Hills of Africa – A Journey Into You

by Lance Ekum on · 28 comments

"We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." ~ T. S. Eliot

Exploration.  What does that word bring up for you? 

Today I'm sitting down to talk with someone who has lived very much a life of exploration.  Please welcome Sandy Salle here to this space.  Sandy, along with her sister-in-law Meredith Hill, operate Hills of Africa Travel.  Sandy, who currently lives in the United States, is a native of Zimbabwe.  Her many years in Africa have given her a deep love of the country, the culture, and the exploration of a very remote and untamed part of our world. 

Please read along as Sandy shares about her experience with this great part in our world…Africa.  And in that, feel her deep sense of love for this place, and for an exploration not only of another part of our world but also an exploration into self…

1. What is it about Africa that really touches your soul?
It’s pure energy.

Everything from the smell of the first rains to the melting sunsets, the bright colors to the strong aromas, and the magnetic wildlife to the genuine people, Africa is a place where you leave with a new outlook on life and on yourself.

To me, there is no other place on earth where you can sit for hours on end in complete silence as you watch the story of nature unfold before you. And the people are so genuine in their hospitality and joy that you cannot help but feel transformed by their energy.

Lance's Commentary:  Sandy, what a wonderful view of Africa!  And truly, what a magnificent experience to life.  Being able to experience the beauty of our world – both our natural world and from the inhabitants of that said world…in such grace…beautiful!

2. You have started your own company, Hills of Africa. Tell us about the inspiration behind that. And how long you have been doing this?
I was working in NYC and had just had my first child when we took a trip to North Carolina in March of 2002 to visit my brother and his wife. With the intention of making a move, we put an offer on a house. Whilst talking about life, my sister-in-law told me of her plans to start a travel company. I didn’t think anything of it.

When we went on holiday together a few months later, she asked me if I would like to join her in her company. I eagerly said yes, not even thinking that I didn’t have any experience in the travel industry, but knowing that I had lots of experience traveling around Africa from having lived in Zimbabwe and traveling around Africa with my parents. So my partner is my sister-in-law, my maiden name is Hill—hence the creation of Hills of Africa Travel. We have been in business since May 2002.

Lance's Commentary:  What I find so great about this is how you have really found something that is deeply meaningful to you.  And in that, you are creating amazing experiences for all of the travelers that come your way!  What a trip this must be!!  And, from our phone conversations about this and the trips you plan – I have to say – this just sounds like an experience of a lifetime!

3.  Tell us about one African adventure you have been on and what made it so meaningful for you.
I traveled to Zambia to do several site inspections and ended the trip with special, one-on-one time with my dad, whom I hadn’t seen in two years. My dad is currently living and working in Zambia. I took him to the magical Zambezi Valley, staying in two of my favorite camps, Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro on the Lower Zambezi River.
It was very emotional for me (I am a crier!) as my family means the world to me. One day we were planning to leave on a game drive and went back to our tents to get ready, when my dad came running (or limping as he has a bad knee) out to tell me that there was a family of elephants in front of his tent. So, instead of going on our game drive, we opted instead to walk and visit with the elephants. They eventually made their way across the river. 

That afternoon we went for a canoe ride and took a detour as we saw a buffalo in the reeds. Our guide told us that we might have to come back and head into the main channel as he wasn’t sure our route would get us through. On the way back into camp, we saw our family of elephants starting to swim back across the river. 

The funny thing is that if we hadn’t taken this detour to see the buffalo, we wouldn’t have been in our canoes right next to this family of elephants. This family of elephants swimming together was the most amazing sight and really meant so much to me. They all had their trunks up in the air trying to figure out where our scent was coming from. We managed to get so close to them; it was one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had in the bush. It was as if the elephants were speaking to me.

Lance's Commentary:  Wow!  Sandy, this story you've shared here really touches upon the beauty of the moment, and of letting that experience – within that moment – become a part of our being.  I sense that very much as I read this, and I also sense the true love you have for this place that you have called home. 

4.  Tell us a little about the Soul Safari trip you have coming up in 2011 (which just sounds like an amazing trip, by the way).
Thank you! It is a truly amazing experience. We hosted a Soul Safari in 2009, which was a great success.

