I recently had the privilege to spend some time in Manyeleti Private Game Reserve; a 23,000-hectare slice of wilderness with open borders to Timbavati, Sabi Sands and Kruger National Park. I was working, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of my time there.
The African bush is such a special place, and its magic becomes more apparent the longer you stay. Instead of constantly searching for the big animals, you notice the big picture and the small things. How the birds wake up just before dawn, and the way the sky subtly changes its colours. The silhouette of an acacia tree against dramatic clouds in the distance. The impossibly big, brown eyes of the ever-present impalas, and the way the buffalo weavers always build their nests facing north-east.
Summer days are impossibly hot in the bush. So hot, it is even hard to keep your own thoughts from evaporating like scattered fragments that don’t quite make sense. During the mid-day hours, everything comes to a stand-still. The birds go quiet, and the animals retreat to shady cover. So oppressive is the heat, it is as if you are under water hearing nothing but your own heart-beat. Or perhaps it is the pulse of the earth that makes the air vibrate?
As the sun start to set, and the light goes from searing white to saturated orange, there is a collective sigh of relief. The air that was burning your skin is suddenly like a soft caress, and your eyes can once again notice details and texture. For a short while, everything comes to life and there is a flurry of activity as birds catch insects and herds of zebras hungrily graze the savanna. Then, just as quickly as the night turned into day, the light fades into dark blue and then impenetrable darkness. The stars turn the sky into the most beautiful of jewelry boxes, and the lions prepare for the night’s hunt accompanied by a thousand cikadas.
And so the cycle goes on, day after day. It never ceases to fascinate me, and it is the most precious of gifts to be able to experience this!