AFRICA – OUR TRIP OF A LIFETIME
Since as long as I can remember, I have always had a deep desire to go to Africa, to experience the unique culture, geography and varied wildlife, such a contrast from Canada.
Last summer Todd and I went on a trip to the Arctic (his bucket list) and during the trip I met Pricilla. I immediately connected with her on a personal level and was excited to hear about her volunteer organization in Africa and her travel company Global Sojourns (GS). By the end of our Arctic trip, she had offered to pull together a trip to Africa and within a few months of being home from the Arctic, Global Sojourns had created the most amazing African itinerary for us!
Our trip began in Cape Town, where we spent 4 days taking in all the sights, from hiking up Lion’s Head, taking the tram to the top of Table Mountain, exploring Cape Hope, West Coast National Park, the town of Hermanus and the most amazing drive along the coastline!
Thanks to GS for connecting us with Wayne, our Guide in Cape Town, he was such a good fit for us! We loved his humour, thoughtfulness, he provided us with lots of interesting and insightful details on all the areas where we travelled and the varied geography, along with information regarding the wildlife (antelope, giraffes, zebras, ostrich, dassies, lizards) that we encountered.
From Cape Town we flew to Windhoek which was the start of our 9-day adventure in Namibia, we travelled with Priscilla, Stéphane and his son Ben, and Usko – our very skilled guide and driver. The first part of our Namibia trip was the Namib desert, our first Under Canvas mobile camp experience, which was incredible! We were way out in the desert, yet service, food and accommodations were some of the best we have ever had.
This was where I had my first viewing of a family of giraffe’s in the wild, and we were able to spend a good half hour in their presence, photographing and thoroughly enjoying the experience. To top it off, shortly after we left the giraffe’s we discovered that the crew had set up a special lunch for us on the top of the plateau. Our day wrapped up with a dip to cool off in a pool and then a relaxing sundowner; felt just so spoilt!
On day two we climbed to the top of the ‘Big Daddy’ sand dune, such a highlight of our trip (and hard work) that provided us with amazing view of the Dead Vlei and an exhilarating 5-minute run to the bottom!
As part of our Under Canvas camp adventures, we visited a seaside town called Swakopmund, where we biked on the dunes and had a guided tour of the desert. Again, the accommodation was spectacular (right on the edge of the sand dunes), and we had special dinners in local restaurants with the group. The road trips between camps and towns gave us the opportunity to see the varied landscapes, unique rock formations and a large variety of antelope, birds and baboons.
The second Under Canvas camp was in the Damaraland area, the plan was to work with local trackers to locate a black rhino. Luck was with us, and the first morning a rhino was located and we hiked in a couple of kilometers to observe and photograph a mother and baby rhino. Such an exhilarating experience, and truly an honor to be in its presence. Since we found the black rhino the first day, we spent the second day tracking elephant, which started off finding their tracks, then fresh dung and then sighting a herd of a 12 or more including baby elephants! Again, although a different camp and crew, the service, food, and accommodations were amazing, including the sundowners!
Our next stop was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, here we travelled with Priscilla and were given the opportunity to meet some of the Global Sojourns Giving Circle (GSGC) leaders to hear about the amazing work they are doing in Vic Falls and South Africa. Our visit to the school club to meet the girls and Aunties, touched me deeply and the work they are doing continues to fill my heart with hope and joy (including the boys club and the new Centre). What an amazing two days, thank you to Smokey and his wife for opening their home and cooking us an amazing meal! In addition to a view into GSGC , Priscilla ensured that we had time to tour Vic Falls and found us a spectacular sundowner location where we had an eagle view of a large watering hole with wildlife.
The next stop of our trip was Botswana, and although this part we travelled alone, Priscilla ensured we would have a guide or support for all transition points (taxi, border crossing, flights) until we made it to our first safari camp called Lagoon Camp in the Kwando Reserve. And we did! Everything went seamlessly! On our drive from the airstrip to camp we were overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of animals we saw (and this wasn’t even the safari)! When we arrived at the camp not only were we greeted by the staff, but also elephants and hippos were lounging in the lagoon and munching vegetation very close by.
Over the next two days we were on safari twice a day (in the morning and late afternoon that ended with a sundowner and travel back to the camp in the dark looking for nocturnal wildlife). We saw so many amazing animals, from zebras, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, buffalos, baboons, monkeys, a pack of wild dogs, many types of antelope and birds, and a mother lion with three cubs feasting on a baby buffalo, to name a few!
Again, like the previous camps, the guides were very experienced, the camp team provided great service and the food was amazing (including individual options that were dairy/gluten free).
From here we flew out to Mapula Camp in the Okavango Delta, and our first thought was, what more can we possibly see? Well let me tell you, although we followed a similar safari schedule, this was another very unique experience.
In a short time, we developed a special bond with our guide ‘Mike’; he was intuitive and very skilled – which allowed us some amazing big cat viewings! It started on the first day when we discovered a leopard lounging in a tree and watched while he transitioned to searching for prey from his lookout and calling out for others to hunt (we were spellbound watching from our open jeep).
On the second day we watched a mother cheetah and her two cubs saunter across the savanna and then settle down for a nap under a large brush with the morning’s hunt (small antelope).
Again, the camp food was amazing, and the camp team had a lovely family / team connection which made our time with them very enjoyable and heartfelt.
From this last camp it was two flights back to Johannesburg for our trip home (total of 5 flights), big thanks to GS, they made sure that we had someone meet us at each transition which meant smooth and stress-free travel!
I can’t say enough for the thought and planning that went into our trip, every hotel and camp was so much more than we anticipated, each camp was very unique, with such attention to detail (loved the cold drinks and wet cloth’s that would be awaiting our arrival from an afternoon’s adventure and hot coffee delivered to our tent @ 6am). Each piece of our trip was an amazing experience on its own and I am grateful that Priscilla and Pam were able to create an itinerary that suited us so perfectly! Although we were not always sure what we wanted, their intuition and extensive travel experience, contacts and knowledge of Africa enabled them to fill in the gaps with exciting and unique options.
Thank you for making this a trip of a lifetime for us! Although we were only in Africa for three weeks, I feel such a connection to the countries and the people we visited and am hoping to return soon!
Paulette & Todd (September 2019)