Traveling as a single woman in Zimbabwe

by Cindy Krueger

Cindy Krueger Collage copy

I’ve wanted to travel to Africa for many, many years. And for many of those years I talked about it with Priscilla Macy. I travelled with her to Thailand, and on a great kayak and hiking trip in the Pacific NW Cascade mountains. I followed the Global Sojourns website, and watched in envy as friends made the ‘big trip’. I wanted to go for my 60th birthday, but wasn’t able to find anyone with time, money, and interest that lined up with my dates. And – another year went by. During that year, I lost a few friends unexpectedly, and realized that life doesn’t promise us that we’ll eventually get around to living our dreams.   I got in touch with Priscilla, and told her that I was ready to see Africa, and asked her to help me take the trip on my own.

Priscilla was the consummate professional; we worked on the safari planner, to help determine what I wanted to do. Africa is a very big place, and focusing on my priorities for my initial trip was an important part of making my trip so successful. We discussed budget and itineraries objectively, and I felt comfortable sharing my concerns about being a woman traveling alone. The planning process took about 6 months, during which we had several long exchanges, and a number of back and forth emails. Valentina in the ‘home office’ was also a great help.

I was pretty clear that seeing the animals in their habitat was my number one priority. I also wanted to see some of the local culture and to visit one or two of the projects that the Giving Circle supports.   Priscilla and her team put together a dream itinerary for me, which met every one of my travel desires, and a few that I didn’t even know I had.

I used airline miles to travel back and forth to S. Africa, and worked with Priscilla’s U,S, partner for the inter-Africa portions of the trip. Global Sojourns handled every tiny logistic for me in a way that had me feeling completely supported. I was met by a driver at the Johannesburg airport, who welcomed me to Africa and whisked me to my beautiful hotel only a few minutes from the airport. Once in my room – and very ready for a nap after 40 hours en-route, I got a call from Priscilla, just checking in to ensure that I had arrived safely. This level of care and attention to detail was the gold standard of every part of my trip.

I spent a day in Johannesburg, seeing the sites under the care and watchful eye of my driver, who on the following day returned me to J’burg int’l for my flight to Victoria Falls. At the airport I was met Fred, my delightful driver who took me to my first National Park; Hwange in Zimbabwe. I had told him, ‘this is my second day in Africa, I don’t know anything – tell me about everything that we see’. During the entire 3-hour trip Fred became my tour guide, sharing stories of his own life in Victoria Falls along with facts and anecdotes about that part of Zimbabwe.. As we neared the park entrance, we saw a few giraffes, and a group of zebra. My driver was as thrilled as I was, he even shared with me that his totem animal was a zebra! Once into the park, I met my guide, Michael and was transferred to Somalisa Camp, a private concession in the park. We stopped at a watering hole on the way to camp just as the sun was setting, and the animal parade began. The combination of the multitude of animals; elephants, zebra, water buffalo, antelope and the beautiful golden light truly took my breath away. I believe it was at that point that I just relaxed into being part of that beautiful landscape and all the creatures.   I spent a total of 9 days ‘in the bush’ with additional stops at Kanga Camp and Zambezi Lifestyles, both in Mano Pools national park. Each camp was unique, and each was a wonderful experience. I continued my love affair with the wild animals, but also appreciated the interesting people that I met: guides, staff and guests. I found that the African people I met were very open and caring, they were interested in me, and were willing to share stories about their lives and experiences. And – I enjoyed having a solo experience, where I could engage with people when I wanted, but could also have quiet time to write, take photos, and just reflect on the amazing experience that I was having. Being able to be completely selfish about what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it was a real treat, and an unexpected benefit of travelling solo.

After my time in the bush, I flew back to Victoria Falls – to see those iconic Falls and have the luxury of a night at the grand old Victoria Falls hotel. The next day I went to Zambia, and was shown around Livingstone by GS’ Giving Circle partner, Agnes. We saw a school, a chicken raising operation in development, and met a few more of the locals. Agnes even took me into her home, and showed me her studio, as she talked about her week and her life, I got a glimpse into life for an exceptional African woman. From Livingstone I flew to Capetown – where I spent 5 amazing days in that beautiful city. I had never experienced the luxury of having a guide for a city experience, and highly recommend it. The guides knew an amazing amount of history and culture, and shared their experiences of growing up in this cosmopolitan and challenging place. Each guide came from a different segment of society, an Afrikaans young man, a Xosa man, and a woman from a British background. Along with experiencing the beauty of the city, it’s fabulous food and wine, not to mention great shopping and people watching – I spent a day visiting the townships and seeing a few of the projects the GSGC works with here. From a community garden, to a senior center, to the wonderful boys and girls at the Jikaleeza dance school – everyone was welcoming, interesting, and shared their hope as well as the challenges they face.

