A little while ago, I was asked to write a few words about my amazing African adventure experience for a national magazine. I thought you may like to read my notes…
One of the best trips of my life! A big call I know, especially after all the magical journeys I have experienced over the last 20 years as host of Getaway. But it’s true, I adored every moment of exploring this magnificent continent.
Scenic Tours have put together a ‘highlights package’ of Africa and, for filming purposes, we managed to sample South Africa (so diverse), Botswana (elephants galore), and Zambia (worlds nicest locals). With so many people warning me to be careful on this trip, particularly in South Africa, I can honestly say that not for one moment did I feel unsafe. I ate and drank everything (the wines of South Africa are world class) and never once got sick.
Everywhere we went the service was amazing and we stayed in hotels and lodges so sublime I kept saying ‘I could live here’. I felt I spent a lot of the trip myth-busting all the negative stories I’d heard in the past about this neck of the woods, and ended up vowing to bring my children back here the moment they become teens.
The best part for me was being amazed by nature, nothing man made, just the glory of the beautiful animals on safari, the gushing water of Victoria Falls and the unpredictability of it all. You never had any idea of what was around the corner.
It’s so healthy to not be able to plan what’s around the next corner, you can’t plan nature, so there’s this constant feeling of excitement and anticipation.
In South Africa we went on our first safari, staying at a luxurious lodge where Impala (a medium-sized antelope) would wander past your door and the guides were fantastic – local and loving every moment of their job. Before I left home, people wished for me ‘hope you see the ‘big 5’, this refers to a term from way back in the hunting days (the most difficult animals to shoot).
Today, we only shoot with our cameras thank heavens. Elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions and buffaloes. Well we saw all of the above, within our first dawn drive. I was in awe, but fell in love with a tiny chameleon that was happy to sit in the palm of my hand for as long as I’d allow.
On to Zambia, we had to check out the majestic Victoria Falls, just on the edge of the Zambezi River. I got soaked! Ok, as expected, but what I hadn’t bargained on were the breathtaking sunsets, the kindness of the locals and the opportunity to visit the colourful villages.
People welcomed us into their homes, children danced down the laneways with me and I shopped up a storm at the local markets.
Botswana lured us for its elephants, in fact we stayed at this amazing camp called Elephant Valley where I slept to the sounds of monkeys calling in the night and elephants padding past my glam tent. Botswana is reaping the tourism benefits of not only being vigilant about poaching, enemy number one, but they’ve banned ALL hunting.
The result? Copious wildlife, combine this with a stable government and you have travellers flocking from far and wide. I just felt total gratitude when I was sitting on the edge of the Chobe River, alligators by the side of the vehicle, buffalos and hippos beyond, and me in the middle of a mud bath with elephants! I couldn’t thank my guide enough for sharing this with me.
Finishing off the trip in South Africa – this time highlighting Cape Town (a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast). It was named the World Design Capital and one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2014.
Yes, be savvy when you walk the streets here, but no more than St Kilda or Sydney. I loved the South African Winelands as well, the beaches and the rich history and couldn’t believe in Soweto that on one street you had two Nobel Laureate’s homes – Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
I loved Tutu’s quote: ‘It always seems impossible, until it’s done’.
Do yourself a favour and book your own African adventure with Scenic now!