Niamh Horan in Kenya: ‘The single greatest mental detox I’ve ever had’

As we headed out at dawn each morning, the sense of relief in the air was palpable. Another sunrise, another day, they were simply glad to be alive.

As I say, we could learn a lot.

During our time here the Maasai tribe took good care of us and provided fascinating insights into how they live. These guys in the middle of nowhere don’t know about the pressures of materialism. Body image is a foreign concept. Getting the local girl all comes down to how high they can jump.

If only the dating game was so simple back home. I ask them what they know of Ireland. Bono? Never heard of him. Bob Geldof? Not a clue. Roy Keane? And the place erupts. In these parts, the man is a legend.

They have honed their vision and listening skills to be as in tune as the animals. They can see the slightest movement 2km away and hear a stir in the bushes with the sharpness of an owl.

Accompanied by the tribe, we enjoy picnics during the day overlooking rivers full of hippos, while crocodiles sunbathe on the banks. Nights are finished off sipping gin and tonics on the open plains under an atomic yellow and red sky that slowly turned to a million twinkly stars. Forks of lightning struck the horizon as we listened to the call of the wild.

This, you can’t capture in a photograph.

You just have to stand still and take it all in and be glad you were blessed enough to have the opportunity and are smart enough to opt for a safari over the packed beaches of Europe or the monotony of the typical tourist getaway.

This is the stuff that bucket lists are made of.

As for my phone and the internet and fears of too much thinking time? Try as I might, my mind was too spaced out.

I don’t know if it was the thousands of miles of distance, or if it was simply trundling along with our heads sticking out of the roof of a safari jeep in the fresh open air or if it was even thanks to getting back to nature, but Africa was the single greatest mental detox I’ve ever had.

I’ve come home walking on air and the calmness has stayed with me. It put the sheer scale of the world and my little worries in perspective. It made me realise how fleeting life is. How you are only guaranteed the moment you are in.

And how all this stuff that has been thrust upon us since our development in the Western world – the possessions, the traffic jams on the M50 and the madness approaching Christmas, has all brought us a million miles from who we are, and what we started out as.

It’s no wonder then on the flight home a man seated beside me asked when I’ll be back – as if it was the most natural question in the world. Read entire article

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