Africa – The Final Week Back to News List

We can’t quite believe it’s here, the final week, after 4 months researching the Balkans & Africa, it’s simply too immense to put into words so a lousy blog will have to do!!!!

Crossing into Zimbabwe we overnighted on the shores of the immense Lake Kariba, one of the largest man-made lakes on earth, and witnessed a stunning sunset over the lake as another day in Africa drew to a close. 

Our aim today was the renown Antelope Park that has around 60 lions onsite, many of which are being prepared to be released back into some of the 11 national parks in Zimbabwe. We nearly made it to the park incident free before being stopped for “allegedly” failing to stop at a stop sign. After a brief discussion it was clear the officer was more interested in a bribe to “make this problem go away” than road safety so the moment he turned his back I stuck the Landcruiser into gear and drove off, confident he had no police car nearby to give chase, he didn’t! 

Before arriving at the park, we stumbled across 2 utterly decrepit Vickers Viscount planes that were intended to be converted into a restaurant but the idea never “took off”. One of these planes had an amazing history having been previously owned by the Australian RAAF and flew the queen mother around Australia during her 1962 Australian visit. The plane then ended up being the private plane for the Shah of Iran before ending up in a small Zimbabwean township on the side of a dusty road, slowly falling apart. 

Driving into the Antelope Park and seeing the one arm owner who lost his arm in a lion attack was a sobering reminder of how dangerous these animals can be, as if I needed any reminders. The following mornings tour of the rehabilitation facility, only reinforced by respect, actually my outright fear, of these giant beasts when one male lion came charging at us to the fence line, despite being behind a chain link fence the lion was only 5 feet away and it was confronting to say the least.

Next port of call was the visually stunning Rhodes Matopos National Park, a landscape of massive granite rocks magnificently balanced amongst an amazing green coverage of thicket and forest and home to some great examples of ancient San people rock art. We visited the grave of Cecil John Rhodes who was revered, even by the Matabele whom he killed in numerous skirmishes. Rhodes final wish was to be buried in the “Matopos” at what he called the “View of the World, standing atop a mountain of granite it wasn’t hard to understand why he referred to this spot as the view of the world. We were told of a story, when Rhodes was being laid to rest in 1902 in Matopos the mourners could hear a chant in the valley below, it was the Matabele, in their 1000s, chanting “long live the king”.

Eager to escape Zimbabwe before the APB was put out on me after running from the police we crossed into Botswana and headed northwest toward the remarkable Makgadikgadi Pans, renowned for its families of amusing Meerkats. Our accommodation was the wonderful Planet Baobab unsurprisingly located amongst some giant Baobab trees. A very early start next morning treated us to easily the most beautiful sunrise we had seen in all of Africa. The predawn set the clouds aglow with the foreground being a giant baobab tree, it was simply beautiful

The meerkats didn’t disappoint as they scurried along on the savannah digging furiously searching for scorpions, beetles, and larvae, it was very humorous to watch them stand to attention scanning the horizon when they heard a bird call, but they couldn’t care less about our presence. Some of these meerkats are so comfortable with humans they stand on people to get a better view of there surrounds

In Africa we had crossed 15 borders, some of which had been a little challenging, we had assumed that this last border, Botswana to South Africa would be a breeze, nothing could have been further from the truth. We were quickly processed out of Botswana only to come to an epic traffic jamb in no-man’s land. All the Botswana bound traffic had charged onto the single lane bridge thus preventing all South Africa bound traffic from exiting Botswana, drivers became frustrated and abandoned their vehicles in an attempt to process their paperwork, thus adding further to the traffic chaos. No one was going anywhere and the authorities were either at a loss at what to do or just didn’t care. Not wanting to spend the rest of the day waiting for someone to sort this mess out we organised a car bouncing gang and we proceeded to bounce numerous cars out of the road, we then walked across into South Africa and insisted the authorities stop all Botswana traffic to allow SA bound traffic to cross the bridge and thus clear the traffic mess. It worked and within the hour we were crossing that single lane bridge into our final country of South Africa.

These last four months of research trips have allowed us to refine our best-selling Balkans ride, completely rewrite our former Cape Town to Cairo ride into an 80-day Cape Town to Cape Town ride. So good in fact has been this ride that if & when the Cape Town to Cairo does get up and running again, we will continue to offer the Cape Town to Cape Town ride. We have also been able to research a brand-new Kruger & the Garden Route 16-day tour to be released in in 2023 for the inaugural ride in 2024. 

It’s been an inspiring 4 months of travel made all that much more incredible after so long being locked down. The world is a different place now, but one thing remains a constant, the life affirming experience that only travelling to different lands and experiencing different cultures can bring. We will never take travel for granted again, each trip is a privilege as we have all seen how the world can change on a dime, forever.

Now for the long flight home!

Check out the Safari Africa tour itinerary!

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