This is Africa
By: Sandra van der Lee
Join me on an adventure through South-Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. There were angry elephants, rhinos close enough to touch, and starry skies that brought tears to my eyes. It was challenging to pick which pictures to share with you, since there were so many amazing experiences on this trip.
Amazing Animal Encounters on Foot
Throughout the trip we went hiking through different game reserves and protected areas. These walks led to some mind-blowing animal sightings. It might actually be my favourite way of spotting animals, because being on foot makes you feel much more vulnerable than sitting in a vehicle.
On a hike in the iSimangaliso Wetland park in South Africa, we came across a group of zebras. They stayed incredibly relaxed, even though there was a foal with them. Some even slept, although we were only a mere 40 metres away.
In the Okavango Delta in Botswana we ran into a herd of elephants while on a nature walk. We stayed fairly far away since the herd was spread out and threatened to box us in. I’ve never felt smaller (or more breakable!). Traveling through the Okavango Delta in a traditional mekoro boat was another highlight of the trip, although I’m glad we didn’t come across any hippos on the way…
Finally, in Matopo in Zimbabwe we went rhino tracking on foot. After a sobering story about the dire situation of the rhino populations due to ruthless poaching, we set out to meet them in person. Five rhinos were close by, so we hopped out of the 4x4 and carefully approached them. Honestly, you cannot say you’ve truly lived until you’ve seen a rhino grazing 1,5 metres away. At some point, one of them got close enough to almost touch, and our guide motioned me to gently back away. It was the most surreal and mind-blowing wildlife experience.
The Namib Desert
Most of us have probably seen the iconic image of the Deadvlei, in the Sossusvlei area of Namibia. However, none of these images prepared me for the surreal feeling of actually walking around the area myself.
Traveling through the Namib Desert might have been my favourite part of the trip, although honestly, I can’t decide. Even though most of Namibia is desert, the landscape changes every few hours. What surprised me most was the amount of animals that still manage to survive in these harsh conditions, including gemsbok, zebras and cheetahs.
Although both a part of the desert, Spitzkoppe looked completely different from Sossuvlei. The rocks and boulders at Spitzkoppe make for climbs with incredible views, although the scorpions might crash your party.
It was an incredible experience filled with wildlife encounters and incredible landscapes. This was Africa; I loved every second of it.