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This week I wish I was…contemplating the underside of an elephant

“Luxury” is one of those words that is bandied around shamelessly to the point where you become almost numb to what it actually means.  Rather like an exclusive club that you’ve skulked into without the necessary qualifications, it seems somehow nefarious and indulgent.  Most definitions angle towards material exces: big cars, expensive hotels, small delicacies on big white plates with equally large price-tags.  Which is all very well and dandy if this is what blows your hair back.  Back to that old cliché: wealth doesn’t bring happiness.  Actually, it probably does, but more to the point is what you do with your available spondoolies.  The interesting thing is that the richest experiences don’t necessarily cost the earth.

A few years ago, while camping in Namibia, I had one of the most surreal nights of my life.  The tent was tiny – just a taut mosquito net between me and the stars.  During the deepest part of the night when even the crickets seem to stop humming, an odd feeling woke me.  I remember being aware of the quality of the darkness - it was not quite right.  Lying still, I took stock of my surroundings and then the side of the tent shifted slightly, almost as though the wind had suddenly gusted. Looking up, I became aware of shades of night above me and suddenly came properly awake with the realisation that what I was looking at was the underside of an elephant.  With two fore-feet against the side of the tent (only a couple of inches from my prone form), the animal was stretching gently over the tent to reach some ripe fruit on a bush.   Weirdly, I didn’t start thinking of the inconvenience of being crushed to death at that moment, but lay there marvelling at the size and quietness of this animal.  I could smell its grassy scent and hear its knees rubbing against the canvas from time to time.

The point of the story is that this is something that will remain with me forever, long after I will have forgotten the finer points about the interior decor.  In Africa, the real richness comes from just being in the place and the closer you can get to the essence of it, the more memorable it is likely to be. Want to know more about luxury in the bush?  Click here. Have a look at luxury safari ideas.

Posted by: Amanda Mitchell

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