Africa gets under your skin.
In our previous post, we discovered 5 ways Africa will get under your skin, from sunset to sunsets, gorilla trekking to whitewater rafting, lakeside living to captivating cities.
The backpacking trail from Kenya to South Africa continues with five more experiences that will have you wanting to return to Africa again and again.
Masai Mara in Kenya
The Masai Mara is the Kenyan side of the Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. One of the grandest wildlife spectacles happens here every year, the Great Wildebeest Migration.
The Mara is home to the semi-nomadic Masai warriors, most noted for the bright red blankets they wear, their jumping dance, and their fierce traditions such as killing a lion in order to initiate into manhood.
The Mara lends itself to some extraordinary game life viewing; it is impossible not to see an abundance of all sorts of animals in this park. With the plains full of wildebeest and zebra, the chances of seeing a kill are very high.
After a day safari through the savannah, kick back around the campfire at night at the local Masai village, chat with the warriors that sit with you eager to share stories of their traditional lives, and then allow them to guard your tent from marauding lions and leopards at night.
The Wildness of St Lucia, South Africa
Have you ever been to a town where hippos roam freely around the streets at night, most commonly spotted nibbling on the neighbor’s plants or walking past the local pub?
How can Africa not get under your skin when you spend time in a truly wild place like St Lucia wetlands? We were fortunate enough to stay in a hostel, where the workers were in love with their town and wanted to take their guests to see everything for free.
We went on walks through the wetlands, past sleeping crocodiles, sneaking up on the biggest hippos you’ve ever seen in a private pool (not so much fun when they see you back and let you know its time to leave), crawling through the lantana- home of the poisonous viper snake-to reach the wild coastline for swimming, and evening volleyball competitions and beach bonfire parties.
Elephants of Addo
No matter what game park you visit in Africa, you are sure to come across these highly intelligent creatures. However, if you really want an elephant experience on a monumental level, then Addo Elephant Park, in South Africa, is the place to go.
It is here where you will see elephants, not just in their small families, but also in whole tribes bathing and rolling around in their local muddy watering holes.
There were times when our small little hatchback was surrounded by hordes of elephants, mothers moving quickly to bury their babies on the other side of their bellies.
And even though my heart was racing with trepidation, it was also racing with absolute love and gratitude for being so close to my favorite animal, an animal that loves and feels deeply and never forgets.
Kruger National Park
Out of all the game parks, we visited in Africa, Kruger National Park in South Africa, was definitely the best for game viewing. We saw every animal that you could possibly want to see.
After four months of searching, we finally saw a leopard slinking into the bushes, and one resting high above in its sleeping perch of a tree.
Lions greeted us from the roadside of a morning, hyenas loped past our car window, and rhinos ate the long grass downwind from us on our guided walk through the savannah.
The Kruger is about the size of Wales and there are plenty of campgrounds to stay at. The Lower Sabie area is where had the most animal sightings. Take the time to go on a guided night drive and if you are brave enough a guided walking safari.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
When David Livingstone first walked out of the jungle and stumbled upon the falls he wrote, “On sights as beautiful as this, angels in their flights must have gazed.” 1.7km of gushing waterfall thundering into the deep gorge below is truly a sight worth gazing at.
The falls have been named a Place of Peace and as you walk out of the rainforest environment created at its edge by the spray of the falls, you can see why. Rows of rainbows shoot out over the spray leading you along the path of Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders.
And imagine bungee jumping next to the Victoria Falls; it’s a thrilling experience!
And so I close this post with a heavy heart of longing for this beautiful and diverse continent. Africa gets under your skin and remains there forever, beckoning you to return again and again.
Destinations on Caz and Craig’s Backpacking Trail.
About the Author:
Caz Makepeace has been living and traveling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three-year-old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fan page aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.
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