Botswana

Okavango

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Stress relief the African way, Okavango

Stress relief the African way, Okavango

Have a dip in the waters of the Okavango Delta
Have a dip in the waters of the Okavango Delta
Lynn Kellogg

 

By : Lynn Kellogg

Lying in my tent, I listened to the low growl or snapping branches of elephants, the not so distant roar of a lion and the frequent whuuup of hyaena. American friends and colleagues asked why I wanted to go back to Africa, picking a safari that would take me far into the bush for ten days at a time with temperatures passing 100o Fahrenheit (38o Celsius).

My husband understood. Watching me buried in emails in a fast-paced job, one day he commented: “Maybe you need to go back to Africa.” A light went on in the back of my brain.

As for many, the natural world is balm for my soul. On safari in southern Africa, in Botswana and Zimbabwe, I found myself immersed for days in a fully intact, living ecosystem. We were a small group with local guides who’d grown up in the region and knew animals and land intimately. My responsibility was to listen, watch and learn – nothing else.

Up before dawn, five of us and our guide would head out for the morning ‘newspaper’ – tracks revealing the night’s drama and latest direction of key animals. An animal or bird warning call would trigger our guide to find a position to wait for life to unfold. We were taught the etiquette of silence and patience and became proficient at bird photography while waiting.

One day a pack of wild dog hunted around our parked truck. Another time two lioness flashed past us in pursuit of a bushbuck – one of several events that left me torn emotionally; knowing that nature is a dance of predator and prey, wishing for one side to win is pointless.

A young leopard tried to kill a buffalo calf; too big a prey. The calf was held down, the leopard wrestling and chewing, but not able to kill it. Eventually the exhausted leopard gave up. The calf, dazed, wounded, with its ears chewed off, was able to stand and wander back to the herd – its fate doubtful.

Eight or more hours a day witnessing some of the most interesting and exotic wildlife on earth in natural habitat puts daily stress in perspective. Orange sunsets, surrounded by hundreds of elephants passing to a mud hole, are not soon forgotten.It made me appreciate both the natural teaching style of the guides and these wonderful countries that preserve large land tracts for the life and migration of animals, and all things conservation to help keep our humanity, and stress, in perspective.