If you have read previous postings here on my blog, you would know that prior to this safari, I was attending a very intense course called CELTA to become a teacher of English as a foreign language. This course is taught in dozens of places around the world, but the schedule and price were just right for me to attend in Cape Town and besides, I was looking to get away from San Diego for a while.
The course I was attending was four weeks long and I had given myself about a month to see some big game in Africa after it was finished. Despite working a full 18 hours every single day for the entire length of the CELTA course, a couple weeks into the course, I managed to start to investigate a post-course trip. I was given lots of advice from friends, colleagues and the folks I was living with. Everyone said that I must go to Namibia. And the Okavango Delta. And Chobe National Park was not to be missed. Also, though Kruger National Park is amazing and chock full of animals, it’s much more crowded and I would see all the game I wanted before I got there in the other national parks.
So, I briefly peered into a high-end brochure or two, and since the language school I was working at recommended Nomad Africa, I contacted them and booked a 20-day excursion to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. They call it Cape to Vic, or Cape Town to Victoria Falls.
It’s entirely possible that I should have looked more closely at the itinerary or the number of kilometers to be traveled (5700) more closely, but I honestly did not have time. I got very sick for one day during the course and it nearly derailed the entire program for me. I could not spend any more time than I did to make those arrangements.
And now that the trip is done, and despite having had an absolutely wonderful time, I think if I could, I would have arranged it slightly differently.
Perhaps I would have flown to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, instead of driving there, because other than the astounding Namib desert, there wasn’t enough interesting scenery to bother bumping along on those unpaved roads in a truck with alternate shock absorbers. From Windhoek, I could have taken a tour to Etosha National Park and another tour to the Namib Desert National Park. Then I would have joined the Nomad truck, as Sam, a passenger on our tour did and seen the best of the rest with the group. Live and learn.
The trip started very early from downtown Cape Town on April 5, 2018. The early start time was a sign of other very early start times, as virtually every day we started before sunrise. We drove a tremendous number of miles and saw deserts, lakes, rivers, wild animals, met dozens of people, were treated to cultural experiences and learned about the tribes, languages and history of the places we visited.
We took boat trips, canoed in the Orange River that forms the border between Namibia and South Africa, climbed sand dunes, rode in four-wheel drive vehicles in the day and the night, and helped our crew to cook, set up tables and chairs, and wash dishes. We saw more stars in the sky than I even know existed. We schlepped our heavy duffel bags in and out of our lockers on the truck more times than I can count, we checked into 16 hotels in 20 days, and took thousands of photos.
We were so, so hot some days and even cold a few days too. Most importantly, we made the most extraordinary friendships with the people on the trip, who our guide Gift, said would and did become our family.