The best way to explain the Soul Safari trip is to first, imagine your life without fear or uncertainty and with the ability to control your own destiny. A life where you have the control to eradicate both subliminal and obvious fears, and as a result, you receive clarity on your life’s purpose.

We all have past-life fears that block and stall us in our lives, and many times, we are unaware of these fears.

This clarity of life is something that the Soul Safari Transformation with Ainslie MacLeod, a psychic and featured author on Oprah’s Soul Series, will help you to achieve. During the Soul Safari Transformation, you’ll discover the simple, step-by-step system for understanding your soul’s purpose, while you uncover a sense of fulfillment and joy you have never known—all in just 9 days while you enjoy a Zimbabwe safari tour, a Victoria Falls tour, a Hwange National Park safari, and a Zambezi River cruise.

Some of the highlights that will be experienced on the Soul Safari 2011 include 9 days of Transformation lessons and guidance by Ainslie MacLeod, all activities of a leisure trip to Zimbabwe, an external energetic boost of nature, and an internal energetic boost of game viewing.

In these coaching talks and Transformation lessons with Ainslie, you’ll learn how to identify past life fears and find a motivation that will result in totally eradicating them. You’ll receive power in absolute clarity, you’ll have the ability to embrace your authentic self and finally love who you are, you’ll discover a freedom you’ve never had before, and you’ll discover what you were put here to do.

Lance's Commentary:  Sandy, this trip sounds so deeply moving and connecting at a soul level.  What an experience this has to be – out away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives…completely focused on that deeper connection to self!  And doing all of this, while surrounded by the beautiful natural elements of the African countryside…so, so good….

5. Are there any common connections between the types of travelers you have on your different safaris?
I would say that our clients, no matter the countries they plan on visiting and no matter the activities they choose to take part in, have a curiosity about life. They always want to learn more and experience new adventures, cultures, foods, sights, sounds, scents, and customs. They come to Africa to gain perspective on the world and on themselves. They leave Africa with a new energy and a new zest for life.

Lance's Commentary:  Our world is such an amazing place!  That you have shared your deep love for one corner of that…so awesome! 

6.  I love that we are talking about Africa – and I can’t help but draw similarities the idea of “jungle” that touches both you and I. Could you take a minute to describe what the term “Jungle of Life” might mean to you.
Being out in the bush—which isn’t a jungle, but draws on some similarities—is all about being closest to nature and experiencing complete peace and spiritual awakening. There is no one else around you, just the animals and the sights and the sounds of nature. You can hear the birds singing and the wind rustle the grass, and smell the bold aroma of the earth. You couldn’t be closer to your true self than in the bush / plains, as this is where you really get to know yourself. You are able to contemplate life and think about your future and what you really want out of life. 

Our everyday life is so tangled with what we have to get accomplished, how we should work, and our everyday responsibilities. Being in the bush, or the Jungle of Life, is about finding your true self again, dreaming big, living big, and remembering that we are all here for a bigger purpose.

Lance's Commentary:  Finding that space of becoming closer to our true self…that's what I really draw from what you have shared.  Life can seem like a "jungle" sometimes. (or…like being out in the bush…)  When we begin that journey of working our way through it all (the "jungle", the "bush"…life…)…really working our way through it – very much this takes us toward that place of our "true self".  Sandy, that's what I love about all that you have shared, both here and through our conversations.  I feel even more connected to self, just from having your words intersect with mine…

7. What do you love most about the work that you do?
Nothing is more rewarding to me than sharing the beauty and magnetic power of Africa with our clients. If I can make someone’s dream vacation come true, I feel as though my dream has come true.

We also find it highly rewarding to send clients on a life-changing journey to Africa and to hear about their experience with the animals and the people. It’s also amazing to see the people of Africa get to know travelers and see how the African peoples’ lives are changed forever by having been given the chance of getting to know travelers and learning about their families, their histories, and their cultures.

Lance's Commentary:  What I find so neat is how everything you offer can be customized and designed for the experience each traveler desires.  What a gift you give to all those who work with you!

