There were so many parts of our South African safari that was, one way or another, on my bucket list; experiencing another culture, hearing the noises in the middle of the night, getting up close to animals, going to Africa, et cetera. One thing on the list, which I didn’t realize was on my bucket list until in occurred, was landing an airplane on a gravel airstrip.
No, I did not physically land the plane, however, as we came out of the clouds in our small, eight-seater airplane, I looked down through the window and saw our runway in the distance. As we got closer and closer to the place where we would be landing, I remember thinking “Why does that runway look different?”
There was something odd about the runway we were rapidly approaching. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but it looked a little more “rough” then most runways I’ve landed on.
Sure enough, as we were a few hundred yards from touching down, my brain processed that we were about to touch down on a gravel airstrip. I scrambled for my iPhone so I could record a video of us touching down.
It. Was. So. Loud.
Just driving on a gravel road can be deafening, but landing a plane on one seemed overwhelmingly loud. Additionally, being in an airplane, I felt like every one of the rocks “pinging” off of the wing was a little more terrifying than the rocks “pinging” off of my car’s fender.
In the end, it was a much smoother ride than I ever expected, but at the same time, it was so much louder than I ever thought it would be.
Obviously everything worked out and our plane landed and took off without issue. The whole thing took place after we left our safari, on our way back to civilization. Before leaving the wild animals that make a safari so incredible, we had spent time with the elephant above, as he enjoyed a mouthful of grass near Kruger National Park in South Africa.