Archives for December 2018

For Photo Enthusiasts

For Photo Enthusiasts…
I normally shoot with my tried and true Canon 70-200mm lens but after getting the opportunity to use the Canon 100-400mm lens last week in Botswana, I have a new love! 
WOW! I was so impressed with the sharpness of this lens. My only complaint is that… when the leopard, the lion and hyena came close to the vehicle, I couldn’t get clear shots as they were too close for the lens! 
Our dependable sources for photos supplies: B&H Photo and Amazon

Kidepo National Park

If you seek wildlife viewing in remote and untrodden locales, add Kidepo to your list! Why we love it:
  • Expansive vistas
  • Gorgeous landscape
  • Untrodden- one feels like you’re in a private park
  • Large herds (elephant, Cape buffalo, hartebeest, waterbuck, giraffe and more…)
  • Apoka- wonderful lodge- wildlife at your doorstep, peaceful, great service








Featured Camps – Botswana

We’ve visited 19 camps in Botswana in the past few months- checking out new ones and seeing refurbishments at some favorites. Here are some of our findings:
Sandibe: Modern Luxury + Fantastic Concession + Outstanding Guiding = Wow!
Sandibe offers all the modern comforts (spa, fitness room, wifi, espresso) while retaining a high quality bush experience with their game rich concession and quality guides and tracker system. Outstanding food, service and great wines top off the experience! 
Bushman’s Plains: Traditional Old World Safari
We love this camp for its simplicity, intimacy and focus on quality guiding.  Majority owned by Bushmen and owner hosted (rare these days!), Bushman’s Plains takes us back to what we so love about safari- the focus on the wildlife experience and connection with nature.  On top of this, it is located on a great concession.  For those who appreciate the stripped down traditional safari experience, we highly recommend it!  

Conservation- Great news from Botswana

At a time when news is all too often about shrinking habitats and decreasing wildlife numbers, we are thrilled to share news of areas opening up and providing greater movement for wildlife. In and around the Makgadikgadi National Park in Botswana, fences are coming down and old migration routes are being rejuvenated. This is a gorgeous area and with the wildlife increasing, it’s one to put on your list.
Kuddos to all of those behind this project! 


Gorillas in the Wild- A Lifelong Dream Come True for Shawna

Perched on a freshly cleared pile of vines on the side of a mountain in Uganda, I peered down into a small hollow and made my first eye contact with the Mountain Gorilla. At 35 years of age, she was the oldest female in the family group, and was feeding a short distance away from the rest of her family. Her face was soft and gentle, and her eyes seemed to reveal a cautious tolerance of our presence. She ate slowly, clearly choosing her favorites and seeming to savor each bite of vine, leaf, or twig. Occasionally she spit out a small lump of chewed plant matter, having been unsatisfied with some aspect of the bite. Looking into her eyes, I felt that she was wise, and had a sense that she had lived through many difficult and beautiful moments in her 35 years of life in the jungle.

Covered in sweat, dirt, and bugs, I should have been exhausted. The 7.5-mile trek to find this family group of gorillas was strenuous, taking us over extremely rugged terrain and across several rivers and small streams. The only trail was the small path of broken branches left by the gorillas as they moved through the forest. We climbed to altitudes of around 7,000 feet over steep and slippery inclines, and then descended down a mountainside thickly overgrown with thorny vines. We found the gorillas at the bottom of a ravine, near the river. I’m sure in that moment my body was fatigued, but I didn’t feel it. Gazing at that beautiful gorilla was life changing in an indescribable way. My world shifted in that moment, and I will never be quite the same.

I don’t exactly remember what started my obsession with Mountain Gorillas. I know that when I was in the third grade I found the book Gorillas in the Mist in the adult section of the library and asked my mother if I could read it. I know that shortly after reading it, I watched the movie based off of the book, where Sigourney Weaver portrayed Dian Fossey’s adventures in the jungles of Rwanda. And I know that since that time I have felt, deep in my heart, that I needed to go to Africa and see the Mountain Gorillas for myself. My childhood years were spent reading about primates of all kinds, and Africa, and what it takes to survive in the jungle. I had posters of gorillas and chimpanzees on my wall, and I slept with a stuffed orangutan in my bed at night. I wanted to grow up to be a researcher, go to Africa, live in the jungle, and save the Mountain Gorillas.

