Restoring the Soul

In the hustle and bustle of this chaotic world, there’s nothing quite like a week in the bush to restore ones sense of equilibrium.

I have been looking forward to this week all year and am now sitting on the verandah of our chalet, perched high on the river bank overlooking the Crocodile River. Beyond the watery flood plain, dissolving into the hazy horizon, spreads a blanket of  bush veld that forms part of the Kruger National Park. We are staying at the Ngwenya Lodge that is situated to the South of the park, close to Komatipoort and near to the Crocodile Bridge entry point.

The view across the Crocodile River, as seen  from our chalet at Ngwenya Lodge

The view across the Crocodile River, as seen from our chalet at Ngwenya Lodge

For the first three days all I have wanted to do is sit and allow the tension and adrenalin of the past few months to drain from my body. I feel immobilised and am happy to do nothing but stare off into the distance, emptying my mind as the sounds of the bush wash over me. It takes a while for my body rhythm to synchronise with the  harmony  of the bush, but I am fully prepared to succumb and let Nature take the lead.

An Egyptian Goose

An Egyptian Goose

Perched on the railing in front of me are a couple of Egyptian Geese. They are cocky and noisy, hanging around in the hope of receiving titbits from the kitchen. I marvel at their colouring, the layers of richness within their feathers, and sigh as I realise that Natures artistry is so much better than I could ever hope to achieve. On the grassy patch in front of the chalet a group of excited weavers have found some seed, which they are devouring as if it were their last meal. Cheerful, chatty little characters, their yellowness creates a fluorescent halo of light.

To the left my eye catches an unexpected movement, and there, emerging from the scrub that lines the river, comes a leguaan, otherwise known as a monitor lizard, it’s scaly, dragon-like body slung low to the ground. From the look in its eye and the ominous forked tongue that darts in and out, I can see that this guy has attitude and as it rapidly approaches the verandah, I instinctively lift my feet. This is one little critter that I certainly don’t want to tangle with. I soon learn that these large lizards come to the chalets in search of eggs, which they devour by smashing the egg on the wooden railing and then gulping it down at speed.

A leguaan or monitor lizard

A leguaan or monitor lizard

Out on the sandy river bank, the scene is ever changing, a montage of elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and numerous species of buck that come down for their daily drink and bath. The regular residents of the waterway, crocodile and hippo, are always there and it doesn’t take long to spot them, either lying on the edge of the water or lurking below the surface.

Hippo relaxing in the sun

Hippo relaxing in the sun

I could happily sit here all week, listening to the soothing sound of the rapids and the grunts of contented hippo, but it makes sense that we should also check out what’s going on in the Kruger National Park.

Looking across the river to Kruger Park

Looking across the river to Kruger Park

So early each morning and evening, we pack ourselves into the vehicle and set off to see what surprises the wilderness has in store for us. Over the period of a week, we are to see a wide variety of game and I come away with snapshots of numerous memorable moments. Now although, or maybe because I am a bush girl, born and raised in Zimbabwe, where animals roam free and far beyond conventional boundaries, I have an enormous respect for the wild and a heightened awareness of my human insignificance in the greater scheme of things. Despite the fact that our wild life is threatened by humankind, I know I am the weaker species and extremely vulnerable when up against any wild animal. So I never take anything for granted and each encounter with the wild is edged with a tingle of anticipation and a desire to know that I have an effective escape route. No matter how many elephants I have seen in my life, each time we approach one as it crosses the road or grazes quietly in the bush as we sidle past, I hold my breath and hope that it is friendly. After all, it was only a few months ago that graphic video footage of a vehicle being flipped over by an irritated elephant spread like a wild fire on social media and I sure wouldn’t want that to happen to me!

But we are careful and respectful and thoroughly enjoy our trips into the park. Here are a few images of an average day in the bush:

For me the highlight of our trip was to see the magnificent rhino and I found myself mesmerised by their every movement, willing them to stay safe and undetected by the snipers bullet. I am acutely aware that the privilege of being able to see these animals in the wild is something the next generation may not be able to enjoy and as I watch this powerful, primordial creature anxiously nudging its baby to safety, I am ashamed of the human species. I feel the rhinos vulnerability and soak up our silent interaction, not wanting it to end.

A white Rhino mother and her calf

A white Rhino mother and her calf

Another special treat was to see my favourite bird, the Ground Hornbill. They strutted their stuff and looked us up and down from beneath the canopy of their eyelashes. Such attitude is seldom seen in any other bird and if I were to choose one bird that I would like to be in another life, this would be it.

The Ground Hornbill

The Ground Hornbill

And so it was that my week in the bush sadly came to an end, but as I sat out on the verandah watching the sun go down over the river and the veldt beyond, I felt immensely grateful that we have places like this to come to when we need to unwind.

The sun sets over Kruger

The sun sets over Kruger

The end of a perfect holiday

The end of a perfect holiday

And what would life be without friends and family to share these experiences with? So to Malcolm, Rene, Tammy and Craig, thank you for making this possible and helping to restore my soul.

The family who made this holiday possible

The Sturrock family, who made this holiday possible

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Restoring the Soul

  1. Gill Platt

    Fabulous account of your week in the bush Sal. Beautiful pics by you and Craig. Hope you are finding out more about a cure for your neck/back ailment? Lots of love xx

    • Hi Gill. Thanks for your comment. Craig’s pics are hard to beat, but combined they give a pretty good impression of our experience. Will be in touch soon x

  2. Sasha Scholtz

    What lovely reflections of the amazing bush-veldt!

  3. Cath

    Absolutely STUNNING photos Sal- WOW.

  4. Anthony Stidolph

    Very envious. It’s what my own soul is craving for at the moment.

  5. Kim Bernard

    Beautiful Sal, thank you. Makes me home sick… I am thinking of you and sending lots of love xx

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