What’s on your bucket list? A few years ago I wrote out mine. What started out as a satisfying experience turned into a bit of a shock, as I realised that if I was to take this list seriously, it meant I had to do at least one trip a year if I was to realise each of these dreams in my limited time on this earth. Being an action-oriented kind of person, I immediately got going.
I decided to start closer to home, and booked a trip to Isibindi Zulu Lodge. I had longed to visit these traditional thatched ‘rondavels’ (round houses) and to do a tour of the Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift battlefields to immerse myself in the location of the Anglo-Zulu War. The journey to the Lodge became more and more other-worldly, green grasses changing to ochre and pink hues, houses spreading out into more dispersed settlements made of mud and thatch, with thorn-branched ‘kraals’ (livestock enclosures). I had a feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: “Toto, we’re not in Cansas anymore.”
This seems to be exactly the point of Bucket List travels – to experience something so unusual it takes us away from our everyday lives and offers us a new experience of life and ourselves. Later that evening, under open skies, next to a fire, with the drumbeat pulsing through my veins, I knew I was alive and well. I felt an intense happiness, like the happiness usually reserved for childhood. That night of fulfilling the first of my Bucket List dreams is a memory I will never forget.
The following year I headed North, to the far reaches of KwaZulu-Natal, which seemed another exotic location I had only previously imagined. This trip included a double bonus, as I booked into Kosi Forest Lodge and Thonga Beach Lodge. At this point my Bucket was in danger of being kicked over, as the experience was so lovely I thought perhaps I should simply return here every year. The pristine natural environment, connection with local communities, walking off the beach to eat fresh local produce and engaging in adventurous ocean activities created the perfect sensory holiday experience. Snorkeling at both these lodges, I discovered a whole new underwater world and unexpected side of myself.
Now on my third year of my bucketing travels, I arrive at Plains Tented Camp. This one has been on The List for many years, as I love the concept of sleeping out in the wilds of the Kruger National Park in an 1820’s explorer style canvas tent. As I lie back in the dark and listen to the sound of lions mating across the Timbitene Plains, along with a slightly more alarming rustle of leaves right next to my tent, my whole being smiles in gratitude for this moment.
Nothing quite beats the feeling of doing something you long wished to do – the achievement of a lifetime of dreaming and a culmination of what living (really living) means to you. I sigh, roll over, and know that no sleep will come tonight as I savour this experience, awake, very alive. I am reminded of the words of poet Mary Oliver, who writes in her poem “The Summer Day:
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Share with us your Bucket List travel ideas as we inspire one another to live fully and rediscover that not-quite-forgotten happiness of a child.