Amy's Itinerary in Brief
Diverse Namibia Safari (modified to suit group preferences)
(9 Nights/10 Days)
2 nights Kulala Adventurer Camp, Sossusvlei / Namibia
1 night Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund / Namibia
3 nights Damaraland Adventurer Camp, Damaraland / Namibia
2 nights Ongava Tented Camp, Etosha / Namibia
1 night Olive Grove Guesthouse, Windhoek / Namibia
3 nights Xigera Camp, Okavango Delta / Botswana
3 nights Toka Leya Camp, Livingstone / Zambia
My safari truly began when our Namibia guide, Rosta, said, "Sometimes it's hot, sometimes it rains. It's okay, because what are you going to do about it?" He very well have meant, "Suck it up, Americans", but what I heard was a message of finding inner peace through acceptance. The noise from my plugged-in life went silent and there was nothing but vast, stark beauty to soak in. From there, I was happy. Time slowed down, needs were simplified and childlike awe and curiosity replaced trivial, everyday worries.
Every day, we would collectively agree that some sighting, experience or sunset could not possibly be topped and the next day a new sighting, experience or sunset would prove us wrong. We saw a lion on a morning drive, but at midnight a pride of lions surrounded our canvas tents - THEY WERE ROARING FOR HOURS! We had an elephant grazing on fruit in our camp, but then the boardwalk got in his way and he started picking it apart - EVEN STAFF WERE TAKING PHOTOS! I was amazed at not just the proximity and diversity of the animals, but the density of the different species.
The camp staff were genuine, good humored and kind, reflecting African ingenuity and character. The amount of knowledge and passion the guides demonstrated was astounding. The guides are true regional scholars, all the while providing exceptional story-telling and hospitality. They anticipated photo ops and got us in close, without damaging flora, disrupting behaviors or infringing on territories. What's more, the guides showed reverence for the animals without anthropomorphizing, creating a truly authentic wilderness experience.
As for the safari planning itself, it was phenomenal from beginning to end, including every meal, rest stop and transfer in between. Erica provided every piece of information we could have possibly needed, made itinerary changes to work in our favor, soothed anxieties and masterfully managed our time. Most importantly, she made her enthusiasm and love for Africa addictive. Erica is more like a principal conductor than a planner, and the African safari is her orchestra. That may sound schmoozy, but it is true.
We were visiting developing areas with very harsh environments. I can imagine how quickly things could go awry for a traveler with an inattentive planner. In spite of Erica's conductor status, there were a few minor, unforeseen hiccups. Those make for good stories though and "It's okay, because what are you going to do about it?"
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