Katrina's Editorials

The Wild Places

They say you never step in the same river twice. The same can be said of Africa. For all of the associations that this diverse continent evokes, Africa still never fails to surprise with its wide array of landscapes and the different experiences each conjures up. I wish I could tell you why it is that Africa’s wilderness has such a hold on our imagination. Or why so many of the people I know feel compelled to return year after year. But the allure of the continent is so multi-dimensional that is nearly impossible to sum up in a sentence. In fact, Africa is as much a mystery to me today as it was the first time I stepped onto its terrain. Even the kids have become addicted to the wilds of Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa.

On our first trip to Africa, we headed straight for Tanzania to experience the traditional, Out of Africa-style, mobile tented Safari. With no outlets where we could plug in laptops, video games or cell phones, we were all ready for a lively conversation by the time dinner rolled around. In a matter of days, sling shots replaced Nintendo, tree-climbing took the place of Web-surfing, and books stepped in for TV shows. The kids were active. Their minds and bodies stimulated. And we were all having the time of our lives.

For me, Africa is less a playground and more of an oasis. That feeling of being utterly removed with nothing around but the limitless horizon and a sky full of stars…it’s a stillness unlike any I’ve ever encountered before or since. That could be what keeps me so entranced – the sense of time standing still. Well, that and the amazing photo opportunities that abound around every turn. In truth, I don’t really think I became serious about photography until our trip to Tanzania. And when we went back for our second visit, this time to South Africa and Botswana, I was camera ready.

Although we embarked upon our second journey to Africa with a great deal more confidence in what we were about to see, this visit could not have been more different. Instead of a colonial style mobile tented Safari, this time, we chose to do luxury and eco-friendly camps. While both trips were extremely luxurious experiences, our first visit had us following the animals on their mass migrations through the Serengeti and the Masaai Mara planes, whereas the second saw the animals coming straight to our lodges. It’s impossible to say which is more wonderful, witnessing a huge herd of wildebeests on their epic journey from a Safari jeep, watching baboons wander past your sala as you’re enjoying a drink in your private dipping pool, or catching the looks on your children’s faces as you ride on elephants together. Each experience is so unique that I strongly recommend you try them all.

Is there any wonder why we keep returning to Africa? The restaurants, shops and museums that are the trademarks of civilization are the same the world over, but no wild, untamed place is quite like another – and none is as majestic as Africa.