Zambia, Botswana and South Africa (Photos from Africa)

February 12, 2017  •  1 Comment

A friend called Africa my "spiritual home".  According to the Cambridge Dictionary this refers to a place where I feel I belong because I have a lot in common with the people, culture and way of life (even though I was not born there).  

 

Regardless of its precise definition I can tell you that I have felt moments of absolute peace on my visits to this wondrous continent; a hunger to know its people, culture and way of life; respect for its inherent risks; and a passion to see its natural wonders.  I'm completely enthralled.

 

Leopard, Botswana

Copyright 2016, Cindy A Stephens

 

Last July I made my third visit to the African continent -- it won't be my last.  For me, visiting this magical place is not about checking a box to visit another continent or add another country(s) to my tally.  Africa is a continent of some 50+ countries, 2000 languages and more than one billion people.  Visiting "Africa" and only seeing one country would be like visiting America and not stepping foot outside New York City.  You'd have a feel for NYC but no clue about what the rest of the country was like.

 

On my most recent journey I decided to visit countries in the southern part of the African continent because it was a region that I hadn't explored.  Botswana, in particular, offered the chance to see the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi (one of the world's largest salt pans).

 

Almost immediately this visit felt very different from my trip six years ago.  At the river crossing into Botswana (where Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe meet) there were long truck lines loaded with copper and other cargo waiting to cross.  This active commerce was a sign of a more prosperous economy.  Nevertheless, as with many experiences in Africa, this hopeful scene was punctuated with a bridge that lay unfinished and lazily tip-toed from the river bank as if testing its temperature.

 

Zambian sunset

Copyright 2016, Cindy A Stephens

 

I could say more about the economy of Botswana (regarded as one of the most stable and democratic African nations) but I am reminded of Alexander von Humboldt. My current Audible selection is The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World.  Alexander explored South America and the Pacific during the later 1700's.  His letters home spoke of how it felt to be where he was as well as what he observed. Let me try to do the same.  

 

I felt:

 

  • pure joy the afternoon we came across a leopard sunning itself on a dead tree
  • incredibly privileged to see African wild dogs and their pups in their natural environment.  There are only an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 remaining in Africa.  On this day we raced back to the den in time to watch adults feed their pups after a morning feast (these dogs regurgitate food for their young).
  • at peace walking in the desert with a Meerkat family as it foraged for food.  There were no cars.  No noise.  No buildings.  I was truly in the midst of the Meerkat world -- and these amazing animals live only in a few regions of southern Africa.
  • apprehensive to be out at sunset when the mosquitoes were more apparent as I was unable to tolerate the malaria medication.  I was understandably relentless about applying mosquito repellent and covering up, particularly at night.
  • lucky to be among the few who are able to sleep outside under the stars in the Makgadikgadi and watch the Milky Way and southern night sky, followed by a beautiful dawn and sunrise
  • happy to see absolutely amazing sunsets.  When the sun is setting the sky is dressed in its finest tapestry.  This is only a tease though for afterwards, when it seems to burn the most vibrant colors imaginable.

 

I often need time to reflect on my adventures before I am ready to share them.  Perhaps my photos will more adequately convey what this trip felt like even more than these words have.

 

See more African fine art photos in this gallery

 

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


Comments

Don McLagan(non-registered)
In "Ulysses", Alfred Lord Tennyson says, "I am a part of all I have seen,/ and all experience is an arch wherethrough/ gleams the untraveled world whose margin fades/ for ever and forever when I move." Thanks for making your experience an arc for the rest of us.
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I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer.  With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now educate creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.  

 

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