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G's Africa Travel Journal Graham's Journey to Africa. Starting with climbing Kilimanjaro, a photo safari in Kenya, followed by a 71 day overland trip from Nairobi to Cape Town via the Gorillas in Rwanda & Hot Air Balloon safari over the Serengeti.

The Beginning.........

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 1 August 2013 | Views [762]

Hi everyone!

Here is my blog or online diary of my trip of a lifetime to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania & altitude sickness allowing, a climb to the top.  Followed by a short photographic Kenyan safari to the Amboseli, Masai Mara & Lake Nakuru game parks. Then an epic 71 day overland camping trip from Nairobi in Kenya to Cape Town in South Africa.  The overland trip travels through 10 East & Central African and Southern African countries with visits to such places as the White Nile for whitewater rafting in Uganda, Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas, the Serengeti & Ngorogoro crater in Tanzania for the wildlife migrations, diving in Zanzibar, diving in Lake Malawi, the game reserves of Zambia, visit Vic Falls (again), down through my home land through Hwange (Andy the Lover will you be there?) and on to the "place of killing" (Bulawayo), before heading west into the kalahari desert of Botswana.  The desert giving way temporarily to the inland oasis of the Okavango delta before on to the harsh but stunningly beautiful Namibia. Here there are visits to the Etosha National Park, the largest seal colony in the world at Cape Cross on the Skeleton Coast, before hopefully, walking up the highest sand dunes in the world at Sosussvlei and watch them change colour under a desert sunrise (eat your heart out Karrie Taylor!).  From here the tour terminates in Cape Town where I hope to go Great White Shark Diving and just have a good look around Cape Town, a place I have always wanted to go.  All these fantastic places and too many more to list.  From here there are brief stopovers in the UK and Perth in W.A. before returning to work in Cairns - dreading it already.  Not sure I will be in the best state of mind for work when I return.
So where did I get the idea for such a trip?  Well, every since I was 14 or 15 and in the Boy Scouts in Harare, Zimbabwe we did many camping trips away to loads of fantastic places such as; the Matusadona National Park (by road!), Chimanimani and many others. We always had great stories and experiences from these trips, such as being charged by black rhino in the Matusadona (sadly there are few left now due to poaching), close encounters with elephants etc etc.  But there were always bigger & better and more epic stories of faraway places from guys who had been in the Scouts before me, before the war of Independence in Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia in the 70's put paid to any trips abroad.  Stories of epic trips to the Mulanji Mountains in Malawi, road trips to Kili from Harare, expeditions to the Mountains of the Moon (Ruwenzori) in Zaire, now the DRC and so on.  These stories sent my mind racing and thinking of all the places I wanted to visit.  All the things i wanted to do. I soon had an African bucket list in my head.  Combine this with a love of African wildlife, photography and a bit of hill walking it is my ideal trip! And hopefully, I will get to meet up with some old friends scattered throughout Africa along the way. Life is not a dress rehearsal! Do want you want to, when you want to (within reason) or you may never get around to doing it.  It has taken me over 20 years to be in the position to do this trip, but I can do it now, so here goes!
So why a blog?  Well I am unlikely to be able to do a trip like this in the future - as I will be permanently skint from now on, and I want to be able to look back on a diary of my trip and say "remember when I did/ saw that"!  So many people have been interested in my trip and have been asking loads of questions (with little attempt to hide their jealousy - haha) that writing this may save me explaining loads of things repeatedly.  I will try and include as much info as I can (especially for Mikaela & Narelle) and add in some links and photos.  Not sure how it will turn out - hopefully my writing style is not too boring? I am sure some one will tell me if it is? If you get a mention, take it as a compliment. Matt de Lange - "feeling nervous"?
