I sat on the ridge of the monolithic, rust-colored sand dunes as I watched the sun rise up over the horizon. In that moment I immediately felt the warm rays of the sun wash over my face, and smiled to myself, while in my head I could hear the beating of an African drum. Watching the sunrise, while sitting atop Namibia’s Dune 45 is when I fully realized my love of Africa and knew that it was only the start of what was sure to be a lifelong love affair with the continent.
In a recent television interview I was asked, “why does Africa really resonate with you?” I said it then and I continue to repeat it, there is something so indescribably beautiful about Africa. If I had to break it down it, however, my love of Africa could be categorized into three specific points.
Love of Africa: The People
We’ve all seen the World Vision commercials with the starving kids in Africa, we’ve all read the papers or seen the news on CNN about the latest war happening somewhere on the continent, and we all know about the darker side of Africa. And while I can’t deny that it has all of those things, I can honestly say some of the best people I’ve ever met on any of my travels have been from Africa. On the whole, African’s tend to be some of the most indisputably nice, generous and most hospitable people who are genuinely interested in teaching you about their culture. Their collective love of Africa – of their motherland- is contagious. For me, whether it was the Himba tribe, the Ghanzi bushpeople, the amazing folks working to help save the lions, to just your everyday person trying to get by, they all had a special spark that you couldn’t help but fall in love with.
Love of Africa: The Scenery
How can you sit on the edge of a massive sand dune, on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert, watch the sunrise and not fall in love? How can you stand in front of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, hearing the roar of the rushing waters and not be in complete awe of it’s beauty? How can you embrace the absolute serenity of riding in a mokoro though the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta, feeling a million miles away from civilization, and feel absolutely at peace with yourself and the world? Africa has it all: deserts, canyons, waterfalls, savannahs, and everything in between. It’s hard to not find yourself immersed in the middle of such natural beauty and not have your breath continuously taken away. It makes you wonder why anyone would want to ruin perfectly beautiful scenery to put up a skyscraper or have a bustling city. To top it all off, there is nothing more perfect than an African sunset- and to this day I long for the moment that I get to bear witness to another one.
Love of Africa: The Wildlife
Where else in the world do you have the potential of seeing lions, elephants, zebra, giraffe, or what seems like an infinite number of different antelope species up close, and in their natural environment? Nowhere. Africa is home to so many incredible species of wildlife. I can recall falling asleep in the middle of the Okavango, knowing that just a mere 500m away were hippopotamus – something we were reminded of as they bellowed out with their obnoxious calls throughout the night. I had the amazing opportunity to not only walk alongside lions, but actually volunteered my time to help with the efforts to help save the lion from extinction. Through that I realized a genuine love and passion that I have for conservation and preserving what we have here on earth so that future generations can get to know the king of the jungle, the mighty mountain gorilla or any other beautiful creature that may grace the planet. One cannot conjure up an image of Africa in their head without thinking of the beautiful animals that roam about, and for me that is reason enough to solidify my love of Africa.
I am yet to meet someone who’s been to Africa and not fallen completely head over heels with the continent. For those of us who are fortunate to have made it to ‘The Motherland’, there is a common bond that unites us all, the love of Africa. It simply put has a magical quality, it gets under your skin, and you are infatuated and forever changed. You will walk away from an African journey wanting – no, NEEDING more. Quite simply put, it is a place that just speaks to your soul. It’s an indescribable magic, but once you’ve been, you will undoubtedly yearn for more.
Have YOU been to Africa? Do you agree with my thoughts? What made YOU fall in love with the continent?