Nothing can prepare you for Africa.
No blog, no book, no amount of perusing through National Geographic magazines.
It’s a jump in and sink or swim kind of game.

At least, that’s how I imagined it to be.

I’d been anticipating a trip through Africa for a year but was hesitant to begin the journey alone. I imagined long roads, dirty border patrol dealings and had no clue where to start in terms of accommodations or Big Five animal sightings.
Since beginning four months ago, I’ve had a lot of help along the way to stay afloat. From Madagascar to Mauritius to Ethiopia and Kenya, I’ve been swept along without a scare.
But thanks to an overland adventure on a lorry-sized truck the color of a school bus, the waters were about to get more smooth… if not more troubled.
As the journey comes to a close, I’ll be spending hours flipping through photos and scratching down reminders of the delicacies Africa’s waters have offered so they might be shared here.

 

Click an image and scroll through for a glimpse of Overland Africa:

 

I think back to the long hours we spent on the truck with rain beating down outside, forcing its way in through cracks and unseen gaps in the wood and windows and drenching us for two unforgiving days. I think of setting up our tents by the light of a dozen head torches and waking less than eight hours later to pack them back up and hit the ground running once more. I think of the bush toilet stops where we had to dodge sticky bushes and skip over snake tracks while the men stood in one fine line by the roadside, fully aware of how well they had it.

I think of the border patrol agents in Tanzania who took me aside for half an hour to tell me if I left the country I would not be able to enter again unless I included a side-trip back to my home country beforehand. I won that argument. The South African in front of me wasn’t so lucky and had to pay a fee which left him cussing all the way up the stairs to his awaiting plane.

I think of the time we spent waiting for water to boil in order to make enough noodles to feed twenty seven other hungry mouths and the patience we had to show preparing a single meal which fit dietary needs of vegetarians, gluten free, and raw-food free. I think of the time we were charged by a black rhino and the night hippos trotted between our tents. I think of the morning we were awoken to screams of a man just outside our campsite as a lion quietly impeded on his morning trek to work.

I think of the days we spent without showers, or worse – without wifi.

Clearly it would’ve have been easy to sink.

 

 

Click an image and scroll through for a glimpse of Overland Africa:

 

Oh, who am I kidding?

Seventy three days spent traveling from Kenya to South Africa were every bit as enjoyable as one can imagine. I almost wish it would have been more difficult. After all the swimming I’ve done in my life, I’m used to a struggle every now and again. Maybe the river I chose to wind through Africa was too easy a route.

During the duration of the trip, over forty of us came together at different points in time to marvel at the wonders of this great continent’s Southern and Eastern countries. Converging and diverging as the truck made its way from city to city, we watched out the truck’s oversized fold-up windows as Kenya’s desert landscapes turned into lush mountains of Uganda and Rwanda. We pulled each other up slippery slopes to the forested homes of chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas and shopped for vibrant fabrics in patterns depicting table fans and tubes of lipstick.  We jumped rope with children at an orphanage in Kenya and visited schoolchildren in Uganda just in time to sing songs before their lunch break. We cried at Rwanda’s Genocide Museum and educated each other by sharing books we’d collected on the topics at hand. We walked with lions and heard the stories of Bushmen in Zimbabwe. We frolicked with Cheetah and slept on warm boulders under the stars in Namibia. We danced in the rains of Victoria Falls and bungie jumped over roaring rivers between Zim and Zambia. We flew in five-passenger planes over giraffe and elephants of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and jumped from planes over Namibia’s copper colored sand dunes. We bounced with the Masai in Tanzania, ate with locals in Malawi, and went fishing with expats in the Nile River. We spotted lions, cheetah, and leopards, secretly fed the oversized rat-like Hyrax, and laughed at the sophisticated look of Secretary Birds in The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. We watched herds of zebra and wildebeest charge through Lake Nakuru in a fashion the Discovery Channel would be envious of having missed.

 

Click an image and scroll through for a glimpse of Overland Africa:

 

 

Nothing can prepare you for Africa. Not the jumping in, nor the floating, nor the infrequent splashy scrambles come with a guide book. These next few weeks I’ll be sharing what has happened as our big yellow truck brought our dynamic family through ten countries over ten weeks.

This is Africa. Here it comes!

 

 

Visiting the Masai Tribe - Tanzania - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Visiting the Masai Tribe – Tanzania – Photo by Derek Cullen – NoHangingAround.com
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