I am leaving for the bush tomorrow; one of my absolute favourite places in this lovely Rainbow Nation! It’s going to be five days of nature and wildlife, early mornings and quiet nights, and hopefully lots and lots of photography! There is so much more to the bush than lions and elephants (although, I am a self-confessed ellie girl), from beautiful sunrises to elusive birds, sounds and smells and the feeling of being in a completely primal and untouched environment. I have written about this in a previous blog.
We’re spending two days at Umlani Bush Camp, one of my all-time favourite bush lodges, and then three days on a walking safari in Pafuri in the very north of the Kruger. Both places are perfect according to my definition of Bush Magic. There is no electricity, apart from a few hours powered by a generator, and no fences around the camp. There is also no cellphone or internet connection available, meaning that you get completely immersed into the African bush without any distractions. I can’t wait to get up in time for sunrise, feeling how the chill of the night is slowly chased away by the early rays and hearing the bush waking up, and sipping a gin and tonic as the sun sets in a blaze and gives way to star-studded skies so close it feels like you can touch them.
Right now I am packing; a pre-trip ritual that I enjoy thoroughly as it kind of sets the scene for your trip. The bush is Back to Basics and there is no need for fancy clothes or make up. But these are some things I would never leave behind:
Camera(s). Duh, goes without saying really! I bring two lenses, my flexible 18-135mm for landscapes and close encounters, and a 100-400mm for more elusive sightings. I also bring two batteries, both fully charged (especially as there is little or no electricity once I’m there). The GoPro is a new project of mine to get some cool fisheye shots, and to make a few short video clips (and perhaps a selfie or two!).
Sunscreen, hat and shades. Even in winter, the sun gets quite hectic in the South African lowveld, so stay protected.
Mozzie repellent. There is still a great debate as to whether to take or not to take malaria prophylaxis, but regardless of which camp you fall in prevention is better than cure.
Practical clothes and shoes. This is the bush, baby! No one is expecting you to put on a gown for dinner, and flimsy shoes are positively impractical. Khaki may not go with my complexion but it is a good colour that blends in nicely especially for walking safaris, and I would never even consider trodding around in snake and scorpion territory without sturdy boots. But a nice pair of flip-flops are comfy around camp. In winter, don’t forget to bring something warm for early game drives, it gets chillier than you think.
Books. About the animals and birds that you may encounter, and perhaps about trees and flowers or whatever else fascinates you. I also bring a Good Book for those lazy hours between walks/drives. I am bringing Good Morning Mr Mandela, a long-overdue read for me. And don’t forget the good, old-fashioned map book. Your phone won’t be able to load Google Maps, and using a GPS is usually discouraged as they more often than not take you down non-existing roads. Never underestimate the power of a proper map and written directions when venturing off the beaten track in Africa!
That’s it, I am off for some Bush Magic! See you on the other side.