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South Africa Converted Me into a Nature Lover

South Africa Converted Me into a Nature Lover

Perhaps the tragic result of my persistent neglect for everything seemingly magical and unexplainable, or simply the result of being suburban-grown, all of nature's wonder delivered before my 2011 trip to South Africa was left unopened, cast aside and neglected. My tastes hadn’t quite been attuned for savoring nature’s depth. The sacred wisdom in a flower and the finesse of a deer in motion looked dim in comparison to the possibilities and energy of a bustling metropolis. 

In South Africa, I awoke to nature's grandeur with a safari. Spotting that first giraffe across the plain, finding a pride of lions sitting in the middle of the road or having an elephant pass three feet from your car is utterly indescribable. It churns yours stomach in anticipation, lets you feel the incredible independence of each natural object and allows for a glimpse of how we artificially manufacture divisions within the world around us. 

For days after the safari, my eyes would subconsciously scan the surrounding area for any sign of non-human life. At Kruger National Park, the monkies don't see you as food dispensers, the deadliest snakes in the world can slither onto the cool spot under your car and you'll have to wait for them to move before you do, and you can't remove yourself from your vehicle because a hungry lion doesn't differentiate between a pack of zebras and the people in your car.

The further removed I am from my 2011 trip to South Africa, the smaller the scope necessary for wonder. Today, my poor Igor must wait at every flower, so that I can capture the incredible creature or plant at each turn. 

What can I say? I’m a convert – consider me enchanted.

Here are five places to visit if you are looking for some awe-inspiring natural wonder:

(1) Find great animal life and sunsets at Kruger National Park in South Africa. 

(2) Day hike the always beautiful landscapes of the Norwegian Lofoten islands.

(3) Camp and hike the incredible formations in California's Yosemite National Park.

(4) Hike to the giant's seat at Cadair Idris in Wales for sheep and incredible views. 

(5) Hike through vineyards and breath in ocean air hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy.

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Also, don't forget to try hiking in a busy local park with lots of natural life to find more gregarious animals. In California, mine was Rancho San Antonio Preserve. While I never saw a mountain lion, I did get two feet away from a baby deer and a rattle snake. 

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