Travel Diaries: Southwest Africa

I previously mentioned that I had a list of 27 things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 27 (read more here). At that time, I had completed 7 of the 27 items. As of right now, I have officially been able to cross off three more!

Completed Goals:

  1. Be promoted twice
  2. Go to a foreign country completely alone
  3. Celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh
  4. See Stonehenge
  5. Live alone
  6. Learn to like whisky
  7. Own Christian Louboutins
  8. Get certified in Barre
  9. See the Northern Lights
  10. Go on Safari

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As you may have been able to guess, I recently went on a trip to Africa (specifically: Botswana, Zambia, & South Africa). I absolutely loved it. It was an absolutely amazing trip; I not only got to see the Big 5, but also got to experience Victoria Falls, Robben Island, the Winelands, and so much more.  This trip also helped me reconnect and ground myself with what is truly important.

  • I am so lucky to be blessed with the parents that I have. Not only did they take me on a once in a lifetime trip. Going on safari has been my mom’s dream since she was a kid so getting to experience south-west Africa with her (and my dad), was nothing short of wonderful.
  • I am grateful to be American. Even in this current climate (which I have not been shy expressing my disgust for), I still have so much to be grateful for. Zambia has an unemployment rate of 60%. Cape Town is still trying to heal the wounds of the Apartheid. The areas I went to in Africa were incredible with amazing people, but the impact of colonialism is very apparent.

My biggest qualm with this trip was the actual process of getting there. Let’s just break this down: I woke up at 4 AM to drive to the airport for my first flight at 7 AM. I then flew to NYC for a 4 hour layover. From there I flew into Johannesburg (15 hour flight). I had a 3 hour layover there and then boarded a flight to Kasane, Botswana.  I do not sleep well on planes, so at the end of the 30ish hour travel day, I am not feeling my best. However, that didn’t stop me from going on a safari within the first hour of landing in Botswana.

We spent time in Chobe National Park and in the Manyeleti Game Reserve for our safari portion of the trip, and holy hell. It was unreal. I could tell you all about it, but showing you is probably easier.

 

As you can see, the animals were insane. The lion cubs and the elephants were two of my favorites, but tracking the leopards was a once in a lifetime experience.

Outside of the wonders of safari, some of the other parts of our trip were pretty memorable.

Victoria Falls or Mosi-Oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) is unreal. Not to mention an ancestor of mine made the falls known to the Western World (Dr. David Livingstone). In fact, the city of Livingstone is the only city in Zambia that retained it’s colonial name as the people had so much respect for Dr. Livingstone. But familial connections aside, the wonder of the falls is staggering.

We also spent time in Cape Town (including the wine region of Stellenbosch). I loved the winelands so much, but I also thought Robben Island was a highlight. Robben Island is most well known for the fact that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for eighteen years. We were taken on a tour by a former political prisoner. He was imprisoned for 5 years for participating in an anti-apartheid university rally. He explained the horrors of their imprisonment; it was a very eye opening experience.

In general, I LOVED this trip. I want to go back immediately. This is a gorgeous area with incrediable people and amazing things to experience. This may be the best trip I’ve ever experienced (at least yet!)

Fingers crossed that the next items on my bucket list are as fabulous as this one.

xxx

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