Apr 10 30
I developed a real taste for Safari holidays a couple years back when I visited Tanzania and Zanzibar; what an experience! As I sat day dreaming on the flight from Arusha to Heathrow squashed between two super sized American travellers, I vowed that I would return to this stunning continent as soon as physically possible, and for a longer stretch. Recently I returned from South East Africa; now I have to tell you about this amazing 23 day trip as it offered a bit of everything; activity, excitement, friendship and spectacular scenery. Adventure holidays like this one are hard to beat.
I have been offered a new job and had a month off before starting, so this three week trip was perfect. It was a great chance to have a real break before getting stuck into a new career and the itinerary I chose was incredible; it is mad how much you can do and see in only 23 days. I had found a new destination to enjoy solo travel and meet other like minded people.
Here are my personal highlights and the 5 reasons why this trip was so successful:
1. South East Africa still represents exceptional value for the traveller and accommodation is great:
This part of Africa still lures many travellers as the country is still highly affordable in comparison to many of the other African countries; the standard of accommodation is high in most parts of South Africa and the quality is generally better.
The food is delicious and fresh and is available everywhere at affordable prices. I can’t remember the last time we had such great food on a holiday. My most memorable experiences were the lovely rustic lodges on the banks of the Zambezi River; where we al fresco overlooking the river. It felt as though we were the only people on earth. I also have wonderful memories of the simple but lovely Chalets we stayed in on Magarugue Island, Mozambique, where we dined on exquisite fresh seafood and watched the sun set over the white beaches.
The casitas we stayed in on Tofu Island were traditional and fabulous; this trip offered every type of accommodation possible.
In Kruger National Park the camping was brilliantly and efficiently organised, we did not want for anything and the food was delicious and well prepared. We were all really impressed.
2. Incredibly diverse and beautiful scenery at every turn:
We managed to travel from the stunning Victoria Falls, a really great way to start the trip, along to the savannahs of the Serengeti, on to the shores of Mawi and Lake Malawi before ending up in the Kruger National park.
Victoria Falls were a force of nature, the indigenous name being “Mosi aa Tuya”- literally means “The Smoke that Thunders”, and thunder they did! As we approached the falls from the dense and humid rainforest we could hear the distant sound of pounding water, it was really exciting and the photos we took are amazing, I can now see why they are one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The shores of Lake Malawi were incredibly beautiful and there seemed to be hundreds of kilometres of coastline around the lake. This area was not only naturally stunning but was also extremely peaceful in contrast to the visit to Victoria Falls.
I found the wilderness of the South Luangwa National Park very alluring. It felt as though this park was very remote and the scenery was wild and exciting. This safari was a very different experience to the Kruger safari as all our senses were heightened from being on foot!
The white sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean in Mozambique were heavenly, views many people will only ever see on postcards. The scenery was quite spectacular in Mozambique and again extremely different to that of its neighbouring countries.
3. Abundant wildlife, including the “Big Five” sightings in Kruger National Park
Kruger is famous for being one of the best parks in South Africa, after our visit I could see why. On our visit the vegetation is actually quite dense and at times it was difficult to see wildlife at a real distance but we really had no shortage of amazing sightings. In the few days we spent there we saw lion, cheetah, rhino, wild dog, elephant, buffalo, antelope, hippos and crocodiles. In addition there was a never ending supply of eagles, hawks water birds and a host of migratory and indigenous species.
Nothing can quite prepare you for those few minutes when you actually see a lion kill…. Or a pack of wild dogs homing in on an impala… this was an incredible experience and we were very lucky to see all that we did.
4. This is an activity holiday which included trekking, canoeing, safari and snorkelling plus much more in our spare time…..
We had many other chances to get the adrenalin flowing– white water rafting, bungee jumping and surfing. This fun started almost immediately at Victoria Falls where I decided to do white water rafting with some of the group for a half day. It was fantastic, I did manage to navigate some of the harder rapids and only fell in once; an experience I’ll never forget.
The canoeing along the Lower Zambezi was incredible, it was so quiet and you could hear the water lapping against the bank as we meandered peacefully along with the gentle tide. It was not without excitement though, I will never forget the pods of hippos lazing in the sun in the shallow waters and seeing a crocodile slide in the water from the bank, it was fairly exhilarating and made me start paddling a little faster!
I also had a go at Surfing on Tofu Beach which was actually much harder than we anticipated, but it was lovely and warm and I did not mind falling in again and again; by the end of two hours I was actually able to ride a wave.
The Safari on foot was also something to mention in the South Luangwa National Park, not only was it exciting but we felt like we were properly exploring the wild and remote reaches of the park and were fortunate enough to come within 20 metres of a Bull elephant, who luckily decided not to charge!
5. A real chance to get away and meet people and make friends.
The bonding in our group was strong from the beginning. At Victoria Falls some of us decided to do a few hours white water rafting and we all got on well, it was fantastic and we made up a great team of 8. We managed to navigate the harder rapids with ease mostly. A couple of us fell in but it was brilliant fun!
The meal times were great for just sitting back and getting to know each other, three weeks is time enough to make strong friendships and as there were 12 of us we all got to know each other well. By the time we had reached Kruger National Park we had all made firm friends, the game watching was exhilarating and the holiday ended perfectly having seen all the main animals we set out to. The activities were so thrilling and the scenery so diverse, it was the perfect holiday to take with a group of other solo travellers and we all exchanged e-mail addresses and numbers when we finally said goodbye after our flight from Johannesburg to London. I am now planning my next trip at Christmas and some of the friends I made are hoping to join me.