As childhood dreams often do, the desire to become a researcher in the jungle faded through my teen years. I lost touch with the young girl who was hungry for adventure, and started to try to and fit myself into a path that felt more attainable. I struggled, as many young girls do, to gain approval and validation from outside sources. As I moved through my teens and twenties, I lost myself, and my dreams, in the confusion of trying to find something to do with my life that felt “right”.

But always in the back of my mind would be the dream of seeing the gorillas. It would come up casually in conversation – someone would mention Africa, or primates, or share about their own childhood fantasies, and I would reply “I used to be obsessed with going to Africa and seeing the Mountain Gorillas”. I would share a bit about my childhood dream, and then things would move on, and that would be that.

Sometimes in life the universe connects you with someone who raises you up and changes you in ways you never thought possible. In my 20’s, I met an amazing woman named Erin. We met at work, and I eventually learned that she had travelled to Africa on several occasions and had even been to see the mountain gorillas! Throughout our friendship, she shared a love of animals, philanthropy, conservation, and travel that inspired me to believe that my childhood dreams could be realized. Erin would often tell me that someday we would go to Africa together, and although I was hopeful and excited by the prospect, the reality of such a trip seemed out of reach.

A few months before my 35th birthday, Erin told me that she was planning a trip to Uganda, to include a trek to see the Mountain Gorillas. She asked if I was interested in getting more information about the trip, and she put me in contact with Priscilla and Pam at Global Sojourns. The preliminary itinerary they sent was something out of a dream. Chimpanzee trekking, game viewing, and finally trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forrest to see the Mountain Gorillas, all while staying at beautiful lodges throughout Uganda. I remember reading the itinerary and thinking “This is my chance…”

The universe works in beautiful ways, and my excitement around the possibility of this trip was quickly dampened by the realities of my life at that time. I was in a failing marriage with someone who was unable to understand my desire to take a trip of this type. I was lost in the responsibilities of being a good wife and stepmother, and had forgotten how to take care of the quiet but important needs of my own heart. I battled depression and anxiety, finances were tight, and for a time I did not believe that I deserved to do something for myself of this magnitude. I was caught between meeting the needs of others, and meeting a deep, deep need of my own.

The turning point came during a phone call to my mother when I first told her about the trip. I explained the itinerary, the permit and trip costs, and my desire to go on this adventure, as well as my worries and fears. My wonderful mother said, “You MUST go. This is your dream”. So, with a little help from my parents and unfailing support from Erin, I emailed Global Sojourns and committed to the trip.

And now I write this while sitting in the Entebbe airport, waiting for my flight back to San Francisco. The last two weeks have been incredible. My world is bigger. My heart is more open than ever before, and my soul is fulfilled. I’m returning home to a lot of uncertainty, however I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I feel complete, and whole, and alive.

This trip to Uganda has represented so much. It was my chance to stand up and acknowledge that my needs are important. It was my opportunity, as an adult, to tell that little girl that she has every right to make her dreams come true. It is an example of the power of friendship, and the joyful experience of sharing something unique with another who truly understands me. It is my opportunity to live loudly in this present moment and expand my soul by connecting to the big, wide world around me.

This trip has been a beacon of hope for me through a very difficult time, and is essentially a gateway to the future that I want for myself. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the chance to live out my dream during this first trip to Africa. It is the first of many, I am sure, and I am so excited to see what new dreams the future holds for me. Dreams that I can pursue with confidence, gratitude, and the new sense of self that I found on the side of a mountain in Uganda.

 – Written by Shawna Renga


Global Sojourns Namibian Adventure

This trip has been designed to offer a true “back to nature” experience with the emphasis being on the experiential aspect of safaris, to go back to the roots of safari, to touch, to smell, to feel and to experience the wild, with one’s feet firmly in the dust that covers Africa. This is an experience that is exclusive in the real sense of the word, as well as being very much away from the pressures of ‘normal’ life!

10 nights/11 day itinerary

September 6th – 16th, 2019

Pricing From *US$8,591 per traveler

View detailed itinerary here

*Pricing subject to change dependent on number of people traveling and time of year

Cool Things You’ll Do:

  • Impromptu picnics and sundowners in spectacular scenic areas
  • Explore and play in the desert
  • Learn about desert animals and plants and how they’ve adapted to survive
  • Nature drives and walks to take a deeper dive into the desert’s incredible and varied ecosystems
  • Track rhino

Areas You’ll be Visiting:

  • Windhoek
  • Sossusvlei/Namib Tsaris Conservancy
  • Swakopmund
  • Damaraland