When dreaming of your next bucket list trip after the pandemic finally subsides, a safari should be at the top

I just don’t believe there is another experience that compares to being out in the African bush, soaking in the serenity of the unspoilt nature and being in the presence of some of the most spectacular animals on the planet. Watching a spunky herd of elephants play, getting a glimpse of an elusive leopard sprawled over a tree branch, hearing the powerful roar of a real-life Mufasa (sorry, I'm incapable of talking about safaris without referencing The Lion King at least once), or simply watching a herd of impala jump gracefully through the tall grass—these sights are a privilege to witness, and they stimulate the soul in a way that can only be understood by experiencing them for yourself.elephantWhile there are a variety of price points from which to experience Africa’s wildlife—from a low-budget overland tour to the most luxurious lodges on the planet—ultimately, the fate of your experience is up to Mama Africa. You never know what you’re going to get and can end up having the best animal sightings at a tented camp or from a five-star lodge—that’s the beauty of the wild!

So when seeking out your safari accommodation, it’s important to make a choice that not only suits your budget, but also keeps the environment in mind. After all, there is nowhere you’ll feel more in touch with the earth than out in the African bush.

I was fortunate to be able to spend a few days at Pungwe Safari Camp while on a whirlwind adventure with Brett Horley Safaris, which is an authentic bush camp located in Maneyelti Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger Region. The reserve shares open borders with Kruger National Park, so the animals can roam free. Pungwe is a completely off-the-grid bush camp with no fences, no electricity, no Wi-Fi, and it was just the recharge my soul needed.

Getting back to the basics and what really matters on safari, Pungwe is one of the most budget-friendly accommodation options in the area, and it’s also where I had some of my most magical safari moments—these are things money can’t buy. It was on a game drive with Pungwe where I had my first sightings of the endangered wild dogs—fascinating and rare animals that I was so lucky to see, and may or may not have been so overwhelmed that I was moved to tears.wild dogsWe also had an incredible encounter with a herd of elephants as they slowly, comfortably and gently surrounded our vehicle at dusk. And don’t even get me started on the adorable baby zebra that we followed along the path, as it frolicked and bucked behind its mama.

These are the types of moments that can't be quantified with a price tag, and staying at Pungwe simply enhanced the experience even more. Instead of being consumed by social media right after our drives, the lack of Wi-Fi allowed me to relax and soak in the peacefulness of the bush. We’re all connected to our devices all the time, but taking time to absorb and reflect on these moments in real life was absolutely priceless.

I loved that Pungwe’s approach to safariing comes with the utmost care for the environment. We boiled our water for tea on a kettle over the fire, the staff heated our shower water with heat from the fire, and our source of light in the evenings was candles and lanterns. It was a magical and serene experience that was sustainable as well.bush campI hope that everyone can go on safari at least once in their life, but most of all, I hope everyone can find that serenity however is accessible to them—as sustainably as possible.