2015 ULTIMATE AFRICA PRE-TRIP:
Roughly 2 years ago (March 2013) my partner, Aaron and I were back in the San Fransisco Bay Area for a friend’s wedding. During our trip we stayed a few nights with an old college friend (and the maid of honor) Aryn. I’ll never forget this moment that sparked the trip of a lifetime: “Ultimate Africa” The three of us were seated in Aryn’s living room of her Concord, CA apartment when I noticed a photo book placed on her coffee table. I picked it up and paged through it amazed by all the beautiful photos of African animals. I asked where she bought the book and she said they were her photos she had submitted through Shutterfly. I was completely blown away. Not only were these photos magnificent but the proximity Aryn was to these wild and roaming animals I had only ever seen in cages at various zoos. “Oh yeah,” Aryn said, “these game drive jeeps take you right up to the lions and rhinos.” Wow!
Aryn had mentioned that her and her mom Judy were looking to take a second trip only to a different part of Africa. She emailed me a link to OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) and their “Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari” including an overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa. Without hardly a second thought, I enthusiastically said”: “Sign me up” and on November 3, 2015 Aryn, her sister Katherine, mother Judy and myself were all on a plane from Atlanta to Johannesburg.
During this trip, I kept a daily journal and I thought it would be fun to post this (day by day) on my blog. I will begin with the first post tomorrow proceeding for the next 17 days (taking a break for the Thanksgiving Holiday and maybe Black Friday). I will be including photos and videos that correspond with the events and sitings of each specific day along with videos of the “tents” we stayed in at each location.
8 months prior to the trip I had to get in touch with Passport Health Dept to begin my vaccinations and 2 days prior to the trip I had to begin taking my daily malaria pill (I highly recommend taking this WITH food). Packing was very involved, I had to get a specific type of mosquito spray (Sawyer brand) to apply to my clothing – which it’s recommended to do outside and away from many contact with pets and your skin). I also purchased 3 cans of bug spray containing, at least, 30% DEET, that I sprayed on my check, ears, and any exposed skin each morning. I ended up only using 2 cans of the DEET so I’m returning the 3rd to Dick’ Sporting Goods tomorrow.
I also recommend packing a back-up battery for your camera. Our tented camps provided laundry service for everything except our “smalls” (underwear), so I only packed 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of gym shorts, swimming trunks, 5 pairs of socks, a hoodie, hat and 4 shirts. I packed enough underwear for 10 days as I was able to wash them in the bathroom sink in our tent (powered soap was provided). I also recommend buying a cheap pair of sunglasses (don’t bring your expensive name brand pair). Other items are sunscreen, a flashlight, an extra bag to pack souveniers and whatever toiletries you need – including Advil, DayQuil, NightQuil, Tums, Vitamin C & Zinc, extra contacts if you wear them, lotion, aloe, and see if the pharmacy will prescribe you a pill for traveller’s diarrhea. The flight from Atlanta was 15 hours, so I recommend bringing something to read (although there were dozens of good movies to choose from, plus the essential sleep – if you’re able to sleep on a plane). Check with your cell phone provider too about a cheap international calling or FaceTime Plan. 🙂 Lastly, I highly recommend buying a pair of “zip off pants” that covert into shorts. I bought mine online form Eddie Bauer for $40 plus shipping. TOTALLY worth it!
OAT is great about helping you prepare for this trip and they do accept installments on your payment. A couple weeks prior to the trip they sent me a small booklet called: Your Final Document Booklet. This thing was incredibly informative and I was very glad I brought it with me. It included our Day-by-Day Itinerary, Friendly Reminders and Emergency Contact Information of each place we were staying to copy & give to our loved ones at home. I called and asked for an extra copy to leave at home with Aaron, which they gladly sent.
Hope you all enjoy my blog!