Friday, August 12, 2016

Anticipation!! The Official Countdown Has Begun

I have been looking forward to this trip for so long that at times, it just seemed like a distant dream.  But my countdown clock is officially set and I am getting excited!

My bag is packed.  I did have to repack shirts due to some warmer temperatures; swapping out some long sleeved shirts for some short sleeved ones and some lighter weight pants.  Final items have been added, and I've checked the weight and it is under 30 pounds so I'm all set!

All the to-do's have been checked off the list.  Things such as confirming dates with my in-home kitty-sitter, making copies of credit cards and passport and other pertinent documents that I will keep in a spot independent of the cards and passport.  

I've also gone online and put travel dates on the credit cards I plan on using so the bank knows where I will be and not shut off my card due to a transaction that doesn't fit my normal purchase pattern or location.  Prescriptions have been filled and ready to go.

Always on the list before any trip is a hard look at the contents of the refrigerator and a purge of anything that will likely be growing fur by the time I return home from my adventures.    Purge has been completed, water to the washer shut off to avoid any unplanned basement flooding, trash taken out.  Everything is a go.

I was concerned earlier in the week due to an unanticipated snafu at Delta that had flights cancelled and delayed as they scrambled to get all the passengers to their destinations.  Yesterday the all clear came and everything is poised to go as planned.

This trip is different in that I'll be traveling alone.  I don't know if it is because this trip has been planned for so long or if it is because I'm traveling alone, but I'm not feeling my normal levels of trip anxiety. Normally I don't sleep well before a big trip, but last night I slept like a baby, only to be awakened by thunder at 3:30 a.m.

This will be my last post from good ol' USA.  I'll share more photos and tales of my trip when I return!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Camera Gear

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on in anticipation of the trip.  Shoot I've even installed a countdown app on my iPhone, so I know exactly how long it will be before I'm living a dream!

Today I needed to tidy up my camera bag and while I was at it, decided to craft my plan for packing it for the trip. It will be my purse/carry on for the plane in addition to my soft sided duffle.
I have weight restrictions which I mentioned in an earlier post. The soft sided bag can weigh no more than 33 pounds and my carry on can weigh no more than 13 pounds.  

My large lens as well as my monopod will have to travel in the duffle bag due to their weight, but below is a photo of the contents of the bag followed by a list of the gear.

The list of gear:
  • DSLR camera body 
  • 18-200 mm zoom 
  • Polarizer filter for 18-200 mm lens
  • Lens Hood
  • 5 matched pairs of 32 Meg SD Cards
  • 2 matched pairs of 16 Meg SD Cards
  • Waterproof SD Card Holder
  • Apple SD Card Adapter
  • Lens cleaning kit
  • Lens cleaning papers
  • Sensor cleaning kit
  • Air Puffer
  • Microfiber cleaning clothes
  • Small LED flashlight
  • 3 batteries
  • Battery Charger
  • Rain hood for camera
  • Camera gloves (the index finger and thumb tops unbutton for easy access to camera controls)
  • iPad (for downloading photos and inflight entertainment)
  • 1 Tall Kitchen trash bag, to pop the whole camera bag in to protect from rain or dust.
  • Monopod (separate bag)
  • 70-400 mm zoom lens (separate bag)
  • UV Filter for the 70-400 mm lens (separate bag)
  • Lens Hood (separate bag)
  • Lens Case (separate bag)
I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, but I've limited it to what I feel are only the necessary items. 
I weighed the bag with it's contents and it was just under 11 pounds, so it will easily hold my iphone, earbuds, passport wallet, etc.

Additionally, I'll be taking my Lumix pocket camera with it's charger and a couple of extra batteries as a backup just in the event something malfunctions with the large DSLR.  It will be packed in my duffle.

Stay tuned for more preparation adventures!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Test Packing

While my trip is several months away yet, I have created a packing list and have started making sure I have all the necessary items.  I don't want to be scrambling a week before the trip to find something because I failed to prepare.  Yes, in case you are wondering, I was a Girl Scout!

