Africa Recap

Wow – what an incredible seven weeks overlanding in south and east Africa! An infinite number of wildlife, sand dunes as red as blood, domesticated cheetahs, boat rides, hiking up Table Mountain, wine tastings, African night clubs, swimming on top of a waterfall, and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean only begins to sum up the things we saw and did over the past seven weeks. We are thankful for each and every experience. The past month and a half has flown by and we can’t believe it’s already over. A few trip stats, favorite moments and places from our time in Africa:

  • Days in Africa: 48
  • Countries visited: 8 (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya)
  • Miles traveled: 6,197 miles  or 9,973 kms
  • Nights camping: 35 nights (73% of our time in Africa)
  • Nights of rain on our overland safari: 2
  • # of Game Drives: 12  – Etosha National Park (3), Chobe National Park (4), Ngorongoro Crater (1), Serengeti (2), Nairobi National Park (2)


Favorite Country: Botswana and Tanzania tie for our favorite countries in Africa and were also the countries where we spent the most time. In Botswana, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Okavanga Delta and camping in the bush in the middle of Chobe National Park. Tanzania was gorgeous. From the beautiful white sandy beaches of Zanzibar to the surreal landscapes of the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti, Tanzania has a lot to offer. We hope to return someday to see the Great Migration of wildebeests and to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.S S

Favorite Place:  We loved exploring the Okavanga Delta by air, boat and foot. We had a blast camping on a remote island, swimming in watering holes, learning traditional African song and dance and seeing hippos just yards away while we took photos from our mokoros. We forgot to mention it earlier, but a huge thanks to the Brannon’s for the Okavanga Delta wedding honeyfund!S

Favorite Activity: White water rafting down the Zambezi River was absolutely insane and an unforgettable time. We had a blast getting beaten down by the wrath of the rapids. I’ve never been so close to drowning in my life and it’s moments like those when you feel the most alive.IMG_2334

Hardest Moment: Realizing we were robbed the night before our overland trip departed was the most difficult time for us. We were devastated that we had lost all of our pre-trip photos and our morale was low. Settling our insurance claim in Africa has been challenging and an overall pain. On the bright side, the experience has made us grateful for everything we still have…including each other. Thanks to everyone who reached out to us in support and have helped us sort everything out!

Favorite Accommodation: Nairobi Tented Camp wins this distinction hands down! Granted we were camping for the majority of the time, we still were very impressed with the level of service and overall ambiance of NTC.  The campsites are the only accommodations within Nairobi National Park and offer a unique, intimate experience with the African bush. Two great game drives within the park allowed us to see more lions, giraffe, and a white rhino (an animal we had yet to see)! The whole experience is second to none.SONY DSC

Best Game Park: Before we entered Tanzania, Chobe National Park would have taken the prize for our favorite game park. The park has a dense population of elephants, wildebeests, hippos and lions, open plains and the Chobe River which creates a surreal atmosphere.  It was amazing to camp in the middle of the park and listen to the animals move around and howl in the middle of the night. Plus, it’s where we spotted our first (and second) leopard. However, the Serengeti was amazing and takes the cake. The vast plains and overall landscape are breathtaking. It looked just how we imagined Africa to look in our heads. When we entered the park we had already seen all of the animals we’d hope to spot so our expectations were low. But it was in the Seregenti where we saw countless lions and our first kill…by a leopard nonetheless. There are only a few game parks where you can see the Big Five in one day and the Serengeti is one of them. Our expectations were completely met and it was a great way to end our 42 day overland tour.S

We originally thought camping in a tent for so long would take its toll on us but luckily it hasn’t. We’ve learned that we can sleep almost anywhere on almost anything. And the food…who would have thought you could gain weight in Africa? Well we did and will be traveling with a few extra pounds from eating three hearty and delicious meals a day.

African weather has been incredibly kind to us. Although some days were extremely hot, we had only two nights of rain on our entire overland tour. It’s very common this time of year to experience at least a few down pours but we have been very fortunate to stay as dry as we have.

I know we’ve said it before, but we are incredibly lucky to travel with the group of people we’ve met. After traveling for three and a half months on our own through South America, it was refreshing to hang out in a group and to meet such amazing people. They are our African travel family and it will be weird not to travel with them anymore. We love you guys – you know who you are!SIt’s been nearly five months since we started our around the world adventure. We are still going strong and are so excited for our next continent. But first, we need to make it through an epic two days of traveling. From Nairobi, we fly to Qatar and connect in Bangkok before we arrive in OZ nearly 40 hours later. We are looking forward to returning to a westernized country and spending time with our family-friends in Melbourne!

