Wilderness & Change

I’d love to put up a short video or two but photos will have to do. I’ve barely had time to digest our week away; our US friends are still with us, leaving tonight, and it’s been busy since our return.

On our first day after overnighting in Maun in northern Botswana we travelled by mokoro  (canoe, these days made of fibreglass) on the water to The Island and camped in tents. No electricity, no wi-fi, just pretty basic. The photo below was taken at the beginning, but the waterways got narrower and shallower as we were poled along in the blazing heat. The 15 billions tons of water have yet to come down to Botswana from Angola later this month or in May.water lilies

After 2 nights in tents, we got back to Maun and from there overlanded to Moremi where, after crossing the quarantine border we got into game country.  By now we’d left tar roads behind and were on gravel roads. Elephant crossing the road, zebra and giraffe in abundance …

The staff had set up camp prior to our arrival this time on the banks of the river for the 2nd stretch. All was more spacious and also a shower and flush loo were in the encampment! I had my own tent. Two of our 6 had left us in Maun to fly to more comfortable lodgings – two nights of camping and roughing it had been enough for them. So we were four. Plus our cook and his assistant, and Joseph our guide who drove the landrover and sat with us at the supper table and told us stories. Of course, also no electricity – though the moon was full the nights we were there. This elephant was on the other side of the river. One morning at 4.00 I woke up to quite a bit of noise, a racket actually. The light outside was dim. But I saw 2 large shapes pretty close up and flapping ears – elephant, really close. In the still of the night they were drinking and eating and thrashing around. Unless they’re doing this they move so silently you can’t hear them, and blend so well into the bush, they’re visible one moment invisible the next.tent ellie

We would leave in the landrover around 6.00 a.m. after tea, coffee, rusks, returning around 11.00 for a slap up brunch. Two are both strict vegetarians and both were delighted and impressed with Chichu our cook. All meals were delicious. We would relax until 4.00 p.m. and leave again for evening drive returning around 7.00 p.m.hippos

These were hippos at sunset. 

fish eagle

I snapped a fish eagle in flight with its cry – 

I met up with my relatives which was a delight – I had tea with Anne, my brother’s widow and nephew David and his lovely wife and family in Anne’s beautiful home on the banks of the river. What was truly wonderful was hearing them speak of my mother and how much she was loved by all.

David tree

This photo is the tree under which my brother is buried and by which I spent a few minutes alone remembering him. The river is in the background.

I felt so full – of memories, love, warmth, small children, lush gardens, wildness, wilderness, and felt the wilderness in my own heart matching the outer …

We all felt the magic of the bush and our travels, getting down to basics. Each changed in some way …


51 Comments on A-Z Blog Challenge W: Wilderness & Change

  1. Thank you for the joy. It was a pleasure to move from uncertainty about visions to this. Here, in the wilderness, there is the certainty of magic. The certainty of the unexpected. I can’t imagine the excitement of seeing an elephant in the wild…

    • Glad this one brought you joy Elaine. The certainty of the unexpected is magic in itself. Thank you for coming by …

  2. For me, this is the stuff movies are made of, Susan, and a wonderful book I read, “West with the Night,” by Beryl Markham, a pilot who grew up in East Africa. It’s a memoir published, I think, in 1942. I couldn’t put it down.

    How wonderful to connect with the wild animals and nature. I am always fascinated by the African light and scenery (bushes, shrubs, etc.), so different from ours.

    Stories around the fire at night? Gosh. Magical.

      • Have surely heard of Beryl Markham – was she part of the Happy Valley crowd in Kenya? I’ll check her out …

        My mother was previously married before she married our father – two sons, John and David by her first marriage. Both tragically killed, John on a motor cycle, David in an airplane crash. From my mother’s marriage to our father, we are three siblings, I have an elder brother and a younger sister – I am the pig in the middle.

        Thanks for coming by Samantha. I’ve loved your fascinating series on the wilderness of the US and the wondrous photos.

