BOTSWANA, AFRICA WITH KRISTINA HURRELL
The difference between a truly wonderful trip and one that is spectacular, from my experience, is to travel with Kristina Hurrell and her company SpaFari. This is my second trip with her, the first was to Lake Como, Italy.
Indeed the trips have run so smoothly that it
is easy to forget the endless hours of
preparation that were involved in moving people,
effortlessly, from one Safari campsite to
another, by every means of transportation, other
then ox cart. For example, in one two hour
period we went through immigrations in three
different countries. The right people appeared
at the right time, bringing with them jeeps,
airplanes and boats to assist us in our journey,
as well as the warmest welcome and the most
heartwarming care that carried through our stay
in each of our destinations.
I’m sitting here on the deck of my private tent in the Kwando Lagoon camp as I write listening to the rushing river and watching the tide racing downstream, marveling at the contrast of this setting with the early morning, when I was bouncing around in the back of an open jeep as our guides scanned the ground for animal tracks. These guides are amazing guys who are really alive with the sport of the chase. Like Sherlock Holmes they dart in and out of the jeep, bending over to search the ground for fresh prints. Exciting, to be looking into the face of an elephant, or making eye contact with a lion laying lazily on the ground, unmoved by a group of human animals sitting not five feet away just starring at them, and how!!!.
When we weren’t sitting mesmerized as a lion chomped its recent kill right before our eyes, we were driving through the most gorgeous open plains dotted everywhere with every species of bush, scrub, wild flowers, ancient Baobob trees, and watching huge cumulus clouds billowing along the clear, brilliant blue sky, as we learned about the lifestyles of the animals that we encountered. The lessons were provided by our guides but I must also add that without Kristina’s penetrating and clearly knowledgeable questioning, the information would not have been quite as comprehensive. As a frequent traveler to other parts of Africa, her stories about Kenya, for example, and other tribes, embellished and added depth to what we were being told.
In fact it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that every moment was exciting and thrilling; there certainly was never a dull one. Whether we were breaking new ground by hiking some 33k’s through dangerous bush country, (closely guarded by a rifled guide, and a jeep behind us,) from the Lagoon Camp to the Lebala Camp where we were cheered as conquering heroine’s, (we were the first to make such a trek), or we were sitting in the back of a jeep stuck in the bog, giggling like little kids as we watched ourselves being dug out of the quagmire. Endless adventures to be sure, but there was never a sense of danger, never a sense that we wouldn’t be absolutely cared for, no matter what happened. Kristina’s attitude, competence, and in-charge manner made it clear that we were as safe as it was possible to be, given the environment.
While our surroundings were replete with animals that could have been a danger, theoretically, our core group was quite the opposite. Kristina’s programs and the way she promotes her trips tend to appeal to people who have common interests. That is a desire for adventure, a sense of style and taste, a thirst for both self-knowledge, as well as knowledge of the experience. In such an atmosphere, we were free to be fully ourselves, laughing like a group of kids at one moment, talking seriously and deeply in another, sharing tales and anecdotes of all of our travels.
The camaraderie was assured by Kristina’s obvious intention that we would all be treated with sensitivity and caring. Activities were geared to all levels, and she was always there to oversee not just our comfort, but even to attend to the needs of the people who were acting as our hosts. It was not unheard of for her to sense the exhaustion in one of the women who ran the camp and offer her a massage from the woman who traveled with us.
In other words, every detail, large or small was handled. Years of experience gives her a quality of self assurance and confidence that I have rarely encountered. In every campsite situation where there were people in the site, not of our group, she mixed and mingled in such an effortless way that almost immediately, we were all friends, talking together at the dinner table, or chatting in little private groups. She’s provided the ice breaker at meals with amusing questions that led to involved table talk. In fact, one of her questions, what was the most surprising food you’ve ever eaten, challenged me to eat a fried worm. It was actually good!!!! Challenge is a byword in the SpaFari lexicon. There is always some opportunity to go beyond your own boundaries to find out what you might be capable of if you didn’t stand in your own way. In Kristina’s energetic field, miracles happen all the time. I’m a perfect example.
When traveling with her in Lake Como, scaling
the Alps, I gave up a big chunk of fear that I
have carried around for a lifetime. By the time
I got to Africa, I was ready for any challenge;
eating a fried worm, was no more or less life
altering than scaling a mountain. Stepping out
of the box is really what growth and change is
all about. And she challenges each member of the
group to do that simply by making it explicitly
clear that she lives what she preaches. Endless
amazing stories of her travel experiences
provide the backdrop for risk taking, as well as
just plain fun to hear.
Do I recommend Spafari… and traveling with Kristina Hurrell? Only if you want to have the time of your life!!!!!
Myrna Fleishman Ph.D.