A soul place: Your soul's true home in nature;
a place where you feel as much a part of it as it does of you.
I remember being about 10 years old (admittedly, a good many years ago) wading through the long grass on the banks of the great Zambezi River behind my parents. Their plan was to peg out a new lodge upriver of the mighty Victoria Falls. In those days, Matetsi was unbelievably wild and trudging through the vegetation brought a sense of true exploration I had never felt before — or since.
In the 90s, the wildlife was terrified of humans due to over-poaching and the road networks were non-existent. But oh my, the land was beautiful and that mighty river that runs alongside it made the location a no-brainer for a lodge. One person that needed no further convincing was my father. He was in love and that love would last until his last moment on earth.
My father always said Matetsi was one of his three 'soul places'; I am not sure if it was the savage beauty of the land or the memories we made as a family growing up. There was camping out at Zebra Pan, only to be surrounded by close to 400 elephants throughout the course of the night — I just remember the tree line starting to move in the twilight. Or canoeing down the Zambezi sipping on bright orange Mazoe (a local orange juice staple), as well as visiting Victoria Falls for the first time and being enveloped by Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders).
Whatever it was, it spoke to him and I have been longing to go back to Matetsi Victoria Falls as an adult to understand what made him love it so. When the FitzBoyds received an invitation from the wonderful Matetsi family to come and reconnect with this special corner of Africa we booked our tickets filled with love, hope and a little trepidation, worried that it might not feel the way it did all those years ago. That its soul might have left, along with my Dad.
And then we arrived. The magic was still there, that intangible 'Matetsi Magic'. Just like my father knew it would be because the soul of a place lasts beyond lifetimes.
We soaked up every second of our four days at Matetsi and spending time with that magnificent river, was our first choice of activity every day. Be it fishing (somewhat diminutively), visiting the Falls with the children for the first time, enjoying an ice-cold gin and tonic in the setting sun or simply kicking back and watching the world float by.
We also explored the land and just like those magical days years ago, it is still beautifully untamed and filled with elephants and lions that have a wild glint in their eyes. It's all wonderfully stitched together by Matetsi’s gorgeous River Lodge, interpretive guiding, delicious food and a team that reminds me of Angama with their warmth and hospitality.
I understand why Matetsi was one of my father’s soul places. Matetsi is pure soul.
A big thank you to everybody at Matetsi not only for years of friendship but also for being so generous in inviting the FitzBoyds to stay (and for some of the lovely photographs included in this blog).
Filed under: Safari Style
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