        • I am sorry to hear about the loss of your brothers, Susan. You may have said something about them in the past, I seem to recall now.

          Beryl Markham lived in Kenya (then East Africa) at the same time Karen Blixen and Ernest Hemingway were there. Beryl Markham circulated in the group with Karen Blixen, Bror von Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton. She grew up in East Africa, went hunting with the natives for wildebeest, was malled by a lion, trained race horses, was a bush pilot and was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Hemingway liked her memoir book so well that he praised it highly to his Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, rare for Hemingway. It is beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down. It’s available on Amazon, hopefully for you in SA.

          • Yes, Happy Valley times – many adventures, an unsolved murder (aristocracy if I remember or an aristocrat was implicated). A beautiful book my mother gave me many years: I Dreamed of Africa: Kuki Gallman … you would love it!

            • I know you’re inundated replying to our comments, Susan, but I just wanted to thank you for recommending “I Dreamed of Africa.” I think I would like it very much. I have added it to my reading list, and have read a page excerpt on Amazon. Thank you!

    • Wonder no more Beth – a slap up brunch is food glorious food around 11.30 or so – bit of breakfast bit of lunch, all together, cooked on the fire. Banana bread, corn bread you name it. Eggs bacon mushrooms tomatoes stir fried veg, fish schnitzels, chicken schnitzels, steaks (supper time) – the list goes on and on an on – delicious puddings every night – all on a fire ..

  3. Wow Susan 🙂 truly an adventurous posts, looking at the lovely images, looks like you had a good time. some times its nice to be away from all technology and surround yourself with the natural settings – cool 🙂

    The Last tree of your post disturbed me slightly as it was a place of burial, a sentimental place to be.. my son is also buried near a huge neem tree of course in a catholic cemetery. what a pleasant trip in the wilderness, an experience to cherish.. am glad you had a good time with your relatives…

    • Thanks Genevive – I can imagine that the last photo was disturbing to you. Overlooking the bank of the river and this special tree in Nature was my brother David’s special cemetery. …

      It was a bit strange not to have wi-fi for several days, but it CAN be achieved much to my amazement! 🙂

  4. No photos of elephants up close (~sigh~), and yet I could hear them in your description as they stepped near the camp 🙂 You braved everything well, and considering that two of your party left, it must have been a bit rough at times. But this is my kind of trip. I must admit I am quite envious….
    A touching visit to your brother’s grave and words about your mother, too……all so lovely to treasure. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

    • Thanks Sharon! I have to say I did not know prior to the adventure that we would be camping and roughing it; neither did the others. For two, after the first 2 nights in a different place, it was a bit much used as they are to luxury and comforts! The next several nights camping much further afield were perfectly comfortable – and the food was always glorious!

  5. Wow, sounds like a magical trip. How lovely and exciting to read about, I can only imagine it was so much better to experience. Love the pictures, especially the hippos! 😀

  6. Exotic and magical, Susan! What a trip–nights in tents with elephants thrashing about outside AND seeing your relatives, too. Your photos and text indicate both wilderness and peace. I’m so glad you had a great trip!

    • Thanks Trisha! It’s good to be getting back into the swing of things, no time for rest as I catch up with A-Z blogs etc! We’re nearing the end!

  7. Hi Susan – oh so many memories stirred for me … in so many directions. I’m so glad you were able to spend time with your family and have those happy reminiscences. While the trip and those nights in the bush, under the stars …

    Elephants amaze me … and they have memories … we were chased in Hwange … the mother wouldn’t let us through – the other vehicles were ok … she took a dislike to us … and I had another session on the same trip in Hwange, when the car broke down and we were towed by a chap from Bulawayo …

    But I do love that part of the world … and your fish eagle … oh gorgeous .. cheers Hilary

    • Thank you Hilary! I can imagine being faced down by an elephant as you were! They are known to tip over landrovers! It is right to be wary of elephant. They are very very protective of their young and clan as you know. Oh the stories that could be told about elephant! And that fish eagle …

      The stars never shone so bright it seemed to me. I never slept so deeply and well. All good wishes to you Hilary, Susan

  8. Wow, what a magnificent trip! I’m normally not one for roughing it but I sure would’ve taken advantage of that opportunity as you did.
    The elephants flapping their ears outside your tent had to be a near religious experience!

