Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

I’m Russell Crowe… only without the lovely sandals


Not my photo, but my experience…

A sleepless start to the night as one of us left a slither of opportunity open for the “skeetos” to come after me as I tried to settle. They can smell me a mile way and just when I think we’ve pulled into a windy, waterless spot, KP is sympathising (although grateful it’s me and not him) over my futile attempts to avoid being bitten. In five minutes, I’ve murdered over twenty mosquitos that have somehow burgled their way into the feeding zone. It’s an exodus, and I’m the Red Sea, waiting to engulf the chasers – they just somehow keep coming. If this was a movie, Hans Zimmer would have composed some epic, defining symphony, as I conjure an impossible feat to repel these rampant, flying zombies – the retired tyrant, sitting in his seat, content and smirking like Caesar. Right now, I’m Russell Crowe in the arena, only without the lovely sandals.

After last night’s hellish attempts at getting to sleep, we got things underway this morning a little before six am. Less than forty miles from the Canadian border, I saw possibly the one creature that I have so longed to see above all others. I didn’t spot one last year, I have never seen one in Europe, and they are so illusive in the wild that I wasn’t harbouring much hope for this year either. I don’t believe in luck, and although I came here again for many reasons, on the list was to give myself another chance of seeing one. I may get excited about wildlife more than I let on, but in this case, I couldn’t help feel my emotions grow quietly elated. Even though I knew what I was looking at (because I had spent so much time last year, inspecting every wild coyote and dog, just to make sure) I had to ask KP if I wasn’t imagining it. Standing proud on the rail road tracks by the high way, as we slowly drove by him, a lone, wild wolf was carefully watching us as we crossed his path. As if wishing us luck on our journey into Canada and onto to Alaska, I genuinely felt emotional, and even if just for a moment, utterly fulfilled.

I can’t express enough how much I admire the wolf, and now seeing a wild one, I feel a little more mature, more respectful, and more humble. The open road with a long journey ahead does strange things to the soul and new encounters are always a catalyst for reflection and self-consultation. It gets lonely in North America when you’re out in the wilderness, and I feel I have experienced a little of that, where the wolf would be an expert. I was constantly hoping for a glimpse of a wolf last year, but the great outdoors have a harsh way of keeping you grounded. I may exaggerate when I think of the importance of nature and it’s effect on me, but again, I have been stirred by the wild.


This morning I found the gaping entrance used by the mosquito hoards. It was the miniature (supposedly filtered) air vent for the camper’s cooker. Conveniently extracting any steam while I prepare a meal, it becomes a welcoming, post-dinner doorway to their own final meal for the airborne piranhas. As if contestants on a Crystal Maze-style challenge, they stealthily hunt me down through the narrow corridors of doom and torture me before suffering their own fate – smothered into a bloody mash on the ceiling of our mobile home. It doesn’t equate to modern art either, and the creation of it is far from relaxing, for either of us. I’m sure KP must be completely frustrated with me, although I think my retired friend is now beginning to sympathise. I won’t be leaving the vent open ever again.

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Where am I now?

After extensive work and tours through Southern Africa, most of my time is spent between Malawi and Europe.
Go Untamed Safaris was striding into top gear, but volatile poitics in 2019, Covid in 2020, the impacts of Russia vs the World as well as insesent corruption forced my hand.
The dust is now settling. Everything has changed. New chapters are about to be written.

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