Africa. Where do I even begin?
I guess I can start by saying that I most certainly didn’t run outdoors — at all — during my most recent adventure in a magical place called South Africa. While it was tough, it was also the only way. You literally aren’t allowed to walk off the pathways without risking being eaten by a lion, bitten by a snake, or charged at by a vicious cape buffalo, rhino, hippo or other oversized creature with teeth, horns, venom or a mean back leg kick that would put Jillian Michaels to shame. I’m serious people, these animals mean business, and my life and legs are something I’m simply not willing to risk for the sake of a run.
As always, there are tons of avenues I could travel right now in terms of what I talk about. I could tell you about, despite the massive amounts of food served, how I managed to load my plate with greens almost every meal. Or, I could tell you that between eight-hour game drives and countless midday naps, I managed to hit the treadmill and crush a few circuits. But where would the fun be in that? And anyway, I have plenty of time to go into topics like “eating healthy while traveling for 22 hours” or “why vegetarians should allow themselves a bite (or 20) of meat while in Africa because it’s soooo awesome.” Stuff like that.
But instead, I’d rather just recap the top 18 reasons why Africa was ridiculously incredibly amazing. Enjoy, and stay tuned if you’re into the whole exer-cation recap thing later in the week.
18. We lived in huts. Nice huts, no doubt. I might even describe them as glamourous huts. Like glamping (the clever combination of glamourous + camping). But each time I looked up from my bed, there was a tightly bound roof made of nature above me. So yea, I’d still call it a hut.
17. Afternoon tea. We were served afternoon tea, coffee and a delightful snack before every evening game drive, and it made me seriously wonder: Why haven’t I been enjoying a lovely cup of afternoon tea forever?
16. Everywhere you looked, there was Mother Earth. The same Mother Earth I run on every morning at home in New York. The same Mother Earth I revisited upon my return to Ann Arbor last month. No matter what part of the world you are in, there she is, and she looked pretty dang good in South Africa.
15. Elephants everywhere. I loved the way they moved in single file from one place to another. Here they are going to the watering hole for a drank.
13. The landscape. It’s just so different than anything I’ve ever come across in the United States — or anywhere, for that matter. What amazed me even more is how different it can be from one season to the next. We were fortunate enough to be there at the start of spring and the end of their rainy season, leaving behind budding trees, growing grass and a wealth of life.
12. This guy. It’s a hippo. Yawning. Aw.
11. Survival of the fittest. It might look like this leopard in a tree is gently cuddling a fuzzy impala (like our version of a Bambi), but don’t be fooled, my friends. That’s just the head. Dangling from the other side is a completely gutted carcass that, yes, I have pictures of and, no, I won’t post here. Trust me — I’m sparing you the gruesome details of the kill. Regardless, it was awe-inspiring to be surrounded by such sheer truth of life.
10. Infinity pools. THAT EMPTY INTO THE AFRICAN BUSH! How many times in my life will I be able to say that?
9. Giraffes. These animals are simply majestic, with eye lashes that extend to the moon and a pattern that’s pretty enough to stare at for hours. Fun fact: Giraffes never put their necks down on the ground, even when their sleeping.
6. Private planes. This, to be honest, I could do without for the rest of my life. You literally feel every gust of wind, and it’s completely terrifying. But it was cool nonetheless.
5. Le king. Look at those paws. Look at that mane! This is one creature you wouldn’t want to challenge to a duel. But from the Range Rover, it was actually quite fascinating.
4. Unbeatable sunsets. You can’t make this stuff up people.
3. Evil animal staring contests. This is a cape buffalo. They look mean.
2. Not to be a child… but it kind of felt like being in The Lion King the entire time. Doesn’t this tree make you want to cue the Elton John-written soundtrack?
So there you have it. If you haven’t booked your ticket yet, I suggest you go do it now. If you were debating whether South Africa would make an awesome trip, stop thinking and just do it. But a fair warning — there is little physical activity and a lotta stuffing your face, wine, animal watching, and napping. It was horrible, if you can’t tell.