We’re just back from our most recent Mindful Safari season, and I wanted to share some hot-off-the-press photos from our fantastic time at Victoria Falls.
We made so many wonderful memories during our time there, it’s hard to know where to begin! Perhaps with the way we started each day – a guided meditation. It’s very easy to feel a sense of gratitude, wakening to the extraordinary sights we encountered each day. And I can’t think of a better place to focus very simply on what we see, hear and feel, than on the deck of Masuwe Lodge, perched above the watering hole and the Masuwe River – both visited daily by a variety of animals.
After a breakfast of coffee and cereal or, the African staple of rusks, it was off on our morning activity. This could be a bush walk, like the one guided by our very own expert ranger, Garri, who shared his wealth of knowledge about wildlife, conservation, and the fascinating workings of the eco-system, throughout our stay.
We also visited nearby game parks which are not only simply breathtaking with their rich variety of flora …
… but are also filled with an extraordinary range of wild animals, of which these are only a few of the larger variety!
We came across elephants, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, baboons, vervet monkeys and many others in abundance. And of course, the exception range of birds, of whom my favourite is the lilac breasted roller. We even saw both black and white rhino – an exceptional experience given that their species, especially the black rhinos, has been hunted almost to the point of extinction. (I can’t show photos because even these could be used to track the poor things down).
For us elephant-lovers, one of the highlights was brunch at a hide in the Chamabonda National Park, where we were joined by several herds numbering over 100 elephants (thanks, Jon, for the head count!). They were very relaxed as they drank water and enjoyed a good mud then dust bath. All this was going on less than 80 metres/yards away, and the elephants walked directly past our hide to get to the mud. While in the hide, we did a spontaneous ‘mindfulness with the elephants exercise.’
Afterwards, one of our hosts told us that, in the eighteen years he has visited this spot, he has never seen such a large herd. Could it be something to do with the group energy of us gang of meditators? I’d be happy to research this further!
Masuwe Primary School
As part of our focus on doing something to help the local community, we also visited Masuwe Primary School. Everyone who came on Mindful Safari was asked to bring in their suitcase 10 exercise books and 10 pens so that every child in the school could have one of each: until our visit, many did not. Some of us brought other things besides. As soccer balls, skipping ropes, frisbees and a cricket set were revealed, the kids let out a chorus of excited gasps. It really was a heart-warming and very moving to experience, at first hand, the huge impact we can make in the world, even at relatively small cost to ourselves.
Masuwe Lodge, where we were staying, also provided cakes and soft drinks, and after a thank you from the Headmistress, Mrs Moyo, the kids were soon singing, dancing and grabbing our hands so we could all join in their celebration of a very happy occasion.
Since the visit, I’m really delighted to say, a number of our guests have been planning ways to ensure that the text book requirements of the school over the next few years are met. Visits like ours really bring home how in giving, we truly do receive.
Yoga and Meditation on the banks of the Zambezi River
We were very fortunate to have the special presence of Danielle Connolly with us for a number of our meditation sessions. Danielle established Prana Africa Yoga at Victoria Falls, and being born and raised in the area, she was able to guide us to a particularly serene spot on the banks of the mighty Zambezi Valley where she led us on some stretches …
… before we meditated. I don’t think any of us will forget how amazing it was simply to sit and be present to the sights, sounds, odours and unique energy of this extraordinary setting. A herd of elephant had recently passed through and we could still smell them – you soon get used to the aroma of elephants on Mindful Safari. There was something very primordial, elemental and serene to be in this special place which will remain in my heart always – and I’m sure in the hearts of others too.
Sunrise over Victoria Falls
We visited Victoria Falls to watch the sun rise – yet another event for which there are simply no words. Even though this is a public park, we had the place almost to ourselves because we got there at gates open. Our little group stood in mindful awareness as the sun appeared on the horizon, a huge, red ball to which the following photographs really don’t do justice.
Then as it ascended behind the spray, it looked like an immense fireball in the mist – creating some quite ethereal images like these:
Another highlight was our final evening dinner cruise on the Zambezi River, where we enjoyed a few mindful moments right in the middle of the water, the boat’s captain cutting the engine so that we could just pause for a few minutes in silent contemplation in the midst of that vast, tranquil river …
while sitting around this beautifully decorated table.
What a privilege to be on Mindful Safari with such a wonderful group of people from all over the world. A few members of the Mindful Safari family are seasoned returnees – for some, this year’s was their second or third trip. No matter where people come from, what their experiences of life have been, or whether on their own or as a couple, by the end of the visit we leave with friendships and memories which transcend our individual differences, and which we will take away as treasures.
Perhaps Karen Blixen, author of ‘Out of Africa,’ hints at why these journeys touch us so much when she writes: Now, looking back on my life in Africa, I feel like it might altogether be described as the existence of a person who had come from a rushed and noisy world, into a still country … So lovely as if the contemplation of it could itself be enough to make you happy all of your life.
Meditating with Elephants
After this year’s Mindful Safari, I visited the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery, part of Wild is Life, just outside Harare. There I had the very great privilege of meeting Roxy Danckwerts, who with her family does so much to rescue orphaned elephants and other wildlife in Zimbabwe. Like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, with whom she liaises, her objective is to protect and raise baby elephants so that they can be returned to the wild.
Elephant babies, in common with their human counterparts, can’t live on milk alone in their early years. They also need the constant connection, reassurance and presence of a mother or guardian figure and family, without which they simply lose the will to live. Roxy and her team provide the emotional support as well as the nourishment and veterinarian care that these special beings need.
After some discussion with Roxy, I am thrilled to let you know that, as of 2019, a visit to meditate with elephants will be an add-on to our Mindful Safari Victoria Falls (https://davidmichie.com/mindful-safari/). There, our Mindful Safari family will be able to offer not only their energetic presence, but also bunches of leaves and similar delicacies to members of the glorious Wild is Life menagerie.
This photo-blog has really only skimmed the surface of what was a truly remarkable week of experiences – I’ll be posting more about them in the future.
But for the moment, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make Mindful Safari Victoria Falls 2018 such an very special adventure.
And if you’d like to join our group in August 2019 on Mindful Safari, please contact me right away at: firstname.lastname@example.org I expect, like previous years, we will be fully booked very quickly, so please act swiftly!
Acknowledgement: My grateful thanks to the wonderful Alan Parker for some of his great photos which appear in this blog!