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Reflections on a Lifetime of Friendships Through the Lens of Travel

Recently I had the honour of celebrating my 70th birthday along with two best friends whom I have known my whole life. Our combined birthday party freshly reminded me of the countless adventures around the world that I’ve embarked on with them. These trips are not just about exploring new horizons together, but celebrating shared histories, creating lifelong memories, and strengthening the bonds of friendship.

The magic of longstanding friendships

There’s a unique magic in friendship travel, a sense of camaraderie that transcends the everyday and reaches deep into our collective hearts and souls. I fondly recall an early trip to Londolozi Game Lodge with friends from different parts of the world – Australia, London, USA – and their children. Despite the years of separation, we gelled immediately. Our escapades led us to the wilderness of South Africa, each moment rich with the discovery of the wild and the warmth of companionship. However, amidst the awe-inspiring view of lions rests an unlikely legend – the ‘woodlion’.

The 'woodlion'

A creation born out of humour when the excitement of our Australian friends led them to mistake a pile of fallen trees for the majestic beasts. The tale of the woodlion, a myth kept alive by the warmth of the campfire and our shared laughter, illustrates how even the simplest things can connect us in the most profound ways. Our families still joke about it!😊 We lived, laughed, and made memories that still echo in our conversations, decades later. The simplicity of the South African bush, devoid of distractions like TV or social media, created a magnificent environment for spontaneity and joy.

These trips of friendship are not just vacations; they become part of our shared narrative.

Two Generations 60th Celebrations at the same lodge

Celebrating my father’s 60th birthday with his friends at a game lodge was a revelation. And years later, when I celebrated my own 60th at Londolozi, the full-circle moment was poignant.

My Father's 60th celebration in 1987

My 60th celebration in 2014

Our 60's Thrash in India

Another such adventure took us to India in 2014, a nine-day whirlwind of culture, colour, and connection that remains a cherished memory.

My dear friend's 70th in the Mara

In 2023 I visited the Maasai Mara to join in the celebrations for my dear friend Neville’s 70th – it was a glorious four-day sojourn that further cemented our bond. The memories from these travels with friends have been indelibly inked into my heart and soul.

Friendship travel can take many forms, from grand adventures to simple weekend getaways. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zones together and immersing yourselves in new experiences.

Time is our most valuable asset

Organising these trips requires effort and attention to detail. It’s about ensuring that everyone’s needs and expectations are met, from itinerary planning to dietary requirements. It’s about creating an environment for spontaneous combustion amongst friends, where the experience transcends the locale.

The recipe for a memorable trip includes a strong connection, a sense of adventure, and careful planning. The most valuable asset we have is time, and we must make the most of it. We must put effort into the itinerary, ensuring that people are aligned, excited, and ready to create shared memories.

Friendship is about the company

Friendship travel isn’t about luxury or opulence; it’s about the company. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dining in the fanciest restaurant or sharing a simple meal under the stars; it’s the laughter, stories, and shared moments that make the difference. Another gift of friendship travel is close relationships.

Thanks to plenty of time in the saddle acquired through years of travel adventures together, one of my friends’ daughters happened to be staying at the same lodge as my family one year. (She was there for business; we were there for pleasure.) Thanks to our shared family history, Katie Brauer slotted right into the van Embden clan as if she were one of us!

Let’s celebrate friendship travel – filled with love, laughter, and lifelong memories. Create your own unforgettable friendship travel experiences. Africa offers truly unforgettable adventure opportunities.


In this article
  • Introduction
  • The magic of longstanding friendships
  • Two Generations 60th Celebrations at the same lodge
  • Our 60's Thrash in India
  • My dear friend's 70th in the Mara
  • Time is our most valuable asset
  • Friendship is about the company

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