My luggage for this trip is limited to a 33 pound soft sided bag and a 13 pound carry on.  This is due to the small plane that will be transporting me from Johannesburg to the two different tented camps that I will be calling home.

I purchased a duffle which will be perfect for the trip.  This past week I ordered a set of these packing cubes. 

The cubes arrived this week and I immediately went to the closet and did a test pack in the cubes and weighed my bag.  First of all the packing cubes are great!  I wish I had known about them and had them for my prior travels.  For this trip in particular, they will keep my duffle organized.  Once at the camps, I can pull them out and put then in the drawers for my stay and easily pack them back into the duffle when I move properties and again when it's time to head home.  

The other good news is that I weighed the duffle and it was only a little over 13 pounds!  Whew, I was sweating the 33 pound limitation.  The limitation of 13 pounds for the carry on, will require me to shift some things to the duffle to meet the limits, but I'm confident it is doable!

I believe I have the clothing portion of the packing list nailed.  Today I found this coat at Bass Pro Shops that will be suitable for the trip and can easily accommodate layers.  I'll be traveling in winter so it will be pretty chilly in the morning and evenings with warmer temperatures during the days.  

I still need to work on the electronics, chargers, camera gear, first aid kit, and toiletries portion of my packing list.   Once I get it all together I'll share my complete packing list and most likely report on what I overpacked when I return.

....dreaming of Africa!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Africa Is Calling

Africa is calling.

I've always had a fascination with Africa.  I think it maybe started when I was just a youngster with some flash cards we had with all kinds of animals.  I think that I was drawn most to those from south Africa.  The interest continued to build through my seventh grade geography class.

As I grew older, I knew that "someday" I wanted to go to Africa.  So it has been tucked away in my mental bucket list of places I'd like to visit.  Africa is a large country with many wonders to see and experience; as well as places that are very dangerous.  All along, my "plan" was to go on a safari when I retired (vacation time wouldn't be at a premium) and visit other areas of the country as well, such as Victoria Falls, Geeza and the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings, etc.  I knew deep down that someday I would go and I bought a 70-400mm zoom lens for my camera this past spring in preparation.

Six months ago, something happened.  I can't explain it, but I was overcome with the need to go.  Being so compelled,  I started research and making plans and made the decision to go in 2016.

I had a few contacts who had been to South Africa on safari and engaged them to learn more about their experience, the travel agent they used, etc.  I read everything I could get my hands on regarding the different types of accommodations and what to expect.  Additionally, I researched airfares, flights and baggage restrictions, the Center for Disease Control regarding vaccinations, climate and the best time to visit and currency.

Someone who works for the same company as I do has been a wealth of information and support. She and her husband have been multiple times.  She also shared her experiences and photos which further fueled my desire to make the trip.

I engaged the travel agent she recommended and he has been great.  He provided recommendations which  I researched.  He also engaged their African specialist, who grew up in South Africa and she was very helpful in answering all my questions.

Through my research, reading trip reviews on Trip Advisor, reviews on property websites as well as Facebook, I decided that I would stay in a tented safari camp.  These camps are permanent and rather than solid wood walls, the walls are canvas.  Now I will also say that while I'm looking forward to the experience, having all kinds of nocturnal noises and things going bump in the night  will probably be unnerving.

A few months ago, I started the vaccinations.  Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid and a Tetanus booster.  I have the final Hep A & B to complete in April and I will be all set.  A few weeks before the trip, I'll get the anti-malaria drugs and some antibiotics to take along.

In early November I made my deposit and booked my airfare.  The two tented camps I've selected to stay at are Mashatu which is in Botswana and Shindzela in South Africa.  I'm following them both of Facebook and am in awe every time they post photos.

As time gets closer I'll provide additional updates to help chronicle the journey and photos from the visit as well, when August rolls around.

If you have been to either of these two properties, I would love to hear about your experience!