The Art of Community in the Wild

“Imagine all the people sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one…”

– John Lennon


When you were young, what fantastical communities did you drift off into?

Were you in the Space Age with The Jetsons or in prehistoric times with the Clan of the Cave Bear and the Flintstones? Were you adventuring in the Emerald City with Dorothy and Toto, or living with the March sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”?

As the years pass on, perhaps you’ve seen yourself at Hogwarts, aboard the research vessel with Steve Zissou and his team, or with The Durrells and their animals in Corfu.

Whichever fictional community you most relate to, these little societies we’ve fallen for, lived in and walked around in endlessly, in our imaginations… they have all played some part in our understanding of community in real life. We gravitate to them because their message and celebration of family above all, of fellowship through it all, is one that is instinctively human.

Most of these tales were presented with happy endings, even when a community only meant two people (or three in the case of Simba, Timon and Pumba), but they weren’t without their real-life faults and quandaries. They offered us a sense of solidarity, they offered us their companionship.

It is this sentiment that fulfills so many of us when we travel to those places on earth that closely mirror the communities we’ve held in our fantasies. Perhaps we don’t find a wise English-speaking monkey named Rafiki or a wizard with a lightning-shaped scar, but we do find a place, people, to call home.

We find a community without the smoke and mirrors of television or fictional novels. A community right in front of us.

You get this feeling in a place like Londolozi Private Game Reserve in South Africa, a place where many families live, making up a greater community across bloodlines, race lines, with several generations in one space. A place that welcomes others to be part of its community, even long after you’ve left.

During our time at Londolozi over the years, what we have found is a marriage of traditional tribal life, where you need never eat alone, walk alone, work, create or dream alone, and an allowance for and an encouragement of time for one’s self, or merely quiet time, within this space.

Even taking time out in a villa of your own, the feeling of being part of something greater, of an extended family, is present. With each elephant that raises its trunk to you and, like the slow swells of the sea, flows on with its herd, the herd, your herd, across the wilderness.

You’ll feel it on your safari, you’ll feel it whenever you leave the front door and amble down the winding paths between the camps, or on drives along the tracks walked by lions, leopards and littler things. Paths driven by other guests from far-off places that, just like you, have come to be welcomed into this communal space.

You feel it with each dinner out in the night air, chairs and feet grounded on the sand of the boma, and glasses and chatter meeting between diners – travellers and residents – with no particular occasion to celebrate but the present moment and a newfound fellowship.

A fellowship that, while not at all fictional, is not without the magic of The Wizard of Oz or the love of Little Women.


Discover more in Londolozi’s latest video, Awaken:

Awaken from Londolozi on Vimeo.

 

Safaris & the Art of Being Yourself

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e e cummings


This is not a topic that concerns animals, but it is one that they so naturally teach – the art of being yourself.

It is a topic that separates us little bipeds from the wild world of our animal brothers and sisters. Sure, who knows really what a woodpecker mum gets up to when hidden inside her nest. But I doubt she is worrying about whether she is being a good enough mother, or if her feathers still have their youthful lustre. She is beyond even the stage of acceptance – she simply does not think about it. Sure, she doesn’t quite have the brain structure for such neuroticism. And we do, which gives us the task of overcoming self-doubt and learning to accept and embrace, all through life.

On the subject of neuroticism, let’s take my morning face, for instance. There is nothing like a 5 am game drive, I discovered on our safari at Mara Plains Camp in Kenya, while trying to pose naturally for a camera, to make you doubt yourself.

You might have had the coffee and the hot water and lemon and the muffin, but your face does not lie when it still desires an hour extra under the sheets. When the cold air blows and mascara rolls silently down the side of your face, you are presented with that great challenge – man versus nature, self versus other.

Bundled in khaki scarves and windbreakers with extra buoyant morning hair, do you ignore the reflection in the mirror and focus on the great male lion shaking his silky mane in the golden light of dawn?

Yes, you do, and you think nothing of it.

