Whether it’s the goose-bump inspiring theme to the Lion King, a stunning photo of an acacia tree at sunset or the voice of David Attenborough as he describes the behaviour of wild African animals, there is something about Africa that always captures our attention. For me it is the raw, unique beauty of its diverse landscape, the incredible melting pot of cultures, the people and most importantly, the animals.
Africa stole my heart during my first visit to Tanzania ten years ago. I always knew that I’d return, but what I didn’t know, was how much more difficult it would be to leave the second time! And what I had always hoped but didn’t dare to expect, was that Wade would fall in love with this wild continent, just as much as I had!
When we arrived in November 2015, fresh off a plane from Sri Lanka, we had no idea of the incredible experiences awaiting us. Within our first week of arriving we had one of the most memorable days of all when we met Deo, our sponsor child at School For Life in Uganda. Only days later we were tracking Gorillas in Bwindi National Park and by the end of our initial week on the continent, we had spotted our first elephants on the side of the road, towering over our suddenly miniature hired Rav 4!
And to think this was just the start of an incredible five-month journey through East and Southern Africa, you can begin to appreciate all that this incredible continent has to offer!
During those five months of travel we met up with old friends, travelled with new ones and drank more than our fair share of beers around a campfire. We trudged up sand dunes for sunrise, watched elephants drink from waterholes at sunset and fell asleep under a sky full of stars, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town. But neither one of us could have anticipated the love, fascination and respect we would gain for the incredible creatures that once roamed this continent so freely. Wade’s not even embarrassed anymore to admit his newfound passion for bird-watching and yes, once again, I cried on more than once occasion at the sight of animals. We spent our days searching for new species and our nights reading up on the fight many of these animals face to survive in an ever developing world. It has been an educational experience to say the least.
When the time came, leaving Africa was the hardest move we’ve had to make throughout our travels thus far. But knowing that there will always be more to explore, experience and marvel at, leaves us yearning to one day return.
So without further a do, let’s get down to business.....
Here are the Stats, Facts and Figures from Wade and Sarah’s 5 months in Africa!
UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites = 14
(click the blue links to see our corresponding photo albums)
Photos (clockwise from top left): On top of the huge dunes of the Namib Desert at sunset; Salt Pan in Kalahari Basin; Sahara Desert in Morocco; Berber man leading camels through the Sahara Desert
Number of days spent on Safari = over 25
Number of bribes paid = 2
Value of Bribes = One bottle of Pepsi + one bottle of Coke
Total Value = $2 AUD
Reasons for bribes:
1) Driving without shoes in Lesotho and
2) For reduced price entry into a South African National Park at resident rates
Now to the important stuff.
Our love for nature and wildlife grew exponentially during our time in Africa. During our five months, we took tens of thousands of photos so culling it down has been difficult. but here are a few of our favourites - From days spent on safaris, to quick road side toilet breaks and everything in between. We spent most of our time scanning the environment for all creatures large and small. These fantastic birds, mammal, reptiles and insects made every day an adventure, every sunrise a potential documentary moment and every tree someones home.
They're what it's all about!
THE CREEPY AND CRAWLY:
Photos (clockwise from left): West Usambara Two-horned Chameleon, Tanzania; We had to swerve across the roads through Addo Elephant Park to avoid these endangered Dung Beetles, South Africa; Lion Spider, Uganda; the incredible iridescent Blue-Yellow Agama in Matopos National Park, Zimbabwe; this Boomslang was raiding a weaver nest for it's latest prey when it fell merely metres from a group of us watching below!
OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS:
Clockwise from top left: African Penguin at Betty's Bay on the South African Garden Route; White-backed Vulture clawing at an old carcass; we watched as this tiny Golden Palm Weaver created this nest by shredding strips of the palm leaf and weaving them into this intricate little nest, Tanzania; the beautiful Lilac Breasted Rollers were bountiful throughout Kruger National Park; White-fronted Bee eater, Kruger National Park; One of my personal favourites, the yellow-billed Hornbill always looks angry and yet playfully hops about the ground searching for food; the tell-tale sign of the Black-winged kite are it's striking red eyes.
THE BIG FIVE:
Photos from top: African Buffalo stares us down; the family relationships between African Elephants is always so evident when observing them in the wild; these fantastic lions were a pleasure to watch as they growled and bickered at one another; One of the greatest experiences of our travels was walking right up to these sleeping Rhinoceros in Matopos National Park; the elusive Leopard, finally spotted (haha) on our second last day in Africa!
THE WEIRD, WONDERFUL & GRACEFUL:
So there you have it, five of the most fantastic, mind blowing and real months of our two years of travel, summarised down to a bunch of numbers!
I hope these figures have been entertaining and give you all some idea of the incredible experience we and in Africa.
We learnt so much during our time there and I'd love to write about Africa all day, but instead hopefully one day we can share a few of our stories in person.
Enthusiastic but Useless Traveler.