“Watch out!” My guide shouted in heavily-accented English. I clutched the side of the raft, but it was too late. Splash! Into the river I went, and the swirling water closed over my head. Moment later, I resurfaced, sputtering as I spit out some water. To my great relief, I didn’t see any crocodile eyeballs close to me. With the help of my fellow travellers, I clambered back into the raft, a little shaken but ready to take on the worst of the class-five rapids we were about to tackle.This is just one of my many adventures I experienced on my eight-week trip to Africa. During my time on the continent, I saw and did more than I ever thought I’d have the opportunity to do! My trip, which was led by Overlanding Africa, took me and 30 other travellers through eight South/East African countries. I had the opportunity to discover each one’s particular culture and flavour, and I fell completely in love with Africa.
We began our adventures in Cape Town, South Africa, one of Africa’s most diverse cities and scenic backdrop. Our first stop was in the vineyard country, where we had the chance to sample local wines as we were introduced to our new companions. A trip past Fish River Canyon and the Orange River took us to our final border cross, to Namibia.
In Namibia, we camped at the edge of the Kavango River. A trip to Etosha National Park was the perfect way to see this country’s wildlife, and we were able to go quite deep into remote areas. The coolest part was seeing an elusive Leopard drinking from a waterhole. After this, we took a trip back in time to view Bushman paintings and old German colonies. Later, we had the chance to pick from a variety of activities. My choice of excursion in Namibia was a quad biking adventure through the dunes of the Namib Desert. Once the sand had settled and I’d had my fill of flying around, I climbed to the top of Dune 45 and enjoyed the otherworldly desert scenery.
We spent a few days there before heading to Botswana. A boat cruise in the Chobe River was one-upped by one of my favourite experiences of the entire trip, the Okavango Delta region. Here, I canoed through the delta in a traditional dugout canoe. I tried poling the canoe myself, and it’s pretty tough! As we went, I caught sight of some elephants and several hippos yawning lazily at sunset.
Our first destination in Zimbabwe was the town of Chinotimba by the mighty Victoria Falls! When I mention that I travelled to Zimbabwe, a lot of people may raise their eyebrows. But I think this spot was one of my favourites of the tour. I walked with Lions and also rafted down the rapids of the Zambezi River (in crocodile infested water!). The people we met here were as friendly as ever, and it was a great hub to meet other travellers on similar trips.
The best part of Zambia was seeing famous Victoria Falls which we were able to see from another point of view. Equally spectacular as to what we had seen from the Zimbabwe side and even managed to make friends with some local Vervet Monkeys. We also visited the lively city of Lusaka which is situated in the southern region of the central plateau of Zambia.
Down through Lake Malawi we traveled. We spent time with the locals and learned to barter African style. After enjoying the lakeside activities and engaging in cultural excursions, we dipped down into Zambia.
Tanzania is the quintessential East African experience. We had the opportunity to see so many incredible things here! Of course, Serengeti National Park was the most amazing part. I’ll never forget driving past a pride of lions, then pitching my tent a short distance away! What an awesomely chilling feeling. Next on our list was Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is an unexpected drop in the flat plains, and it is filled with lush greenery surrounding the watering hole. We camped here before moving east, toward the Indian Ocean. We passed through Moshi, over the southern slope of Kilimanjaro, and to Dar Es Salaam. Finally, we took a ferry to beautiful Zanzibar, where I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the white sand beaches at the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Our final adventures ended in Nairobi, Kenya, one of Africa’s most important metropolitan centres. Our tour took us from the busy epicenter of activity in Nairobi to a viewpoint at the top of the Great African Rift. After the long, steep drive up the side of the rift, we found ourselves rising from the dusty bush to the verdant jungle of the highlands. When we finally stopped, we had a chance to gaze out at the Rift Valley below. What a sight! It was as if the whole world stretched beneath us. I surveyed the landscape of Africa, eager to get down there and experience it all.After our trip to the top, we bumped back down the road to Masai land. The Masai are a Kenyan/Tanzanian tribe who live fairly traditional lives as cattle farmers. I caught sight of their traditional red plaid cloth wraps as we passed. By evening, we had arrived at our campsite in time to watch the sun set in a burst of fiery colours.
I can hold the whole continent in my memories
Everywhere we’d been, the people had been so friendly and welcoming to us. The land, too, had been hospitable. We’d been through the ever-changing landscape of East Africa—the bush, the jungle, the rolling hills and the desert—and now the city of Nairobi. What variety Africa has! A few days to explore Nairobi were the perfect way to end an incredible adventure.After spending two months adventuring through Africa, I wanted to stay forever. I left my heart in Africa, and it will forever be a part of me. Even if I can only hold a small piece of the continent in my home through a piece of furniture or a bit of cloth, I can hold the whole continent in my memories.