Africa has always been one of those places I have seen on TV via travel shows and just been in complete awe of how amazingly raw it looks, how free the wildlife roams and how simple the way of life seemed to be. Recently I got to experience all of this when I done a safari tour from Cape Town, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It was a 22 day tour that covered South Africa wine country, Namibia coastline and Etosha National Park, Botswana and the famous Okavango Delta before finishing at 1 of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I would like to share with you some of my favourite parts of this trip.
Camping in the Okavango Delta
This experience was simply mind blowing and something I instantly think about whenever I talk about this trip. It started with a 2 hour trip via the village peoples locally made boats, the Mokoro, simply a dugout canoe. The polers operate this canoes by sticking a long pole into the water and using the bottom as leverage to push us along. We are sharing the waters with the local Hippos, Elephants and other wildlife so it is certainly something that kept me on edge the whole trip.
Once I arrived at the campground right in the heart of the Okavango Delta we were greeted by some more local village people of the area, the temperature was extremely hot, every bit of 40 degree C. The villagers use the small rivers to cool off when the temperatures rise this high and invited us to share the experience with them. There was one look out on the bank keeping an eye out for elephants and one in the water making sure no hippos snuck up on us. After a few minutes the fear of coming into contact with either of these great animals had passed and the enjoyment of cooling of took over.
That evening I took part in a safari walk around some of the nearby areas, I got to see local Zebra, Buffalo, Wildebeest, Elephants all while sharing the same land as them. No cars or cages made this felt extra special.
That evening I had a traditional local meal of meat and pap, which is a porridge like mix made from grounded maize. They then done a set of traditional village dances and invited us to join in. Singing and dancing around the fire for many hours of fun and laughs. Before returning via my Mokoro back to our safari truck and continuing the trip to our next destination.
This large waterfall is technically the largest in the world, statistically speaking, and it is easy to understand why is is 1 of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The volume of water spilling over the waterfall day and night is hard to imagine until you see it first hand. It has over 15 vantage points to get different angles and views of this amazing site and you literally stare and watch it for long periods of time without ever getting bored. There are different options to scale down to the bottom of the falls to gain an extra perspective of this amazing or to swim at what is known as devil’s pool, where you can be right at the top and overlooking to whole waterfall was water rushes past you.
Elephant Sands Resort
Here is simply somewhere you expect to find in a luxury travel brochure. As the name suggests it is a place you can expect to find plenty of elephants. It is effectively a resort of off the ground style luxury safari tents that wrap around a watering hole. There is also a bar and swimming pool area where you can simply sit back for hours or days if you had the time and watch wildlife in its most complete form. The elephants come and go as they please and travel many miles to find water at this known location. This is a place where you are a guest in their playground and care must be taken at all times.
When I was there I was extremely lucky and got to see elephant after elephant visit this watering hole. At times there was more than 20 elephants sharing this place and it was simply fascinating to watch them as the pecking order and dominance of each elephant was on complete show. You are literally just metres from some of the biggest animals that walk the earth and I can’t explain just how small and insignificant you feel when you get caught in a staring contest with one of these beautiful creatures.
Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, sitting behind only the famous Grand Canyon. It is a deep valley that is an impressive sight. I got to walk the banks of this canyon and this allowed me to see it from many different angles and capture some truly beautiful pictures, although the lighting was a little tricky to contend with as it was setting in front of me. I walked and enjoyed the banks of this canyon for an hour or so before arriving at a picnic area and stopping to enjoy the most amazing sunset with the rest of the travel group. The sunsets in the desert are in a class of their own and these are only matched by the amazing night sky that soon appears. With no light pollution at all the stars are on complete show and blanket the night sky.
Etosha National Park
The main National Park in Namibia and the first real chance of the trip I had to see some of the Big 5 animal members that everyone comes to Africa hoping to see. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect on this trip but it was soon apparent when we entered the National Park gates that this was going to be something special. We had literally just paid our entrance fee and drove into the park all of 1 kilometre when the driver had to give way to wild Zebras crossing the road. He slowly drove past these and enabled me to get some beautiful pictures before also having time to just sit back and remember exactly where I am and how lucky I was to be seeing what was in front of me. Another 5 minutes or so past and then the first watering hole of the park was on our left hand side, it was full of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and antelope completing for their turn to enjoy some much needed water.
The day continued like this and to say I were completely spoilt by what I witnessed would be an understatement. The highlight of the day was certainly witnessing lions and their cubs feeding on a freshly killed zebra carcase, while that doesn’t sound overly appealing it was a reminder that in these parts the full circle of life was on complete display constantly.
The next day we done the same route in the safari truck that was taking us from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, apart from minimal zebra and wildebeest no other wildlife was sited. It just showed that no 2 days are the same in these parts of the world and you just never know what you might see.
Africa certainly lived up to what my imagination had built up before I embarked on this trip. It has amazing countryside that changes every few hours, from wine country to desert sand dunes to one of the if not the biggest waterfalls in the world. The wildlife spotting is something I never got sick of at all and the people were some of the happiest and friendliest I had come across during my travels. The food is simple and certainly meat is the main staple food of this country, which suited me down to the ground. There is many more parts to this amazing continent that I can’t wait to continue to explore and when I return next time I will most definitely have more of an idea of what to expect but I highly doubt I’ll be any less shocked by what I see and witness.