words of an over-opinionated travel addict

Category: Southern Africa

Baadaye, Africa!

Since my last post, I have explored the Okavango Delta via canoe and horseback, visited Botswana’s incredibly developed capital city of Gaborone, and done everything in Cape Town we could physically fit into the short amount of time that we had.

Cape Town is a beautiful place. Most of the time I felt like I was in California rather than South Africa. Beautiful beaches and mountains, the scenery was definitely the highlight. Plus, the backpackers we stayed at was the best one yet. It has such a homey feel too it and we made some good friends. We had a long list of things to see and do, and I’m happy to stay we did almost all of them! The first day we did a hop on, hop off bus tour of the city and were able to see the Waterfront, Camps Bay beach, and get our bearings. We went to for great meals with some friends we made at the hostel, and enjoyed some margaritas! The following day we were met with rain, wind, and cold weather. This was a downer because a lot of our plans involved being out doors, but we managed to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. The tour was very well done, and given by an ex-political prisoner who spent 5 years there himself. The experience was very moving and I’m very glad to have done it.
Our last day, we got up early and finally saw some sunshine! We took the cable car up to one of the new 7 natural wonders (whatever that means), Table Mountain. We got an incredible view of the city, and pictures don’t do it justice. Later, we joined 2 new friends with a rental car and took a day road trip along the coast. We drove through Chapman’s Peak, had lunch on Kalk Bay, visited the penguin colony on Boulders Beach, and saw the most southern tip of Africa – Cape Point.
Cape Town was lovely, but with its downfalls. Just outside of the city is an incredibly large township (slum) that many hotels offer tours through, but no one ever seems to mention when they talk about the city. In comparison to the rest of Africa, I think it’s safe to say Cape Town is one of the most developed places, at least that I have seen. And while South Africa has made incredible strides, there is still a road ahead. I didn’t do a tour through the townships, because the offers were large groups going and I feel that is invasive. What I did in the larger slum in Nairobi was intimate and peaceful, and cost a donation. These tours here were expensive and made me uneasy to hear about, especially when it’s hardly ever mentioned. It has a large population and I believe deserves more discussion and attention than I noticed in my short time here. (Disclaimer: I spent 4 days in Cape Town and am aware that I may be ignorant about some things, this is just my observation!)

Once again it is time to say see you later to the continent that has stolen my heart. Now I being a long 20 hours journey to Delhi, India, where I finally reunite with Steph! I am both excited and nervous to see what India has to teach me, because I am sure it is like nothing I have seen before.



                                                            Okavango Delta, Maun, Botswana
blogger-image--2114317361                                                                        Camps Bay Beach!
                                                                         Nelson Mandela’s cell
blogger-image--1835771676                                                    The cable car up to Table Mountain

                                                      On top of the mountain, above Cape Town

blogger-image-912463699                                                                  So many penguins!
                                                                   New friends on our last night

Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana: At A Glance

This post is long overdue. New blog title name, credit to Danielle! I stopped writing in Tanzania for a multitude of reasons, mainly because I was becoming unhappy. Not with the country or the people, especially not the girls I grew close with, but with myself, the work I was doing, and the people that I was representing. I don’t regret the experience at all; I learned a lot about foreign aid, and about myself.  The spur of the moment decision to return home made the transition very difficult, and it was hard to leave home again after finally starting to readjust. But I stepped off the plane in Livingstone, Zambia on August 31st and breathed in the familiar African air. The smells hit me hard and I felt a pang of both happiness and nostalgia.  My stretch in Africa as a tourist feels very odd. I am not a student, or working. I am in the touristy areas, speaking English, eating western style food, and wearing pants daily. This has been the hardest adjustment of them all, to not know the languages and to be unfamiliar with customs. To what I’m sure is the annoyance of Danielle, my travel companion, I find myself comparing everything to Eastern Africa. Despite this, it has been an incredible so far.

The view of Victoria Falls is much better in Zimbabwe, but we had a great start in Zambia. On the first day, we met a local guide who (illegally) took us on a walk to the edge of the smaller falls surrounding the main one. We walked through streams and across rocks and swam in natural pools. The next day, we did the breath-taking Devil’s Pool and dangled over the ledge of the main falls. We also started what is apparently becoming a theme of our trip – resort crashing. We checked out the fanciest hotel in the area to use their wifi and have a beer. In Zimbabwe, we saw the amazing views of the falls, bungee jumped off the bridge right on the border of both countries, and I ate crocodile. The bungee jump was surprisingly one of the scariest things I have done. I thought it would be a breeze. But standing there with my toes over the edge, I was so scared that I forgot to hit “record” on the gopro attached to my chest. I remembered while dangling upside down, spinning in circles. 
From there, we did a 3-day safari to Chobe National Park in Botswana. This was my 9th safari, but my first outside of Tanzania. The animals were mostly the same, but the environment and experience was different. I saw three new animals, and watched lions mating so that was pretty cool. The campsites here were also actual campsites. Our toilet was a hole dug a few hours before we got there, and we had no electricity or running water. Compared to the fully powered camps in East Africa, this was a lot of fun and made for a more authentic experience. Our safari guide, Robson, was one of the nicest men I have met, and went above and beyond, even coming to our hotel after the safari to help navigate us around the town of Kasane. The hotel we stayed in was a splurge – way over my budget for sleeping. But it was also much needed after camping, as we had our own little cottage with a private bathroom and kitchen. After doing some laundry and crashing another resort, we climbed on a small 20-seater plane (although I have been in smaller!) and headed to Maun, also in Botswana. We have since checked into a lovely backpackers on the water, where we will be the next 3 nights. Tomorrow we set off on a Mokoro (dug out canoe) day trip on the Okavango Delta. 
It has been an exciting trip so far, and I am looking forward to what is to come. 
blogger-image-1731929434                                                               Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
blogger-image--1896670481                                “Boiling Pot”. That’s the bridge we bungeed from behind us!
blogger-image--1407795848                             We had a visitor at the pool of the resort we crashed in Kasane
blogger-image--435062877                                 Our off the beaten path (aka illegal) tour in Zambia
                                                                               The Chobe River
blogger-image--1024766077                                                                        Bungee!


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