My advice to someone considering a solo trip? By all means, do it. Travel with an open mind, an open heart, and be prepared to be wonderfully cared for and delighted by this amazing continent.

 

 

Tips for traveling as a multi-generational family

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The Lucas Family

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. The experience was all we had hoped for. Awesome, as our grand kids kept telling s. The camps and lodges you recommended were just the right fit and the right mix. 

Both sets of camp managers were accommodating and flexible. They arranged for soccer games with the staff and set up a visit to a nearby village. Everyone was warm and friendly. The wildlife and landscapes were spectacular.

All in all, it was just the kind of experience and exposure that Midge and I were hoping for. Thanks again for making it all happen.”  Larry and Midge Lucas (Tanzania, June 2014)

This past June, Pete and Midge Lucas took their entire family on a safari vacation to Tanzania. Stops included Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti, where the family witnessed an actual crossing (You can’t plan that!).

Pete and Midge shared their thoughts on what made traveling as a multi-generational family a success:

  • Everyone had a sense of adventure & was healthy
  • Waiting until the grandkids were old enough to appreciate going on safari
  • Picking a time of year that didn’t conflict with school
  • Giving adults enough lead time to make vacation arrangements with work
  • Planning early (at least a year in advance)
  • Choosing camps that fit the entire family; in some places, they were the only guests
  • Remembering that this was also a vacation for each family unit. They appreciated that we chose camps where they had total flexibility to divide up and do different activities individually, i.e. bush walking, game drives, sleeping in, playing soccer, local visits
  • Rooming all the kids together

 

Interested in a multi-generational trip? Contact us!

What size is the right size?

6ebd4168-b01e-4f6c-9bd0-2ee7e964f485Strictly enforced luggage restrictions on light air transfers (between safari camps) can be confusing and frustrating for travelers. So many rules! We always recommend packing light, layering your clothes, and bringing carry on only. You don’t need much. Remember, most camps will do your laundry daily!

Here is the bag that takes us to the most remote corners of Southern and East Africa: the Eagle Creek “No Matter What” duffel.

Order here from REI. There are various styles and colors to choose from – just make sure it’s no bigger than 22″!

Travel Tips from the “Road Warrior”

No one is on the go more than Priscilla’s husband, Peter. Peter is a water engineer and he tirelessly travels all over Africa in an effort to make clean water accessible for all those who don’t have it. Spending more time traveling than even in his own home, Peter has put together a, invaluable list of those travel tips which he feels are the most helpful. Check them out below…some may come as a surprise!

  • Significant travel fatigue comes from noise, including airport noise. Plug your ears with silicone plugs, zone out and maximize a Zen-like state when traveling, including in the airport terminal
  • Keep a journal of what you wear, don’t wear, and wish you had to wear on 5 trips in a row. This will help you better pack for future trips. You can also do this for electronic gadgets and toiletries
  • Purchase a small, hand held scale to always make sure you’re under the airline weight restrictions for your bags
  • In your carry on bag or large suitcase/bag, store common things in separate small bags, of varying shapes such as a bag for:
    • electronics
    • plane food/snacks
    • toiletries
    • hotel energy food/powdered drinks
    • emergency kit (e.g, Imodium, ORS, Malarone)
    • dirty laundry (so not to smell up clean clothes)
    • dirty shoes (2 plastics/pair)
    • electronics just for airport (e.g., adapters, ear plugs)
    • travel documents (passport, WHO card, boarding pass
    • liquids (especially hand-sanitizer)
    • camera equipment
    • local currency and SIM card (if applicable).
  • You can use hotel room laundry bag or trash can plastic insert (if clean) as a spare bag for such things as dirty laundry
  •  If you really want to help the environment place and keep your do not disturb sign on the outside of your hotel door. You won’t receive unnecessary towels, etc.
  •  Use the hotel hair dryer to dry any underwear that you wash if you don’t have time for hand drying
  • Earmark the pages in your passport for
    • where your Visa is for you next arrival
    • the last exit stamp for the country you are entering (if applicable)
    • a used page with enough room for another stamp (so you don’t run out of fresh pages too fast)
    • these marked pages should be shown to the immigration officer to speed up that process.
  •  If you can obtain the immigration forms online and fill them out ahead of time, try this. It could save you time for this process
  •  If you can pack everything in carry on luggage this will save you more time; and it completely removes the risk of lost luggage
  •  Carry with you about ten $1 bills for tipping – before you have time to obtain local currency
  •  Consider bringing your own food/snacks on your flights so that you can eat what you know/trust/like, and so you can eat on YOUR schedule
  •  Research the type plane in which you will fly and select your preferred seat at the earliest possible time – it makes a difference! For example I stay away from bathroom areas, I avoid window seats on long flights, I grab exit rows if not a confined bulkhead.
  •  If you are going straight into a meeting upon arrival, then dress nice, this can make a difference; otherwise, only dress for comfort.
  • Dress for warm conditions on the flight but bring at least one lightweight item that will provide warmth if the cabin is uncomfortably cold
  •  If you are paying on your own for the taxi from the airport to your hotel research the distance and costs. You might pay exorbitant rates if you don’t!
  •  Research the weather conditions for when you land (not from where you depart) and make sure you will have the right clothing available
  •  Bring at least one combination lock to lock your valuables in your bag when you are not in your hotel room. I no longer can trust the safe in the hotel rooms
  •  Always keep your hands clean and NEVER put your hands to your mouth when traveling
  •  Don’t ever, ever get mad with officials; instead be firm but highly respectful. Humor is also a powerful tool to achieve what you want
  •  Drink A LOT of bottled water every day!
  • Bring energy bars and powdered drinks for when you are not eating the local food so to keep your body healthy
  •  Exercise within at least 2 hours of your arrival (or at least before you go to bed) to help you adjust to the new time zone. Running/walking the hotels stairs, even if just 5 floors, is great aerobic exercise.
  •  Pleasant travel can be significantly impacted by something YOU control – your state of mind. If you can remain in a Zen-like state, avoid feeling rushed, having patience with the people around you, being okay with delays and changes, savoring the time to read some pages of your book, zoning out the world around you, then you will better enjoy the hours of you travel

