Africa a Trip of a Lifetime By MONIKA WRIGHT
I keep returning to Africa. People say that those who go there ‘get the bug’. It is the feeling you get when you find something incredible that you did not know you had lost.
I got this mysterious bug on my first trip to Africa in 2013, it all started in Kruger National Park in South Africa. We found leopards, rhinos and two massive hippos in a bloody fight. At one stage we got out of our jeep and on foot watched a female cheetah with her litter of cubs. All this in three short days and I was hooked!
Fastrack to 2018 and I’ve returned from Africa trip #5. I finally got to see the famous Victoria Falls, known as the smoke that thunders. You can hear the falls thundering, long before you see them. I saw the falls from the Zimbabwe side, but you can also visit from the Zambia side. A private guide can walk you through the park and tell you all the facts, or you can follow the path on a self-guided walk. There are sixteen lookouts to enjoy the view from every angle.
In this image, there are people swimming in Devils Pool!
From Victoria Falls it is an easy drive across the border into Botswana. I spent a week here in 2016 but wanted to squeeze in a quick safari on this trip also. You can stay in many places along the Chobe River or go somewhere like Muchenje Lodge, about an hour drive from Kasane airport. The staff was wonderful. They even did a late night game drive after dinner using headlights and torches.
The views were astounding from this lodge and that is Namibia in the far distance!
Far too soon I was leaving Botswana, but next stop…. Uganda!
The airport in Uganda is Entebbe and you can fly here from Johannesburg or even Doha, Qatar. It is a small airport so I arranged my Electronic visa in advance. Then all it takes was a quick photo at immigration and you are on your way.
We were to cover a lot of ground in Uganda over the next nine days, so it was a delight to have our Safari jeep and personal driver there to meet us. A pre-planned tour is the best way to travel as your driver knows the roads and speaks the local language. The esky onboard was always overflowing with bottled water and they arrange picnic lunches for any day that requires a long drive.
Entebbe is more of a rural city, planted on the banks of Lake Victoria.
We stayed at a brand new luxury boutique hotel with an easy to remember name: ‘Hotel 5’.
Our Uganda adventure starts with a drive to Kibale National Park.
We had a lovely Eco lodge nestled in the Primate Forest area. We were on the doorstep of numerous species of monkeys and the wild chimpanzees that are the drawcard for the Forest.
Uganda was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Our drive took us through green rolling hills, dotted with palms and tea plantations. The villages along the way sell everything under the sun. The next camp was what the locals refer to as ‘Top of the World’ where extinct volcanoes have created stunning scenery and crater lakes! We plan to spend several days in the Mount Rwenzori region, there are walking trails and plenty of birds to photograph.
The next day we entered the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park to reach the Kazinga Channel. A river cruise whisked us away on the waters between Lakes George and Edward. Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of this cruise and the immense wildlife plying the shores. Our captain got us up close to everything including elephants, hippos, crocs, and many species of birds. It was a National Geographic setting, but we were the only ones there! Sssshh, let’s hope it stays that way.
After our amazing cruise, we journeyed to the Wilderness camp tucked away in the National Park for the next couple nights. A small luxury, all-inclusive camp, with welcoming staff, and comfortable canvas tents right on the edge of the river.
Now we are in lion country and the highlight of this National Park is the rare tree lions! Found only in a couple of places in Africa, this is one spot where the lions climb trees and sleep. Included morning and evening game drives to ensure the best chance of seeing this rare sight first hand.
After a couple of glorious days here, we were off to Bwindi, for yet another highlight of this incredible journey.
Arriving in the Imenetrable forest was a breathless moment. I had heard so much about this place, I had seen pictures, and now I was really here! We are on the doorstep of the highly endangered Mountain Gorilla that lives in the forest.
Accommodation is first class with views of the mountains from your room. A permit to trek to see these creatures in the wild is required, and only a limited number of permits are available per day. It is recommended to book a year in advance if possible. The organisation is meticulous and well planned.
You are guaranteed to see gorillas. I’m often asked ‘How close do you get to them?’ Well, I was using a wide angle lens for this shot and they can come within a couple of feet.
Hopefully, you’ve read this far and enjoyed the story. We would love to assist you with your Trip of a Lifetime to Africa and hopefully, you will be able to see this amazing continent more than once. A lot of planning goes into a trip such as this, so please come and see us as we are the experts!
Story / Photo credits Monika Wright