For years Andy and I have talked about going on safari in Africa. Two weeks ago we actually did it.
Here’s an overview of our trip:
- We flew from Cincinnati to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Johannesburg, stayed overnight, then flew from Johannesburg to Maun, and finally Maun to the Moremi Game Reserve (on a teeny tiny Cessna!).
- The ATL to JNB flight is supposedly the 4th longest in the world, at 16 hours. Thank goodness for those personal media screens!
- Our guide was Mike, a native of Botswana, and he led a group of 9 of us on a week-long tour from the Moremi Game Reserve, over to Savute, and on through Chobe National Park.
- Andy and I were the only Americans. The other guests were a French couple, a Swiss couple, a German couple, and a Slovak. I would say English was only spoken about 65% of the time.
- Also supporting our tour group was a young cook named Rasta, and an all-around helper-guy named Talo.
- June is the beginning of dry season (aka winter) so it was cold and (surprise surprise) dry. Temps ranged from 80ºF or so during the day to below 40ºF at night.
- This is supposedly a very good time to see the wildlife, since the rivers have all receded and the animals have to congregate where there’s still water.
- We saw, vaguely in order of abundance:
- Antelope of all kinds — impala, kudu, water buck, red lechwe, reed buck, sable, puku, steenbok, and maybe another one or two I’m forgetting.
- BIRDS. Too many to name, though my favorite kinds were the “flying bananas” (hornbills, like Zazu) and the lilac-breasted roller.
- Vervet monkeys.
- Mongooses. (Andy prefers “mongeese.”)
- LIONS. (A KILL! WE SAW A KILL! I WILL PROBABLY DO A WHOLE SEPARATE POST ABOUT IT!)
- Honey badgers.
- African wild cats. (That’s a specific thing, despite the generic name.)
- Leopard. As in, singular.
- For the record, going on safari is like playing the hardest game of Where’s Waldo ever. It’s like someone is constantly turning the pages, and oh yeah, Waldo’s walking around.
- We did a mobile safari, meaning we camped in tents that we took with us from site to site. However, Talo and Rasta were responsible for setting up and breaking down camp, plus there were bathroom and shower tents, so it wasn’t a hotel, but it wasn’t exactly a hardship either.
- When the safari was over, Mike escorted our group across the river to Zambia, where we all stayed the night in Livingstone and had the chance to check out Victoria Falls.
- To get back home, Andy and I flew from Livingstone to Johannesburg, then Johannesburg to Atlanta, and finally Atlanta back to Cincinnati.
Over the course of our travels, I read 2 books, 2 short stories, and several articles. I watched Cloud Atlas, Prometheus, The Hobbit, and This Is 40. I learned a handful of words in French and Setswana. I took roughly 2,000 photos. I journaled every night. I watched the sun rise and set each day. I ate probably more PB&J than I did throughout my entire childhood. I broke my glasses, and I had French toast stolen off my plate by a monkey.
It was, as you can imagine, an amazing experience, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of it here, both in images and words.
Friend and author Jamie Ford happened to be in Africa at the same time, although in a different country and for a different reason. You can read about his family’s experiences in Tanzania on his blog, and I especially recommend his “passing thoughts on poverty,” as they echo some of the things I saw and thought during my trip.