Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

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balzaccom
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Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by balzaccom » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:30 pm

No. we didn't do much hiking there. But thanks to my long history in the wine business we got invited on a spectacular trip to visit Southern Africa, from Capetown to Kruger Park, with stops in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well. it was a truly memorable experience.

We began in Capetown, where we visited the infamous Robben Island prison and were given a tour by an ex-political prisoner of the apartheid regime. It was very moving to hear him describe the enormous courage and fortitude of the prisoners, who effectively overthrew the government from inside the prison--a true triumph of the human spirit.

From there we visited the Cape of Good Hope, where Vasco de Gama found his way around Africa towards the eastern spice trade. Beautiful scenery. and some remarkable wildlife, including penguins, elands, baboons, ostriches, and more. And we polished off the day in the wine region of Constantia--legendary wines that even Napoleon revered.

The next day we visited the wine region of Stellenbosch, where we tasted great wines and ate wonderful food. It is something else to see a vineyard with impala grazing in a field nearby...

After Capetown we flew to Botswana and then took small boats to Namibia for a cruise on the Chobe River. Astonishing wildlife were, and we loved the huge herds of Cape buffalo and elephants, And yes, we did get quite close to them!

During our time on the Chobe, we also did a land safari along the river in Botswana, where we got very close to some lions...

Since we were only about 75 miles away, a visit to Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe was in order. Even though this was the dry season, and the falls were only about 10% of peak flow, they were still thoroughly impressive.

And from there we flew back to Johannesburg to tour the Nelson Mandela House in Soweto and the Apartheid Museum--both remarkable.

And finally, we spent four days in Kruger, doing more wildlife safaris, morning and afternoon. Each one seemed to raise the bar in terms of the wildlife we saw, including a long list of antelopes (Impala, eland, kudu, duiker, bushbok, springbok, puku, waterbuck, wildebeests, roan antelope, sable, letchwe, steenbok...I am sure I am leaving some out here) plus hippos, hyenas, wild dogs (quite rare and endangered) leopards, warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys, water monitors, giraffe, zebra....it was an absolute smorgasbord of nature. And that doesn't even begin to touch the huge variety of birds, from eagles, vultures and storks, to endless brightly colored bee-eaters, oxpeckers, rollers, weavers, kingfishers, hornbills, lapwings...it was almost overwhelming.

And every day we were treated to a sunset worthy of note...check them out in the photos

link to the photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wgu1yg5qG26cVntX6


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davidsheridan
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Re: Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by davidsheridan » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:07 pm

Amazing photos, looks like great trip! Thanks for sharing

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Carne_DelMuerto
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Re: Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by Carne_DelMuerto » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:41 pm

I spent 10 days in Botswana this summer with my family. Truly a memorable experience. Sounds like you had a great trip!
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c9h13no3
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Re: Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by c9h13no3 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:45 pm

I've heard mixed reviews of safaris. One person told me it was a lot of sitting in a jeep, driving crappy roads. They kinda felt cooped up. But the wildlife viewing seems like it might be worth it.

Victoria Falls... :eek:
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Re: Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by windknot » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:49 pm

Balzaccom, sorry I'm late to this thread, but nice photos and thanks for sharing!

c9h13no3, whether or not folks are thrilled or are unimpressed by safaris seems to come down to how much they like seeing wildlife. There are far less expensive and more wild ways to experience nature (backpacking in the Sierra is one of them) than flying to Africa. But it is pretty cool to see huge animals in the wild.

I lived in Zambia for 2.5 years and had the opportunity to go on a few different types of safaris. One was a commercial operation in Chobe National Park in Botswana, with "camping" in luxury tents. They got us really close to all of the animals we expected to see, but it was an awful lot of zooming around in jeeps racing from one sighting to the next. Another was a self-guided tour in Etosha National Park in Namibia, where you're allowed to drive your own rental car. That was a lot of fun because we were on our own pace and schedule. Most of the wildlife sightings weren't quite as intimate, but we did have a nervewrackingly close encounter with a big bull elephant who passed about 10 feet in front of our car (we later realized he was on a game trail that intersected the road).

My favorite safari was a trip to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where we went on both a day safari and night safari. But the real highlight was camping in tents at a lodge on the park border. The lodge regularly gets elephants wandering through the lodge grounds in search of easy food. And sure enough, on our last morning, we had an elephant literally walk between our tents (my trusty REI Quarter Dome 2 is the tent in the middle of the three tents pictured below). Four elephants ended up hanging around our campsite for an hour eating leaves off the trees, and it was an exhilarating (albeit terrifying) experience.

Image

Image

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balzaccom
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Re: Way beyond the Sierra--a safari in Africa

Post by balzaccom » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:02 pm

Great photos! There is something really quite humbling about being that close to an elephant.
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