Africa is many things, least of all a destination. For the lucky, it is a journey – one both literal and metaphoric – into the wilderness and a chance to step outside the quotidian grind and see the world with fresh eyes.
Be it the heart-stopping sight of a hundred thousand wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti or the solace that comes from acres of stars crowding a midnight sky, there is something to be gained from recognizing one’s own insignificance in such overwhelmingly spectacular surroundings: the mind sheds the useless baggage of modern life like a layer of dead skin.
Yet it also expands the heart, freeing it to redefine what’s possible from what’s anticipated. The sun may reliably rise each morning to stir life on the plains, but its setting also awakens a mysterious jungle world that thrives in the dark.
Africa may be just a step on an ongoing journey – one of altered perspectives and acceptance – but oh, what a natural step it is.
In an open-air cabana along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, the smoke and thunder of Victoria Falls lie in sight as you lay on the table for Ukuchina (90mins, US$153), a traditional Zambian massage combining Thai and Swedish techniques along with hot exfoliating towels. It is utter bliss, in one of the most unspoiled places on earth: a herd of zebra grazes not fifty feet away, while vervet monkeys and baboons play in the trees and across the river the sun descends over neighboring Zimbabwe.
Bubble away in the Baker’s Retreat (30min, R350) an open-air hydrotherapy bath overlooking a watering hole that is perfect for one and even better for two. Scrub up with an assortment of Africology organic mud and bath products or lie back with a smoothie, enveloped in the sounds of the wild. Noises start to fool you, until you snap to and realize that, yes, an entire family of elephants are walking across the field not twenty yards away. This is what spafari is all about.