The first time I read about Jane Goodall in National Geographic I wanted to go to Africa. I even became a flight attendant when I was twenty-one so I could afford the trip, but I never got there during my short career in the friendly skies. I put money away when I could, but the trip never happened until the call became too great. Last year I decided that I needed to go to Africa before it was too late – for me or the animals.
Bob and I just returned from a three-week trip to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. We booked a tour with Overseas Adventure Travel, a company that caters to active Americans over 50 and were joined by two old friends. We only had 14 people in our group. I highly recommend OAT and if you decide to book a trip to one of their worldwide destinations please use me as your referral (customer #001382737) and you’ll get $100 off your trip. http://oattravel.com/
|on one of our lion walks|
We landed in Johannesburg a few days early and spent that time with a client who takes care of the animals at a lion preserve a few hours north of ‘Joburg’. We got to walk in the bush with 7 lions that were less than a year old. What naughty kids they were – running off, jumping up on people and acting like all young kitties (don’t have anything dangling from your body). They were boisterous but manageable. At night we were awakened by the roaring of the older lions. That’s a sound you never forget. I also spent time there communicating with the lions, leopards, serval, caracal, and tigers. It was a great way to get our feet on the ground.
I wanted to go to Africa to see the animals, and animals we saw. It was amazing how many critters roamed everywhere. We saw the big five (lion, cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino), sometimes four of them in a day. In South Africa we encountered both white and black rhino, and even spent some quiet time in the dark with three rhinos as the full blood moon rose over the trees.
|elephants in the river at the lodge|
Our first lodge was situated on the Crocodile River and during lunch we watched elephants, Cape buffalo, antelopes and hippos along with many species of birds. I was in heaven! At the next lodge a herd of elephants ran trumpeting from the woods to the water hole a couple of hundred yards in front of the camp. They drank and played and chased off the baboons. One night a few wandered into camp and chewed up a lot of trees.
Many of our safaris were in national parks: Kruger, Hwange and Chobe, and they reminded me of being in Yellowstone, only the animals were different. When you saw cars pulled over everyone sped up to see what they were watching. Once it was lions, another time a hyena, a leopard, and always there were elephants.
In Zimbabwe we visited a school that is supported by OAT and also went to a nearby village. These stops were more fascinating than I had expected and by the end of our trip I found that the people and the countries and the land were as important to me as the animals. It really is an amazing continent.
This is just the start of a series of blogs about our time in Africa and the places, people and animals we met. I hope you enjoy them and that soon you will experience the wonder of Africa for yourself.