Southern Africa: Culture, Adventure and Safari

Hi, everyone! Ellen here, and I have just returned from my latest trip to Africa where I was lucky enough to visit South Africa, Victoria Falls (both on the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides) and Botswana with my husband, Tom. From the beauty, culture, food and wine and the wildlife, Africa engrains itself into you and I have found myself already planning my next trip back!

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We kicked off our trip in Cape Town, exploring the Cape Peninsula and enjoying the scenic views from the top of Table Mountain before heading out for some iconic wine tasting in Stellenbosch and Franschoeck. For a bit of adrenaline, we added in a heli flight over Cape Town (stunning!) and Great White Shark Cage Diving along the coast, right off of the famous Shark Alley. Seeing a 15-foot Great White Shark underwater at eye-view is something that I will never forget!

 

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Next up we enjoyed a few nights in the famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve, just outside of Kruger National Park where we were able to tick off four of the big five with a special leopard sighting and an incredible experience tracking a white rhino on foot. A highlight for me was sleeping in the Chalkley Treehouse at Lion Sands Game Reserve. It was amazing to sleep under such a beautiful sky full of shooting stars and directly above the wild animals!

 

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Victoria Falls was next on the agenda and it did not disappoint! We first enjoyed the Zambia side with a microlight over the falls. If you aren’t familiar, a microlight is a 2-seater, fixed-wing lightweight aircraft. Being open to the elements, I could smell and feel the famous Victoria Falls with the added bonus of experiencing a “safari by air,” seeing elephants, hippos, giraffe, crocs and more right in the Zambezi River! The Zimbabwe side was equally spectacular and on this side we also enjoyed a sundowner Zambezi River Cruise and a local BOMA dinner.

 

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To cap off our trip we headed to Botswana. The joke in the DUE office is that I love a good “bucket shower” so I was thrilled to enjoy mobile-camping (camps that break down and move to different locations every few days) for my second time, this time in Chobe National Park. After a magical game drive in Chobe with hundreds of elephants heading to the river right in front of our vehicle, we spent the evening around the campfire. Soon our guide shone a tracker light into the bush to see a herd of buffalo and before they could continue to get any closer to us we all retreated to our tents for the night. If that isn’t an authentic experience out in the bush I don’t know what is! Soon after the excitement we could hear the lions’ territorial calls in the distance, lulling us to sleep. Amazing!

 

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The last stop of our trip was the Okavango Delta in Botswana. For me, the biggest surprise was the incredible birdlife in the Delta that far surpassed my expectations. While we had some incredible close encounters with lions, zebra and more, the birdlife for me stole the show! The Lilac-breasted Roller and the Malachite Kingfisher are my two personal favorites. The Delta also lends itself to a very special and peaceful experience on a mokoro, or a carved out wooden canoe that are commonly used in the Delta to navigate the shallow waters. Propelled by a “poler” guiding you and balancing on the back of your long canoe, you are able to get quite close to animals and birdlife.

 

Here are some more pictures from beautiful Africa!

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While it was difficult to end the trip I am already planning my next adventure back to Africa! If you’d like to learn more please give me at call at 312-951-8517 as I would love to share more details about my adventure! Cheers! – Ellen