Family Travel in Southern Africa
Don Houser and his family visited southern Africa in June 2009, taking in the sights of Victoria Falls, the Chobe National Park area, Ichobezi Houseboat, and Johannesburg.
Terri Houser recounts: “…we were headed toward the banks of the Chobe and as we approached in our jeep, so did a herd of elephants. We were driving down the trail when a mother elephant took a stance against our vehicle and wouldn’t let us pass. Our driver remained calm, and began to rev the engine. She still wouldn’t let us pass. This went on for a few minutes, until she finally backed down. Our guide said that he expected her to back down a bit sooner. Phew! We were able to go safely on our way.”
For an overview of Terri’s first experience in Africa with her family,
“Our Excellent Adventure began as we all descended on Johannesburg, South Africa, on a comfortable winter evening. After refreshing ourselves at the Safari Club, we had a long, lazy dinner at Jose?s, a nearby Portuguese Restaurant that came highly recommended and lived up to its billing. The next day our adventure would really begin. We started early. After breakfast at the Safari Club, we hopped on a plane for Zambia and beautiful Victoria Falls. We spent a good part of the day just getting there, but when we did, we were in for quite a sight. The falls are a vision. Walking along the path that follows the falls, we got drenched by the spray and mist that surrounded us. They were a spectacular sight?breathtaking.
Livingstone was a busy place; there were people everywhere. Colors burst from every direction?the colors of Africa. Just outside the resort we had our first encounter with the wildlife of southern Africa? zebras, giraffes, and baboons were a few of the creatures we saw that first day. Once we were packed up in the morning, we headed for the border. As we approached the Zambezi River, things got lively. Street merchants were abundant?trying to sell their wares. We bought a few small things on our way into the immigration office.
After clearing customs, we boarded a small motor boat that would take us across the river into beautiful Botswana. We alighted near Kasane, where we met up with our transport to the Muchenje Game Lodge. Getting there was easy?and exciting. We had to drive all the way through the Chobe National Park to get to the lodge on the other side. We got a glimpse of what we were about to experience. Again, we enjoyed the zebras and giraffes and baboons?and this time elephants! Wow! Elephants, impala, kudu, sable antelope and every bird imaginable?they were all right there, so close we could almost touch them! When we got to the lodge, we were in for a treat. Our hosts, Kathy and Rod, greeted us as we drove up. They were gracious and attentive the whole time we were there. The guest chalets were nicely appointed and very clean, decorated in African themes. After cleaning up a bit, we had a short orientation and stopped at the bar for a drink. Later, we enjoyed a robust meal and the company of other international adventurers.
Each day, we started early?about 6am for the morning game drive. After returning for a quick breakfast, we went out again?from 10:30am until about 6:30 pm. After dinner, we went out again for the nighttime game drive. We had encounters with elephants, impala, kudu, red lechwe, puku, baboons, monkeys, giraffes, zebras, hippos, and crocs. We tracked lions? which we eventually found. There were birds of all shapes and sizes and colors? including the national bird of Botswana, the lilac-breasted roller.
After several days of land-based safari, we made our way to Namibia, where we boarded our home for the next few days?the Ichobezi, a house boat which makes its way up the Chobe River. From the boat, we enjoyed more game viewing, but this time from the water. The guys did some game fishing and caught fierce tiger fish. The fish put up a fight?and what an ordeal it was trying to remove the lures from those ferocious critters! After photographing the colorful tiger fish, they were returned unharmed to the river.
Our last day in South Africa was educational and informative. We opted for a city tour with a well-informed guide. We discussed some of the social and political turmoil the country has experienced in recent years. We went to Soweto, passed by the homes of some famous South Africans, and discussed the upcoming World Cup Soccer events. At the end of the tour we stopped at a pub for a late lunch and then some shopping before catching a late flight back to the US. It was an exciting adventure and a wonderful opportunity to bond as a family as we explored southern Africa together?an excellent adventure that we will never forget.”