Guest blogger Jess Shuwalow took time out bumping around Africa to share her experience with us. You’re gonna love it…
I’ve always had an intimate longing to visit and experience Africa, it’s a must before Indie.
I’m not sure if it was when I first watched The Gods Must Be Crazy as a kid that ignited this desire, but for as long as I can remember it’s been there. Now I’m finally here. Before I left, one of my South African friends said to me ‘you’re going to love it there! Africa gets under your skin.’
For this visit (my first) I went with the security of a tour group for the majority (although I’ve always been adamant I’d never do a tour). It’s a love hate relationship with this truck ‘Roy’ that we live on for most of the tour.
Hate – for the fact I came here to visit and experience this grand mystical continent I’ve dreamed of, but the hours upon hours, and then some, we spend on this truck I feel like I’m just visiting and observing, with little experience opportunities, and it’s creating an even greater desire to be in Africa.
Love – for the fact that through these enduring hours spent travelling on the truck I become absorbed into the gravity and overwhelming grandeur of Africa and see each great country (so far Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia) for the first time. And then, there’s the unique and deep moments and connections you have when you over enthusiastically wave back and forth with the children of Africa and the villagers as you pass through their town. It sounds cheesy, but I believe there is a reciprocated intense curiosity and fulfilment as you eagerly wave, smile and your eyes connect. Two worlds and lives colliding. Then this is sometimes heightened further when ‘Roy’ slows down enough that you get the opportunity to pass books, pens, balls and food out the window to your new fleeting, but eternal friends.
It’s safe to say the people, the beauty of the countryside and the mystery and rawness of Africa has indeed gotten under my skin!!! And yesterday I had my first ‘pinch me’ moment that I’d been chasing since I touched down in Africa.
Seeing the animals of Africa was not a priority for me on this visit, but when I woke at 5am for a game drive through Luangwa National Park and just a couple of hours later saw my first lion, things started to happen.
On the way back just outside the entrance to our campsite we were graced by a family of elephants, somewhat angry ones. Many of this family were missing their tusks, a once unique trend that is becoming rather common, and one which I coincidentally just watched a documentary on recently. It’s believed to be a clever genetic occurrence as a protective measure.
Sitting at the bar that afternoon, which merges with and overlooks the Luangwa river that is home to hundreds of noisy hippos, it was if Noah had just berthed his arc around the corner and one by one across the river hippos, crocodiles, impalas, giraffes, elephants and more appeared.
This is one ‘pinch me moment’that hit me loud and clear.
The day was topped off by a sunset game drive where we bashed through the bush chasing the infamous leopard. This day was made all the more incredible by BJ (Big Joseph), our guide who’s passion and love for his job is so infectious.
‘Wow’ he would say every time we saw an animal as though it was his first time seeing it…