So, I'm not sure how I find myself in situations where comfort levels are low, but every few years I go crazy and do something silly - like book a camping trip in Africa! I know I am not cut out for camping - have never enjoyed it, yet I continue to punish myself by doing crazy things! To be fair, when Mel invited me to come on a trip and meet her in Africa - I just said yes, because I just needed to be away, so I never even read the itinerary really - just skimmed over it - yeah you get to see wildlife, and sand dunes and it will be fun - ok sure I am in! Ha
Firstly, let me give my idea of the pros and cons of camping with a group of people you have never met or chosen to be friends with:
You really get to see some amazing places in the world! It really is the only way to get out there and have a true, local experience!
Dirt, dust, smelly drop toilets, hygiene levels at minimal, cold showers if you are lucky, waking up at 4-5am so you can take the damn tent down, pack it up and get to somewhere amazing before the sun comes up!
Traveling with a group of unknown people is always concerning - as Forrest Gump once said - you never know what you're going to get... There is always one or two people who don't help out, who take all the food first and leave none for the rest, or who ask stupid, stupid questions to the guide!! Remind me to tell you about Rosemary the American with a Gluten intolerance that was not actually an intolerance after all - because I busted her scoffing into a bag of chips on the bus one day....I did teach her some Aussie expressions that day!
Enough said - this trip was a 10day Namibian explorer camping trip with wild dogs’ safaris - starting in Windhoek - the capital city!
We saw some amazing things on this trip and the first day set the scene! We headed out in an overland truck each day - for an average journey of about 350km a day. First stop was at Africat cheetah and leopard habitat - where they rehabilitate injured and orphaned animals and release them back to the wild wherever possible. Here we got to see free roaming cheetah and leopard - which is truly amazing and worth the drive just for that! What I didn't foresee, was that by trying to get a cheetah selfie, I would lean in too close to the electric fence and basically walk straight into it!! Free perms! I have never been electrocuted before, and thankfully for me the voltage was only 220v so it was a strong zap and left horizontal burn marks down my thigh, but not a lethal dose!! It was a severe wake up call to pay more attention while out and about in the bush!! I don't fancy getting that zap again!! There is always a good story with me in your group – and my near death electrocution both horrified and made my African tour leader hysterical… by this stage, he had already figured out that I was the stand-up comedian in the group, so thought it was quite funny, and I’m pretty sure I saw him texting his kids that this crazy Aussie just walked into an electric fence trying to get a selfie with a cheetah… Oh damn that was me
We stayed at some amazing places, got annoyed by a few people here and there ( again – ask me about Rosemary and her safari suit) - went for a swim atop a boulder mountain, climbed humongous sand dunes until our calf muscles screamed for us to stop but when we did, we were amazed at the sheer beauty of the country and all of the contrasts it brings - sand, surf, seals, Safari - you just can't beat it for an African destination!
For me, a third time African tourist, I will never forget coming across a pride of 7 lions as they feasted on a huge giraffe that they had taken down the previous day... Jackals circling to see when they would get their cut of the kill, and other giraffes looking on with fear - unsure as to how to get to the waterhole for a much-needed drink, without becoming the next feast like their fallen comrade...
The circle of life is very evident in Namibia - animals each have a place at watering holes and bow backwards in respect to those animals who deserve pride of place or first dibs.... It's incredible to see, and often only seen while out in the dirty, dusty wildness I just swore off for life - until next time that is!
For now, it's a hot shower in a hotel, a dinner of local fare including springboks, zebra, wilder beast, oryx steaks etc and the circle of life is complete!
Next stop - Zambia - a private reserve if you don't mind - none of that dirty camping for me - until the next time anyway!
So, here I go again!