(Author / copyright – Peter John William Hayward)
I arrived at the grand Hayward’s camp in the late afternoon when the last shadows strung themselves out across the golden grass and the warm camp lanterns replaced the dying sun with a golden orb of soft light.
Sounds of laughter intermingled with the aroma of wood smoke and grassy herbs drifted from the welcoming fire and to the side of this, the infamous Gin Tent was being lit up and decorated for dinner with crystal, silver and fine bone china.
Set in a wilderness area no “hotel” could possibly contemplate, this unique temporary tented safari setting was to our private indulgence over the next few precious days – a once in a lifetime moment, set in a once in a lifetime part of Africa, just for our group.
As the evening slowly unfolded the night commenced its own symphony of exotic bush sounds as the rising moon glimpsed over the top of dark silhouettes.
Entering the opulence of my personal safari tent I was finally alone, alone to stretch back on the big soft bed with its cool white linen, revelling in my space. Hemingway, Burton, Rider Haggard or Van der Post – if only you were here! Warm showers and lavish perfumes, soaps and creams all laid out in my showroom by ever present butlers, completed my calm.
Thoughts of tomorrow, flashed threw my mind, a day filled with romantic adventure all planned. From fly fishing to 4×4 trailing, horse riding to hot air ballooning, enthralling action all the way!
I, however, must confess. I preferred the romance notion of remaining in camp where indulgences such as aroma-therapy, personal tuition in the grand old sports of longbow archery, falconry, or clay pigeon shooting offered – or perhaps rather just the sanctity of the cool Safari Club & library to keep me fully occupied throughout the next few days.
Far in the distance, the sounds of Africa crept closer – drumming warriors and dance troupes appeared from out of the golden grass. Age old songs of triumph recalled. They danced , we cheered.
Waiters offering all sorts of African snacks tempted even the most hardy as iced cocktails and Africa’s famous Gin & Tonic flowed freely.
A span of glowing fires all round presented their fare – succulent meat barbecuing to perfection with comments aplenty, each one of us a chef!
With dinner gong sounding we embarked on a dining experience I will never forget. Magical equations of succulent morsels appeared from somewhere and continued with uninterrupted abundance.
Temptingly, the dance floor’s lovers glided through the night. Far away in the distance a lone Hyena called to the background tune of a sultry saxophone beckoning all and sundry to its source.
Cigars and Sherry seemed politically correct, whilst stories of bravado and sorry tales of woe, glorified by flickering flames, kept the night at bay as a new evening at Hayward’s unfolded.
Tomorrow I will stand next to this vast African expanse and perhaps absorb this place, I will prepare myself for departure and partake in this ancient ritual and at the final moment I will greet the dawn as the mist rises to meet the African dust.