Closing Thoughts:  Sandy, the gift you give this world speaks loudly to the passion you have for this remote and wild part of our world.  As in the words of T.S. Elliot, you have not ceased from exploration, and in helping others to explore more deeply themselves.  And in that…we just get to know "us" so much more deeply.  Keep sharing this passion you have with the world!


You can keep up with Sandy, and Hills of Africa Travel by following them on Twitter and Facebook.  For more information about an African adventure, visit their website.   Just visiting their website is an experience into Africa!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindful Mimi June 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Lance,
I looove Arica. I went to Kenya and it was the most amazing of experiences. I know I will back there.
Thanks for sharing Sandy’s story and her company with us.
M
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Lynn June 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

What wonderful work indeed. Thank you for sharing this.
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Audra Krell June 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I find such beauty when people are passionate about what they do. What a great service this is! You are changing the world, one trip to Africa at a time!

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Colleen June 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm

“… there is no other place on earth where you can sit for hours on end in complete silence as you watch the story of nature unfold before you…”

Wow, sign me up!

We have friends that just adopted two boys from Zambia and like Sandy’s story, their stories are wonderful.
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Tess The Bold Life June 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Hi and what a great interview. Africa is on my bucket list! This was so inspiring and interesting to me. Good for you finding your passion and making it work. I’ll be there for a visit someday and as I type this I’m thinking I need to set a date or it won’t happen;)

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HappinessandWisdom June 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

This is very interesting. Great story. I’m very happy I follow your blog. Africa is definitely on my to-do list, and this story provides an inspiring look at a company with whom I might want to travel. Thanks.
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Evita June 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Hi Lance

Thank you so much for introducing Sandy and her work – how incredible!

Africa is a place that I would love to visit, if for nothing more, than the raw, natural experience of the amazing plant and animal life. I can only imagine the adventures Sandy is participating in thanks to her life and business connected with this continent!

And yes, how fitting was this interview for your site – the jungle!!! Beautiful commentary from you as well.
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J.D. Meier June 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Experiencing the swimming family of Elephants must have been great. Actually it all sounds like a great experience. There’s something so raw and appealing about Africa … like a call of the wild.
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Hilary June 23, 2010 at 5:53 am

Hi Sandy and Lance .. as someone who’s lived in South Africa, had relatives in Zim and whose grandfather designed Victoria Falls Bridge .. I too have some connections .. and your website .. with your video and talk welcome is magnificent .. certainly reminds me of loads.

I’ve been lucky I did see quite a lot .. I was too late for Mozambique and never got to Kenya – as those were the apartheid days .. when Kenya didn’t accept SAns or visitors getting off the plane! I have been to the Okavango a few times, and a trip up the Skeleton Coast .. as well as travelling a lot around SA – and seeing a bit of Zim despite the army convoys in the late 70s.

It is an utterly beguiling country .. and I seriously encourage anyone who reads this post – to click over and see the Hills of Africa Travel website .. it is incredibly evocative and so true of Africa ..

Enjoy – and congratulations .. Sandy and Meredith .. a wonderful venture .. and I feel certain it will be successful .. one day I’d love to be on one of your adventures for the luxury, for the care you take and for the places you have on offer ..

Lance as you say – the smell of the African earth .. is where you can just’be’ .. a calm place .. a blessed place ..

Great post – loved it .. as you can see Africa is calling ..!! Bye .. Hilary
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Jannie Funster June 23, 2010 at 7:07 am

Ahhh, I have always loved that Out Of Africa movie, and this brught back the majesty of such an amazing place.

Lance, are you going on the Soul Journey next year? It does sound like an amazing amazing experience awaits.

Going now to click over to The Hills Of Africa site!

xo

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Sandy Salle June 23, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thank you so much Lance for this wonderful opportunity. I had a blast being interviewed by you! Thanks again for the opportunity and I hope to collaborate with you and your blog readers more in the future!

Best,

Sandy

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Sagan June 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

Would love to go to Africa- now I’m really craving some travelling!
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Lauren June 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Dear Sandy and Lance,

First, Lance, you’ve done it again – taken us to the most beautiful place! Thank you for allowing us to experience such beauty.

