Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued, when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from relationship.
We are a week into the much anticipated Rise of the Matriarch expedition. Right now I’m sitting in this simply gorgeous spot in Kosi Bay to write this first update from the road.
Six remarkable women in two Land Rovers hit the road from Durban last week. Our matriarch Carla Geyser, founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, brought us together for this epic adventure exploring the wild spaces on the eastern side of Mzansi (South Africa). The first leg of the ROTM is focused on wildlife and wild places of Zululand.
What unites us all as ROTM crew is our absolute passion for wildlife conservation in all its aspects – environmental, social and economic. Most of us were complete strangers at the outset of our expedition, but the connection was instantaneous! We are in our element. We have found our tribe. I am in awe of each of these wonderful women I get to share the road with on this adventure – it is an honour to be in their company.
The purpose of the expedition is to visit the boots-on-the-ground wildlife conservation projects we have raised funds for. We get to see first hand where that donation money has gone. More importantly, we get to meet the incredible humans behind these endeavours to protect this stunning part of Mama Africa. And so a Conservation Collective expands and hopefully the burden of this work is eased as the load is shared.
Dora, a 25 years old Land Rover Defender, and Diego, an 18 year old Land Rover Discovery, provide our eye-catching transport for this Journey with Purpose.
Our first stop is Babanango Game Reserve – a ground breaking rewilding project with community empowerment at its heart. The conservation efforts take place both within the reserve but also in the surrounding communities. It has been so inspiring to see this relatively new model of nature conservation in action. A well-managed scenario with well-thought out infrastructure. Excited to see how this project progresses and evolves.
A special mention about the Babanango staff – they are fabulous. We were so well looked after. And I wish we had their rusk recipe!!
The landscape of Babanango is breath taking. Interesting microclimates create unique little biomes and the geology is fascinating. The White Umfolozi River meanders through the valley with its reassuring rush and tumble noise of water.
My Nature-connectedness response to this Pure Wild Space was deeply physical. The stress and angst of the past two and half years melted away as we drove up, down and around the property in the game viewer steered by our very able guide.
The Spirit of Ubuntu continued as our guide shared his bush lore, unlocking the wisdom of this wild place for us. His genuine connection to each of us meant an almost individual guided experience. At the same time there was easy banter and much laughter as our group simply enjoyed each other’s company. This is a rare gift for a guide to have in my experience and ours was a natural.
Wildlife moments are magical, there is no doubt. Every one of them I am privileged to experience, I am immensely grateful for. I will write about these moments in future posts. But the focus of this first expedition reflection is that it is often the humans you encounter living and working in these Pure Spaces who help you make a genuine connection. After all, isn’t that what the concept of Ubuntu is all about? I am because we are.
It is in these Pure Wild Spaces we find our freedom to connect with each other in the way Brené Brown speaks about in the quote that opened this post. Freedom from preconceptions, freedom from odd social constructs about human connection, freedom from agenda and future expectation.
This first moment of expedition has reminded me to just Be and be open to genuine connection in all its glorious forms.
This post is dedicated to an unexpected Kindred Spirit.