Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

The African Safari. For many it’s the pinnacle of a lifetime’s worth of wanderlust, wrought in the childhood dreams of far away places and exotic animals. Like a magnet, the pervasive pull of the cradle of life draws people from around the world to its savannahs teaming with life and its breathtakingly endless African skies.

While each of our dreams about African varies from person to person, I would guess that the spirit of all our dreams remains the same: the opportunity to encounter some the rarest, most beautiful and dangerous animals in the world, the Big 5. But the safari promises not just an encounter, for any of us could get that at our local zoo, but an encounter with the Big 5 on the animals’ terms, in their habitat, in their home.

But as I travelled across that mighty continent, I realized that there was a catch, one that put a damper on my entire experience: Safaris can’t always deliver on their promises.



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The wind rushed down the barren valley, tearing through my layers of clothes, sending a chill through the very core of my body. I had foolishly climbed the exposed eastern slope of the barren Rongbuk valley, mesmerized by the subtle dance of a veritable field of green prayer flags flying in the wind. It was there, despite the bone chilling cold, that I took some time to reflect on my epic journey.

Looking down on the valley below, at the ancient and weather-beaten Buddhist Rongbuk monastery, I was amazed that it was from this exact spot that mountaineers, adventurers and thrill seekers the world over officially began the dangerous ascent up the daunting North Face of the tallest mountain the world, the one locals call Qomolangma, Holy Mother…the one we know as Everest.

Finding a spot amongst the flags, I couldn’t help but wonder what feelings of amazement, wonder, and relief that the sight of this monastery must have evoked in those early adventurers, for until recently Everest was considered to be so remote, so dangerous, and so difficult to reach that it may as well have been on another planet. But alas, for wanna-be adventurers like me, those days were long past.

In the days before 4×4 Landcruisers, traversing the worn and bumpy dirt track was done on foot, a journey that for one of my travelling companions who had visited Everest some twenty-five years earlier, took the better part of a week. Despite the fact that I was actually glad to find a 4×4 Landcruiser to drive me to the monastery, as my companion told his story of how things used to be, I felt that something was missing from my experience.

But then it hit me, the attraction of such remote natural wonders like Everest is not simply in seeing the tallest mountain or visiting the ancient Rongbuk monastery, but in the journey itself.


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