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    • Thanks Michele! It was pretty mysterious their being so close and heart stopping also. I’m alive to tell the tale! Roughing it was worth it!

  9. Just wow, Susan, WOW! Thanks for bringing us along into the wilderness. There’s nothing like wilderness to calm and ground me. Beautiful post.

    • Thank you Gulara. Nature and all her glory, in so many shapes and forms, really does provide a re-connection. I’m glad you find this so, too 🙂

  10. Sis, I’m so glad you did this, and had experiences some only dream of. Glad that you saw Anne and David and spoke of our beloved mother who saw her beloved son buried under that tree. Love to you

    • Thank you dear Sis. Of course Anne and David kept on referring to you as Jane .. it was very very special. You would have loved it. Love to you, Sis.

  11. How absolutely fascinating. I almost feel like I’m out in the WILD with you! What a thrilling and scary experience. I’m glad you survived! 😉

  12. Wow, Susan. I almost feel the magic by looking at your photos and reading your description. What a gorgeous place — where a pretty basic way of life seems pretty wonderful.
    You are brave, and we lucky for being able to share in a bit on your adventure. Thank you.

    • Thanks Silvia! The food was far from basic, a gourmet chef!. Sleeping in tents was pretty basic though the beds were raised off the floor. Thank you for coming by 🙂

  13. I looked into a safari trip offered by Abercrombie and Fitch (yes, I’m a woos). Luxury tents, AC, gourmet food. Roughing it would take some adjusting on my part. But, you do make it look fun!

    • A & F are well known among the well heeled Jacqui! I probably would have had to sell my house to take such a safari. I did not imagine that we would be ensconced in tents at night – neither did the others. But we managed and it was so worth it! (even though the credit card is nowmuch depleted) ..

  14. It sounds like you had a delightful time. So happy that you could get in touch with nature. And I love the picture with hippos. That is a lovely shot.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    • Thank you Pat. They were a hoot with their wallowing, going under, coming up, blowing water through a spout, opening their huge jowls wide …

  15. Wow. Your photos are amazing to me. Africa fascinates me, but I don’t see myself as ever going to anywhere as remote as you did. Thanks for taking some pics and sharing them here.

    [I found you via the #AtoZChallenge.]

    • How lovely to have your history of rural living Kathleen. Once bred in the bones, it’s hard to let go of it. Thank you for coming by 🙂

  16. This sounds like an excellent adventure more suited to the younger me. I know my wife would be very unlikely to get on board with something of this nature. Our inclination these days is driving through scenic areas and enjoying the sights from the comfort of our vehicle.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    • This was a most unusual trip for me Arlee – I like my comforts for sure. A tent was not exactly what I had in mind, though they were extremely comfortable 🙂 Thank you for coming by.

  17. Oh how lovely Susan! As things slow down a bit for you and return to more “normalcy” I do hope you’ll be sharing more about this fabulous adventure. I love, love, love that elephant photo.

    • Thank you for your encouragement Deborah! I’ll be putting up a post tomorrow for X which has to do with something on the trip. I love elephants. Couldn’t get enough of seeing them …:)

  18. We live on the same planet, but you certainly live in a different world from mine. The line “two nights in tents” caught my attention as did the references to all the exotic animals I know only from books and visits to the zoo.

    Take time to catch your breath now that you’re home. Amazing how you had time to keep up with the challenge while you were on this adventure.

    • I’ve just taken my US guests to the airport for their return back home. A long long flight … the posts for the A-Z while being away were prescheduled as it was the only way I could have kept up to date:) Thanks for coming by Marian. I have much catching up to do as well as catching my breath! Though I miss my friends already ..

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