 

Thanks Peter!

Platypus Platy Bottle

 

Platypus Platy Bottle

The taste-free Platypus Platy™ bottle is a great option for your world adventures.
  • Perfect for long flights and transfers
  • Fill up before boarding and stay hydrated for your entire trip
  • Holds 70 fl. oz
  • 100% BPA free
  • Compact and flexible design can be flattened when empty and rolled up
  • Stands upright when full
  • Polypropylene screw cap allows quick and easy drinking
  • Best part is it costs less than $13!
  • Order online from  REI

“I’ve decided I’m not even going to attempt to top this trip, because its not possible.” Anne McCall

The challenge: to create a “best of the best” month-long adventure in Ecuador & Peru for seasoned world travelers Anne and Jer McCall.

The solution: a Galapagos cruise, historic cities, unique properties, hiking in Machu Picchu, pink dolphins in the Amazon, and a gorgeous beach on the Pacific coast!

Immerse yourself in the McCall’s descriptive and informative travel log. Anne has quite a way with words!

Galapagos

“We arrived in Ecuador on Thursday night. We got up the next morning and caught a 2 hour flight to the Galapagos island of St Cristobal. I was very surprised when we first arrived. This island has 20,000 people. It’s one of several that are inhabited. I guess I should have expected it, since I was flying into an airport. Anyway we got to the dock and there were sea lions everywhere. They were lying on the benches, you just sort of stepped over them. The town was about 6 blocks long, with the typical gift stores and eating places. Then we went by dingy to our Galapagos cruise boat, the Yacht La Pinta. It can accommodate 46 guests. We lucked out because its only about half full, so we can have more flexibility. It’s a great mix of people. 4 Americans, 2 Germans, one Spanish woman, several Australian families, and one English family. OK, so now here’s the part you aren’t going to believe. We get up at 7am…yes I said am….every morning.

Our first day we went on a hike…yes I said hike…and I did the whole thing!!! I’m quite proud of myself. We were still on still on St Cristobal, but on the other uninhabited side. Now this is what I thought the Galapagos would look like. It was volcanic and ash rock. We hiked about half way to the top of the island and got some beautiful pictures. We saw a red footed booby with a bright blue beak, sitting on her nest. Those can only be found here… When we got to the bottom and hit the beach, I could not get my clothes off quick enough to hit the water. It was wonderful. The sea lions were just laying on the sand with us. Then I took my snorkel and started looking around, and I almost ran into a turtle. A big turtle. He completely surprised me. I started grunting through my snorkel for Jer to look. I kept getting closer and closer to him, and he was letting me. Jer started physically pulling me back because they can bite. But it was remarkable experience. All the island and sea life is so comfortable around humans, they don’t see us as predators like everywhere else. [Read more...]

Summer Vibe in Cape Town

Start planning your escape to Cape Town next winter! While its cold and snowy here, what’s better than to be in one of the coolest cities in the world. Cape Town simply oozes a great summer vibe, with tons of energy, outdoor cafes, breathtaking sunsets, gorgeous coastlines, invigorating hiking, great shopping, trendy restaurants, open air concerts, wineries, and festivals!

