Admittedly, this is probably the most excited I’ve ever been to write about a particular topic. And if the reactions I’ve gotten from my friends over a few glasses of wine is any indicator, then this will probably be the post that peaks peoples curiosity! By now anyone that follows me on social media (or this blog) should know that I recently did a safari in Botswana and I think it’s the best thing that happened to me since the invention of crackers and cheese. I’ve posted pics about it, written epistle-like captions, recommended it to everyone I’ve spoken to, written blog entries about it and everything short of shouting it from the rooftop! The one small piece of the puzzle that I’ve left out of the entire story is how and why I was even there, for anyone who is still reading! I guess mostly because it’s my favorite piece and I’m the kinda guy that saves the best for last.
A few months ago I was casually scrolling through my stories on Instagram when I happened upon one that linked to a post by a fellow blogger Lipe. The Title: The day I stripped down on a safari in Botswana. To quickly summarize his story, although I def think it’s worth a read, Lipe was struggling to find a safari operator in Maun to take him out to one of the game reserves. As luck would have it he eventually met Alwyn who agreed to take him, perhaps because of his love for being out there regardless. Somewhere in the mix of things Alwyn told Lipe about his project ManHarmonyWild which is a passion project of photographing Man in his most natural state (i.e naked) alongside all the elements of nature. Lipe agreed to be a model for the project and then fast forward a few years later and I was reading his blog about it!
The concept intrigued me. The story intrigued me. Lipe’s description of the experience intrigued me. The photography and imagery intrigued me. I wrote Lipe a casual message telling him how inspired I was by his story and how it made me want to go out on a safari immediately. And then I sat on it. It was a dream, Botswana was another world away. I had recently just come back from a 6 week trip to Europe and was settling back in. But the story obviously stuck with me.
A month later my uncle passed away from a year-long battle with cancer. It’s hard for me to properly describe the emotions that I was going through at the time and of course grief was and still is one of them. But an unexpected one was a sense of freedom. This man who I admired so greatly and in my opinion lived such a full life had such a desire and appreciation for life in his last few months. It made me realize even more than I couldn’t take for granted every walking step I could take and every single breath I could make. I know it sounds stupid but I almost felt like I could take my dreams and intertwine them with his and live for both of us, a toast to him if I may. And so I did just that and only a few months later I was living out a dream I had only recently formed.
I realized midway into answering the question I posed for myself I didn’t really touch upon what the experience of being naked in nature was actually like! I guess I have more to write about than I thought due to how passionate I am about the entire experience. I will give one major life hack though! If you’re gonna go commander in the wild for any real length of time use sunblock all over, you’d be surprised with the places that you can get sunburnt!
Early on our drive into the Okavango Delta, I asked Alwyn what he hoped to gain from his project. He told me that one night he was watching a documentary where they pitted man against wild. He started to think about all the inaccurate depictions that existed mostly for the sake of sensationalism. He wanted to tell the story he knew from his twenty plus years of experience in Botswana. Man Harmony Wild. My experience in Moremi could have started and ended with me modeling for this project but it struck me somewhere in the middle of it all that I was the living embodiment of his project.
With all the fears and reservations I had prior to the project i was preoccupied with those thoughts. Somewhere in doing this life imitated art. I was ManHarmonyWild for the next three days. After stripping off the layers I was left vulnerable, exposed, powerful and connected. His project was already a success because I felt it and was changed because of it. I was Connected to nature and to all the animals who were no different than me, in a way I had never felt before. The Bonus? One day when Alwyn’s book is published (and I hopefully make the cut 😂) I can safe-keep it and show my grandkids that for a very brief moment in time their grandad mooned a couple of zebras into running in the opposite direction!
*All Images taken by Safari Operator and Expert Photog Alwyn MyBurgh. I’d recommend the safari experience given by him any day of the week! For more info: