Why I Keep Coming Back to Africa

An interview with Erin West
 
Q.  How many times have you been to Africa?
A.  Eight times. Three times this past year alone!

 

Q.  You have traveled all over the world. Why does Africa keep you coming back?
A.  My first reaction to Africa was a feeling that I had come home. So for me, it’s like I keep going back home. I love the beauty and warmth of its people, and their spirit amidst terribly difficult circumstances. Of course the wildlife is spectacular, and the incredible sunrises and sunsets are unlike any other I’ve seen in the world. Africa is so diverse, there’s always something new to experience.

 

Q.  Africa is a big investment. Why not just go to the Caribbean or Central America?
A.  What I experience in Africa far outweighs the cost. Plus GS really works on making the trip as cost-effective as possible within my budget. Africa is a once in a lifetime (and sometimes life-changing) experience that nobody should miss.

 

Q.  Are you concerned about health issues when traveling?
A.  No not at all. There are precautions that one takes … you take your malaria meds, you’re careful what you eat and bring your antibiotics and bug spray with you and that’s it. The Ebola cases are so far away it doesn’t concern me at all.

 

Q.  Which countries in Africa have you been to? Favorites? Why?
A.  I’ve been to Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the  Congo (DRC), Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Madagascar. I started coming to Africa 25 years ago. I saved my money and went on an overland trip and I just LOVED it. Later on through mutual friends, I met Priscilla and got to go on a trip in place of my mother. The rest is history.  Madagascar is for sure a favorite because of the lemurs, the different landscapes, the beautiful coastline. The flora and fauna are unbelievable, unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. I love Tanzania for the chimps, DRC for the gorillas, Namibia for the amazing sand dunes as well as the Skeleton Coast, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In Botswana, the Ichobezi cruise along the Chobe River is wonderful. Jacks Camp in Botswana and the experience of the Kalahari was one of my most favorite in the world … especially the night sky and all terrain vehicle trips. Cape Town is one of my favorite cities. In Zambia the land safaris combined with the river trips. Just being on the river. I could go on and on!
Erin West & Immaculate (2) copy

 

Q.  Do you feel it makes the trip more meaningful to combine safari with visits to our GSGC supported projects?
A.  Yes, because you experience the real human aspect of Africa. Everyone goes to Africa to go on safari. Sometimes you get to go into a village and it feels planned, like you’re intruding. With the giving circle you visit the projects supported by the GSGC, you meet the people and the communities benefiting from the support. Its more personal and intimate. you hear their stories. As somebody who donates to the Giving Circle, I get to see directly how my money is being used to benefit the people down there.

 

Creating special experiences for our clients… and girls in Zambia

Recently, Global Sojourns’ clients’, the Loackers, traveled with us to Zambia. As a special treat, together with Norman Carr Safaris we arranged a special afternoon for the Loackers with several girls from the local community. Here’s what NCS had to say about the day in their August newsletter:

NCS has always been a leader in the community, we were the first company to start a school project in Mfuwe more than 30 years ago and we’re very active in local health, conservation and forestry issues too. Have a look at our community and conservation page on the website at www.normancarrsafaris.com and click on “About”.

We work closely with our great friends Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre on several projects and had a wonderful day this week taking members of the Chipembele Girls Club for a game drive to Mchenja Camp to join our guests for tea. It was such fun, but also wonderful for the girls to meet people from other cultures, see the wildlife and how it benefits the local economy and helped widen horizons for both girls and guests. They were accompanied by myself, Anna Tolan and ‘Aunty’ Eunice Nakacinda who runs the girls club.

They learnt a new word – ‘WOW’ – the guests at Mchenja were saying it a lot and the girls asked Aunty Eunice what it meant – she told them it conveyed surprise and pleasure – they were all singing out WOW!! – for the rest of the day and we returned to Mfuwe to drop them home to more choruses of WOWW and gales of laughter and excited chatter!

