Sunday, October 11, 2009

IN THEIR OWN WORDS - Back from South Africa and Zambia



As I was sitting on the plane enroute to Johannesburg, I was thinking “I must be crazy traveling to Africa alone. Who does this sort of thing? And I know I will be disappointed because it will be impossible to meet these high expectations made by years of dreaming of this trip.” (And at the age of 58, that’s a lot of years of fantasizing.) Wow! Was I wrong…!!!

The safari in Kruger National Park was nothing short of spectacular. The only animal in the Big 5 that I did not see was the leopard. However, seeing a cheetah within 4 feet of the truck, and seeing a pair of mating lions, more than made up for the lack. While watching the incredible wildlife, I had to constantly remind myself that this was NOT Animal Kingdom in Disney World. This was the real deal. These wild animals are in their own habitat. There were more elephants and giraffes than I could count. Hippos, impala, kudu, wart hogs, cape buffalo, rhino, water bucks, monkeys, crocodiles, myriads of birds of prey and waterfowl….the list is endless. This part of the trip DEFINITELY exceeded my expectations!

I thought the rest of the trip would be dull in comparison. I was wrong. I learned the history of Capetown. I saw the beach ostriches at the Cape of Good Hope. I laughed to see the penguins who had won out over the affluent for their rights to Boulder Beach. I saw the multitudes of seals at Seal Island and I tasted some of the best wine in the world.

Several more surprises awaited me as I sadly departed Capetown for the flight to Zambia. One was the utter magnificence of the “Smoke that Thunders” – Victoria Falls. To not only see these amazing falls, but to feel the spray on your face and to feel the earth shake as the water cascaded so violently into the gorge, made it a true sensory experience. And the trip on the Zambezi river to view a truly beautiful sunset while the hippos lounged around close by was another of those “pinch me I must be dreaming” sequences of which there were so many on this vacation.

I have so many other great memories. The marimba bands playing on their handmade instruments of wood, and in one case, PVC pipes with duct tape, were happy to oblige my video-taking and numerous questions. The beautiful harmony of the mambazo singers entranced me despite being unable to understand the lyrics. Music is an international language!

Even the extraordinary circumstances on the plane as we TRIED to leave Johannesburg, left me with many stories to tell.

I could not have possibly fit one more activity into this trip. The only negative thing I have to say is that it was too short. I wish I had the means to spend at least a month in the beautiful country of South Africa. And now that my appetite has been whetted, I am once again dreaming of a return to the mysterious and wonderful continent of Africa. Next stop - Kenya. And to be sure, I would not even consider arranging my trip without the fantastic services of 2AFRIKA.

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