Our Southern African adventure took us to five
countries: South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and
Zimbabwe. I am not sure what I expected from our visit,
but it definitely was not what we realized. For one
thing, I was most impressed by the people with whom I
came to have any interactions …. be it service people or
casual connections. The genuine warmth of the people
who were generally glad to have you visit their country
was most sincere and gratifying. They smiled, they shook
your hand and would ask “Where are you from?”
Beyond that, Southern Africa is an interesting array of
contrasts. Black vs white people, the very poor and the
quite well to do, the natural beauty of the countryside
vs the modern cities with high tech features. There is
a great divide between the black and white and that is
economic .... the black people have an unemployment rate
of 90% in Zimbabwe, for example; somewhat better in
other countries, but still quite excessive.
The poor live in shanty towns .... buildings that can
barely stand up on their own, while the wealthier have
very nice lifestyles with excellent amenities.
Education among the poor - we visited a school for boys
and girls and they danced for us and told what they
wanted to be when they grow up .... but that is actually
where dreams go to die …it is not going to happen.
We visited Soweto, where the uprising that brought down
apartheid in South Africa started and changed that
country forever. It is there where you see shanty
towns all over the area.
We went to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe were we stayed in
an old hotel .... very charming, right at the falls. As
we ate outside, baboons and warthogs played easily all
about us .... even stole food off my plate. The falls
were quite remarkable. While in Zimbabwe we
walked across the bridge over the Zambezi River to cross
into Zambia to see the falls from that side.
While in Zimbabwe we went on an animal safari in the
Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve as well as into
Botswana for an animal safari in Chobe National Park .
Excellent, intimate interactions with animals in both
From there we headed to Namibia to climb the sand dunes
for which Sossusvlei Park is quite well known. Climbing
the dunes was extremely hard and the wind was tough as
the blowing sand cut right through us.
On the shores of the Atlantic Ocean we went to
Swakopmund, Namibia .... a resort town with a beautiful
hotel and thousands of flamingos in the bay. We
also took a magnificent boat ride in Walvis Bay where we
interacted with seals, pelicans and other birds.
Then we headed to Cape Town in South Africa to see the
wine producing region, explore the city and to go to
Robben Island where we toured the prison where Nelson
Mandela was held captive for many years during
apartheid. Cape Town is a beautiful city with great
weather and so much to do. We took the funicular to the
top of Table Mountain for views of the city below.
We said goodbye to most of our group as our time in Cape
Town came to an end .... the main segment of our tour
was over. Six of us continued to Thornybush Waterside
Lodge, a private game reserve near Kruger National
For the next four days we rose very early in the
morning, at 5:00am, to get in our safari vehicle .... it
was freezing cold and dark out - we had hot water
bottles for added warmth - and for the next three hours
we bobbed along the trails looking for animals. As
daylight approached, some warmth came, as did the
animals. Later we would have breakfast and rest until
about 3:00 pm when we started our safari drive once
again looking for animals as the cool evenings came with
the darkness. We returned to the lodge about 7:30 pm
for dinner and an early bed time to repeat our schedule
When the day finally came to leave, we had a long drive
out of the game reserve, a flight to Johannesburg, and
then two long flights home. We thought much of our
adventure .... reliving each moment. While it was not a
restful journey, it was exciting, it was educational and
we were very glad to have been able to be a part of
something so special.