The whoop of a spotted hyena split the darkness and it took me a few seconds to presence myself to where I was. A huge grin arced across my face and I felt a sparkle of elation tingle in my eyes when I remembered where I was. In Makuleke; and that this morning I was going to explore the Fever Tree Forest for the very first time. I sprang out of bed with childish fervour, whisked on my clothes and walked by torchlight to the main tent for a strong morning brew! It was five am and the night was quickly ripening into a tangerine hue beyond the camp. I had been waiting for this day for some time.
I clambered into the safari vehicle with zealous intent and we were on our way. As we meandered through the astonishingly beautiful landscape of the Makuleke Concession I could make out the yellowish tinge of the forest in the distance. The pillars of fever-tree-green stood abundant and strong and as we were hushed under the forest canopy, I knew I was in an enchanted place.
I remember the silence. As if the gathering of trees had absorbed all sound and left only a void to be filled by the imagination. I truly felt like Alice having just tumbled down the rabbit hole. My sense of perspective had altered. I was minute in comparison to the stature of this forest and I was humbled. Each citron stem embodied a presence and I felt that if I whispered a question, I might receive a reply.
The golden rays of day-break danced playfully amongst the trees and caught a fine lime powder that blew off their bark. Caught in the glow of the sun’s rays, the dust twinkled, and I was reminded of my childhood fascination with magical fairy dust. My imagination planted a seed that I may even see the Cheshire Cat or the blue caterpillar smoking his hookah if I ventured deeper into the forest’s chasm.
Once in the heart of the forest, I stood dwarfed by the towers of fever trees with a lump in my throat; I was so moved by this profound aesthetic experience and it left me in wonderment. Fork-tailed drongo’s flitted in comical display between the branches and droves of tiny white butterflies waltzed just above the forest floor. A troop of misbehaving baboons screeched in the distance and fled, leaving us in quiet solitude. Alone but not lonely. Where were the Mad Hatter and his tea party? Time stood still and my heart was full. I had been secretly hoping that my visit to this natural cathedral would criss-cross in time with an elephant bull. I yearned to witness a tusked mammoth passing through this enchanted forest. I wanted to capture it on my camera to remind me of this space forever.
I never did get to see that bull elephant. But I have every intention of returning to the Fever Tree Forest in the hopes that he will be there to meet me next time.
Thank you to EcoTraining for giving me the opportunity to experience the grandeur of this magnificent place.
Want to learn some facts about the Kruger National Park? Try our EcoTraining Kruger Park Quiz.
Or, if you want to see what the beautiful Makuleke Camp looks like, have a walkthrough here on the EcoTraining TV Channel