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!