As one born of wanderlust, I have been fortunate to travel to many different parts of the world. I have travelled from Scandanavia to Singapore and San Francisco, have bowed my head in cathedrals and temples in Europe, have been up close to calving glaciers in Alaska, caught my breath at the edge of the Grand Canyon, paid homage to the source of the Nile at the border between Uganda and Rwanda, driven through indigenous forest of Sierra Leone during war and walked in peace on the white shores of Zanzibar. But I count this as one of the greatest privileges of a charmed life – sitting here writing these words from the deck of a canvas tent facing onto the Timbitene Plains in the Kruger National Park.
Larger than many countries, the Kruger National Park has been preserved for decades as a wildlife sanctuary, protected by strict conservation laws from incessant human development. From this very deck where I sit I can witness nature interact uninterrupted, often unaware of my presence from this low environmental impact tent. Plains Tented Camp is set within the Timbetene concession, a privilege within a privilege, as the general public do not have access to this quieter area of the park. There are no tarred roads here, no shops, no cell phone towers or wifi. This is as authentic a safari experience as it gets.
The tents are erected on a wooden platform, nestled into the forest at the edge of an open plain which looks out onto a waterhole. They are full canvas, though glamping this is none-the-less, with proper beds and full bathrooms. The towels are thick, white and the size of blankets. A beautiful copper basin is set against a gnarled trunk, and the shower has open netted canvas all around onto bush views. Earlier I watched a Paradise Flycatcher munch his breakfast right next to the tent while I showered.
Now from my nature-hide deck I look up again from my pontificating because of a loud trumpeting. A memory of elephants has just paraded in from the left to the waterhole in front of my tent for their midday drink. There is a small baby elephant, too short to reach the water though he tries to be big. His kindly mother gives him a gentle shower. The teenagers think this is great fun and spray themselves and each other.
I take a mental image of the row of fat elephant bums lined up at the water and store this gifted moment in my travel journal, with a sigh of silent gratitude for all that has been and that has led me here.
Review and photographs by www.characterstay.blogspot.com