Pafuri reflections written by guest, Amanda de Klerk
To my guides and fellow trail-goers
‘There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man’ said Winston Churchill; but I would say: ‘There is something about the wild outside that is good for the inside of us all’.
It only took five days. Strangely, I thought it would be much longer…
Our entry was careful, muted, like our bush-blending clothes. So many images, conversations and feelings come to the surface.
The early morning rides with ‘Clive and Calvin going mobile’ (oh, how I loved those radioed words!), experiencing nature waking up around us, walking up to us, offering us its soft beauty and glorious sounds.
And as the days unfolded, the bush started to unwind its magic … With each encounter of animals, birds and trees, each hearing of stories, lessons about the interconnectedness of the world around us, our inner worlds opened up, too … And if you were curious enough, you would see another ‘ecosystem’ there … Maybe you met the aloof but graceful giraffe, the imposing elephant, the fossicking civet, the show-off roller or the regal lioness … Or maybe you just found a stillness, an integration, a quiet place that you once knew, but which so easily gets lost in the business of the everyday. On that green bend in the river. Mangala. High on that golden cliff, Lanner.
We were pulled into the slower and deeper rhythm of nature, where different rules apply, where nothing feels pretentious or unauthentic. Our everyday world back home seemed far away and fading … Perverse joy as my cell phone battery ran flat, leaving me firmly out of reach … Current surroundings only Good.
The chatter amongst the group, from the sublime to the funny ridiculous. (Why do I remember those lines so clearly?) There were chuckles, comparing of gaiters (hmm, Chris and Roger), light and serious chats and animal-spotting going on at the back. ‘Baby elephants’ were sighted (sorry Graham, couldn’t resist that one!), with Stewart turning out to be walking Swarovski binoculars.
The afternoon walks and the ever-present tension: ‘What will we see, will it be a dangerous?’ Apprehensive delight.
And oh, how Clive and Calvin tried to keep us in a quiet, single-file line. Clive probably thinking he had one of his leash-straining groups of 12-year olds on hand instead of a posse of supposedly mature adults! [Ed: No, the kids are always disciplined.]
And then the arrival each evening at ‘the spot’…
How utterly beautiful were those sunset-washed moments, feeling the richness of the day flowing over us and soaking in the view, the sounds and the camaraderie as the bush lifted to its evening symphony. Limpopo.
The driving back in the dark meant magic and nostalgia for me. It reminded me of childhood things, feeling safe and content, driving back with my parents after a busy day out. And the knowing that everything is ok, that the world is still a good place and that mystery is all around us …
Surviving ‘Ambush Alley’, our turn-off signposted, we discovered nightly, by a shiny green chameleon. Who became ‘Chris’, not flap-neck, the home-run guide.
Our joyous arrivals at camp had such energy that I started to warm to it in a way that reminded of a rugby team arriving at the airport after a winning tour!
The wonderful communal meals, announced with such pride and dignity, and offered with an honesty and genuineness which resulted in our going for ‘seconds’ and sometimes even ‘thirds’! (Yup, I ate 3 bowls of …!)
Lions at night, nightjars, hyenas, owls, leopards, crickets and baboons by day and night. Ellies trumpeting in the distance. What’s going on?
It was good. It was healing. Entirely beautiful and restorative.
Thanks to our amazing guides Clive Thompson and Calvin De la Rey for keeping the frame, presenting the space for us to explore and absorb the enchantment. And to my fellow travellers (Roger, Chris, Catherine, Stewart, Anton, Graham, Greg) who shared fire-side stories, spoke of their lives and helped forge an experience that lives on.
With huge gratitude in my heart, I greet you all.
Hutwini, Luvuvhu, Limpopo.
We will RETURNAfrica.
Amanda de Klerk and friends took five days out for a walking trail in Pafuri over Easter 2017.
FEATURE IMAGE: Clive Thompson
IMAGE 1: Morgan Trimble
IMAGE 2: SinaMaTella – James Walsh
IMAGE 3: SinaMaTella – James Walsh