Posts Tagged ‘Safari’

Trip of a Lifetime

Posted: June 24, 2016 in Uncategorized
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How do you celebrate after the greatest and most important day of your life?…With a honeymoon trip of a lifetime!  What exactly does that mean? How about a 2 week trip visiting 5 countries (my wife will say 4, does being on a river in Zambia and seeing elephants count as visiting a country?).  This included visiting one of the seven wonders of the world, seeing one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and going on a week long safari.

Cairo

Lucky for me, I married someone who loves adventures.  Not surprisingly her biggest adventure wasn’t our honeymoon, but was allowing me to completely plan our honeymoon.  I constantly teased her that we’d be staying in hostels and eating Peanut Butter sandwiches the entire time in order to afford the trip.  But since it was our honeymoon I decided to trade in the tents and hostels for hotels and switch the PB&J’s out for restaurant food.  Uh, staying in nice, comfortable private rooms and eating amazing cuisine…What has marriage done to me?

Honeymoon Tip: Just two quick pieces of advice:  1. If you’re planning a honeymoon, I highly recommend you wait a couple of weeks after your wedding so you can be rested and fully able to enjoy your honeymoon.  2. If you can afford it, take a trip that you’ve both always wanted to take, no matter how crazy, long, or expensive.  Now is the time to take that dream trip because you never know what will happen in the future…like getting pregnant half a year into your marriage…not speaking from experience.

Lions

Trip Idea:  My love of Africa, which came from spending 4 months in South Africa, combined with Courtney’s love of the Lion King resulted in our idea to go on safaris in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Trip Summary: I wanted to show Courtney a little of South Africa before our safaris so I booked our flight from Houston to South Africa.  For $100 I routed our flight through Egypt with a 2 day layover so we could see the pyramids and other sites.

Travel Tip: Find flights that have a layover in another place you want to visit and then do an extended layover.  This often costs very little so it’s like taking 2 trips for the price of 1.

We spent 2 days in South Africa and then flew to Botswana.  After 4 days of safaris we drove to Zimbabwe for another 3 days of safaris.  In addition to the safaris, we did an elephant ride, visited Victoria Falls, and walked with lions.  For us, mixing in other activities in between safaris was the perfect combination.  This may seem like a jammed pack trip with a lot of traveling, but we did everything we wanted to and still made sure we had plenty of down time to relax.

River

Our honeymoon was the perfect way to get our adventure together started.  The next few posts will be about our trip of a lifetime.

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This weeks travel tip is specifically for South Africa.

If you are planning on going to South Africa, you have to go to Kruger National Park!  South Africa has many reserves, and although I have not been to all of them, Kruger is the best.  I saw every animal I wanted to see, including all of the big five.  It is also huge.  I spent two weeks there and I only saw half of the park.  Rumor has it that Mozambique and Zimbabwe are going to open the border around their parks to make Kruger one giant park.  Hopefully that happens soon.

I usually never plan my trips, but I would strongly suggest that you make bookings in the park as far in advanced as possible.  It is a popular reserve for both tourists and citizens.  The best place to do make reservations and find information about the park is Kruger’s actual website.

If you are going through the park for the first time, I recommend that you do a walking, sunset, and night safari.  I did all three, and each were unique and amazing.  The sunset and walking safari are a must.  You should stay at Lower Sabe at least one night, more if possible.  Anyone who has gone to Kruger will tell you that it is one of the best places to see animals.  If you have several days in the park, then I would recommend driving yourself around the park and doing a few safaris at the different campsites.  This allows you to go at your own pace and watch animals for as long as you like.

My last suggestion is if you are planning on camping in Kruger, make sure you bring a mat.  The ground is harder in South Africa than most places.  Ok, that might not be true, but I didn’t bring a mat and the ground felt harder than any other ground I have ever slept on.

When I was 5, I received a South Africa special edition of Zoo Life, and a dream was born.  Trust me, it was the most amazing edition of Zoo Life ever.  Ever since then, I have wanted to go on a safari in South Africa and see a cheetah.  It was an astonishing coincidence that I “had” to go to South Africa to finish my degree by researching South Africa’s welfare system.  What was even more of a coincidence was that the World Cup was being held in South Africa and I happened to have tickets.  Since South Africa is a little dangerous, the university did not want me to travel in the country or go to any World Cup matches.  Little did they know I would be taking two weeks off at the beginning of my research to go on a safari and two and a half weeks off to watch the World Cup.  I just figured they’d understand.

The very first thing I did when I landed in Johannesburg was drive to Kruger National Park.  Nothing was going to stop me from fulfilling my Zoo Life fantasy!  This was the first thing ever on my bucket list and I was more excited than a little schoolgirl on Christmas Day to fulfill that dream.

The park was incredible because animals would walk right next to your car.  They’d get so close that you could reach out and touch them, which was tempting (even when considering the fact that I could lose my arm).  I’m not going to lie, when some of the animals got really close, I got a little scared.  One day, I was watching a pack of lions cross the road, when all of a sudden, they turned and headed towards my car.

I was so excited that I began snapping pictures as fast as my huge thumb could click (ask anyone that knows me, I have oversized thumbs.  But you know what they say about guys with big thumbs…).  One of the lions stopped and sat down right next to my car.  At that moment I realized that my windows were rolled down!  I immediately pictured the lion jumping in through the opened window and eating me alive!  As I pictured the lion tearing me apart, I stopped breathing.  I decided not to make any sudden movements, but somehow my whale like thumb kept snapping pictures during my panic attack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By my second to last day I had seen every animal that I had ever wanted to see, except a cheetah.  That afternoon, I was going on a sunset safari.  Before we set out on the safari, I prayed that I would see a cheetah because that was the reason I had come to South Africa…I mean I really went to do my research and graduate college. As we began driving the guide asked what everyone wanted to see.  I yelled out, “a cheetah!” Although he told me we were unlikely to see one, he said he would try to find some.  When it got dark we turned on big flashlights to spot animals.  The guide pointed out white horned rhinos and some other smaller animals, but I was more interested in looking out for a cheetah.

Right after we had passed the rhinos, the guide slammed on his breaks.  He told everyone that he saw what looked to be a jackal headed down the road.  Everyone got excited.  He turned off all the lights so the animal would continue down the road and not get scared off by any lights.  After a minute he turned the front lights on and said, “No, it’s a cheetah!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I immediately got up and sprinted to the front of the truck.  Everyone was laughing as they saw my bag and lens cap go flying to the floor.  The cheetah was an awesome sight.  The coolest part was as we followed the cheetah, we found a second cheetah.  We must have spent thirty minutes watching the cheetahs try to find one another.  This was one of the happiest moments of my life.  After 21 years of waiting, I could finally cross off the first item on my bucket list!