2023 marks my 11th year of travel blogging, with 25 trips that have made it to the blog (not counting the miscellaneous ones under the “Life in Northern California” category). As I enter my 2nd decade of travel writing, it seems fitting to hit a new continent: Africa.
The last big trip we did – and by big I mean at least 2 weeks – was in France last year about the same time: last week of May, first week of June. This one will be 3 weeks, which I haven’t done since 2014. We leave on May 21 and return on June 9. Many of you know that Ash has been in Paris for the last 4 weeks. He’s had four different friends join him on that trip at different times and looks like they all had a great time. Some people think it’s weird that he goes without me but it works on a number of levels. As long as I have a “job”, I just won’t get to travel as much as he wants to and I have no reason to get in the way of him going. Although he’s sweet about asking first, in case it’s someplace I don’t want him to go without me. For the most part there aren’t any because those trips are scouting trips for him so he’ll have a better idea of what we can do when we go together.
Him going without me also helps manage the differences between his extreme extroversion and my extreme introversion. We hadn’t been apart for a significant period of time since he’d gone to Paris last year 3 weeks ahead of me joining him. When he left this year on May 16, I admit I Couldn’t Wait for him – and #zeusthetinylab – to be gone. I described that first week alone to some friends as “healing.” (Sshhh – don’t tell Ash I said that!) But by the beginning of week 4 I was like “Ok, 5 weeks is a Really Long Time to be apart.” So I can say I actually miss him, which is unusual for me but there you have it. So it makes this upcoming adventure that much more exciting.
Ash is always asking me if I’m excited about some upcoming trip, and I never am until it’s about a week away. Well that day is today. I’ve had a completely unstructured day today which is very unusual, and have gotten a lot done, including doing some prep for this trip putting the backyard in order. I noticed this morning when I was watering that it wasn’t very inviting to our Airbnb guests so after a 5 mile walk I cleaned it up quite a bit. And now I’m enjoying it myself, sitting out here writing this entry.
Next Saturday evening I take a redeye flight to Newark where I will meet up with Ash. He leaves Paris tomorrow and will spend the week in Washington, DC, where he will leave Zeus with friends for our trip to Africa. I have a 12-hour layover in Newark so we’ve arranged to have lunch with our friends Jonathan & DeWayne in NYC, who you’ve met on each of our last trips there. We have 3pm tickets to see Kimberly Akimbo and afterwards we head back to the Newark airport to catch our direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
We will be there for 4 nights and then fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where we pick up the 10-day Botswana & Zimbabwe Safari led by National Geographic.
This is the map of the adventure from the official itinerary page. While “African Safari” was somewhere on my bucket list, I can’t say it’s what I would’ve done next if it wasn’t for Ash. It was high on his list, specifically going to the Okavango Delta which is “home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion” according to UNESCO. Climate change is causing the delta to shrink so Ash wants to make sure we see it before it disappears. No time like the present.
Above is the map I drew in Google just to give you a broader sense of where we will be. We end in Maun, and from there go to Cape Town on the southern tip of the continent. We will stay there about 5 days and the head home.
This trip hits a number of “firsts” for me:
- First time in Africa
- First time south of the equator (it will be Fall-heading-into-Winter there)
- First time I’ve been required to get “emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance” (at $200,000 per person no less)
- First time I’ll be on this kind of guided tour, where lodging and most meals are covered
- First time I’ve been required to significantly limit the weight of luggage (15kg or 33lbs)
- First time that Wi-Fi isn’t guaranteed – National Geographic has been very noncommittal about that (and other things); so if I’m not able to blog every day – which would be another First! – that’s likely why (as opposed to being eaten by a rhino…)
- First time I had to talk with healthcare professionals about yellow fever and malaria risks (thankfully low in this part of the continent)
Some of this will be a first for Ash, as well. He has been to Johannesburg and Cape Town, but the rest will be new.
We are very excited and of course look forward to you joining us on what will be perhaps the most amazing adventure yet.