Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vic Falls, Chobe and the Okavango Delta!!

Victoria Falls – I love you!  You were amazing, as I always knew you would be.
A great time was had by all at Victoria Falls and the falls themselves are stunning. It is dry season at the moment, so the falls were not at their fullest, but still powerful. We checked it out from the Zambia side and the Zimbabwe side. Vic Falls is activity central… you can get up to all sorts of fun stuff! We went for a pretty amazing walk with lions and I finally got a chance to pet a fully grown lion (well she was almost fully grown - 2). The patting was done with a sharp eye kept on your exit route at all times, as they were quite lively lioness.
We went for a sunset cruise down the Zambezi River, cocktail in hand, with hippos popping up now and then to eyeball us and elephants cooling off in the river nearby.
We also checked out Livingstone Island on top of Victoria Falls, and the Devils Pools….which is a fab little natural swimming hole perched on top of the falls. Jumping in and leaning over the edge to check out the falls, falling away to a 182 metre drop below, was pretty sweet… The guide did have a hold of my ankle, both my hubby and I survived, so I guess it is pretty safe…. I did find out later that a few people have gone over the edge over the years….some never to be found again….. 

After a few lovely days spent on the Zambezi River, we were off again…headed to Botswana and Chobe National Park….Botswana is a beautiful country, full of friendly people and kids waving like crazy from the road side as we pass. A morning game drive through Chobe National park got us extremely up close to a herd of elephants. Big moment for me as I am a huge elephant fan!
A sunset cruise on the Chobe River brought us up close and personal to everything from hippos, to crocks eating a hippo, to seriously cantankerous looking buffalo, to again herds and herds of elephants, and plenty of birdlife. 

Next (after a long, long drive) onto bush camping in the Okavango Delta. The Delta is a maze of rivers and reed covered swampland. Our mode of transport to get to our island camp was via Moroko (a canoe like boat, crafted out of a tree trunk). It was without doubt the most relaxing way to travel….making our way slowly through lapping lily covered water, reeds parting at the bow of the boat with the odd spider being surprised and knocked of its perch by your passing and trying to crawl up your nose or nest in your shoe… and did I mention the sun drenched lapping water?? Well I certainly enjoyed it!
On an evening game walk, we came across elephants, zebras and antelope…also a pretty amazing sunset. Dinner was had around the camp fire and our local guides had a grand old time singing some local African songs and getting their dance on. It was brill!

So now we are headed through Namibia to the capital city Windhoek for dinner and some festivities…. (festivities depending on how drunk we get =)  Thinking about upgrading to a room….camping, the African heat and a long days driving don’t always go to well together!

Tomorrow we are heading further into the desert for some sand boarding and quad biking on the dunes of the Kalahari Desert.

Till next time
xxx Sal 

 Victoria Falls!!

 About to jump in to the Devils Pools, above the falls!

 Hanging over the edge of Devils was an amazing experience.
Both Brett and I loved it.

The Devils Pools from Zimbabwe side...if you look closely you can see some people sitting in the pools!

  Drawing (with watercolour pencils) of the stunning acacia trees that dot Africa.

 View from Zambezi River cruise.

 Getting up close with the lions!

 Brett about to lose his hand, on our lion walk!

Cutest monkey ever!

Random art journal sketch =)

Yep, another zebra....what can i say....I LOVE zebras!

.....more zebras....watercolour pencil sketch from my art journal.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Serengeti, Zanzibar and Malawi....what a ride!!!

Jumbo = Hello in Swahili.

Well the journey continues....We are on our way through Malawi to Livingstone/Victoria Falls....a place I have wanted to go since my teenage years....but let’s start with the last week or so first.  =)

After The Masai Mara we headed to the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater.
The Serengeti is the Swahili word for "never ending plains", and they certainly hit that oneon the head! African sunburnt plains, dotted with Acacia trees and animals as far as the eye can see.....our days here consisted of game drives, where we tracked down 4 lionesses with 5 cubs between them, creepy Hyenas (they always look like they are about to get up to something), and saw a black Rhino (from a distance, so I don't think that really counts) along with a host of other critters big and small.

