Ever since I was a child I dreamed of a visit to Kruger National Park in South Africa. It was often featured on National Geographic and home to the legendary “Big 5”! With a limited time frame to take a trip and knowledge of travelling Africa, I booked a trip through G Adventures as they came highly recommended by a good friend. The Kruger/Swazi Overland was the perfect trip for me since it took me through Kruger Park and allowed me to fit other activities I wanted to do in as well.
One thing I like about G Adventures is that part of the money spent on their trips goes to their charity Planeterra which helps to support locals in the areas they travel. On this trip we spent a night at Shiloti Bush Camp outside the gates of Kruger. After setting up camp we were treated to some great food and traditional dancing around a bonfire. Together with Planeterra, Shiloti had helped to build a preschool for the local village and the next morning we were lucky enough to spend some time with the children at the preschool. They were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, and they had very little. It was this encounter with the children at the preschool that began to really change my views on the world. Having been born and raised in North America and being raised to get a good job in order to make lots of money and accumulate lots of material items, this was a real eye opener. The more I travel, the more these things lose their lustre for me and the more I crave freedom and to experience the world. Life is to short to accumulate things which you cannot take with you in the end. My thinking has definitely become about living life to the fullest, experiencing the world first hand and spending time with friends and family instead of constantly obtaining things I don’t need. I’ve recently found a quote that seems very fitting to my evolution. “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” I’m sure this has a different meaning to everyone that reads it, but travel combined with being introduced to yoga has definitely changed me for the better.
After spending some time touring the preschool and playing with the children we headed to the gates of Kruger National Park. This is what I had come to Africa for and I was ready to fulfil a longtime dream! Within seconds of entering the gate, a large Kudu bull ran across the road in front of us and there were Ostrich and Impala along the road. It didn’t end there as we spotted amazing and beautiful wildlife all throughout the day. What I truly came for were the large predators, rhino ad elephant. We were able to see almost everything we wanted, although the Leopard and Cheetah would elude us this day.
Kruger Park was everything I dreamed of, wildlife and stunning scenery. Africa truly is the land of the giants! It was how wildlife is meant to be viewed, in the wild.
For a first time traveller, G Adventures was definitely the right choice for me. The tour was well organized, and quite fast paced. Being the YOLO style of tour, which in Africa means participation camping, the days can be long and tiring but the experiences will make it all worth while. The fact that you are put into teams to cook meals, do dishes, clean and pack the truck helps to build comradery amongst the group. Their trips are also highly recommended for solo travellers, as there is no extra charge. They will provide a roommate for you. On this trip the majority of the meals were included, and although they were nothing fancy the food was quite good.
Having grown up in a small town and not having experienced much of the world outside North America I was quite nervous on this first trip. In fact, some of my family thought I might not come back alive since Africa is apparently so dangerous. Not once on this trip, or on subsequent trips to Africa have I felt threated. Just keep aware of your surroundings and don’t flash anything valuable and chances are you’ll be fine. Staying alert is key when travelling anywhere in order to stay safe. I found G Adventures staff to be amazing in helping to plan out extra details of the trip. One person in particular, Jessica Off was willing to share all kinds of advice with me for things to do during the rest of my time in South Africa as she had been there before. Her assistance really helped put me at ease and feel safe about the trip. Jess has since become a friend, and moved on the start her own company Daily Trip Hack which offers the best flight deals each day! http://www.dailytriphack.com
The world may be big, but it is not as fearsome as the news or many people will lead you to believe. Don’t be afraid to explore it and embrace the unkown. The rewards you will reap will far outweigh the risks and your life will be better for it!