Sandy, your radiant face is a wonder to behold. It says it all.

Africa has always been in my blood somehow. I’ve traveled a great deal, yet the one place I long to see more than anywhere is Africa. It speaks to me for some unknown reason. How do we explain such things?

One day I looked around my home and realized nearly all my art was African. There is a remarkable woman in Ojai, Ca. Leslie Clark, who also has devoted her life to Africa. I have many of her beautiful paintings. I’m not trying to sell her in any way but her art is so beautiful you may enjoy checking out her website: nomadgal.

Thank you for re-kindling my desire with your beautiful, soulful stories! I’ve bookmarked your site! Who knows. Perhaps one day I shall make the trek I’ve dreamed of for so long.

Warmest regards,
Lauren

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Lori Franklin June 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Beautiful interview, Lance. Great to meet you, Sandy!
I’m intrigued with your Soul Safari. What a lovely concept. I so much wish I could travel.
Maybe the greatest gift is just knowing what exists and where I can take my mind to the site from afar.
Cheers to you both!
~xo
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Liara Covert June 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

This is wonderful sharing. As beautiful as Africa is, and as life-transforming as geographical travel can be, this post also reminds people they can choose to savor the stillness and pure joy wherever they are. The untamed world is not only something experienced in a perception of limited space. Wherever you are, you can reconnect with the untamed part of inner self and awaken to the reality of authentic, unlimited power.
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Lance June 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

@Mimi – That has to be such an experience…being in Africa!! Would love to hear more about your adventures sometime!!

@Lynn – Hi Lynn! Yes, and it really is wonderful because this is something that Sandy very much cares deeply about.

@Audra – That’s exactly it, Audra! By connecting with something that is so meaningful to her, Sandy really is changing the world!

@Colleen – I know, doesn’t that just sound like such a moving experience! Sign me up, too!! And – how wonderful to hear the stories that your friends two adopted boys have to share – that personal experience can be so meaningful.

@Tess – Hi Tess! Africa is on my list, too!! Something about the raw nature of this place is a real draw. Okay – and when you plan that trip…I want to hear all about it!!

@HappinessandWisdom – Definitely Sandy and her company, Hills of Africa, are an amazing resource into Africa and travel to there. I hope it works out that you get there some day!!

@Evita – Hi Evita. Yes, my thoughts exactly…the raw and very real natural setting…so amazing just in pictures. And think – to be there, in person…wow!! Crazy idea: Bloggers Safari…(wouldn’t that be fun…and even more…wouldn’t that be an amazing way to connect with like-minded souls…). Hmmm….

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Lance June 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

@J.D. Meier – Yep, I agree! This ALL sounds like an amazing experience!! That call to the wild…perhaps it’s instinctual in us…that desire to be “free”…

@Hilary – Hi Hilary. Wow, I’m just so taken in by what you’ve shared…and the African experiences you’ve had on this journey of yours! Hilary, thank you so much for sharing all of this!! Africa is most certainly calling…

@Jannie – Hi Jannie!! The Soul Journey trip is one that sounds so amazing good! Am I going on that? Gosh, I would LOVE to!! Could all the pieces come together to make that happen?? Hmmm…. Enjoy your visit at the Hills of Africa website…

@Sandy – Sandy, thank you so much for sharing all that you have here! You are creating something very special in the packages you put together…ones which just really feel like they come from your heart and soul…

@Sagan – Hey, me too!! Africa sounds so wonderful…as does this whole idea of travel!

@Lauren – Hi Lauren. Africa…perhaps because of it’s very natural setting…it that draw. I believe that’s a big part of it, for me. And thank you so much for sharing about Leslie Clark (http://nomadgal.com/). Her artwork IS beautiful!

@Lori – Hi Lori. Yes, that Soul Safari trip just really feels like a moving experience. And – while sometimes travel can take us physically to other places…our mind (and heart) can do that right from where we are…and that truly is a great gift. Being able to experience this…within…so, so powerful…

@Liara – Hi Liara. Such a great point (and really feels like it just continues what Lori described above). Go within…such a wonderful place to venture…and that we can do on amazing trips like these African adventures…or right where we are today…. Wonderful stuff!

