Sometimes life delivers moments of beauty so profound they make you reflect on the times you took life for granted ... days spent indoors, the hours sitting in an office or the moments looking at a smart phone instead of the world.
My moment hit me in the upper Masai Mara in Kenya.
The sun had just struck the horizon casting a flame of orange across the sky — a dramatic backdrop to the whirl of energy before me as zebras and antelope charged in a mesh of stripes and horns.
Never before had I seen such an astounding celebration of life and the natural world — a reality I felt that I had become somewhat removed from.
This serendipitous moment carried great irony for me as I had arrived with the aim of seeing the great migration, when about 1.4 million wildebeest, half a million gazelle and 200,000 zebra migrate in a clockwise movement more than 2900km from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara game reserves in search of rain and green grass.
But the rains had come early and the first wildebeest I saw was a dead one — the catch of a lioness for her pride.
Despite what many would call a safari misadventure, every day felt like a celebration as I awoke to the sunrise across the Mara during my three-night stay at Kichwa Tembo and adjoining Bateleur tented camps.
With its mix of characters and cuisine it didn’t take long to feel at home.
By day three, a dozen Swahili words had entered my vocabulary and I was encouraged to visit a nearby Masai community. “Jambo” they welcomed as the impromptu visit turned into another celebration with the local women adorning me with a beaded necklace and cloak and inviting me to join them in song.
“We could marry you off, ” joked my ranger guide Lucy Ketere. “You’d be worth at least 100 cows.”
The Masai Mara was a place where I felt truly welcome. No wonder then that my departure brought a few tears as I set off on the next leg of my journey, in a small plane, back to Nairobi and then the Serengeti.
My arrival at sunset quickly turned dramatic as I watched a baby zebra take its first steps, followed by a baby wildebeest who was being stalked by a hungry mongoose adopted by a protective pack of zebra.
Serengeti Under Canvas is set up to chase the action —– a tented camp which moves to where the wild things are. Unfenced I was literally dining and sleeping in the wilderness. I awoke to yet another incredible sunrise before setting off by light plane to my final safari stop — Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp.
This camp is set in the middle of the migration across the Grumeti River. Here I met an inspiring pair, 87-year-old Dick Gardner and his wife Linda, 82, from Colorado, on their 10th African safari. I jumped aboard with them and head ranger Wazara Nabhir for tours into the reserve.
After letting go of my need to see the migration I was met with endless lush landscapes and unforgettable scenes of natural beauty. It was here I learnt a wonderful insight from my week of adventure and celebration — in order to receive from nature, you must avoid expectation.
“This is what it's all about, ” marvelled Linda. “People often say ‘why don’t you just go to the zoo?’ I think: ‘Are you kidding?’ They really have no idea what they’re missing.”
Kate Ferguson was a guest of Air Mauritius and & Beyond.
For more information, see andbeyond.com and airmauritius.com.
© The West Australian
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