Dec 5, 2009
South Africa - Part 1
Africa, such a simple word for such a complex continent and culture.
To me, Africa had always been a place of mesmerizing mystery. A land of raw, rugged, untouched beauty. A place that epitomizes the exotic to a level I had yet to experience. The reality is almost impossible to express in words. If only I could translate through sentences the experience of glimpsing into the origins of creation: a place where sunsets live and die; animal species of every immaginable color, pattern, shape and size run wild; hundreds of constellations and their galaxies create black velvet masterpieces every single night; and landscapes that take your breath away with their unparalleled beauty. If only these sentences could allow you to breathe, taste, touch and see Africa for what it truly is...evidence to a masterful creator!
Part One - Zambia, Africa
After almost 15 hours of being suspended on the South African Airways 340-600 Airbus at 40,000 feet above sea-level, I looked out of my window onto the vast expansion of endless gray blue skies in time to see the onslaught of a serene salmon-hued sunrise. At first it was slight, almost undetectable, only allowing a thin sliver of the red orange lining to highlight the sky like a pretty ribbon trim on a billowy skirt. Then it slowly began creeping its way upward, overshadowing the darkness and illuminating the horizon. Thick, swooping yellow and coral brush strokes on a landscape; a fitting intro to the powerful, burning dome at its center, the sun had made its grand entrance. With the veil of dusk finally uncovered, I allowed my anxious eyes to gaze down and see rolling hills, mountainous slopes and glance at what looked like the first signs of civilization. We had arrived!
It was at this point that I excitedly turned to my jet-lagged, sleep-deprived husband to my right and almost shouted: “I can see Africa below! Oh my, we are finally here!" And as we began our decent into Johannesburg International Airport, our Awesome African Adventure began!
After landing in JNB, we were picked up by our transport that had thankfully all been arranged prior. We decided that with Africa, an unknown and unexplored continent, we would enlist the aid of a qualified Travel Agent, (who was recommended to us by another nestie, thank you once again!), we were so thankful we did. Rikke, from go2africa.com, exceeded our expectations making this trip even more incredible by facilitating and eliminating all the little inconveniences usually associated with traveling, but I digress.
Let me keep it real, if you've never been on a 15 + hour trans-Atlantic flight before, be prepared to need at least a day of recovery.
Albeit our flight was thankfully uneventful, smooth, the flight attendants incredibly professional and pleasant, the food quite decent (by airplane standards) - it is almost impossible to get a good night's rest on ain airplane. Kev attributes this to the uncomfortable design of the seats in Coach, and I must reluctantly agree. We had leg-room, but if you wanted to crouch into that comfy fetal position to nod off with, and you actually have a bootie like both my hubby and I have been blessed with, ::insert grin here:: you’re going to be quite akwardly seated if you try to sleep. Consequently, we were in dire need of some zzz's. The first couple of hours upon arrival to JNB almost seem like a blur.
All I remember is that we were escorted to a safari-esque type lodge with a nice, comfy bed and hot shower and after a self-served (open bar, as in your the bar tender, serve at your own risk:) beverage to sleep for at least 6 hours straight. When we arrived it was early AM, when we awoke, the sun was setting. After room service and our first glance at African TV we turned in again for an early night, the next morning we were to return to the airport for our flight to Livingstone, Zambia.
Thankfully, the next day we awoke fully bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and after a delicious, hot breakfast we embarked on our 2 hour flight from South Africa to the neighboring country of Zambia, and a city aptly named Livingstone.
Zambia at first glance reminded me of other developing countries we have visited in the past . Of course, after closer observation we began to see just how different this wild, beautiful country really was to any of the former travel destinations. Different in a good way.
We arrived at the Zambezi Sun, a fabulous resort complex located ideally close to the Victoria Falls National Park. This resort wasn't your run-of-the-mill all inclusive. After all, do you know of many places where you’re warned not to feed the wild animals and zebras and giraffes roam freely outside your window. I don't. The "watch out for Crocodiles" sign really had me giddy - Not!
The beautifully decorated hotel was perfect for lounging and relaxing by the pool while being serenaded by interesting percussion instruments played by a local band. The food was spectacular and different. We tried everything from Kudu, a type of antelope, to crocodile skewers, Andrew Zimmern eat your heart out! We also learned the local villagers are much, much more adventurous eaters than we will ever be. Hippo, Elephant and Baboon are all part of their monthly dining options. They don't let anything go to waste. Unfortunately, many of these animals get caught up in strong currents on the Zambezi river, only to end up at the bottom of the powerful waterfalls. The rangers take the tusks and leave the meat for anyone willing and wanting to take a piece home. Nothing goes to waste.
However, the true highlight of Zambia were the magnificent excursions!!!
From catching our first glance of the majestic, earth-shatteringly beautiful Victoria Falls, and jumping into Devil's Pool (yes people, we really did do this, click to see this youtube video) - to our first glimpse of a wild African elephant off the banks of the Zambezi river on a safari cruise - Zambia had our heart going pitter-patter. We couldn’t get enough of this amazing land. We wanted more, needed more....and more we got!
Here are a few of our favorite shots from this incredible place:
( We ate crocodile skewers, quite tasty, and no, it did not taste like chicken:)
Stay tuned for Part Two - Cape Town, South Africa coming soon...