The cupcakes spelled out the girl’s club motto – “STRONG GIRLS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD”! As you can see – this is also emblazoned on their beautiful pink club t-shirts.

The girls met one of NCS’s very own “Strong Women” at Mchenja - Judy Shuma, whom many guests will know from Kapani Lodge. The visit started with polite and slightly shy handshakes – but ended in warm hugs and new friendships.

Special thanks from us all to the Loacker family and the Wyckoff family, The Giving Circle, Priscilla and Valentina at Global Sojourns and also Zambian Ground Handlers.

Christina (Gid) and all the team

Combining Adventure and LOTS of Unique Experiences on a GS Giving Circle Trip

GS Giving Circle Coordinator, Paige Hasson, recently traveled to So’n Africa with her friends, Yvonne and Vicki, on a  Global Sojourns Giving Circle trip. The trip combined working side by side with our partner projects, a safari at The Hide in Zimbabwe, and time to unwind in Cape Town.

“What I experienced in Africa was not life as a tourist but life as a fully engaged participant.” Paige Hasson

“Africa was a total unknown to me prior to my recent journey. I found it beautiful and awe inspiring (over 3000 photos taken), of course, but what impressed me most was the spirit of the people. In the three countries I visited (Zambia,Zimbabwe and South Africa) the people were upbeat, positive and most of all hopeful and looking to the future. If you enjoy travel, do not let the long journey to Southern Africa keep you from going. It is indeed the journey of a lifetime, 
one that will leave you much richer in spirit for the experience”.  Vicki Coles

Some of the special things they experienced:

  • seeing Victoria Falls from Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • visiting the studio of a local renowned artist and activist
  • attending a “Girl Power!” workshop in Victoria Falls funded by the GSGC
  • experiencing a braai (b-que) in the home of a GSGC partner in Victoria Falls
  • visiting a local primary school
  • teaching games and reading to children at a pre-school
  • listening to Hugh Masekela at an outdoor concert at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens
  • a wine and cheese picnic at a winery while watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean
  • seeing lions feast on their prey in Hwange National Park
  • attending a special sports day for disadvantaged youth
  • cooking “shima” with the chef at the B&B in Livingstone
  • shopping at the Biscuit Mill in Cape Town

Experiences such as these offer our clients an insight, perspective and respect for local people and culture that other visitors may not be lucky enough to have.

For more on their adventures, check out the GS Giving Circle Blog and FaceBook.


A New Day for Zimbabwe?

This month (3/12), Conde Nast features one of our all time favorite safari destinations. We are thrilled they are featuring Zimbabwe’s re-emergence in the tourism market.

Conde Nast’s team travelled to Zimbabwe to see for themselves if the ‘re-born hype’ surrounding Zimbabwe as a tourist destination is well founded. In an interesting yet honest reflection of Zimbabwe, Joshua Hammer titles his article ‘A New Day for Zimbabwe?’ and writes, “For many years travelers have avoided Zimbabwe, aware that the country was ruled by a brutal regime. But Robert Mugabe’s time is growing short, safari lodges are filling up, and the spectacular wildlife is flourishing again.”

Having visited the country several times during both its hay-day and the turbulent political and economic situation, Hammer states , “This time, everywhere I go on my ten-day tour, I’m struck by the beauty, the abundance of wildlife, and the optimism that’s taking hold.”

Check out this informative article (and don’t miss the slideshow on page 2): zimbabwe-safari-lodges-hotels-resorts-restaurants-wildlife-national-parks

 

Photo: Beks Ndlovu, Founder of African Bush Camps, floating in “the hide” at Somalisa Camp in Hwange.

Poem by GS Sojourner, Kartr Johnson

Sunk a kayak.

Swam with sharks.

Boobies everywhere.

Tortoises have the right-of-way.

Tripped over lizards.

Drinks on a tropical beach.

-Kartr Johnson

Inspired from his trip to Ecuador with Global Sojourns