There are not a lot of us out there that can truly say that they have had a lifelong dream and fulfilled that dream. The excuses we make, “I don’t have enough time” or “I have other priorities at the moment”. There is no better time than the present to live your dream.
I have had the privilege of driving Sjoerd Jan ter Welle and Lex Versteeg, two pilots from Holland, who have dreamed about flying all over Africa and enjoying all the pleasures that this wonderful continent has to offer. It has taken them two weeks to get to Sabi Sabi as they made the first part of their journey down the west coast of Africa stopping off at 19 destinations, Mauritania, Mali, Congo and Namibia to name but a few. They arrived at Sabi Sabi`s private airstrip in their Piper Archer 3 plane, to enjoy a five star safari experience.
Sjoerd has said that their stay at Earth Lodge was always a highlight in the itinerary, giving them a much needed break and trading in their Piper for being driven around in an open safari vehicle. The first early morning wake-up call at 05h30 was maybe a little too early for Lex`s liking, but after a very strong cup of coffee his pioneering instincts had kicked in and he was ready to get going in search of the Big 5. We had a great morning drive with lots of general game like zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, impala and waterbuck, but it was a close encounter with a breeding herd of elephants that spiked everyone`s enthusiasm.
With all of the travelling over the last two weeks a bit of relaxation was called for, and a massage at the Amani Spa at Earth Lodge was no doubt going to be a treat. Getting rid of all the knots from turbulence and stresses of border control would seem like a distant memory after the hour of self-indulgent pampering.
That evening our mission was to notch up some cats and we didn’t have to wait long when one of the Earth Lodge rangers found a female leopard close to the lodge. We spent some good time with her and even had her walking straight past our vehicle!
The next day there were more spotty cats – the first a male leopard and then later a male cheetah that had just finished off a kill. This was cause for celebration and a bottle of sparkling wine being opened on one of our largest plains while watching animals go by in the distance.
Although we had seen a lot of amazing animals, birds and trees, there was still something that our explorers wanted to find – the icon of Africa – a lion. Mother Nature was to test our resolve on the last morning as the rain came down and after much debate Sjoerd, Meshack (our tracker) and I went out in search of lions. Our commitment was rewarded when a female and 2 males were found in the far north east of the reserve – our mission was complete.
This morning seemed fitting as it confirmed that if you have a goal, no matter the adversities, with determination you will succeed. I think we can all be inspired by Lex and Sjoerd and their tenacity to follow their dreams despite challenges. If there is something that you have always wanted to do, but never got round to doing it. Start planning, as there is no time than the present for living in the moment.
If you want to follow the guys trip back, click on www.acrossafricachallenge.com and follow their progress as they make their way up the eastern coast of Africa.