature and her grandeur – the tiniest flower in the dusty gravel, or the blooming bougainvilleas and jacarandas surrounding camp, or the fever trees with their strange pale green trunks and branches, or the baobab tree with a girth of about 4.3 metres at its base that lives to be 3000 years old.
Much of my time I spent listening to the sounds of Nature – to my inner wilderness as well – feeling at peace, sleeping soundly at night, waking at first light – feeling so grateful to Nature and the opportunity to experience her bounty and magnificent beauty -
All the above photos were taken with my cell phone. Maya Ingwersen was one of the guests and with her permission I’m adding some of her wonderful photographs taken with a proper camera and lens …