As for the Ngorogoro Crater, besides the jaw dropping landscapes, there was such an abundance of wildlife.... we saw Zebra a plenty, Giraffes grazing, Mama and Baby Elephants, Wildebeest lounging around and eyeballing us out of curiosity every time we got near.....which was a lot as they liked to set up camp scattered across the dirt road. Ancient Water Buffalos, some amazing birdlife including lots of Ostriches, caught a few doing there mating dance (highly entertaining), and a pack of 10 lions and lioness taking it easy in the mid-day heat.
The crater itself (it’s actually a caldera, not a the top of the Volcano fell in on itself and did not pop like a cork) goes from an eerie landscape of twisted and gnarled, red dirt covered Acacia trees, with barren mountains looming in the a rainbow of muted earthy colours at inner salt lake, with the pop of Zebras standing lush jungle around lakes. Everything a fauna and flora colour obsessed girl could want! It was just friggen brill!!
I have been so inspired by the reds/yellows/oranges....and the 300 million shades in-between! 

After our days of games drives we headed off down the long track to Zanzibar, a stunning tropical Island off the coast of Tanzania. We stayed in the main city of Stone Town for 1 night, Stone Town has a very strong Muslim influence and for this reason has such an array of stunning architecture. I have a fetish with beautiful old doors....and Stone Town has them a plenty, so I went a little snap happy! =)
Day 2 on Zanzibar, our group headed up the coast for some beach side action/accommodation for 2 nights...I somehow convinced Brett to hire a car, and we made our way over the seriously crazy roads (Asian roads you have nothing on the African roads) over to the east coast to track down a restaurant that I had spied an image on the net about a year ago, and had vowed someday, somehow to go.... So once we figured out the name of the restaurant "The Rock" and the general direction of it, we were off....and yes my lovely hubby Brett was a little stressed! It was well worth it though...idealic, and sitting on an old coral bed a stone’s throw across the water from the beach sat the restaurant, stunning surroundings and the food and wine were marvellous!  =)
After lunch we joined our crew on the north of the Island for snorkelling, swimming and someserious relaxing time....a few more days there would have been just perfect....but alas we were off again, this time heading to Malawi and Lake Malawi.

It was a couple of long days of driving and pitching our tents in the dark. There were lots of very happy campers indeed when we finally got to Kande Beach in Malawi. 3 nights in the most beautiful location on the white sandy beaches of Lake Malawi where we got ourselves a lovely room and proceeded to seriously enjoy some downtime. =) I Went for a lovely horse ride with Carly (a tour mate) through the forest, finishing up along the beach, where with we jumped in the lake bareback with the horses for a swim.
We checked out the local Village, school and hospital, made plenty of donations and will be sending a percentage of sales from my (fingers crossed) upcoming Art Exhibition at the end of the year to the school, to sponsor a child through primary school... there are a lot of Orphans in Malawi due to HIV and Malaria. Even children with a family base struggle to afford school uniform and basic school books and stationary, for that reason a lot of kids don't even get a few years of primary school education. The Malawi children were just lovely, I even wanted to put a few in my pocket and take them home with me....and I certainly never say that about any old kid!
The Malawi people are extremely friendly, happy and unassuming.... which is lovely and also a little amazing as life here is quite hard and very basic, the feeling I got though is if you have a roof over your head and some food in your belly, you are doing ok! 
In Malawi, I finally got some time to paint (painting and journaling on a moving truck on the extremely bumpy African roads has proved to be a hard feat) and journal, so I will do my damnedest to get some photos up of how my art journal for the next blog....this one comes with plenty of fab photos from our trip so far.

 Baby Baboon bum, Serengeti

 Curious Giraffe, Serengeti
Mumma Lion, Serengeti

Cute as a button cubs, Serengeti

Brett, in our you can see he barely fits is quite funny watching him getting in and out!

Impala (I love the "What the??" look on his face), Serengeti

Yep, thats right....we saw a lepoard!!!! Serengeti

Pretty Bird (not its official name), Serengeti

.....Nap's a hard life on the plains!!! Serengeti

 Funny as all hell Ostriche....I will be doing a drawing of this one for sure!!, Ngorogoro Crater
Stunning?? I think so =) Ngorogoro Crater 

 Wilderbeast, Ngorogoro Crater

One of my first loves....Zebras, Ngorogoro Crater

 Sketching and painting the stunning back drop, Ngorogoro Crater


Doors to die for, Zanzibar

 "The Rock" Zanzibar....brilliant restaurant, check it out if you are in the area...and if not...head to the area to check it out!!

 Malawi, Horse surfing

 Getting some love from my horse, Malawi

Seriously cute Malawi kids.

So next stop Livingstone....where we will be cursing down the Zambezi River, checking out the Victoria Falls and hopefully go for a walk with lions... all depending on how far our money will go.

So ladies and gents, till next time....

xxx Sal