by Jennifer Southwell
on March 2, 2017
4 min read

“The only man I envy is a man that has yet to travel to Africa – for he has much to look forward to” Richard Mullin.

There is something that stays with you when you visit the birthplace of humankind. It sparks a fire in your soul and ignites a craving within you to discover more of this beautiful, dynamic land. There is a heartbeat, that runs through this great continent which moves you, where nature triumphs and time slows to a steady halt. Many things happen when you experience Africa, here are a few of them:

1. You gain an appreciation for untouched natureElephant in the African bush with sun in the clouds

Comprehending the peculiarities of the natural world can be exhilarating. Why do some birds not fly, how do cheetahs run so fast and where do giraffes fit in? When we are constantly surrounded by manmade structures, as well as the world created in your phone, reconnecting with the most natural environments slows your pace and makes you appreciate the intricate elements that make up the beauty of Africa. These experiences ground you and invigorate your soul, reminding you of the realities of the world, which we may have detached from.

2. You meet people with different cultural perspectiveBushmen making fire

Connecting and engaging with people who experience life differently is an amazing way to expand your level of understanding of the world. It can be stimulating to stretch your cognizance away from your own customs and traditions. Finding both similarities and differences in the nuances of diverse cultures helps us widen our perspective as well as connect on a deeper level.

These types of enlightening experiences create a more empathic connection, ultimately reducing conflict. Walking through the Kalahari Desert with Khoisan community, having them show you how they traditionally live off the desolate land, how they make fire by hand and dance and sing around it. Joining in the dance and laughing alongside them, nothing creates a purer connection.

3. You experience a Digital DetoxSunset party in Africa

In this technologically-driven age, the average adult attention span is 8 seconds. Who can blame us with the level of stimulation we are exposed to. The level of social pressure to become more productive is higher than ever, we celebrate it when we can tick some items off the to-do list during red lights in traffic. Africa has a pace of its own and a time of its own – literally, ‘African time’ is somewhat a slower and leisurely tempo where one appreciates the time taken to do simple tasks. This is because in rural Africa small tasks such as fetching water can take hours to accomplish. Disconnecting from that always-on, always busy world can refresh and revive you in the most profound ways.

4. It’s better to see something once than hear about it a million times

Photo Credit: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.

Photo Credit: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.

When you are sitting in your friend’s house and somehow they have convinced you to sit through a slide show of all their amazing adventures and you are nodding and smiling along when they have shown you their seventeenth picture of a lion. It’s difficult to really imagine the awe you really feel in the presence of this fearsome predator. There’s only so much that photographs and words can reveal about an experience. It is only once you are there for yourself. When you smell the wet African soil and see the great herds moving together can you truly understand and know the wonder of Africa.

5. You learn to be present       10516810_10152581198727329_3580816757551243453_n

The taste of a gin and tonic, a distant call of a fish eagle with an undercurrent of the swish of water from the paddle of your mokoro, sparkling lagoons and meandering channels of the Okavango Delta, compels you to think of nothing but what you are experiencing at the very moment they happen. No emails from the boss. No pressure to impress the in-laws. No nagging neighbours. Just here and now, and gin. This type of stillness is something that most people have never had the opportunity to experience.

One of my favorite parts of the end of a trip is when it all starts to slow down, you arrive home and everything looks the same but somehow different. That, in my opinion, demonstrates that they journey has changed you. As you reflect on the experiences you revel in the incremental transformation you have undergone and cannot help but want more…
“Travel, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta.