Lions, Cheetahs and the Time Of My Life!

...the happiest day of my life... LION DAY!!!!!!!!

My apologies for he delay in the follow up – NO I did not have a bungee accident that prevented me from emailing, quite the opposite really. I think somewhere between the African sun and my blonde hair I completely didn’t prepare for my jump. Apparently you cant wear flip flops and a sun dress as you dangle over a bridge, so sadly I didn’t get to jump – No worries Bloukrans Bridge is MINE on my bday so I will get the full 111m kick back there.

So instead of jumping in no mans land. Instead I decided to do a half day adrenaline which consists of firs a flying fox which is a horizontal zip line that takes you over a 130m deep gorge, following that we a zip line that takes you down into the Gorge and goes about 90 km/h but the best part of it is a the end with a gorge swing ha has you jump with a 70 m free fall as you begin to swing over the Zambezi river which is exhilarations as you free fall face firs (you’re tied by your waist vs. the bungee is at the feet) and you commence the gorge swing by doing a handstand over the ledge. So once your feet go over first you are face first against the rock face before you start somersaulting through the air as you swing over the gorge which has a stinky dead hippo at the bottom which has been dead for about 6 weeks after accidentally falling into the gorge… meh… looks cool upside down and deflated, but smells like shit.

After our adrenaline day we proceeded as a group of about 20 to take a sunset cruise down the Zambezi, see elephants in the water and take full advantage of the open bar on board. Afterwards our night of slight debauchery which was cured the next day when mike and I decided to hike around the Victoria Falls National park and take in some amazing scenery, sounds and sights as you heard the thunderous roar of the falls going over (it is currently dry season so I can only imagine what it sounds like at its peak) it was breathtaking and we sat around taking photos as the sun went down behind the falls before we headed to the Victoria Falls Hotel (which is the oldest in Zimbabwe from 1907) for a lovely formal (yes I wore a dress) sit down dinner at a 5 star restaurant complete with gespaco, Sushi, Grilled Crocodile Tail and Impala soup the food was phenomenal and after so many weeks of camping and spaghetti it was nice to spoil ourselves and we even had struddle for desert. I know this isn’t interesting to you guys, especially knowing what I am eating, but if you ever do an overland truck experience or even participatory camping you will realise that having a meal like this is the equivalent of dining with the queen, or meeting Justin Bieber depending on who you are.

Any who the following morning was the highlight of my trip so far because we got to walk with the lions, basically there’s a reserve that aims to conserve the dwindling population of Cats in Africa and helps breeds cats to make sure they are able to sustain themselves in the wild. So we got the opportunity to walk with two 7 month  old cubs for about an hour ( I will stop here because the photos I will attach soon will make up for my lack of words – I am still speechless) Basically I got to rub, pat, hug, touch and walk along side Lions all morning!!!!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!

From there we left Zimbabwe and entered Botswana to do an overnight game drive in Chobe national park, only six of us proceeded to do it and as per African custom we purchased our wine, cheese, crackers and olives and in open air vehicles Ben, Handri, Ross, Lynne, Michael and myself drove into the park and were fortunate enough to see Elephants washing themselves in the water (JUST like a car wash) and while we were bush camping in the park we had a herd of about 25 elephants pass through our camp after lights out, we sat around our campfire watching from about 6 metres as these beautiful beasts trampled our picnic blanket setup. From there in the morning (after having lions roar about a metre from the tent we were sleeping in – yay) we headed to Maun which would be our base for our 3 night trip into the Okavango delta.

Okavango is the world largest inland delta at 18050 square km and you enter them in Makoros (wooden dugout canoes that are pushed by long sticks/poles by locals). The Delta is home to numerous elephants and is the only place in the world were lions have adapted to the wet lands by learning how to swim so they can attack their prey as it moves from island to island. It is the only place were lions attack elephants. Elephants btw are everywhere in Botswana there are about 220000 of which 135000 are in Chobe national park alone.

So we sailed 30km deep into the Delta for three days of no water, electricity or civilisation. Our relief from the sun and heat was swimming in a Hippo Pool which first required the Polers (those who pole the canoes ) would go in to make sure there were no crocodiles or Hippos in the vicinity. it was a beautiful experience and the sunset from the makoro while surrounded by lily pads and great people is one of my favourite experiences in life and I wish I still had my USB so I could upload some of them for you.

