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  • Writer's pictureJulien Biget

The senses.

You wake up to the sound of water being poured into your basin, a soft voice says hello. It's still dark outside and it's time to wake up. You're not alone. There are all sorts of sounds you've never heard before. You can tell they are from birds mostly. Amongst them you can hear the soft voices of humans moving around, getting the coffee station ready. There's an energy that is palpable in the air. You can feel that the day is starting. More and more birds start calling. The light gets a little bit brighter every second. The energy inside of you starts to mount too. You are ready. Ready for the adventure about to take place. You don't know what's in stall. You never will. Nature has surprises for you around every corner. You can never tell what will come. But you are ready.


The engine starts and breaks the calm. You drive off into the wild, away from the camp and away from all man-made objects. The wilderness awaits you. You are awake now. Your eyes are scanning the environment for anything and everything that sticks out from the “norm”. You look through the bushes, up the trees and into the grass. Your guide has told you what to look for and how to look for it, but this is proving harder than it was to explain. He stops the car. Without saying anything the calmness hits you. Has he seen something? Has he heard something? We sit there a few seconds in silence. You can hear the birds. You can hear the wind blowing in the grass and the rustling of branches as they respond to the air.


“Can you smell something?”


You didn’t pay much attention to smell, but now that he mentioned it, yes. There's a bad smell in the air. Smells like the farms back home, a bit like compost.


“Something has died close by. An herbivore got killed and those are the insides of their stomach that you smell.”


Your heart rate suddenly increases. There's a predator close by. Where? What is it? Cat, dog? What did it kill?


“Which way is the wind blowing?”


The wind? Why am I, oh! Of course, the wind, which direction is it blowing in? I try to feel the wind as best as possible. I guess it's going from my left to right.


“Yes, that's correct.”


So, we concentrate our search to our left. There are a bunch of bushes under some trees. We go closer. The smell intensifies. We are getting closer. The engine stops again.


“There she is. Under the bush, look carefully, you can see her spots, she's looking at us, she has an impala kill.”


I squint my eyes and boom! I can see her. She seems to become so obvious now that I can see her. Her body pops out of the bushes clearly for me now. I can see her tail, the white tip standing out of the green bush. I can see her back, her neck and her head. She is lying down. I can see her eyes, her mouth, her ears, her whole head, it feels like she's looking right at me. She's looking right through my body and into my soul. Her eyes are strong and deep. Deeper than I could have ever imagined. She is stunning. My guide says we can get a little closer and get a better view. We can now see the impala she has killed. The red is dark and powerful. She is stained with it around her mouth.


“Let us take a moment to thank the impala for giving it's life to feed her”.


The situation becomes so real and ethereal. Predator and prey, life and death. One must die for another to eat. The wilderness has just sucked me in so much deeper than I could have ever imagined. The reality of life in the wild for an herbivore trying not to get eaten. The life of a predator trying to remain unseen so she can find prey and eat. We sit with her in silence. Sharing a moment that can never be forgotten or replaced or recreated. This moment I will never forget. It changes you. Changes your perspectives. Reorganises your values. Puts all the mondain struggles into a whole different light.


We stay with her for a while. The air is getting warmer now. She is full, her belly seems like it's about to pop. She is getting restless under the bush in the heat. She yawns and stretches, gets up and walks a little. Suddenly there are all sorts of sounds coming from behind the bush. They sound like someone is sneezing hard. Sounds like many people are sneezing.


“Those are the alarm calls of the impala. They have seen her.”


She walks up to the nearest tree and without hesitating jumps off the ground. She seems to put no effort in at all and somehow makes it 2 metres up the trunk in a flash. She gets to a big horizontal branch and lies down. Legs dangling on either side, she puts her head down and closes her eyes. She will stay here the whole day. I am at peace. I am calm. I am connected. Connected to a world which seems so foreign and yet feels so natural. This one experience has taught me so much about myself. About life and death. About us and about the world. We are at one with nature in this moment. Sharing this space with a primordial predator. Feeling the wind, hearing the branches, seeing the red, smelling the air. My senses are awakened into a world that is natural and real. A world we come from and are apart from. The air we breath. The food we eat. The light we see. The warmth we feel. We are home. Our only home.


Leopard
Lerato Adventures – Leopard


 

Author


Lerato Adventures Safari Guide Julien Biget
Lerato Adventures – Safari Guide Julien Biget

Julien is French and Scottish, born in 1988 in Nairobi Kenya.


He's a professional Nature Guide and Trails Guide speaking both French and English. He has been lucky enough to have worked in some of the most amazing destinations Africa has to offer, from East Africa to Southern Africa, as well as some time in Central Africa.


From a very young age he knew he needed to work with animals, big or small, and somewhere in nature. He was always picking creatures up and trying to see the world from their perspective, trying to understand them as much as possible, mesmerised by their shapes and colours. He liked to share this passion with everyone around, always trying to get them involved in his discoveries. Nature is all around us, in Europe, Asia or Africa, all we have to do is realise it.



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