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Naomi Estment June 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

What a delight to come across this interview on Twitter, and all the heart-felt comments. Thank you, Lance & Sandy! Living in Africa, we never tire of its wildness, nor of hearing how it touches others around the world.

My husband Dave and I had the privilege of accompanying Hills of Africa Travel on their Soul Safari last year, indeed a trip of a lifetime. I have to say that we’d trust our travel dreams to them any day, without a heartbeat’s hesitation!
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Karl Staib - Work Happy Now June 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

This interview made me want to book a trip today. Money is a little tight, but I will definitely keep this in mind for the future. I love how she explains the connection to her inner self that Africa gives her. I can see how seeing those beautiful creatures in their own setting would create this experience.

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Lance June 26, 2010 at 6:04 am

@Naomi – Hi Naomi. Living in this place – Africa – this really has to be a special experience! I can feel that both in your words and in Sandy’s words. Your LOVE for this wild and untamed place is so wonderful to hear about! The Soul Safari trip that Hills of Africa is creating – this especially sounds like such a moving experience. Naomi, thank you so much for your visit here, and for sharing your personal experience you’ve had with Hills of Africa!!

@Karl – Hi Karl. Doesn’t this trip sound fantastic! That experience – being in the wild – I believe this really does take us back to a place within ourselves…so, so good…

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Elyse June 28, 2010 at 4:53 am

Africa is in my heart. My heart is in Africa. I grew up in Africa and have been to many countries (I live now on the Med Sea). But NOTHING compares to an African sunset, to African majestic beauty, to African rhythm and to African people. Africa is the “cradle of humanity” and deserves our support, love and respect, not our garbage, pollution and ignorance.

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Elyse June 28, 2010 at 4:57 am

Naomi, you’re doing a such wonderful service to humanity and to Africa in a small big way.

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Elyse June 28, 2010 at 4:59 am

uhh, Sandy… (sorry, my 1 yr old is crawling all over me and my computer)

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Lance June 28, 2010 at 5:32 am

Elyse,
Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. While I’ve never been to Africa, I just imagine the wonder and beauty of this place. How wonderful that you have lived there! The “cradle of humanity”….how sweet and caring.

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Amy MacLeod June 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hi Lance… and Hi to Sandy and Meredith,
Life offers incredible opportunities; the key is to respond. I was the first person to sign up for Soul Safari 2009. While I had no plans for a trip to South Africa, but when the invitation for a Soul Safari came to me, the thrill of combining my spiritual connection with the energy of Africa meant only one response. I was in!

Hills of Africa handed me an immersion into the spirit, the life, the essence of an old soul country as though it was effortless. Each day, every sense was touched. Seamlessly.

I have returned to my home in Canada triumphant. I went expecting adventure and insight. I returned with a promise to breathe life into a life-changing awareness that would not simply sit in my soul like memorabilia. The experience has transformed my life. Its vitality created an inner intent that cannot, and will not, return to its former self.

Anyone who feels my words needs to give their a soul a chance to respond.

Amy

PS. I am soooo sorry that I’ve missed the Smile deadline!! Maybe I’ll catch another project.
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Lance June 30, 2010 at 5:39 am

Hi Amy!!
Reading this today is so moving and inspiring! And it really has me thinking more about the Soul Safari 2011. That word – “transforming” – is one that really jumps out for me. Amy, this is so meaningful for me to read. Thank you for sharing your own personal experience from this amazing journey…

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Amy MacLeod June 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Hi Lance,

If you decide to go, it will make me grin all over inside! Hope you have a seat belt for your soul! It’s a ride!

Thanks for letting me know I could still give you a SMILE. It’s likely in your email as I write.

– Many blessings on your deciding, Amy
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Sandy Salle July 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

I’ve come back to this post time after time to read the wonderful comments you’ve all provided and I am truly touched every time. Thank you so much for your generous words and I hope to connect with you all in the future!!

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