The Healing Powers of Mother Nature: By Dania Weinstein

With every safari I embark upon, there is always at least one moment where I think to myself “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be”. This sense of belonging is truly an amazing feeling.

On my latest African safari through Botswana and Zimbabwe, I had this feeling over and over again. With so much going on in the world – war, division, destruction – safari is a constant source of joy, peace and wonder for me. The African bush has become my happy place.

At Khwai Lediba in the eastern Okavango Delta, I silently glide through water channels on a mokoro, watching the sun set without any noise but the chirping of birds and warm wind in the trees. This type of silence is rare, certainly not something I encounter in my daily life in Los Angeles. I close my eyes and feel total peace. When I open my eyes, a dragonfly lands on my hand. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

At Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park, we happen to come across a baby elephant not one hour old. The mother stands by protectively, blood still on her legs, as she watches her baby shakily take its first steps. This moment in time where a new baby enters the world, and here we are, watching in awe, not another vehicle in sight. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

At Bumi Hills Safari Lodge in Lake Kariba, I chat with the camp host who becomes a fast friend. We share laughs and stories, which turn into sharing struggles and insecurities, and after 3 nights in camp, we say goodbye with happy tears in our eyes. A reminder that even halfway around the world we all have the same fears and desires and are grateful to share an authentic connection. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

The bush is a place of magic – every day is different and you are along for the ride. Some days are action packed, with predators, hunts, and up-close encounters. Other days are slower and allow the opportunity to get to know your guide, the people, the culture, the plants, and the birds. Either way, a day in the bush is a day well spent. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the feeling of excitement, the incredibly warm people, or a combination of everything, but safari calms my soul and awakens my spirit; something I never take for granted.

Mother nature educates and heals. Through observing African flora and fauna, she teaches us about balance, struggle, and harmony. She reminds us to be grateful, humble, and respectful. As you sink into life in the bush, you see that everything – from the smallest termite to the biggest elephant – has a purpose. Without one, the other doesn’t work. Everything in the wild relies on each other for food, safety, and shelter.

In the dry season and scorching heat – one species might suffer while another is feasting, yet when the rains come everything switches, allowing the ecosystem to replenish, and balance to be restored. For animals, patience and perseverance are key to success, a lesson that resonates as all too true.

As I sit on the plane, heading back home to my busy, noisy life, I carry with me a sense of calm gaines from the bush, inspiration from the spirit of the amazing people I’ve met, and gratitude for my time with the wildlife and landscapes of Botswana and Zimbabwe.