This is Africa
Ron Revisits his second home.
Ilove motivating people to travel and none more so than to travel in Australia or in Africa. And, over the last 30 years, we’ve been lucky enough to spend something like 160 weeks or more travelling independently in Africa.
If you have never been to Africa maybe now is the time to start planning a trip – the options are endless and not as expensive as you might first think!
This latest trip for us, though, started as a luxury extravaganza put together by our son and, for the first couple of weeks, we were dined and feted like there was no tomorrow. Then we came back to reality and toured a bit more economically!
We spent the first week up in Tanzania, skipping around a few parks before coming south and picking up a hire vehicle in Livingstone, Zambia, for the rest of our travels. Our luxury-tented camp, Sussi and Chuma – named after Dr David Livingstone’s faithful companions – is part of Sanctuary Retreat’s impressive line-up of camps and lodges across Africa (visit www. sanctuaryretreats.com). The retreats are situated on the banks of the Zambezi River just above the great thundering cataract of Victoria Falls, named by Livingstone and today considered one of the great natural wonders of the world. I know we never tire of coming to this incredible place and we spent a few days here before shifting a short distance to another country and another camp – Chilwero – close to the fabulous Chobe National Park. For wildlife, this park is hard to beat and we saw lions, elephants and a leopard among a plethora of antelope and other free-roaming fauna. If you make it here, take an evening boat cruise. You’ll never forget the sunsets with elephants silhouetted against a golden sky.
BOTSWANA AND BEYOND
From Chobe we had taken the rough ‘sand road’ across the desert to Maun and the gateway to the Okavango Delta. This route is often outside any park or reserve but that doesn’t stop you from seeing wildlife anywhere along the way. In fact, we had our best leopard sighting ever along the dusty bumpy road, while in another spot in the tribal lands, we were held up on the road by a group of thirsty elephants drinking from a wayside creek.
The Okavango is an incredible experience but we’ve found after a half dozen visits that it isn’t the wildlife viewing extravaganza that places such as Chobe can be. Still, it is hard to beat the entire experience of being in the middle of a vast swamp rich in bird and animal life that can only be reached by air or boat, especially when you are staying at luxury camps such as Sanctuary Chief’s, Baines and Stanley camps.
After leaving the Okavango, we circumnavigated the friendly country of Namibia for three weeks, choosing to stay at an eclectic collection of farm stays, tented resorts, game ranches and historic hotels. Most of these offered camping sites as well as accommodation and we’ve found in the past that people like the flexibility of a roof-top camper but opt to stay accommodated every few nights. Staying at such a mix of places also allows you to meet a wide variety of the locals whether they are farmers, hoteliers or fellow travellers. It’s a fabulous experience and one that adds greatly to the daily wildlife encounters.
All too soon we were driving back into South Africa and heading for Pretoria and a flight home. Whenever we are in this big city, we stay at the Farm Inn (www.farminn. co.za) just an hour’s drive north of Jo’burg airport and a great base to pick up a hire vehicle (visit AfriTrax 4x4 hire at www. afritrax.co.za, whose base is nearby) and to set off on your own African adventure. Try it – you’ll never ever forget it.
But there is one piece of advice I’ve also found that always applies to people who love the outdoors – you never, ever visit Africa just once!
WORDS anD picS RON AND VIV MOON
LEFT: Elephants at Chobe, silhouetted against the sky. BoTTom: Some things remain the same no matter where you are – dropping the tyre pressures for the sand!