TALES OF PAFURI TRAILS – PART ONE
Pafuri is a place where the senses are radically stimulated. Although it pays homage to being visually exquisite, hearing and sound seem to take over this faculty, and can best be described as a symphony. On most nights, Pafuri tells its willing listener a curious African story.
Evenings spent in camp are structured like a narrative arc: a hyena welcomes the arrival of darkness with an attractive yet eerie sonata, soon followed by a slower adagio of nightjars and thick-tailed bushbabies. A romantic duet of Wood Owls flood the tree canopy above, which then leads into the finale, as a chorus of lions ceremoniously bringing the story to its end with deep and haunting roars!
This melody is one of the few magical moments on offer in Pafuri. However, it is silence that truly awakens the spirit to an authentic and wild African experience.
Silence is food for the soul.
Soul food was a word used regularly during our trail season last year, and Pafuri has a remarkable ability to bring visitors to their knees in the best and humblest way possible. What makes each trail particularly special, is that every member – ourselves included – have a unique expectation on how to feed their soul. And somehow, this creates an indelible harmony.
For those that don’t know Pafuri, it is a primal piece of wilderness wedged between the confluence of the Luvuhvu and Limpopo Rivers that ignites a spirit of remoteness and unrivaled natural beauty.
A dream like place explored for hundreds of years only by some quiet feet on the ground, but screams loudly with biodiversity and adventure.
Scribed with wild and ancient stories, it is home to olden baobab hills, decorated fever tree forests, and lala palm fringed vleis… all with a heap of other flora painted in between.
Each one of these particular niche habitats influences its visitors in unique and special ways. So when 10 different people enter one, the calmness and euphoria envelopes your soul like a spiritual drug from Mother Nature.
The famous Fever Tree forest is one such niche, and it’s hard not to be poetic about this place as it draws you into a deafening harmony of abundant silence.
On one particular trail, we walked for 2 hours through the bewitching forest without a word being spoken. Stopping every so often only to listen to its branches creaking and the wind across its thorns. I would turn around and admire all the smiles as eyes closed, heads tilted to the sky, and guests accepted the spell being cast by this unrivalled wonderland.
In contrast, the following trail experience in the forest was completely different, but hellishly unique all the same!
I use hellishly, because as Callum and I set out for the much anticipated walk between the yellow dusted tree trunks, dark and menacing storm clouds began to swirl in a forbidding cauldron to our west.
We had walked for an hour or so, until we made the decision it was best to head back before being caught in the approaching fury. Our stroll had now become a march as the wind drew up against our faces. We stopped only to admire a large herd of eland galloping away from the storm between us and the towering acacias, watching wonderstruck as dust covered them in a sober blanket of elegance.
Once we had made safety of the vehicle, we all decided to have a drink in honour of the approaching storm… Callum’s idea as I’m sure you all guessed!
Everyone was experiencing the same bewitching drug of the forest, and as the storm drew nearer, the orange glow from the sun began to disappeared, and the full fury of nature was released.
Thunder drummed with an ominous bellow, lighting illuminated the forest like explosions, and then, as if nature herself was screaming ‘are you not entertained’, old fever trees began to crash down around us!
The effect was enthralling and frightening all in the same moment, so we all moved closer together and watched as the forest began to dance. The whole show felt ancient. A backdrop of beating thunder and furious lighting, with rain giving life to the new, and wind tearing down the old.
Another experience in the forest was spent simply sat up against a fallen over tree, watching the water on one of the hidden lakes the forest conceals. Guests lay back and shared stories as the forest had yet again, bought everyone together in a serene harmony.
For a brief moment, everyone stared. Without shuffling, without talking, we all got lost for a whole 10 minutes as we soaked up the silence of a setting African sun illuminating that magnificent yellow forest behind us. The forest itself was alive with activity as the sun glided through its branches, a similar symphony awoke and we gave into its peacefulness.
My mention of silence is purely metaphorical in reference to Pafuri, as it is our own detachment from the noise of the real world when we ourselves fall silent, that allows our environment to become filled with ambient sounds.
The Fever Tree forest is just a fraction of what Pafuri has to offer, but it is without question the most endearing. There is an energy there, a spirit that kidnaps your conscious and covers everything in calm and bewitching silence.
by Cameron Appel