Africa

What I learned on My Trip to Botswana

This is a guest post by Hayden Myers in conjunction with safari.com

Botswana is a little piece of paradise nestled in the heart of Africa, where one goes to rejuvenate and reconnect with themselves and nature. One certainly gets more than they bargained for when they visit this special place, because it not only offers profound experiences, it’s also an adventure that feeds the mind, body and soul. Removing yourself from the city buzz, and immersing yourself in pure tranquility and unspoiled landscapes, where the sun shines, the birds sing and nature plays out in its purest form, acts as a form of therapy – and possibly the best kind there is.

It’s difficult to put into words the feeling that came over me during my time in Botswana. What I can say is that I felt deeply present and more content than I’ve ever felt before in my life. I have never felt more ‘in the moment’ than when I was venturing through the desolate plains of the vast grasslands. Life stood still, and each day seemed to play out effortlessly. There were no distractions out there – the wildlife roamed and the sun shone, and everything seemed pure and uncomplicated.

Being there made me forget about the stresses of life and made me realise that nature certainly is a powerful force, and that we shouldn’t work against it, but rather with it. I am yet to pinpoint the exact moment that made me realise this – I’m not sure when, how or why this feeling stuck with me throughout my trip, but I think it had something to do with witnessing the movements of the wildlife. Every move they make, whether it be stalking their prey, caring for their young, or moving to a different location, is made through instinct. It’s beautiful – and when you realise that the powerful works of nature are being played out right before your eyes, it deeply moves you.

I had never thought of visiting Botswana, because I was always attracted to the popular, big cities like New York and London. I’m a typical city girl, who doesn’t easily leave her comfort zone. When my partner wanted to visit Botswana I remember feeling rather confused and a little stressed as to whether I’d enjoy a trip so unusual – and for what it’s worth, the amount of times I had been camping could be counted on my one hand. I went along, nonetheless, and in hindsight it was the best decision I made. There are some moments in life that mark a distinct before and after – and visiting Botswana was one of those. The trip changed me for the better and pleasantly surprised me, too. I learnt to appreciate life as it is – minus the fancy clothes, the internet connection and the latest celeb gossip. For once I gave myself the opportunity to enjoy an experience, thoroughly, without being bothered by whether or not I was capturing enough Instagram-worthy snaps. I was preoccupied with the incredible sights and life changing experiences, and the rest of the world didn’t matter for that week. I woke up each morning and embarked on our daily safari adventure, make-up free and wearing safari attire – which I thought I’d never be seen dead in. Out there, nothing matters and there’s no-one judging you. The feeling of utter freedom is priceless.

Meeting the fascinating people of Botswana, some of which were descendants of the San, was an encounter I hold dear to my heart. Being exposed to their very different way of life certainly taught me that very little is needed to be truly happy. Even though their possessions are minimal and their resources are basic, they were genuinely happy – and it shone through their eyes.

The people of Botswana welcomed us into their country – and their homes, with open arms. From the service we experienced at the lodges, to the incredible hospitality of the tribe that we were honoured to visit, our entire trip was one of warmth and love. Our minds feasted on the many learning experiences – from wildlife encounters, to learning about our surroundings, and even about ourselves. Our eyes feasted on unique, exquisite sights and our souls feasted on the immense peace, which was not difficult to recognise.

I still reflect back on the memories I made, the people I met and the special encounters I was blessed to experience during my time there. I yearn for the quietness, the care-free lifestyle and the way the sun set each evening. Thank you Botswana for touching my soul, opening my eyes and allowing me to be positively changed, forever. I’ll never be able to repay you for that gift.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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