Out of Africa – The holiday of a lifetime

29 Jun
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The stunning view from Rourke’s Drift Lodge, as the sun began to sink.










The ‘Twelve Apostles’ of the Drakensburg mountains on the way through the Sani pass into Lesotho.

South Africa to be exact.

So I’d say this is by some way the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, it’s bursting with boundless terrain, Middle Earth-level mountain ranges, endless forest plantations and some of the happiest and friendliest folk you’ll ever meet.

This was a trip in which I breathed in a great deal of history, visiting battlefields predominantly from the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars, as well as visiting the Nelson Mandela capture site where he was arrested in 1962. It was most interesting to hear accounts of these historic conflicts from a local perspective, as opposed to the largely ‘colonial history’ that so often dominates the global dialogue.

As a writer and as a person, it opens you up when you visit anywhere particularly unfamiliar. Absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of another country encourages you to think differently, and helps you embrace that ‘otherness’ of things you have never experienced before.

If you’ve never been on a safari, I highly recommend it. We set out at 6 AM around Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, which is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in all of Africa and we saw the most incredible sights. A herd of buffalo dashing across the road in front of us, several groups of giraffes hogging the road also as well as sightings of elephants, white rhinos, nyala, wildebeest, zebras, impala, monkeys and beautiful bird species such as the African fish eagle.

Of the most memorable moments from the trip was visiting Emdomeni Cat Rehabilitation Centre where I had the great privilege of stroking a fully-grown cheetah. The fur on the back of his neck was really course and fluffy and I learned that cheetahs purr really deeply. Completely unforgettable. It’s tragic though that the cheetah population is in such jeopardy, with infertility and inbreeding both posing huge problems for the specie. In a few generation’s time, I sure hope that people still have the opportunity to experience what I did these past couple of weeks.


Welcome…to Giraffic Park!

The last-hurrah to this adventure was a two hour horseback ride through the ‘Forgotten Valley’ of the Drakensburg Mountains. I rode a horse once, about nine years ago, so I really didn’t know what I was doing when I saddled up. Despite this I ended up galloping – yes, actually galloping – across the flat fields of the valley. But not up the narrow winding paths up the hillside, no, we walked nice and slowly up those. It was a warm, dry day, with deliciously clean air and the smells of wildflowers all around as the mountains rolled off into nowhere.

I wish to thank Thomson’s Africa for an unparalleled holiday experience, and the incomparable Siboni, our guide, for sharing his vast knowledge of his country with us, driving us over a thousand kilometers and for making us laugh with his brilliant anecdotes and cheeky sense of humour. For now, though, it’s back to writing Robot Wrestler’s in Space, and marketing my steampunky Kindle E-book offering, ‘Voudou and the Machine,’ which as always can be found right HERE.

Thanks for reading, WordPressers! Keep on keeping on.

Before I go though, I’d like to ask; where have YOU been that you feel has really changed you as a person? I’d genuinely like to know what your experience was, and why it had such an effect on you. Just stick it in the comments. Nice one.


Photo credits: Evie Wolfe




7 Responses to “Out of Africa – The holiday of a lifetime”

  1. fairymeisie July 2, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    I think that anyone that isn’t from Africa (or even if they are) and goes on a safari will have some kind of amazing experience. Nothing like being out in the open wilderness and being in the animals territory. It’s amazing watching them co-exist and stuff, and not to forget watching sunsets and sunrises and camping under a full sky of stars 🙂

    There really is nothing like it! 🙂


    • jackkastor July 4, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Oh absolutely, Fairymeisie! And when you leave you definitely take it with you. The way the sun painted the landscapes in South Africa was a thorough delight to witness, and it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

      I’d be interested to hear about your safari experience, as well.


      • fairymeisie July 4, 2014 at 8:59 am #

        There’s just no making that stuff up tell you Oh I grew up in Africa, so every day was an (not to forget family trips) and it would always be into some kind of wilderness. (Leaving one jungle for another, hahaha). But yeah, some great moments with great people. I guess at times I did’t really appreciate it (seen one elephant, seen them all) but now that I am no longer in Africa, I miss just about everything so very much. But Africa will always be in my heart as will the memories of it 🙂


      • jackkastor July 4, 2014 at 9:08 am #

        Funny you should say that, about it becoming the norm for you. On our journey though iSimangaliso Wetlands Park in SA, the guide was saying how, to him, it wasn’t anything particularly special, just the same views he sees everyday. Same with the guide at the game reserve.

        I certainly wish I had those views to get used to here in Nottingham, UK!


      • fairymeisie July 4, 2014 at 9:19 am #

        Yep. I guess for him to say he sees this stuff everyday (because its lterally his backyard) is kinda like us saying the ocean is just wide open waters, nothing special. I mean I live in the UK too and don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing country with some amazing views, but it just doesn’t compare. I can’t even tell you the last time I saw stars! There was a time I was as the beach and I saw an ant..The other time I saw a rainbow..I nearly cried. How ridiculous is that?! Lol


      • jackkastor July 4, 2014 at 9:36 am #

        I think it’s important to look and listen and to take pleasure in the little things when you can. Our main tour guide had never left his part of the world, and the first thing I found myself doing when I got back from holiday was looking at the passing scenery and thinking about what someone who had never seen those rolling green hills before would make of them. And all our quaint little brick-built rural houses. Sometimes perspective is everything. There is nothing ridiculous about nearly crying at a rainbow, some people cry when their football team loses.


      • fairymeisie July 4, 2014 at 9:44 am #

        Everything you said is very true. I tend to look at things from an artistic point of view kinda. It’s amazing how much beauty you can find in something so small and ordinary (such as a tree). Nature always has some beautiful story to tell. Once you understand its deeper meaning, the appreciation grows. I see tv shows about animals and Africa and I think, I’m glad I got to witness all that. I admire all those in conservation. They work tirelessly and people don’t get it at all. And I’ll never get why the hype over a football losing a match. I mean really? Sure, support your team, be passionate about it, but at the end of the day… it’s just a sport.


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