It’s been fun Africa, now it’s on to the next…



The Beaches of Malawi and Zanzibar

We left Zambia after just two nights and made our way to Malawi. Land-locked Malawi is one of the poorest country’s in the world with a GNP of only $250 per person. The average life expectancy is 43 years due to the high death rates from AIDS and malaria. However, the people here are incredibly kind and extremely happy which is why Malawi’s nickname is “The Warm Heart of Africa.”SI can’t say we did much the four nights we stayed on the beaches of Lake Malawi, which covers 20% of the country. We spent the majority of the day relaxing, reading, swimming and playing cards. At night, we’d all drag our cooler of beers out to the beach to enjoy the sunset and watch the shooting stars.S SDue to my gambling tendencies, I convinced our friends to start playing cards for money.  Let me tell you, it feels pretty exciting to win nearly a thousand dollars in the local currency! Too bad 100 dollars in the local currency equates to just 30 cents which is only just enough to buy one beer at the bar – but hey, a free beer is a free beer!SWe left Malawi and started making our way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Along the way, we camped at a site without electricity. The bar here was my favorite because it was so…Africa. Equipped with a straw hut and fire pit, our “waitress” took our drink order and would disappear for 20 minutes before returning with our drinks. It’s likely that she walked into town to get our beverages we ordered.S SWe continued driving and eventually arrived at our beach front campsite right on the coast of the Indian Ocean.SThe next morning, we packed our bags for the beaches of Zanzibar or “the Spice Island.” A short drive in our overland truck, two ferries and two taxis later, we finally reached Stone Town in Zanzibar. Most of us decided to go on a city and spice tour for the afternoon. While Stone Town wasn’t exactly riveting, the walking tour of the city took us through some notable places including the birth place of Freddy Mercury.S SWe also saw the old slave trade markets and learned about the horrendous conditions the slaves from East Africa endured before being sold. Fifty people would be stuck in a small area for a few days with little food and water as they awaited the weekly slave auction. The day of auction, each person would be tied to a whipping post where they were publicly beaten so potential buyers could see how strong they were. Now, a beautiful church has been erected in the place where the whipping pole once stood. The missionaries who ended the slave trades in Stone Town wanted a symbol of goodness to replace the location where cruelty once reigned. Zanzibar was the last place in the world to finally close their slave trades.SThe most exciting part of the tour was when we drove out to a spice plantation. We tasted the spices right from the earth…everything from cinnamon, lemongrass, black pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, coffee beans, cocoa… you name it, they grew it, we tasted it.SWe enjoyed a few cups of spiced tea and fresh fruit before the locals from the spice plantation presented us with their palm tree hats they had made for us. S SStill wearing our party hats, the entire group then went to a rooftop bar to enjoy the sunset over Stone Town. I have to mention that this was also Thanksgiving day. As we sat and watched the sunset, we reflected on how lucky and thankful we are to have the opportunity to travel and to have such loving friends and family at home to come back to. We miss everyone, but it was also so cool to share Thanksgiving on the rooftop bar with all of our new friends who have made this trip incredible. I gave a short Thanksgiving toast and we each went around the table saying what we were thankful for. A common theme was that we were all thankful for each other. I think we are all surprised at how close we’ve gotten over the past month and how lucky we are to have such a great group. We drank, smoked hookahs, laughed about the ridiculous things we’ve done together and all of our friends said it was the greatest Thanksgiving they’ve ever had (yes we know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but it was still touching).S SOur Thanksgiving feast was purchased at the local seafood market down the street from the bar. This evening market is known for its cheap and delicious seafood skewers but the vendors also serve beef, chicken, veggies and sides. For 30 cents each, we ate beef skewers and also tried the tuna, baby shark and seafood pizza. It was so good and so cheap… just the way we like it.SThe next morning we went on a morning snorkel trip to neighboring Prison Island. The water was incredibly clear, probably some of the best visibility we’ve ever had and we saw heaps of starfish, urchins, colorful coral and different type of fish. Sorry, no underwater photos until we get our replacement camera in Australia.

That afternoon, we took a taxi to Nungwe in the northern part of Zanzibar where we stayed for two nights. The beach here was absolutely beautiful…white sand and crystal clear blue and turquoise water. Zanzibar is one of the top five nicest beaches we’ve been to – it is absolutely gorgeous. We swam, drank frozen cocktails on the beach and ate dinner with our toes in the sand.S S S SThe following morning, six of us went on another snorkel trip. The snorkeling was great and the water temperature was perfect under the intense African sun. One of the best parts of the trip was taking in the views of the ocean on our boat ride to and from the snorkel location. Thanks to the Stanifer’s for the Zanzibar snorkeling honeyfund. So excited for you to experience it for yourselves when you come to Tanzania. We hope you love it as much as we did!S S SSo far, we’ve really enjoyed Tanzania, especially Zanzibar, and can’t wait for our upcoming trip to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti!

Disclosure: We are traveling on an overland safari with Africa Travel Co. and have received a trip discount in exchange for sharing our experience. These thoughts and opinions are completely our own.