Once we got out of the Delta we proceeded to Shower first and foremost and then drove into Namibia from where I am writing to you now. Our first day was spent in Etosha National Park at Namutoni. This is Africa’s oldest game park at 104 years old. And here is also how you can tell we are losing our minds. The entry gate had bathrooms we used with the first automatic hand dryers I have seen since July – Naturally I spent about 10 mins taking about 43 photos – sad I know. but it brings tears of joy to our eyes.

In Etosha we had another overnight of Bush camping where 6 of us staying up talking till about 12 and then a couple of us walked over to the watering hole to watch the animals, it was incredible to see various species of birds at night plus elephants and hyenas coming around. On our way back to the tents we spotted a leopard parading around about 100m from our tents. I was personally super excited as it was my first leopard sighting and completed by big five some of the others were a bit more apprehensive. Either way the next morning we took off for our game drive and almost immediately spotted the same leopard followed by the rest of the big five all within an hour and a half. We even got to see a dead giraffe, sadly we missed the actual kill but saw the aftermath and eight very satisfied lions relaxing next to the dead giraffe, This park proved to be the most successful out of the last two months just with the sheer number of animals we saw not only did we get the big five and all the rhinos but we saw about 80 different birds and impala and springbok by the hundreds.

From Etosha we left to Cheetah Park where a family of Namibians runs about 1300 acres of land (80 percent of this country is farm land – population is only 2.4 million) and on their property they have about 14 cheetahs they keep in the wild and feed zebra to daily, it was cool they drove us out in vehicles so we could film the feedings and take ridiculously close photos. But the main attraction is that they keep three cheetahs as house pets. On their property, in their backyard and they allowed us into their home to play with the cats, they act like big dogs biting you and running around (seeing a cheetah sprint was fucken cool). Though I love cats and seeing animals like this, the cheetahs gave me the world allergic reaction I have ever had so I had to cut my time with them short.

From there we went to Spitzkoppe which is really neat rock formation in the middle of the Namib desert. This was our last night of bush camping and my favourite so far. We were smack in the middle of the desert surrounded by these giant rocks (tallest at 1720 m ) and it reminded me alot of Petra but more so of the game Zelda, naturally a few of us decided to try to climb them, so three of us took the two hour trip up to the summit (we started at 1038m asl) and then decided to join the other 8 for a slightly smaller climb at about 40 m for a sunset that was incredible as the red in the rock really began to be lit up as the sun set lower and lower. it was beautiful and now that I am only travelling as a group of 10 it was nice and intimate to sit around a camp fire, have a cup of tea, roast marshmallows and slowly look back to everything the last two months has brought my way. This part of my tour is coming to an end in 7 days before I start my own thing in South Africa. it is very bittersweet because while I am sick of the overland truck and camping, I have made amazing friends and have experienced more than I ever imagined… but I am looking forward to going across south Africa on my own (well I will spend most of it with Ben, Handri and Mike) but it will be nice for all of us to decided our own schedule and wake up time. But yes that was Spitzkoppe it was heaven for me, even though I think on photos it looks closer to hell with all the red but it was perfect and after a late night over the fire we woke up for our drive today to Swakopmund where I am now and where I just had an amazing day. First by walking over to the Atlantic Ocean but most importantly because for the first time in my life I went skydiving.

I recommend everybody does it – I wont lie I was sick to my stomach going up as it was just Michael and I with our two instructors and camera men in a plane with one side fully open, but as I was nervously twitching and freaking out my instructor made sure to calm me before he pushed me out of the plane so I could enjoy the 10000ft drop over the Namib desert. It was spectacular; we got to see the ocean, the desert as well as the skeleton coast and the world’s largest dunes.

I loved it, but am now tired after a heavy night and fully charged day. We are about to head out for a fresh seafood dinner (gotta love the Atlantic) before a good nights sleep in time for tomorrows full day of Sand boarding.

My apologies my emails are getting lame, at this point its more of a diary – though not quite just yet

I hope you’re all well and happy thanksgiving to the Canadians… I suggest after turkey you go jump out of a plane.

Xoxo

lil miss planet