Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Christmas Day flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all. Woke up in Natchez at 5:30 am to no electricity and pouring rain. Not the start I had hoped for to begin my Africa trip. Fortunately for me, my cousin, Brad, had agreed to drive me to the airport. I arrived at the airport at 9:25 am and within 5 minutes I had checked a bag, cleared security and made it to my gate. No one flying today. Now only 2.5 hr wait but better safe than sorry.   

I will have a 2 hr. layover in Atlanta and then a 15 hr. 20 minute direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. I am staying at a hostel only 1.5 miles from the airport in Johannesburg because I fly to Livingston, Zambia the next day to begin my week at Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls has always been somewhere I wanted to visit.On January 4th, I will join an Overland Truck Safari. We will be camping in tents most of the time and will travel to Botswana, Namimbia and end in Cape Town, South Africa. The 21 day safari will include 4-5 National Parks and will include the incredible sand dunes in Namimbia.

At the end of the safari I will spend another 5-6 days in Cape Town and then head out on my on through South Africa and Zimbabwae before flying to Uganda for 3-4 weeks. Searching for and visiting with the mountain gorillas will no doubt be the highlight of this trip but you never know.  Not sure of any other destinations, will play it by ear.

Will post pictures when the internet is available and affordable.     

Monday, April 29, 2013

December 26, 2012

Arrived in Johannesburg around 5:45 pm after a 15.5 hr. direct flight from Atlanta. Either the longest direct flight or tied for it in the world. I got South African money (Rand), collected my bags and called the Shoestring Airport Lodge to pick me up. I am only 1.5 miles from the airport which is convenient since I fly to Livingston, Zambia to visit Victoria Falls. I will stay there until Jan. 4th and then go with African Trails on a 21 day Overland Truck Safari. Not sure how camping for that long will sit with me.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Victoria Falls (Zambian side)

December 29, 2012

I went to the Livingstone Fall Heritage Site today to get my first view of Victoria Falls from the Zambian side. It was spectacular. Encountered a lot of baboons upon entering the park. I spent about 1.5 hrs viewing and hiking around the falls and then walked to the bridge to Zimbabwae. I walked to the middle of the bridge and watched the bungee jumping. I had my excitement of that when in New Zealand so saved my money. First picture is Picture of a Picture. Wish I had taken this.









December 28, 2012

Still have days and nights a little mixed up. Tried booking the trip to Livingston Island where you can swim in the "Devils Armchair" right at the edge of the falls. It is booked solid through the next few days but finally got a reservation on New Years Day. Great way to start out the year. The Zambezi River is rising so the Island will be closed soon. Nothing cheap here. $75 for the 1.5 hr visit but definitely on my "bucket list". 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ultralight flight over Victoria Falls

January 2, 2013

Up early at 6 am to get ready for the 7am Ultralight flight over Victoria Falls. I was there today because my Dec. 31st flight had to be rescheduled due to rain. Unfortunately, the price increased by $14 on January 1st. The flight was really amazing and provided some really great views of the Falls. The flight was only 15 minutes but it seemed very long. I never got completely comfortable but it was not too bad. There was only a single belt over my lap which surprised me. I expected to be totally strapped in. The flight was $170 and the pictures were an additional $22. Two splurges in 2 days of the New Year but 2 AMAZING EXPERIENCES.   




















Friday, April 26, 2013

Devil's Pool or (Devil's Armchair)

January 1, 2013  Happy New Years

Went to Livingstone Island on a tour for breakfast and swim in the Devil's Pool. ($70)  I took the FREE hostel shuttle to the hotel and realized when I got there I had forgot my money and camera. Luckily I was the only one in the shuttle and the driver agreed to take me back to the hostel and then again to the hotel. Luckily, I still made it back in time to catch the boat to the very small island at the edge of Victoria Falls. The view of the Falls was spectacular and we were told that this is the perfect time to see and swim since the water level was high but not high enough to completely cover the island as it will in a few more days. We had to SWIM in the rapids to get to the staging point. The current is very strong and only strong swimmers are allowed. They have one guide near the Falls in case some one is not a strong enough swimmer to handle the rapids.   

The guide did a back flip first into the pool. I jumped 3rd and quickly was looking for a rock to hold on to. The current is not as strong there but still strong enough to feel it pushing you towards the edge. After a while and some pictures, they threw a rope to us so we could pull ourselves back to safety. 


























Great breakfast of Eggs Benedict, Scones, Biscuits and Jam and Juice to finish off our day. Defintely one of my top 10 experiences. Ultralight tomorrow.   

 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Travel Day

January 3, 2013

Will be leaving Fawlty Towers Hostel and Livingstone, Zambia at 10 am on the free shuttle to the Park. From there it is a short walk to the Zambia/Zimbabwae bridge where the bungee jumping is located and where I will enter Zimbabwae. Either a 20 minute walk or short taxi ride depending on the price and I will be in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwae. I will be meeting Absolute Africa overland truck safari at Shoestring Backpackers where I will spend the night and meet all the people already on the tour. No more soft bed for the next 21 days. Not really much of a camper but will endure it due the cost and accessibility one gets by camping in the parks in Botswana and Namimbia. Will not have much internet access for the next 21 days. It is going to be a very special trip I believe with lots of animal sightings.   

Little sad saying bye to Fawlty Towers as backpackers get a feeling of home when we stay in one place for a while.




 

VICTORIA FALLS (Zimbabwae side)

January 3, 2013

Checked in with Absolute Africa at Shoestrings Hostel and then went to view the Falls from the Zimbabwae side which gives a better overall view and much wetter view. I got pretty wet but still great to see both side and also from the air on my Microlight flight. When I first arrived at the park two monkey can running at my feet and I kept having to shoo them away. Seemed like they want to either bite me or climb on me. Rest of the monkey were well behaved and have some great video of baby monkeys playing. Will post when I have time and faster internet.  

