"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!