Tour de Tuli 2016: Day 2 – Beating around the Bush

Stars. Billions of them, tracing zirconia arcs across a velvet sky. Feeling your feet anchored to Mother Earth, with mashatu tree silhouettes scrabbling at the heavens …

Tramping into the rock-shocked canyon behind Amphitheatre Bush Camp to set up a time-exposure. And feeling all cocky, until a leopard coughed in the ridges before, then scampering back into the circle of firelight on the edge of camp, feeling my heart hammering, ridiculously alive …

Bombing through the crouton forests lining the edge of a great river, feeling the sub-zero bite in your finger nails, while your eyes do a hyper-speed matrix scan for elephant or lion amidst the shadow play of the sunrise and fast-forward-flickering tree shadows …

Defying gravity from the open door of Deane’s R44 chopper, with the endless desert cavorting at your feet. Mountain bikes at full speed along wilderness game trails, and giant eland galumping across the plains, and herds of elephant flapping their while scanning the sky with trunks held up high …

Scaling sandstone outcrops for a better vantage point, and sitting amidst skittering lizards and skinks, darting to snap at insects flitting around your feet. A single solitary moment away from the adrenaline rush of what surely is the wildest of mountain biking rides upon this peculiar planet we call home …

Meeting the children of Letswe le Moriti, and looking into their innocent and gentle eyes, and understanding that the people of Botswana – young and old – is blessed with an understanding that life is not about ego, but about togetherness. And realising how much South Africans could learn from their northern neighbour, if only they were to pay attention …

And back onto the bike, to segue into the swashbuckling sandstone trails, where drop-offs and berms trip you onto a mind-bucking ride through one of the rawest landscapes on earth. And realising that this is real, and that you are in that moment with every fibre and cell and atom of your body …

Plus, camp fires, belly laughs with good mates, daisy juice, crack-scratching for devil thorns, Bean There cappucinos while waiting for sunrise, the roar of a lone lion reverberating through the witching hours … there are no words to describe these moments. If you want to experience the in full-surround and un-virtual reality, go and check out  www.tourdetuli.com or www.childreninthewilderness.com and book your space for next year.

Do it now. And thank me later.

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