Bungee Jumping

December 29, 2012

Walked to bridge to Zimbabwae to watch bungee jumping.

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Absolute Africa truck safari begins

January 4, 2013

We climbed inside the HUGE yellow truck that will be our transport for the next 21 days at 11am. Fortunately, the first day only involves about 3 hrs on the road to the campsite. We leave Zimbabwae and enter Botswana which is know for Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. We arrived at the campsite after buying groceries and then set up our individual tents. Since there are only 14 on this truck there is no need to share tents. We had planned on doing a sunset river cruise on the Chobe River to see hippos and crocodiles but it was raining so it was canceled.

Pictures later  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Overall View of Overland Trucking

Putting up and down tents everyday is a pain but everyone helps. Breakfast is not great for me because it is usually cereal, especially if we are in a hurry. Sometimes beans and toast but that is an Aussie/English thing. You get close and have the ability to camp in the National Parks which is why we do these type of tours. $40-$50 a day is normally the cost for the cheapest Africa tours and involves transport, tents, and 2 meals a day. Most of these tours, at least in Africa, are UK based and lot of the people on here are from England or Australia. I had never heard of them before I researched my trip. Trips range anywhere from 7 days to 73 days depending on what you want to see and how many countries you want to visit. On this trip there are 2 Aussies (Simone and Amy), 1 guy from Finland (Heinrich), 1 guy from Canada (Gary), the driver from Zimababwae (JB), Mary and myself (US) and 4 girls and 1 guy from England. (Rose, Aly -guide-, Laura, Sarah, and David). So far it has been fun. Not exactly as I like to travel because there is no ability to change plans when u find somewhere u want to stay but good way to travel inexpensively in Africa.

Long day on the truck.

January 5, 2013

We left Chobe National Park at 6 am and drove until 3 pm nonstop except for 30 minute lunch break to Maun, the staging point for the Okavango Delta. Since the truck is not crowded we were able to stretch out and catch a few winks. Seat belts are necessary because if the truck hits a large bump in the road it could bounce you into the ceiling. I actually saw one of the girls bounce so high that she almost hit the ceiling. Aly is our guide and JB is the truck driver. Everyone on this trip is from England except David who is Canadian, Amy who is Aussie and myself. Most overland truck companies are British for some reason. It is one of the cheapest ways to travel in Africa. Our campsite here for the next 4 days is at Sedia Hotel and we have access to the pool, bar and restaurant. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Okavango Delta

January 5-8th

Everyone on the tour is doing a 2 night/ 3 day camping trip to the Okavango Delta in dugout canoes except for Amy and myself. Amy has been sick and the trip did not appeal to me at all especially since we were not going to see many animals on the trip. The Delta is very similar to our marshes in southern LA. Plus it is the rainy season and being cold and wet with no bathrooms and eating cold food the entire time did not seem like much fun. Decided to make a vacation out of this time and Amy and I laid by the pool and took advantage of the restaurant and bar. 

I hope to be able to take a 45 minute plane ride ($90) over the Delta to take pictures and get an overall view but it is the slow season and no groups flying now and 1 person on the plane is $450. Will keep trying.     

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Largest Meteorite in World

January 10, 2013

Arrived at Hopa Farm in northern Namibia and camped next to the LARGEST METEORITE in the world. As we set up our tents around the meteorite tens of thousands of ants appeared and made it very difficult for us. After our tents were put up they seemed to go back to their business in the ground. For some reason I expected a larger meteorite but googled it and it is the largest.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Camping with Hippo Urinals

January 9, 2013

Travel day. Stopped at Lodge with Hippo Urinals. Leaving tomorrow for campsite at largest meteorite in the world. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Etosha National Park (Day 1)

January 11, 2013

Meteorite to Etosha Camp. Very nice campsite at Lodge with restaurant/bar and great restroom/shower facilities. We did a game drive in the Big Yellow Truck from 3 pm till 7 pm and did not see any lions but lots of giraffes, flamingos and impala. Try again early in the morning. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Etosha National Park (Day 2)

January 12, 2013

Left at 6:30 am for 4 hour game drive. Saw LOTS of lions including a pride of 8 lioness and 1 male lion next to the road. Looks as though they were looking to make a kill but it never happened as the baby antelope was too fast and too far away to make a try. Saw a black rhino in the far distance but too far away to get a good shot with my camera. (15X) More giraffes and then camped at nice lodge with pool and watering hole to see wildlife , if possible. Did not see any. Rose, Simone and Amy at the pool again. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cape Cross Seal Colony

January 15, 2013

Left the Cheetah Farm and started our drive towards Swakopmund. On the way we stopped by the Cape Cross Seal Colony which is located on the Atlantic border of Namibia. We were only there about 30 minutes as the smell is horrible. There are between 100,000 and 200,000 seals there depending on the time of year. Sadly, many of the seal pups were dead for a variety of reasons. It is estimated about 27% of the seal pups die of natural causes. 










Monday, April 15, 2013

Etosha to Cheetah Park

January 13, 2013

Morning game drive after spending night at another lodge. Finally saw elephants in the distance and MORE giraffes. Also, saw more lions, ostriches and antelopes. Stopped and picked up lunch for 2 days at the supermarket. Set up camp at Cheetah Park which is owned by man and his 2 sons. They run a refuge for wild cheetah who have became a nusiance to the ranchers. There are 12 wild cheetahs and 4 domesticated cheetah which we visited and petted. Afterwards we went to feed the wild cheetah donkey meat. The guide would toss the meat high in the air and they would leap up to snatch it. We were in the back of the truck while they were being feed but it did not seem really safe there. The brothers were quite entertaining.