Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Fourth Musketeer Visits Africa

No book review today--just an announcement that the Fourth Musketeer will soon be leaving on safari for three weeks in Africa--my first ever trip to that fascinating continent!  I will be "off the grid" during that time--no e-mail or blogging.

On Saturday, I am flying from Los Angeles to Johannesberg, and after a night's rest in a hotel, my college friend J. and I will be flying to Botswana, where we will be spending 10 nights in three different safari camps in the Okavango Delta, one of the world's most sought-after tourist destinations (at least according to the Botswana tourism office!).

Why Botswana?  OK, I admit it, I've been a serious fan of Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe and the #1 Ladies Detective Agency since the series' inception in 1998, and have been dreaming of visiting that country ever since.  We won't be visiting Mma Ramotswe's hometown, Gabarone, but instead we will be visiting Sandibe, Okuti, and Shinde, all very small safari camps that have no more than a handful of guests at a time.  From there we'll be flying to Victoria Falls, known as a sight of "awe-inspiring beauty."  Unfortunately we will miss the moon rainbow (I had never heard of such a thing) by just a day or two but while we're there we're going on a elephant back safari and also on a microlight plane trip over the falls, among other activities.

We'll be staying nearby on the banks of the Zambezi River at the Waterberry Lodge, where we'll be able to go on cruises down the river to see hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and the like.  From there we'll be flying back to South Africa to spend four nights in Cape Town, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Weather permitting, we're hoping to go on a white shark cage diving excursion (I may be staying on the boat!), see the sights of Cape Town, including taking the cable car up Table Mountain, and perhaps even do some shopping!  

microlight flight over Victoria Falls

cable car over Table Mountain, Cape Town
We have already booked a township tour with the Uthando nonprofit, which takes visitors on philanthropic cultural tours, visiting the projects that receive funding and other forms of assistance from Uthando and its benefactors, and a city tour with Footsteps to Freedom tour which concentrates on the cultural and historical hot spots in Cape Town.  We will be staying at the lovely looking Cape Heritage Hotel.

white shark cage diving in Gansbaii, South Africa
I will be travelling to Africa with two suitcases, a small carry-on which will go with me to Botswana, but, since I didn't want to waste my free check-in bag up to 50 pounds, I'll be lugging a large suitcase full of children's books to donate in Cape Town which will wait for me in storage at the South Africa airport. Through Books for Africa, I found Help2Read, a Cape Town volunteer literacy organization in which volunteers help primary school students one-to-one with their reading; they recruit, train, and support the adult volunteers and also provide boxes of fun books for the kids to read, and they are happy to take any books I bring with me.  My 8-year old nephew has donated some soccer balls which will go to the Uthando charity for the township kids.  And for Botswana, I will be packing some new children's underwear, pencils and erasers, which have been specifically requested by Bana Ba Letsatsi (Sunshine Children), an orphanage in nearby Maun, through the charity Pack with a Purpose.  They ask travelers to developing countries to designate 5 pounds of their luggage allowance to bring items needed by community-based children's projects around the world.  What a great idea!

I've been lucky to do a lot of travelling in my younger single days but this is my first major trip abroad in many years--so many in fact that my new passport replaced one from 1979.  Thanks to the wonderful travel agents from Expert Africa for helping to put together this trip--I look forward to blogging about it and sharing some photos when I get back!

Sala sentle! (that's goodbye, or literally stay well, in Setswana, the native language of Botswana)

giraffes in the Okavango Delta


Tina's Blog said...

I am so, so jealous! What a fabulous trip! I can't wait to hear all about it when you return.

Abby said...

Margo, that sounds like a fabulous trip! Have fun and take lots of pictures! :D Travel safe!

Alex said...

Africa is one of my dream places, so I hope you have the best time ever and it is truly wonderful. Bon Voyage!

PragmaticMom said...

What a wonderful trip. Can't wait to hear more!

Irene Latham said...

Oh happy travels! This is dream of mine, and you will be living it!! So happy for you. Take lots of pictures and journal so you don't forget.

Debbie Ann said...

Did you fall in love w Africa? I did - we went to Kruger National Park, Uganda, Joburg and Cape Town. I have some of the same photos. Thanks for the link to Pack w a Purpose - we are headed back soon hopefully and will take some things to donate. (sister of JudithT)

Jeff Rivera said...

I love travels. You are so lucky! I haven't gone in Africa yet but it's on my list. I am looking forward to your next posts.

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