It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
“Africa” by Toto
The allure of Africa has always drawn the interest of the wandering soul of a traveler and no matter the pictures that one sees, the movies or books that are enjoyed; the experience is elusive and unlike any imaginable. We all have or had perceived ideas of what Africa is. Vast plains of untamed wildlife surrounded by native and indigenous tribes that have forever lived off the land, but in
reality South Africa is quite a modern landscape of industry and productivity, modern roadways and an ever growing focus on conservation and animal protection.
But for a country that should look like it was ripped out of a movie, South Africa resembled little of the landscape we all are forced to imagine. Cape Town is a bustling metropolitan city on the Southern tip of Africa surrounded by majestic mountains, including the iconic Table Mountain that always finds itself embedded in most visitors’ pictures. Add to the perfect climate and fertile soil, is the world renowned wine lands of Stellenbosch and Franschoek where some of the world’s greatest wines are produced and enjoyed. Where vast vineyards makeup the northern region of Cape Town; the rocky coastal regions provide the dramatic backdrop to the foot of the African Peninsula where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide. These locations coexist in an extreme contrast to our expectations.
Located in the central region is the capital of South Africa known as Johannesburg; a bustling city where industry continues to grow at a rapid rate. Although full of many poor districts, where the failures of government continue to exist; there is a future for this city that strives to meet the current challenges while focusing on the future.
Further north to the Waterberg District lays the vast plains and famous wildlife that defines what most expectations of Africa truly are. This is the home of Africa’s Big 5; the Cape Buffalo, Black Rhino, African Leopard, African Elephant and the king, the African Lion. Here these animals along with the herds of wildebeests, warthogs, zebras, giraffes and hippos all coexist together and are protected on large conservancies that strive to keep these magnificent animals from becoming more threatened and endangered than they already are.
An African safari is an experience that should be on the top of everyone’s bucket list and to truly take in this experience requires both an early morning sunrise drive as well as the more relaxed late
afternoon drive. The opportunity to stretch ones legs and have a “sundowner” or drink as you take in the view and the wonder of where you actually are is truly a powerful experience and one that must not be missed.
To fully capture this fascinating experience requires one to travel further north to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia to the inspiring and jaw dropping natural wonder of Victoria Falls. Famous for honeymoons and daredevils; Victoria Falls and the surrounding regions make this a true African experience where the hippos are in abundance, the territory is wild and untamed and the artisans are everywhere offering their crafts and wood work they are famous for. A trip to the edge of the waterfalls is a memorable and sometimes dangerous experience not only for the size and immensity, but for the sound of the thundering water breaking the edge of the Zambezi River as it continues to flow and nourish the communities and wildlife on its way down river. For the brave the falls are known for their abundance of zip lines and the mother of all experiences; the bungee jump from the bridge that connects the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. At 333 feet above the river, this jump takes nerves of steel and a leap of faith to conquer what many consider a pilgrimage and life changing experience.
Although this is only a small portion of the many cultures and countries that make up this amazing continent; it is a journey worth taking and is guaranteed to change the way you look at this part of the world. One needs to just make a decision to go and begin the planning process, and the pieces will fall into place. And again, it takes a little help from those who have experienced it to provide the assistance to create the most incredible opportunity and a life changing destination.
(Note: We travelled to Africa in March 2017 and this includes many of our experiences)