Last week travel agent Simon Pacey began telling us of his journey from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg, of high-wire adventures, walking with lions and cruising the Zambezi River. This week he continues his journey into Botswana for his first safari and a macorro cruise in the Okavango Delta, on to Kruger National Park in South Africa and his final stop in Johannesburg.
After an easy four hour drive and a smooth border crossing, we arrived in Botswana. That afternoon we piled into a couple of open-air game trucks and headed into Chobe National Park for my first ever safari! Within ten minutes of entering the park, we spotted impalas and giraffes. From then on we would never go more than fifteen minutes without seeing some wildlife; a troop of baboons, herd of elephants, water buffalo, hippos, and all kinds of birds. This was on our way to the campsite. Another spectacular sunset over the African plains and we pulled into camp. Dinner around the fire, a glorious display of stars and the full moon shining down all combined to make this the perfect evening. And then it got even better. A group of us stayed up late into the night chatting with one of the guides, and then about 30 metres from our tents we spotted two massive elephants casually strolling by under the moon light. They did not make a sound, adding to the perfection of this moment. We returned the campfire, mesmerized. In the morning we set out on another game drive as we departed Chobe. This time we saw a lioness chilling out under a tree, waiting for the day to begin.
On Day 4 we were off to explore the Okavango Delta. A speed boat trip took us up river where we then transferred to a dugout canoe called a macorro. Probably the most tranquil experience of the tour, we were able to kick back as bird songs, the buzz of dragonflies and gentle lapping of water against the hull filled the air. Observing the many birds, a few frogs and taking in all the water lilies created a dreamlike atmosphere. We also had the opportunity to go for a nature walk with a local guide through the delta. A humbling experience as he explained how they used almost everything found in nature to sustain their traditional way of life. With so much knowledge and respect for their surroundings, it was another moment where I fell ever more under the spell of Africa.
Before we knew it we were onto Day 9 already. Dropped off at the gates of Kruger National Park, we transferred into the open-air safari trucks for our final game drive of the tour. Kruger is much larger than Chobe and has a lot of paved roads running through it with many dirt side roads. This time we saw impalas, zebras, a few elephants, warthogs, pulas (type of antelope with great markings), water buffalos, hippos, giraffes, turtle and all kinds of birds. Again cementing the fact Africa is such a wild land. This evening we had our farewell dinner as we looked back on an incredible tour.
The final day, we drove into Johannesburg. I managed to squeeze in a tour of Johannesburg before flying out that afternoon and had the chance to see Johannesburg, or Jozi, from The Top of Africa – the tallest building in all of Africa, at a whopping 50 stories. We also walked through one of the slums to see firsthand the conditions that the poorest people still have to endure. A brief, but eye-opening experience to say the least. From here we also explored Soweto, the heart of the movement that helped put an end to apartheid. We saw where Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived, only one block apart from each other. From here, off to the airport and back to reality.
Looking back over this trip, I am humbled by the experience and grateful to have had the opportunity to explore such an amazing destination. Africa will forever induce romantic visions of spectacular scenery, sensational sunsets, gorgeous people and of course the most incredible wildlife. The next time will not be soon enough!
Experience this incredible journey for yourself on our Falls to Jo’burg tour.