Living in the islands of Fiji is a major highlight on my expat journey. There are times, though, when this prairie girl yearns for wide open spaces, a road stretching for miles into the horizon, vast landscape and fields beckoning me onwards. I am craving such a road trip like the ones my husband and I planned this time of year, while we lived in Africa. An epic safari.
It would start a few months in advance, discussing the route we wanted to take (rarely the same road twice!), getting the Land Cruiser serviced and kitted out for the journey, plotting remote camping spots, fuel and supplies stops, national parks to visit, placing orders with the butcher for our gourmet camp cooking (ARB fridge/ freezer a MUST!), making sure we had all the right currencies, paperwork and visas for crossing borders, organizing the packing list and getting majorly excited to hit the road!
Johannesburg was a great location for our exploration of Southern Africa and we ventured by road through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Our favourite spot was the Okavango Delta in Botswana. We loved it so much we visited three times during our posting in South Africa! Each time was different and as exciting as the last.
One such amazing trip was with our dear friends, Jenn and Darcy, who hold the same sense of adventure and are people we can easily camp together with for three weeks without incidence. A rare friendship to find and highly valued! They are such wonderful travel partners that we’ve explored Africa with them on three separate safaris and continually look for the next opportunity to go together again.
In my yearning for the open road, I have been going through our past photos. Here are a few from our safari with Jenn and Darcy through Botswana, from the dry pans of the Central Kalagadi, through the Delta Moremi and Savuti, to the lush waters of the Chobe river.
“An oryx can survive on nothing but pride and attitude. It drinks air and feeds on emptiness. Fear is for the fainthearted. Water is for the weak.” Heinrich Van Den Berg (Wildlife Photographer)
PACKING TIP: Besides our detailed camping checklist of all the vehicle equipment, food, camping equipment, required vehicle & personal paperwork (visa, immunization records, passport, cash!), and meticulous packing system, I no longer leave home without these safari essentials:
- Kikoy or sarong: This can be used for so many purposes! Skirt, towel, dress, head covering, sun protection, table cloth, blanket, bag for groceries, scarf…etc.etc!
- Safari boots that cover the ankle: Boots are essential along the road and at campsites. I do not go barefoot or in flimsy flips flops, ESPECIALLY at night! Many dangers lurk on the ground from thorns to critters! I love my Clark’s and Mark swears by his Timberlands. (DO bring flip flops for the campsite showers…there’s no room for foot fungus, ringworm, etc. on a road trip!
- Safari hat: Why not look the part AND have heat and sun protection?! LOVE going rogue….with South African original Rogue hats!
- Camera with a zoom lens: Don’t wait until you’ve come home from your once-in-a-lifetime safari to note that all the animals you watched with baited breath and snapped hundreds of photos of look SO far away in your pictures! We like our Nikon DX camera with 70-300mm lens.
- Polarized sunglasses: I love the open road and with that comes the glaring sun. Protect your eyes!
- Face wipes, hand disinfectant and dry shampoo: Many times we are deep in the bush and our campsites do not have running water. We carry as much as we can but drinking and cooking are the most important uses of this supply. That means that showers can be scarce! I don’t need perfectly blow- dried hair and daily showers while I camp, but I don’t enjoy breakouts, germs, or a greasy mane. These items are small and pack easily.
- Quality clothing that packs light, dries quickly and has sun protection: I have honed my packing skills over the years through trial and error. I realize I usually pack too much, so have really scaled back knowing that I will wash items along the way, often. Quality clothing is important. Camping doesn’t mean you have to look like a slob, but it also doesn’t mean you pack your whole closet! I wear the same things over and over on a safari trip and love my Columbia and North Face shirts and shorts. I often pack 2 long sleeved UPF shirts for sun protection- they also breath well in the heat, keeping me cool and protected; 2 pairs of shorts or 1 pair of shorts and 1 skirt, and 2 cotton dresses. I throw in a scarf, at least 1 kikoy and pick up a few pieces of funky, local handmade jewellery along the way.
Beauty tip: Sunscreen is your bestest friend of all time, especially in the African bush…so are tinted eyelashes!