Rubondo Island Camp
Perhaps due to my desire to leave behind crowds and find my own way, my frequent decision to turn off the radio because I won’t be able to make it to a sighting anyway, or the romance of Robert Frost’s life defining road choice, I have really come to love roads and tracks with grass growing in the middle. I vaguely remember my mother sharing a nostalgic moment of loving the sound of the grass hitting the bottom of the vehicle and when I head across the Serengeti plains and realize that I may be the only person who has driven this track in weeks, I too feel nostalgic. I’m not talking the new tracks that crisscross sensitive areas because of recent repetitive use, I’m talking about the roads and tracks that have overgrown. In nature’s persistent and perseverant way, it continues to try to reclaim back its own.
The grassy runway.
An African Fish-eagle with it's prey.
The same feeling comes too, I guess, from flying across a large body of water, when after watching intensely cultivated islands and shorelines, there before you is a different island: an island forested with massive trees, and with extensive marshes protecting the shoreline, seemingly untouched. In truth, Rubondo Island was inhabited until 1977, so in the sense of the word pristine, it is not untouched but has returned to how it was. To me, it’s an icon of nature’s ability to recover. Even the airstrip that was reconditioned is covered in grass, and the rocky road to camp has branches and vine tendrils reaching out to block it as soon as it ceases to be used. Most of the animals are introduced: giraffe, elephant, and the elusive chimpanzee. But the really fascinating lifeforms on the island are the insects, the birds, and, if you’re like me, the trees.
It is a paradise, and on the last morning before we flew out, I slipped into a kayak alone, and paddled out on the glassy water to watch the sunrise. I will definitely be trying to go back!