Places you can’t get out of your head
One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things
– Henry Miller
This month’s travel linkup is all about places you travel to that you can’t get out of your head.
It’s an easy one for me. It’s a continent. It’s a dusty, dirty place. A place filled with animals wild and free. A place of incredibly happy people. A place of fresh air and starry skies. A place that holds on tight to my heart and won’t let go. Can you guess where it is?
I first travelled Africa back in 2011. Starting in Kenya, with an elephant orphanage that I still remember dearly, a giraffe sanctuary where the tall animals lick your face and then the incredible Lake Nakuru National Park – where I had my first taste of animals wild and free, lions eating a zebra on the side of the dirt path, camping under the stars, birds galore, baboons being tricky and even a leopard on a tree.
That was Kenya.
Then it was onto Uganda. Another diverse place with a vast array of wildlife and beautiful scenery. Hearing chimpanzees in the trees (they’re noisy things!) and spotting them crawling across the forest floor was awesome.
Bungy jumping and white water rafting would leave me fearing for my life, but create memorable experiences.
Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.
– Paulo Coelho
That was Uganda.
On that first trip the final stop was Rwanda. Home of the mountain gorillas. This would be the moment that would never leave me. The best experience I’ve had while travelling. It may have only been an hour, it may have been a decent hike and I may have had altitude sickness, but it was an hour of pure peace, wonder and awesomeness.
The baby gorilla would play and roll around, while the teenager ones laze about and eat, the adults would be grooming and then the big daddy silverback would keep an eye on everything (including us).
That was Rwanda.
A few years on, as I leave London I couldn’t help myself but return to Africa again. This time I started with some volunteering in Namibia at a wildlife sanctuary.
Then I flew to Zimbabwe to check out Victoria Falls and start my overland tour. The falls were pretty amazing despite it not being the best time of year for maximum water. I also spent a morning walking some lions as part of a breeding program.
That was Zimbabwe.
Onwards to Botswana, taking a mokoro (wooden canoe) down a river, past hippos to a bush camp for a few days. Chobe National Park meant sleeping next to a river filled with crocs and hippos, and having a snake slide past my tent at night.
That was Botswana.
Then I travelled through Namibia top to bottom. This was a country of diversity in landscapes, animals, towns and people.
I’ll never forget sleeping out under the stars in Spitzkoppe.
And spending my birthday in Dead Vlei and Dune 45.
That was Namibia.
Last stop was South Africa. From canyons, to the incredible Table Mountain and the wine of Stellenbosch. South Africa was a country that made me realise more about security – seeing all the systems outside houses for protection. The Cape Flats made me realise the extent of varying wealth in a large population. It’s a beautiful and interesting country.
That was South Africa.
I still can’t get Africa out of my head, even today. I want to return to do some of Central and Western Africa sometime, in particular Tanzania and more of Kenya. One day I’ll return to the gorillas too. It’s a place in the world that I just can’t get out of my head.
Music is something I must do, business is something I need to do, and Africa is something I have to do. That’s the way it breaks down in my life.
– Gro Harlem Brundtland