Memorable travel moments: Black Rhinoceros

“The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.” David Attenborough

For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling to write. Fortunately, this has given me the extra time to de-clutter my life and, as a result, I’ve inadvertently re-discovered old books; random scribblings on paper and cards; and so many pre-digital photographs.

In particular, the photographic prints bring back so many memories. It’s not that I’ve forgotten them; it’s just that, these days, I rarely look at old photographs.

And while those memories remain tucked away in my heart, I’ve decided to share them on my blog. I think this might also be the inspiration I need to get writing again. After all, photography was always my first love …

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African sunsets

Matopos Hills, Zimbabwe

Matopos Hills, Zimbabwe

As the sun drops lower in the sky, I gaze out the window of the overland truck, trying to commit everything to memory. It’s my second-last day in Africa and I really don’t want this moment to end. Nor do I want my travels in Africa to be over.

The landscape surrounding us is mostly rural; cornfields stretch to the horizon, there’s a spattering of acacia trees and a couple of ramshackle huts. It’s not a particularly remarkable sight…

…but, there’s this golden light slowly working its magic… transforming that mundane scene into something truly breathtaking… changing its hue, getting progressively darker. It’s another masterpiece by nature.

Of course, sunsets and sunrises are always beautiful, no matter where they occur. But, what can I say, photographers notice the light and, for me, Africa owns the world’s best sunsets!

Here are some of my favourite photographs.

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Above the clouds

At 5895 metres above sea level (19,340-feet), Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on earth. Situated close to the equator, and distinctive for its snow-capped peak, Kilimanjaro attracts thousands of people every year, each hoping to hike to the summit.

I did this trek years ago, on the spur of the moment (and without much training). It was before I really got into hiking and, I suspect, one of the reasons I really love it now. On the final day, I remember huddling next to a small fire, removing my socks to warm my freezing feet over the flames, and then massaging them desperately to get the circulation flowing. The other hikers were preparing to resume the trek, but I was struggling to breathe and desperately trying to make my body co-operate.

I also remember the doubts that went through my mind at that moment. How easy it would’ve been to quit. To get back to a lower altitude where my head would stop pounding. Where I could breathe easily. Others were heading down, so why not me?

I suppose it comes down to my personality. I’m really very stubborn. Once I set my mind on something, I rarely give up, and this was no exception. At the time, the Kilimanjaro trek was the most challenging thing I’d ever done (I’ve since added to that list hiking in Alaska’s Denali National Park and trekking the Inca Trail in Peru). But, the truth is, I love challenging myself… and these are the type of trips that remain forever etched in my memory.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Tired and ready to quit? What did you do to motivate yourself to keep going? What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?

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