I’ve never eaten dinner with a hammer before. Nor have I walked past a blazing fire pit with two ostriches grilling inside. But this is South Africa, and they take their food seriously here. As a guest at a special dinner Stellenbosch, I want to fit in, so I pick up a hammer and decide to see where the evening takes me.
“Cows on the runway,” the pilot says. I look out onto the airstrip. Sure enough, a mother cow and her calf are trotting across the dirt. I have to smile. You wouldn’t see this at Heathrow. And that’s probably because this tiny island in the Indian Ocean is as distant from London as I can get. When the runway clears, the bush plane takes off and I look down onto the Quirimbas Archipelago, excited to get to my final destination: Medjumbe Private Island in Mozambique.
I am terrified of bush planes. When I visited Namibia, I nearly had a heart attack on a four-seater flight to what ended up being my favorite hotel in the world. But to travel to Botswana’s Okavango Delta from Kasane, where my friend and I drove after our dream-like stay on the Zambezi River, it’s pretty much the only option. I take a deep breath, buckle my seatbelt, and hope for the best.
The only way to get to my bungalow is via a series of raised rope bridges. Like everything on these islands in the Zambezi River, it is on stilts. As I walk over the wooden planks and bounce lightly across the bridge, I feel like I’m in a scene straight out of Robinson Crusoe. On one side of this little archipelago is Zambia, on the other is Zimbabwe. On one side is a village, on the other a national park teeming with wildlife. I am on the Islands of Siankaba, and they are my own adventurous paradise.