It has been a month since I came back from South Africa but I am still dreaming about this place, wanting to go back. “Just relax, enjoy yourself, don’t stress” said Shannon, sitting on the floor of my bungalow while I was unpacking my belongings. “And always check your boots! You don’t want to have a spider or scorpion inside.” Everybody looked so relaxed while I couldn’t believe that what I saw was real. I moved closer to a door and saw about ten buffaloes eating grass in front of our bungalow. I knew I would see wild animals but I did not expect that I would live this close to them.

There are so many moments which I could keep telling stories about but two of them will stay with me forever. It was Wednesday of my second week when I saw herd of elephants for the first time in my life. A female elephant eating dry branches and roots, waving her enormous ears, looking so calm. With her skin orange from the sunset, she looked absolutely stunning. I turned my head to the right and was amazed. About 12 elephants with their infants were standing in a circle just a few meters away from us. I watched the herd moving around, eating whatever they were able to find in that dry land, destroying everything that was standing in their way. I have never felt so amazed in my whole life.

I think that what I loved the most were evening game drives when it got dark. You start appreciate every touch of the light and perceive moments which would normally slip away without you noticing that they were there all the time. I remember those moments when I tilted my head back and watched the stars, the beautiful Milky Way, while our vehicle was moving forward. In a quiet African bush, howling hyenas is the sound you associate with it for the rest of your life once you hear it. It is accompanied by cicadas and buzzing of bugs. The light of our torch ran through the darkness and we were waiting for any sign of animals. “It stinks like our national meal” said Ace, my friend from Norway. It was a buffalo, dead for a couple of days. The car’s engine went silent. At the end of a two years long dry season, there was one animal who could not have benefitted from it more – hyenas. They were sitting in front of us, having their dinner. There are no words which could describe that astonishing moment, I did not dare to breath, move, speak. I was just sitting quietly, watching them and listening to their language.

And then, at the end, there was my Joey. I fell in love with him so easily. The beautiful horse who accompanied me on my outrides to the bush. I think Traci knew from the very beginning that love would grow between us and that’s why she chose him for me.

So I just have to warn you, once you fall in love with this place and the Thomson family, it will never go away. Thank you.

Written by Petra Boučková (Czechoslovakia)