There is no time for ego on a safari. Only awe. Getting back to nature in any way strips you of the me-me-me thoughts, because suddenly you find yourself in a phantasmagoria of scents and sounds and sights. Attention shifts – the elephants call on you to be present for them. One look down and you could miss the grand show of flapping ears or a little one’s first steps.

Embraced in the right way, a safari is a truth-seeking journey. A simplifying and a refocusing of life. It is learning to concentrate less on yourself and more on the exciting world around you, which, in turn, helps you to be more yourself.

It’s that look after a long day out in the savannah and bush, a day spent riding horses in big cat country and bumping along in 4X4s over river beds and along dusty dirt paths. It’s the freckles popping on your sun-kissed nose and the mud on your boots. It’s the tired red eyes from hours of looking through a camera, darting from one eagle to another. It’s the peace that comes with it all – having let go, having jumped in, wholeheartedly – and it’s the smile that shows not a care in the world.

That look is the look of someone on safari, of someone who has stepped into themselves.

Thank you for the lesson, Mara Plains Camp.

Take a look at a few images from our safari to this beautiful part of Kenya – on the northern border of the Maasai Mara – below.

Six Ways Londolozi Will Touch Your Soul

It’s been used to refer to the esoteric belief in a soul being able to travel outside the body – and beyond, far beyond. But soul travel is also about the kind of journeys that touch the heart, that go deeper, that stir something in the traveller. Journeys with purpose, with soul. Journeys that transform.

It’s a way of going through life, not only vacations, but it’s something that’s easy to forget when hopping flight after flight, waking up at unholy hours, or getting a little too enthusiastic with the sundowners.

For us, soul travel is about extraordinary adventures that push us to be our most courageous, that immerse us in new worlds. It’s about connecting with others and ourselves in ways that lead to greater awareness. It’s about those moments that we never forget, that make us feel something. As they say, people may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

On our recent adventure into the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve of South Africa, we encountered several of these moments, exploring the pathways of a place called Londolozi. We discovered the many ways this corner of Africa can touch your soul and how a voyage outward can lead you inward.

Here are six ways that Londolozi will touch your soul

Quiet

The stillness of the wild lets you hear the world better – the sweet calls of birdlife and the odd roar from the wild things, the rustle of trees and the flow of shallow streams. But it also lets you hear yourself more clearly. And that’s where the change begins.

Nature

Among the trees and hills of the great outdoors, you notice that there is space for all things. For the big and the small, the fierce and the gentle, the loud and the still. You see more clearly where you belong among it all, and that you are very much a part of the living world, rather than separate from it.

On game drives and walks, you find yourself faced with your greatest joys as well as your worst fears – the slithering and the venomous, the fast and the toothy. And you learn to rise above, to trust, to adapt, to accept. More than that, glimpsing the infinite beauty of earth’s plant and animal life up close is a symphony of its own, one that moves the viewer with each performance.

Yoga and Meditation

Guided by Londolozi’s yoga teacher, on a deck hugged by thick green tree life, the ancient art of yoga works its magic, relaxing and restoring, and uniting mind, body and soul.

Spa

Through energising and calming massage treatments and energetic bodywork, the Spa therapists at Londolozi work similarly to the yogis, bringing you back to yourself and resetting your attention so that it can focus more clearly on the substance of safari life.

Community

There is perhaps no clearer way to shake up the self and ingnite epiphanies than to meet people from completely different walks of life. People living in ways strange to you. It’ll make you take a deeper look at your own life but it will also awaken you to the vastness and variety of the world – of life outside your own town, own family, own self.

It may spark empathy, compassion. It may attract or upset. Impress or confuse. But spark it will.

Connection

Talking, laughing, smiling, walking, eating and simply being with the people who call Londolozi home – the people behind the scenes and in front, the rangers and photographers, the writers and chefs, the gardeners and housekeepers… that’s when the soul really responds. When you arrive back from an early morning game drive to the traditional songs and dance of the men and women who have come out to greet you, to welcome you, tears fall not from sadness but from an overflowing heart, a heart that has found a home.

Discover more about Londolozi Private Game Reserve here.