Panorama Preview of Namibia

I’ve been home from my trip since September 5th and frankly, I’m still so overwhelmed with how amazing Namibia was that I’m having a hard time condensing all my thoughts down into legible and concise thoughts. And…of course processing several thousand photos takes time.

So, here is a brief glimpse of what’s to come:

BlogNamKhomasHocklandExcarpmentPano

 

BlogNamibiaKhomasHocklandpano2

BlogSossusvleipano

Can you tell I love panorama compositions?

Enjoy!

Dipping My Toe into the Solo Travel Waters

The freedom of solo travel

The first time I ever traveled solo was the day I stepped off the train into Salzburg, Austria in the fall of 2000. I broke the first rule of solo travel safety by demonstrating that I was an obviously lost tourist as I opened the large noisy map and studied it closely. Thankfully, a small older woman quickly pointed me in the right direction and I was on my way. I loved Salzburg. I had a wonderful time viewing areas I’d been long admiring in the movie The Sound of Music. I returned to Munich and reunited with my friends later that night.

While I’m not quite a solo travel virgin, my upcoming trip will challenge my ability to travel without anyone I know. My first few days, I’ll be on my own just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been to the Cape Town area before. It’s a beautiful city where people are very friendly. This is where I have scheduled the cage diving with the great white sharks. There is a BIG smile on my face just thinking about it.

Then, I head to Namibia where I’ll meet up with fellow travelers I’ve never met who are joining me on the safari. There will be a maximum of eight people and our guide. So, my first solo trip isn’t really solo. It was a good compromise to help me begin the adjustment.

My love of travel has taken me to many exotic places, some of them are locations where very few people I know want to go. The trips are usually about two weeks long and can be expensive. I save and plan my vacations around these opportunities to travel. For me, the choice is to learn to travel on my own for those times when my travel buddies can’t come, or to just not go. I don’t consider delaying or missing an opportunity to travel a good option, so I’m on the path for solo travel.

I’m not someone who minds being alone, as a matter of fact, I’m an introvert so I need this time to recharge. I’m also single, so I’m used to doing things alone at times, like eating out and going to the movies. Still, I am a bit nervous about not having someone else to rely on when traveling in other countries.

Luckily, there are women who have already traveled this road and are very happy they did. Here are just a couple of my favorite solo travelers who inspire me and provide great information for those of us on the same path.

Journey Woman

Solo Travel

This trip is an adventure in many ways and I’m excited to get started. Let the countdown continue…

Is solo travel something you’ve ever considered? Any tips?

Ebola and My Trip to Africa

Illustration of the Ebola virus

I’ve been asked numerous times this week whether or not I’m afraid to go on my upcoming trip to Namibia and South Africa with the current Ebola outbreak on the African continent. My answer is no, for the following reasons.

I spoke with Ian from the Africa Adventure Company yesterday to finalize a few details on my trip. I asked him what impact they have been seeing. At this time, he isn’t aware of any travelers who have cancelled their plans, but people are asking if there are specific things they should be aware of while they travel.

Many countries in Africa rely heavily on tourism and if the ebola virus spreads or if travelers panic and refuse to visit, it will be a financial catastrophe for each of those countries. I’m not surprised they are taking it seriously. Not just because of the financial implications, but because they want to protect their citizens.

Will I be taking some precautions? Yes.

  • I’ll be wiping down hard surfaces on the airplane with anti-bacterial wipes. I’m still doing research on which wipes I’ll purchase. I’m not sure if it will help, but it certainly won’t hurt.
  • As always, I’ll be vigilant about washing my hands throughout the trip.
  • There are experts in all these countries that have far more knowledge than I do, so I’ll be listening and acting on the instructions provided at the airport and other locations.

I can’t even begin to imagine the horror and sadness of those impacted by the Ebola Virus in Sierre Leon, Guinea and Liberia. Just following the headlines will tell some of the story. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone suffering from this terrible virus.

Ebola Outbreak Instills Terror in West African Families

As I write about my trip, I’ll be including what I’m seeing and experiencing relating to the impact of this outbreak in the countries I’m visiting. Please sign up to be notified of new posts if you are interesting in following along. 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

driving on the left side

My International Driver’s Permit is in hand. Watch out world!

It was surprising how easy it was to get. I’m not quite sure what I imagined, but a passport style photo, a valid driver’s license from my state of Colorado and payment were the only requirements. I walked into my AAA office and fifteen minutes later, I had my permit.

Now comes the more difficult part, actually driving on the other side of the road on my trip to Africa. I’ve never done it before. I’ve always been the passenger. So this will be one of the adventures associated with my trip. Not only learning a new way to drive, but doing it alone in another country. So how to begin? By Googling it of course.

Here are the tips I’ve found so far:

  • Follow the other traffic
  • Write a note reminding myself to stay to the left and tape it on the dashboard
  • Confirm I’m driving an automatic so I don’t have to think about using a stick shift on the opposite side at the same time I’m concentrating on staying on the left side of the line
  • Add GPS to the car rental so I easily know how to get to my location
  • Think “hard left, wide right”
  • Keep the center line on the driver’s side

While I’m nervous, I’m also excited. South Africa seems like a great place to start. Once I get used to it there, it will be much easier to drive when I travel to England and Ireland where the roads are much narrower and the rock walls much less forgiving.

