Restorative travel and the Iganyana Tented Camp Experience
Words by Marcia Mcleod
Before embarking on my first ever trip to Zimbabwe, I always felt like there wasn't enough time in the day. I was constantly juggling the demands of life, from world related deadlines, to managing my children’s personal affairs; children who currently live in a different country from me. I was beginning to feel as if I’d spent an awful lot of time on my phone and laptop, while barely getting any real time to be present, or enjoy any sort of new experiences. I yearned to know what it really meant to live in the moment.
And so, when the opportunity to go on a unique safari experience to Victoria Falls and Hwange, which included a stay at Iganyana Tented Camp, I didn't hesitate to jump at it. From carrying out some research, I learned that Iganyana Tented Camp is not only home to an abundance of wildlife, but the family run business also prides itself in placing huge emphasis on encouraging responsible tourism. This is so important for the conservation of the beautiful creatures that we are so privileged to share this earth with. I couldn’t believe that I would be fortunate to see first hand, and be able to understand better, the importance of why we need to protect wildlife and natural ecosystems.
As we set off on the just under 3 hour journey from Victoria Falls, the little border town and gateway between Zimbabwe and Zambia, I had not really given much thought prior to what being in the “bush” actually meant. I guess I would describe myself as one of those people who typically doesn’t really place energies into certain things till it is absolutely necessary. I had the pleasure of journeying with two beautiful souls, Yvonne of Travel Essence Magazine and also earlier meeting and now travelling with Kerrith O'Fee of Victoria Falls Yoga. Time flew by during our drive and I enjoyed just being able to do nothing much aside from talk, connect and simply exhale it seemed, which in fact turned out to be the most productive, therapeutic thing I could be doing on this trip.
For someone who is typically on the go, and who has also over the years opted to put my mental health on the back burner, I have had to really learn the hard way how to lean into the importance of finding a place where my soul has the chance to quieten, and my mind has the space to be momentarily calm, while simultaneously rejuvenating my body. Can I just say, if and when you eventually find that place, I absolutely urge you to visit it again and again, whether that be physically or mentally. Allow it to become your happy space. That was what Iganyana Tented Camp became for me.
Our Iganyana Tented Camp moments
We were welcomed by the friendly staff members, whose joy at having us stay was heartwarming. From the wet hand towel we were given to wipe our hands, to the hearty wholesome, deliciously varied meals cooked on an open fire, the attention to detail was second to none. After the detailed orientation led by the wonderful Charmaine, I began to really see what adventures I was about to embark upon, especially after she casually mentioned the inquisitive baboons who like to wander and take the liberty to slide open tent doors, if we didn't make sure we had taken the necessary precautions to safeguard our tents. Maybe 10 years ago, that news would have filled me with fear to the point of crippling me, however, the ever evolving journey of self discovery that I find myself on, I have begun to acknowledge feeling the fear but doing things regardless. So this was not going to stop me!
We stayed in the Iganyana Wild section of the campsite, situated within the bush. Although this section is considered the smaller sibling to the main Iganyana Tented camp, it still forms a mesmerizing part of the total 15 tents and singular, recently opened tented villa. I will always fondly describe it as a piece of paradise in Hwange. Situated In the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by acres of picturesque landscape, this rustic but remote campsite is relatively peaceful by day, but as it's an open camp be prepared for any type of wildlife that may pop by for a visit, especially at night!
It boasts its own private dining however, you are by no means restricted to venturing out to anywhere else on the campsite. Every night we joined other guests to enjoy a delicious, healthy, hearty homestyle cooked meal, followed by sitting at the campfire, gazing up at the stars. Simply magical! My gorgeous tent was extremely spacious, beautifully decorated with a huge comfy bed. To be in nature, and see so many wild animals up close and personal was an absolute blessing to me. Hearing jackals, elephants and buffalo, to name a few, is an experience I will treasure forever.
Disconnecting to reconnect through travel
This was a rare opportunity for me to disconnect to reconnect. I would describe myself as a multitasker, but even with that role, it is so important to find, even for an hour, time to turn off all devices. The fact is it's not possible to be present if you attempt to focus on more than one thing at a time. Not having access to WIFI at all times was definitely a blessing in disguise. I am appreciative for the moments where I focused on the beauty that surrounded me and opted to be present.
I am being more conscious in my decisions to take the time to switch off! Why you may ask? the proven medical benefits of intentionally setting aside time to simply exhale are huge. After wrapping up a wonderful 30 minute outdoor yoga session at sunset with Kerrith, where I stretched, reset, and recalibrated myself, as I opened my eyes, an entire herd of elephants came to drink from the onsite infinity pool! Iganyana Tented Camp is such a magical location that allows you to reclaim your mental space, in an environment that evokes stillness, whilst breathing in fresh air and taking in all the sights and sensations that come with being present in the heart of the African savannah landscape.
This trip from the UAE to Zimbabwe for me, was an opportunity to reflect upon the joys and challenges conquered during 2022. Travel has always been a big part of my life, and something I don't take for granted in the slightest. But the manner in which this trip came together, the varied emotions that came with the combination of luxurious and rustic experiences, and the opportunities to truly connect with myself and people, I can't help but imagine what magic can happen if I am more intentional about taking the time out to reflect on the seasons we are in, and what we may want to do differently. Appreciating what my time at Iganyana Tented Camp was like, I look forward to being more intentional about finding spaces where I can comfortably ask myself these all important reflective questions that will undoubtedly help me pin-point any key behaviors that I may need to be working on - and I encourage you to do the same!