Okay, okay, I have had enough of veiled, or not so veiled, suggestions from my team that there is any resemblance between Santa and me in the way I conduct myself, pay staff, do deals, sign off on Great Plains’ safari specials, or ‘otherwise’!

Everyone wants a gift.

We should focus on the natural gifts in Africa and send you off into the festive season, and I wanted to share some moments we filmed in the last 12 months. These are just snippets that remind us how unique the vast savannas are, places without the clutter and the madness of civilisation.

For these are the places that inspire us all. These wild areas with wildlife feed our creativity. It is where philosophers and poets, artists and writers have gone forever to reconnect with their muses and rediscover their creative souls.

I am reminded of how small and unimportant I am whenever I walk out on the beautiful African soil, through the dust and DNA of those who have walked ahead of me for millions of years. When I look back at my footprints, I realise how much impact each of us has.

The next few weeks might give some folks the chance to read and be inspired, so I thought I would offer an impressive reading list. Beverly and I are part of a small group of people, all National Geographic Explorers at Large. When we regularly meet, it is all about discovering and appreciating this fantastic planet. Some of the most exciting discussions you can imagine taking place.

This past year, a few of our peers drew on their creativity and finished books of their own whilst in wild and quiet places. ‘Lockdown books’ I call them, and they have inspired us and are worth your reading.

Bob Ballard’s extraordinary autobiography, Into the Deep, had us both enthralled and wondering how we could be so surprised by someone we knew well and is so well-known for his discovery of the Titanic. Enric Sala’s The Nature of Nature is wise and on point with everything Beverly and I feel about Nature. These holidays, I will finish reading fellow Explorer Meave Leakey’s new book, Sediments of Time, walking us through the incredible discoveries of ancient hominids and what it takes to find them.

If it comes out in time, I’ll be downloading Sylvia Earle’s new book because her last book, Life in the Ocean, was so good. Lee Berger’s Almost Human about Homo Naledi’s discovery is something I missed in 2017 for some reason and one I have just finished reading. Our Ultimate Book of African Animals and new Chasing the Blood Moon are available online but pale in comparison.

If I could fill your stocking with books, it would be brimming with these to ensure that the connection with Nature is never lost. It’s important.

I might spare you a few weeks of Watch Wednesday missives now, but only because we will be in the field, assembling stories, images and ideas and recalibrating the direction of Great Plains for 2022 as we sit quietly in the footprints of those ancient explorers, philosophers and poets who came before us.

News Flash! Due to the RELAXATION of some TRAVEL BANS, anyone wanting to reinstate bookings or take advantage of available space in our camps can contact our Great Plains Reservations Team, who are on standby to help with any urgent changes.

Ho ho ho,
Dereck Joubert