The beginnings.  I made the decision in November 2012 I was going to do the trip and started looking different things up online for hour after hour.  Trying to find a Kili trip that tied up with an overland trip, that were both cheap was a major problem. However, I eventually found 2.  Firstly a trip with G-Adventures up Kili on the Machame route. They were the cheapest and came highly recommended. You are in trouble if they are rubbish KT! The overland trip is with Dragoman, 71 days from Nairobi to Cape Town, trip AUW on their website of you google it.  That left me 5 days in between to find something to do.  I looked at trips to Zanzibar, Tanzanian Safari's but all were too expensive. I eventually found a company, highly recommended on Trip Advisor called Kenya Espresso Safaris and planned a short safari with them.  Once I had all my plans I then phoned the companies to book but found i was on a waiting list for the overland trip.  Nightmare! They eventually emailed me one night saying that they had a spot and I had to book urgently before someone else took it!  Unfortunately I had been having a few beers with the Freedom crew and was slightly worse for wear when making my booking. Thankfully the booking lady in London was very patient when I told her I was drunk and had to read out my credit card number 3 or 4 times! Matt Q, I blame you! Waking up in the morning with a hangover and finding you have booked the trip of a lifetime is an instant cure.  Not sure if it was the excitement or the terror of what I had done that cured me?
A couple of weeks later - Bloody hell! While lying in bed after a big Paddy's Day & Night out session the sudden awful realisation hit me! I have to climb a big mountain later in the year so I better get fit! I consolled my self withe the fact that at least I wasn't as bad as Gordo G would have been that morning - haha! So started running, swimming, cycling and hill walking.  Also trying to keep up with Sez (my flatmate) with her triathlon training & failing. But thanks to Sez & Kel for all the training, oh and to Robbie and Big John for their hardcore watching.  
So many things to do and plan when you go on a 4 month trip.  Money, insurance (with medical evac from altitude), equipment, camera gear, warm clothing, desert clothing, first aid kits, drugs, syringes, needles etc in case I am unwell in remote areas, mask & snorkel etc etc.  The list goes on!  Lots of things you don't originally budget for, for example A$600 on various vaccinations.  Thermal underwear - not a normal requirement for Cairns.  Sleeping bag for down to minus 20 degrees on Kili but you can use in the Zambezi valley in October in 40 degrees plus, then back to below freezing in the Namib desert at night! (I have 2 by the way.) And everything has to be light! Very light! That immediately means expensive.  Light on Kili and light on the truck as you can only have 20kg for 71 days.  By the time my camera gear was in I only had space for minimal clothing, so wear it until it rots, then replace it with some article of African high fashion.  I will look good when I arrive in the UK.  I think I am prepared???? I even have a big envelope to post some of mountain kit back to Cairns so I not have to take it all over Africa.  Are post offices reliable in Africa - I think not, so we shall see if it arrives. Where ever possible I have tried to take things that can be used for 2 purposes, e.g. I have a small dive torch that can be used for diving obviously but also for day to day use.  Carrying money in Africa is a big worry, so secret pockets sewn inside shorts & trousers. I am carrying an old mobile phone and an old wallet you can hand over if held up. Thanks Jas! Hopefully no muggers reading this.
For all you photo buffs (Mel, Kel, Karl, Kat, Paul M etc etc) out there I am taking a pile of gear, just not as much as I would like. 
Sony A580 16.8mp DSLR, 17-35mm f2.8 zoom, 28-75mm f2.8 zoom, 70-400mm f4 SSM zoom, 50mm f1.4 prime, 50mm f2.8 1:1 macro with ring flash, 2, 4 & 8 stop ND grad filters, Polarising filters, Carbon Fibre tripod with pistol grip head, 6 batteries, Numerous SD & Memory Stick cards, Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charger for camera batteries when off the beaten track, an intravalometer release and a Canon s100 with Fisheye FIX marine housing for when diving.  
Obviously I can't take a camera bag when climbing Kili so I purchased a removable camera bag liner from eBay for $20 and can convert my Kili rucksack into a camera bag when i am off the big hill & on safari.  No doubt there will be something I wish I had with me but there is only so much you can carry.  Hopefully my photos turn out ok! Will let you know how the kit goes too.
So thats all the preamble out the way.  I should have uploaded it weeks ago but not had the time. 


Tags: altitude, dragoman, g adventures, hiking, holiday, kenya espresso safaris, kilimanjaro, photography, trekking, wildlife


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