A few of our favorite things to do in and around Cape Town in the summer:

  • Hiking up and around the top of Table Mountain – views in all directions – and staying up there for the sunset!
  • Having a picnic and jammin” with the crowd in a gorgeous setting at one of the summer concerts at Kirstenbosch Gardens
  • Enjoying drinks at one of the vibey bars with ocean views (a current personal favorite is WAFU in Mouille Point)
  • Dining with sand, candelabras, the ocean and movies playing in the old lobster shed and an all around relaxed and funky atmosphere at the Grand Cafe & Beach Granger
  • Enjoying South African wine… in the the winelands, at the beach, outdoor cafes, nice restaurants, on picnics….
  • Riding in the Cape Argus Cycling Tour (the world’s largest individually timed bike race) with its spectacular views
  • Visiting GS Giving Circle supported projects, the townships and meeting locals with James and his team at Uthando

 

Whether you visit for two days or two weeks, Cape Town offers an unending supply of culture and diversity. No visit to South Africa should miss Cape Town! Check out this slideshow for a glimpse of all there is to see and do in Cape Town.

3 Tips To Make Your Long Haul Flights More Comfortable

Thanks to years of traveling back and forth from the states to Africa and other special places around the world, Priscilla has three simple yet extremely useful tips to make your long haul flights more comfortable. They are:

1. Get a great seat:

  • If there is an option for Economy Plus on the long haul, we feel it is worth it for the extra cost. You won’t have significantly more space, however, you won’t feel so lost in the masses as you are further forward in the plane with a bit more attention paid to you.
  • As soon as you make your reservation, try to get your seat assignment. SeatGuru can be a big help with this. We find a few rows behind bulkhead to be best. If you are traveling alone, try for the aisle seat in the middle section of the plane. Oftentimes, this increases the chances that the seat next to you will be empty and thus you can essentially stretch out in two seats.

2. Have an inflatable neck pillow:

  • These are easy to buy online or in the airport. The advantage to the inflatable neck pillow is that, once deflated, you can easily store it in your luggage taking up virtually no space. It makes a big difference in providing neck support when you relax or sleep on the flight.

3. Wax Ear Plugs and Noise Reduction headphones:

  • We recommend the wax earplugs for when you want to sleep and not watch any entertainment.
  • Noise reduction headphones are for entertainment (listening to music, watching the inflight movies, etc). We always have both. It has been found that one of the biggest impacts on jet lag is the noise from the plane. Trying to reduce that can make a big difference in how you feel upon arrival.

 

Barefoot Shoes by Merrill

A “must have” according to Priscilla! Featherlight, these shoes are perfect for walking in a city, going on a run, or heading out on safari. Easily stored and with lots of different styles to choose from, everyone should travel with a pair!

    • super light and flexible
    • smushes down for packing
    • variety of styles for men, women and children
    • technical design for both comfort and utility
      washable
    • great for running, trekking, walking and water sports

 

Learn more and find your perfect fit here. We love these shoes!

Hands On Fun Experience at the Eziko Cooking School!

One of the most rewarding things to do when traveling is to get insight into the local culture, and we find there is no better way to do this is than with an interactive experience with locals. Even better is when this experience helps support the local community! The Eziko cooking school in Langa (Cape Town) offers visitors such a unique opportunity.

  • Eziko (a Xhosa word meaning “at the hearth”) was established by a former Langa high school teacher who recognized a need in his community
  • The school teaches young adults cooking skills so they will be able to find employment and create their own businesses in the future
  • Visitors not only visit but get a cooking lesson in traditional African “home” cuisine and then enjoy the fruits of their labor! Hands on access to such foods and food preparation is very difficult for outsiders and this experience provides a very unique opportunity for cultural exchange and insight

 
Priscilla and several Global Sojourns clients experienced a cooking class at Eziko’s under the watchful eye of specialty guide Pam McOnie, one of our favorite local foodies and wine experts. They loved the hands on interaction! Pam was instrumental in helping to create the cooking classes available to visitors at Eziko. It’s a very interesting story actually. We highly recommend you visit Pam’s website to read more about it.

Our client, Karen Johnson, sums up the experience best:

“What a great way to end our trip! having an authentic experience of cooking and eating traditional foods was one of my favorite activities of the trip. Pam was so knowledgeable about the township and Eziko’s effect on local youth. Victor, founder of the school, gave us some fascinating history about hearth rituals along with samples of some special offerings. Then there was Victor’s mom, Mama Lindy, a remarkable person and wonderful instructor, who helped us to understand foods of the traditional hearth while we prepared a truly delicious meal. Long live samp and beans!”