I could count a million wonderful things about living in the bush – but lack of exercise is not one of them. ‘Cheers guys I’m going for a run, perhaps I’ll jog into a pride of lions and they’ll think I’m prey’ … said nobody EVER.
Recently, I spent a wild month at Mogotlho Safari Lodge, named for the plentiful Camelthorn trees surrounding the lodge’s peaceful secluded spot on the banks of Botswana’s beautiful Kwai River.
Jogging around the unfenced camp paths was, of course, impossible. Not only was there a chance of surprising one of the two resident leopards that routinely stroll this bit of riverbed – or the lions whose roars echoed through my tent nightly – but the camp was an elephant paradise. Like bees to honey are ellies to Camelthorn trees! There were almost always at least two or three elephants close by, leaning their enormous heads against the trucks of these special acacias, and shaking with all of heaven’s might to loosen and release the delicious pods. In fact, for the first few nights I woke up to what sounded like World War three hitting my cosy canvas home – thank goodness it was only large seed pods hailing down, shaken off by elephants! One afternoon a particularly enthusiastic individual actually lent right against the tent wall, which temporarily caved in. If he were to put his whole weight on it, then it definitely would, but no harm was intended from this gentle giant who was just trying to reach a particularly delicious looking pod. I also LOVED lying in bed at night and listening to the warm and comforting gurgling sounds of the elephant’s stomachs.
Such are the joys of bush life! Another wonderful thing was that my tent was far from the main lodge and the guest tents, which allowed me perfect privacy.
One afternoon, after waking from a little nap, my urge to exercise was so great that I couldn’t take it anymore, and began spontaneously dancing around the tent…
Hang on a minute…this is GREAT! Dancing is EXERCISE! And … If I dance for long enough I might even sweat!
This was a delightful revelation. I put on my running shoes to protect my feet from the thorns that stuck through the canvas floor, and, because of the heat, I stripped down to my underwear. After all, no one would see! My iPhone (which was rather useless in a place with no signal) came in very handy, although I only had two songs on it, ‘Dela’ and ‘Great heart’, both by Johnny Clegg.
Music…check, running shoes…check, open tent with beautiful bush view…check. And then, with elephant-sized enthusiasm, I began dancing my heart out!
After about 20 minutes I was growing in confidence and started surprising myself with some rather strange dance moves, kicking my legs high in the air like a zulu warrior. Suddenly self-conscious, I peered around, just to make sure nobody had crept up on me… and stared face to face with a elephant!! His big body filled the whole open tent door and we just looked at each other. After a little while, he slowly moved off. It was such a surreal moment for me. Here I was (half-naked and in running shoes), dancing by myself to Johnny Clegg in a little tent in wild Botswana, with an elephant watching me.
Perhaps is was newly released endorphins, wondering what the elephant thought about my hideous dance moves, or just the overwhelming beauty of life, but I collapsed on the floor with giddy, hysterical laughter!
A few of my favourite African-inspired tunes for dancing:
Johnny Clegg – Dela (George-of-the-Jungle dance moves in this music video are essential!)
Johnny Clegg – Great Heart
Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Graceland
Paul Simon and Ladysmith Mambazo – You can call me Al
Shakira – Waka Waka (This time for Africa)
Mirium Makeba – Pata Pata
Hot Water – Wamkekekile
Freshly Ground – Fire is Low
Mango Groove – Special Star
Music to stretch to:
I would highly recommend Mogothlo Safari Lodge, for its wild location and rustic – yet beautiful accommodation and wonderful staff. A great place to stay for two or three days en route to Savuti. Thank you Mogothlo – see you again soon!