The hardest part of a long an enjoyable trip is saying goodbye and transiting back into the so called ‘real’ life of Monday to Friday work. You end up in a half way situation of remembering fondly your trip but not wanting to look back too thoroughly as you’ll be sad you aren’t still there but not able to fully commit back to your normal life. At least this is my experience after a great trip and that’s exactly how I feel back my African Adventure.
It’s hard not to see this as a great trip, I mean I had a lion jump out and briefly chase my open air vehicle just after an elephant threatened us by trumpeting and doing mini charges (video here) within 5 minutes at Chobe National Park. That’s something I’ll remember forever I suspect! Or when I saw lions fighting each other on the same day (video here) or watching the beautiful endangered mountain gorillas play in Uganda (video here).
Over two months I traveled to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. The trip was a participatory overlander experience, basically a truck tour group in which we all chip in via a duty roster which includes cleaning the truck, food preparation, move tables and chairs (ie campsite and lunch time setup) and cleaning dishes. It definitely forces you to interact with your fellow tour members.
I did this trip with On The Go Tours (see trip detail PDF links below). We had three crew members, a tour leader, driver and cook with one crew from Kenya to Zimbabwe and another group from Zimbabwe to South Africa. I also had a great OTG Tour Rep in Cherylyn Antao who helped with the booking, tailoring some inclusions and fixing all issues that came up.
During this trip I achieved several bucket list goals; flying international first class, experiencing the endangered mountain gorillas, visiting the Serengeti and Victoria Falls (helicopter video here)
The most jarring experience was going from the over the top luxury of an Emirates First Class experience to having to put up my tent in the dark and using ‘drop’ toilets just a few days later 🙂
Other highlights of the trip included experiencing the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) but beyond that an amazing array of wildlife including monkeys, ostriches, warthogs, guinea fowls, hippos, hyenas, crocodiles, wildebeest, gazelles, elands, zebras, giraffe (even giraffes fighting!), cheetahs, antelope, African wild dog, baboons, gorillas, mongoose, impalas, bushbucks, dik-diks, jackals, seals, dolphins, springboks, and flamingos. And this doesn’t even count the colourful birds, pelicans, and the scary looking vultures.
Travel during the trip included truck, light airplanes, helicopter, hot air balloon, 4WD / Jeeps, boat, rafts and canoes (mokoro experience, Okavango Delta). The helicopter ride over Victoria Falls, the light plane flight over the Okavango Delta and even seeing the sun rise over the clouds and landscape in a hot air balloon in the Masai Mara were spell binding experiences. You get a very different perspective being in the air.
The landscape is obviously a big part of an African experience. Earlier in the trip in area it was lush greenery which was surprising to me, moving onto coupled with semi-arid areas and then plain arid / desert area. Victoria Falls is definitely a wonder of the world. I got to cross the equator a couple of time as I travel over 5,000 kilometres around east and southern Africa.
I got to spend a short time with indigenous peoples in the Masai and the San people. I learned from them the dangerous of the wild and the skills needed to survive (which I have none of).
I saw rock paintings that were over 4,000 years old and highly skills artist creating magnificent art and craftworks. I danced with school children and orphans and got thoroughly beaten playing football (soccer) with them.
During this trip swam in two oceans – the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. I somehow survived several desert hikes and hiking to the dead valley (Sesriem, Namibia). I got to witness a huge herd of wildebeest running / migrating. I saw government corruption at first hand during a border crossing. I managed to get passed every border crossing with a now totally full passport (RIP old friend, time for a new passport).
I also meet some awesome people during the trip in particular Rosa, Arron (for the whole trip), and Logan and Emilie (Kenya to Zanzibar). I’ll remember the wine tasting and billiards night fondly.
With very few exceptions the tour members across the three legs of the Great African Expedition tour (Gorilla and Game Trek, Wildlife Express, and Falls to Cape) were great and interesting individuals who wished to experience the world.
Note: These three main legs were also broken into sub-legs / tours so we had people joining and leaving the tour at different points.
I’m glad I planned and undertook this trip. Africa is very different to the rest of the world even with some similarities with Australia like the vast distances and the temperatures. People love their children like Australia but Africans in general appear to have much greater respect for their elders than back home.
I’m not sure I’ll go back to Africa but it’s possible I could visit Ethiopia and/or Morocco so you never know. When I had to cancel this trip back in 2014 I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to have these African experiences but it all worked out for the best.
I learned a great lot during these two months, and I had fun most of the time in this very hands on trip which means it was a value and worthwhile experience.
Time to plan my next trip – I’m thinking Nepal and Tibet in October 🙂