This past month I have had the privilege of hosting not one, but two Greatest Safari on Earth trips. For two trips in such close succession to reach a successful close requires logistical brain surgery from my inimitable team and our trusted partners. So much goes on behind the scenes to make every memorable moment happen, and seeing the unbridled delight from our guests makes my heart soar.
Of course, the Greatest Safari on Earth begins around a campfire on the banks of the Zambezi in my home country, Zimbabwe. To gaze into a sky so undisturbed by the shock of city lights feels akin to falling into the infinite, the source, the original force. The Zambezi runs like an artery through Zimbabwe’s northern border with Zambia. That river is our blood, our pulse: the genesis of the Victoria Falls. ROAR AFRICA guide Humphrey Gumpo – a dear friend and accomplished photographer – said it best one recent afternoon standing in front of those wondrous Falls: “No matter how many times I see it, I can’t take it all in,” Humph marveled. “Do you think anyone can really take ‘Africa’ in?” I asked.
Each day stretched before us like a canvas of color painted by nature. Breathtaking moments of endless enchantment awaited. The thrill of sweeping through the Okavango Delta’s labyrinthine waterways. The immensity of the Maasai Mara’s outstretched vastness in Kenya. The powerful presence of five volcanoes holding us still. But perhaps the most profound moments of wonder were the quiet ones observing tender scenes between animals and people. A protective lioness playing with her cubs in the swaying grasses. Young gorillas climbing, tumbling, and boldly pushing their parents’ boundaries just like any toddler. Or herds of wildebeest valiantly jostling to keep up with one another in the great migration. Smiles, jokes, and warm African hugs accompanied stories shared and lessons learned. To witness the countless instances of connectivity, kindness, understanding, humor, and curiosity between our guests, and the people we introduced them to, as well as the enveloping of wildlife, reinforced the truism that nature holds all the wisdom we need. It certainly brings out the very best in all of us.
Toward the end of the trip, I felt a calmness wash over me while sitting around Singita Kwitonda’s campfire. After a few minutes of gazing at the magnificent volcanoes encircling us, I found the word I was searching for: community. So much of the soul-expanding joy experienced on these particular journeys stems from time spent in community… with each other, with wildlife, and with our true selves.
Trying to explain all that happened – the friendships formed, the joy shared, the growth, the change, the love, the landscapes tattooed in my brain – words fail me. However, one guest summed it up in a stanza of a poem gifted to me:
“We now know ‘the greatest’ means something more,
It means smiles that shine with astonishing light,
It means friendships that last beyond our last flight.
A people, a land that we never knew,
A future of hope, a beauty renewed.”
Perhaps because the idea of the Greatest Safari came to me just before the pandemic – when many of us were forced into isolation, stillness, and an unblinking confrontation with the self – it was the umbilical pull of my homeland that tugged at me most.
I think we all learned something about ourselves in those long, uncertain months. I learned this: I travel for life and my livelihood; it’s my passion and reason. It’s a privilege, a holy mission, and when I am not sharing Africa, I miss myself. I miss the being I am when home. That is the gift I will share with anyone who will let me.
We will be hosting two more Greatest Safari on Earth trips in 2023 (August 13-25 and August 26-September 7, 2023). I can assure you there is nothing quite like it, and I have never felt prouder to be African. Come and join us.