Here’s one of the YouTube videos that gave some great tips and pointers:


Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?

I’m About to Experience a Jaws Moment

Jaws Great White Shark
DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

I can hear it. The music intensifies the sense of horror involved when something you can’t see is swimming up from beneath you. I was sixteen years old when Jaws was released in theaters. It was a terrifying movie and I loved every minute. I saw it many times then and I watch it at least once a year when it’s on cable. It’s still a great movie.

I contemplated going to school for marine biology after being introduced to the great white shark. Instead I researched wild life management and then settled on business related classes. Still, to this day, I’m fascinated by the oceans and great white sharks.

So, when I rescheduled my trip to Namibia for later this summer and ended up with a few extra days on the front end, my travel agent, Ian at Africa Adventure Company, suggested cage diving with the sharks as one of several alternative activities. Cage diving with great white sharks off Dyer Island in South Africa? Count me in!!

Cage diving with sharks has always been on my bucket list and thanks to Ian, it’s been booked. It’s more like cage snorkeling, but still, I’ll finally be face to face with the incredibly beautiful and dangerous creatures of the deep. Shark diving at 55? I’ve been waiting a long time. Sounds perfect.

DA…da

DA…da

DA…da

 

Sharing Incredible Moments

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
but by the moments that take your breath away.  

Unknown Author

We were up early and after a quick snack at Little Vumbura, we took a short boat ride and then climbed into our vehicle for an early morning safari. Just a few miles down the road, our guide gestured toward the ground and pointed out lion tracks. My heart began to beat a little faster. I checked my camera once again just to make sure everything was in order.

AfricaChief

A few hours later, we were still looking. We had seen so many incredible things, but none of the elusive cats. Chief, our guide, looked at his watch and suggested it was time to go back to camp for brunch.

AfricaImpala

 “Can we try a little longer, please? We didn’t come here to eat, we came to see wildlife.”

I’m not quite sure who said it, but everyone nodded their agreement. Chief just smiled and kept driving. Around the next curve was a herd of Cape Buffalo, one of them with a fresh wound on its’ hindquarters. We were close. Let me just say, Cape Buffalo are huge and incredibly intimidating. I could have watched them for hours, but we had lions waiting for us.

Cape Buffalo

A few turns later, and there they were. A pride of nine lions sleeping in the road. One of the females lifted her head briefly as we came around the corner, looked at us and went back to sleep. Talk about a moment that took my breath away…they were magnificent and we were within twenty feet of them.  It’s a moment I will never forget.

Lions

That was ten years ago and I still clearly remember the feeling of disbelief and gratitude that I was in Botswana, on a warm African morning, watching lions sleep.

AfricaLion

I have plenty of pictures and I have described that moment to people in my life. It doesn’t matter how detailed I am with my words or how many photos I share, none of them can imagine the magic of that moment. Someday soon, I’m going to take my sisters and my son to Africa. Instead of trying to describe the indescribable, I’ll going to enjoy watching them experience the moment for themselves. It’s something so special that I need to share it with them.

What moment in your life has taken your breath away? If you could, who would you share it with?

Travel Trippin’

travel to Namibia
I’m infected. It began in 2000, when my neighbors pulled out a brochure on the World’s Fair in Hanover, Germany and invited me to go along. I applied for my first passport and packed my bags. It didn’t take long to be bitten by the travel bug and…you know what happens when that occurs. The only way to keep it under control is to feed it. So each year, I’m planning a big trip and several small ones.

The BIG Trip:

The Fed Ex package packed full of all the final details came earlier this week. I completed the remaining forms, made the final payment and mailed everything back to the Africa Adventure Company. My trip to Namibia is PAID IN FULL.

Why Namibia? I knew I wanted to go back to the African continent. I traveled to the southern part of South Africa and the area around the Okavanga Delta in Botswana ten years ago. It was incredible and someday I’ll visit again. But this trip, I want to see other parts of Africa. Namibia offers such diverse environments and a chance to see white rhinos, desert adapted elephants and other fascinating wildlife.

Here’s the sample itinerary:

Great Namibian Journey Group Safari

I’ll be taking about my planning process as the trip gets closer. Check back for updates.

The SISTERS Trip:

Planning for the trip with my sister, Wendy, is ongoing with all of your great suggestions. We are so excited. We have decided to move the trip to September so we miss some of the crowds.

Here are the original options:

  • Find an event we want to attend, like a concert, and make a trip out of it.
  • Several locations in North Carolina, including the outer banks and South Port
  • Hawaii
  • Puerta Vallarta
  • Tahiti or other Caribbean Cruise
  • Alaska Cruise
  • New England road trip, possibly including Maine
  • Guatemala

We’re adding a few new destinations from your comments last week.

  • One of my favorite nieces suggested the area around Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  • Kirstin from KidsAreATrip: Flagstaff or the Sedona area of Arizona or Puerto Rico
  • Carol Cassara: A road trip in southern Florida down through the Keys

I’ve begun preliminary reviews of some of the locations. It may be difficult to stay within our $1,000 budget (not including airfare), but we’re going to give it a shot. Next week, we’ll narrow down our choices a little and then put the numbers and options together.

So that’s how my travel plans are lining up. What’s on your vacation agenda?

Previous posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure

Get Your Travel Agent Hat on- Sister’s Vacation Update