Once upon a time, we had a farm in Africa.....and a game reserve called Ulusaba was owned by a family member. In 1985 it was a wondrous place, on the border of the Sabi Sands conservation area adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. In those days, there was only one rock lodge and one river lodge, and it was an unspoiled paradise. It was sold to the De Beers corporation, who in turn, after discovering large supplies of ground-water, sold it to Sir Richard Branson, who has developed it as one of his exclusive Virgin resorts. Sir Richard, as one would expect of a dedicated conservationist, has accomplished this with great sensitivity to the ecology and the environment, causing as little intrusion into the natural order as possible, yet providing a facility that encourages people of influence to experience the wonder of Africa at it's best.
Photographs can never convey the true spirit and beauty of such a vast landscape because there is so much more that just the visual aspect. There are the sounds, (and the background sound of the African bush is unique in all the world, made up as it is of birdsong, baboon barks, monkey shrieks, lion grunts, elephant rumbles, hippo snorts, fish-eagle cries, zebra whistles and antelope snorts) the smells, (of the damp red earth after the rain, the dust when there is no rain, the scent of the acacia tree blossom, the dung of the wild game, the putrefaction of the odd carcass, the scent of the grasses and the smell of the water-holes) and the all pervasive, almost spiritual, presence of the continent, which is the most captivating influence and which is the thing that will seize one's soul and make one forever a child of that land. This is the Africa that my best beloved and I love and miss.
We can only hope that some of the measures being used today to conserve the wild game and the environment, will be effective, and that our children and their children will still have the opportunity to venture into this magical wilderness and see the creatures to which it is home, in their natural environment.
You can see more images of Ulusaba taken during a visit in 1985, here:
You can see what Ulusaba is like today, here: