Tapping into the 5 senses for Africa Day

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order. (John Burroughs)

Today, Wednesday, 25 May, is Africa Day! This is a special day for everyone who has an affinity with the continent. Today, we celebrate the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963.

John Burroughs (1837 - 19210) was an American naturalist and nature essayist, active in the conservation movement in the United States. He was famous for his observations of the world around him. He especially loved to write about nature, describing the natural beauty of places like the Catskills in upstate New York, which he found peaceful and inspiring. He wrote, "I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order."

Where better than Africa to be rejuvenated and have your senses restored. We are taught about our five senses from childhood: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Even from a young age, we know to "use our senses" to investigate the world around us. But our senses do more than just identify the world we live in. Deeper down, our sensory brain areas are involved with emotion too.

Visiting Africa is an all-encompassing emotional experience. You don't just experience one feeling when out on your first game drive, but many. You may think that a trip to Africa is simply just a trip, a holiday. However, until you actually arrive and fall into the experience, you won't understand the complex impact on your mind, body and soul. There is raw adrenalin, there is deep appreciation, there is electric excitement, there is harsh realisation, and there is understanding. Your wildlife experiences in the veld, the moments shared with loved ones, the moments enjoyed with new friends, the moments connected with oneself, are endless.

To celebrate Africa Day 2022, we are tapping into our five senses to share some of our favourite tangible Morukuru Memories.

Sight: Africa is a classroom, and the safari is its teacher. At Morukuru Family, you learn how important it is to reconnect with Mother Nature. You know more about human nature; through animal sightings and observing how animals reflect our emotions and actions. Watch how a mother lion protects her cubs, witness how elephants mourn the loss of a herd member, focus on a leopard carrying her young through treacherous landscapes to safety and observe how clan members stick together. You will see how connected you are to nature without even knowing it.

Smell: A vital sense that adds to the enjoyment of the safari experience is the sense of smell. Here are some of our favourites. We are sure catching a whiff of any below will bring back memories and reignite a desire to return to Africa. Rain after a thunderstorm: that beautiful aroma when raindrops hit dry earth, bringing relief to barren soil. The pungent and aromatic scent of  the Cape Fynbos. A smoky campfire and how it clings to your clothes: That smell sparks a flurry of emotional memories for many. Catch a faint whiff, and you are immediately transported back to a long evening around the campfire. Animal dung: The tang of fresh, musty dung as you head out on a walking safari. You will soon learn that your nose can be a handy tracking tool from your ranger and tracker. Those safari smells are all part of the experience and the memories.

Hearing: Sound is a particularly emotive part of the bush experience. Wildlife themes remind us of thrilling excitement and profound emotion. The echo of these moments stays with our guests for a lifetime, often sending them back to the Madikwe and the unforgettable experience of being immersed in raw, unfiltered nature. Bird Sounds One of the first things guests hear upon waking, usually just before sunrise if they're going on a morning game drive, is the dawn chorus, a charming combination of chirps, whistles and sing-song calls that herald the new day. While out in the bush, the distinctive squawk or chatter of a bird can give away its species and location and be a valuable tool for alerting us to the presence of a well-camouflaged predator moving through the area. Some calls are as iconic as the bush itself – the haunting cry of the African Fish Eagle, the raucous screech of a Hadeda Ibis and the characteristic "churring" of a Fiery-Necked Nightjar under a full moon.

 

Many of the sounds associated with an African safari are heard while exploring the wilderness on a game drive. The crunch of tyres on the sand and the low rumble of the engine soon fade into the background as the symphony of nature is dialled up. A drive along the water is often accompanied by grunting hippos, trumpeting elephants and twittering waterfowl. At the same time, the deep-throated crack of an afternoon thunderstorm is followed by the pitter-patter of raindrops on the Land Rover's canvas roof.As night falls, Africa's crepuscular and nocturnal wildlife lend their voices to the medley of nature sounds – a lion bellowing to his pride across the veld, a pack of hyena giggles and whoops, and a scops owl makes monotonous, quivering chirrups in the distance.

 

It's no surprise that ocean waves are a popular choice for soothing sleep sounds. For many people, the rhythmic crashing of water onto sand and rock can be quite calming.

And don't forget the voices. The warm heart of Africa is perhaps best expressed by her people. Listen to rangers'  and guides fireside storytelling.; sharing the day's adventures, and learning from each other. The gentle hospitality of our staff checking in on you, the joyous song of our teams welcoming you to our properties.

Taste: We are not sure anything beats the flavour of freshly brewed coffee enjoyed with homemade rusks while watching an African sunrise? And why not treat yourself to a decadent Amarula Coffee. Your rusk will be even more delicious! Amarula is a cream liqueur made from the Marula fruit and pairs perfectly with a deep, smooth coffee.

Maybe the waft of a bush breakfast tops that - there is nothing like eating outdoors surrounded by nature. Our breakfast potjie is a spin on a full English breakfast - a combination of bacon, pork sausage, tomato, onion and mushroom, with eggs dropped into the middle and sprinkled with cheese. All cooked over open coals in a traditional South African cast iron cooking pot (potjie). Who can resist?

Gin & Tonic: Nothing tastes more refreshing than a G & T sundowner. We love to prepare a generous Gin Bar featuring a selection of locally produced gin with all the fragrant bits that go toward making the perfect sundowner. Depending on the gin, savour flavours of rich botanicals and gorgeous citrus flavours, balanced with a touch of herbs and wildflowers. Add some fresh cucumber and mint, and you have the perfect end to your day on safari or exploring the De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Biltong: Biltong is a South African legend. No sundowner would be complete without a taste of this tradition wherever you are. In case you don't know, biltong is a dried, cured meat originating with the indigenous Khoikhoi, who pioneered this technique which became the process used to preserve all kinds of meat in South Africa before introducing refrigeration. Biltong is South African for "the greatest beef jerky you've ever had in your entire life". So make great tasting memories ...pass the biltong!

Touch: All Morukuru Family properties offer the finest thread count, 100% cotton sheets and duck-down duvets so you can snuggle while catching your forty winks. The feel of cotton is soft, lightweight, on your skin but also breathable and warm.

Imagine snoozing under an African night sky. Enjoy a sleep-out in the private hide at Morukuru Family Madikwe, overlooking a waterhole from an elevated platform. What is more romantic than listening to the call of the wild whilst drifting off embraced by the highest quality bed linen, ensconced by warm blankets and embraced with hot-water bottles!

There is no place quite like Africa - the untamed bush, the abundant wildlife, the people, the magnificent scenery  - it captivates with its sights, scents, sounds, tastes and touch. A magical place like no other. That's why we are celebrating Africa Day!

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