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It was the best day of my life.

It all began with a nondescript green jeep. This jeep was different from a typical jeep because it lacked walls and had higher, theater like seating. While resting my laurels in this open jeep, I had just witnessed the best nature has to offer.

Elephants, giraffes, rhinos, warthogs, cheetahs, and a plethora of their hooved friends all living their peaceful lives on the dusty landscape.

The sun was setting and turning these wild residents into god-like shades of gold. It felt like we were driving into the most magical place on Earth. It wasn’t any shade of Disney, this was South Africa. The memories of this expedition continue to delight with time. Similar to the ageing affects of good cheese but better!

The Pleasure of a South African Safari

Before this magical moment, the typical gauntlet of concerns gurgled to my consciousness. As a novice international traveler, I was concerned. Is rabies a thing in South Africa? Can I drink water from the tap? How many vaccinations do I need?

Luckily, the internet is pretty good at providing lots of information. I stick to gov sites for travel-related questions because the interweb has some pretty shady places. Side-eyeing the flat Earth society.

Plus, talking to my doctor is a way to calm my concerns. My doctor was a kind human who was patient in correcting my one too many self-diagnoses compliments of WebMD.

Fetching Delights

The establishment we stayed at was called Zulu Nyala. As far as I am concerned, they can call it the “most magical place on Earth” because that is exactly what it felt like.

The bungalows were at the top of a hill which provided expansive views of the preserver. The accommodations were warm with colors and nestled together like a little collection of nature nerds.

Plus, there was a pool! Mr. BuLL and I found ourselves delighting in this rare liquid treat.

The property was open, while we walking to the dining hall we frequently bumped into the “locals” – a kudo, impala, or we’d stumble across a warthog bowing at our feet. North American wildlife has yet to bow at my feet!

The Ideal Season

We visited this dreamland during winter.

It was the best time for our schedule and it is an ideal time to view wildlife. As an extra bonus, winter is a great time to avoid the plethora of poisonous snakes and giant ticks.

A South African winter includes robust trees turning into large, leafless toothpicks that wildlife continue to eat- to my astonishment. How could a stick with extra thorns be nutritious to a giraffe?

Life. Is. Wild.

5-Star Safari Ride

I was standing like I have done a million times before. Focusing my attention on the moment. Reality had a firm grip on my mind.

I was standing on dusty soil and watching small baby cheetahs devouring their first meat meal. As they slowly sheered away what was left of an impala, I viciously engorged on their presence.

I was eight feet from this feline family.

I still remember the red sheen of blood that covered their tiny furry faces. It was a magical, yet bloody, moment.

Fear the Fear

If I had let my novice international traveler doubts consume me, I never would have traveled to South Africa.

I would be a lesser human for it.

If I allowed my fear of the unknown to override my sense of adventure, it would have led to more fear and doubt.

The memories of this trip continue to be a vigilant reminder that only the brave are rewarded.

Perhaps, that was what the baby cheetah was displaying in its first meat meal. It takes courage to try something new. But if I am brave and at least try, I may be rewarded with a new destiny.

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