Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Africa?

The question we're most often asked is, "Why Africa?" In reality, there's no one reason. We first visited the African continent when we went to South Africa in 2010. We visited friends in wine country, explored Cape Town and the southern coast, spent a week on safari in Zululand and finished by visiting friends in Johannesburg and going to a few World Cup Games.

We've traveled a lot, and there's just something about Africa that gets under your skin. We knew that we wanted to go back and see more of the continent before we even left. This idea of doing a camping/off-road safari is one we've talked about and tossed back and forth for years, and we finally decided that now is as good a time as any to do it. We've also realized that there's never a perfect time to take a trip like this, so we had to create the time and space.

If you know us well, you also know that 2012 was a really rough year. We lost far too many friends, and it provided a reality check for us that life can be much shorter than we think. We decided that this trip was too important to keep putting off, and we started planning.

We're also getting asked "how can you take so much time off work?!"

Well, I'm lucky enough to own my own business, so that makes it easy. I'm putting clients on hold over the summer and basically shutting down for three months. Easy enough. Asa is lucky enough to have worked for Ken Wright Cellars for about 9 years now, and he approached Ken to talk to him about this trip last year. Ken and Karen Wright have generously agreed to give Asa a 3-month sabbatical, which is how we can take this time off. We'll be back in time for Asa to help with harvest in the fall.

We're still planning the trip, but here's what we do know:

We're renting a 4x4 Land Rover with a tent on top - this will be our home for most of June, all of July and August, and most of September:

Sleeping on top keeps us away from insects, snakes and lions.

We're hoping for off-road adventures like this.

We're still working on setting our route, but our plan as of now is to begin in Johannesburg, where we'll visit our friends Gavin and Dia and pick up the Land Rover. For those of you who are curious, here's the first part of our route:

June 22nd: Leave Johannesburg
June 23rd: Kuruman, South Africa
June 24th-25th: Fish River Canyon, Namibia
June 26th: Luderiz, Namibia (apparently this is a Bavarian style village on the ocean!)
June 27th-28th: Sossuvlei, Namibia
June 29th: Swakopmund, Namibia
June 30th: Brandberg White Lady, Namibia
July 1st: Abu Huab, Namibia
July 2nd: Kamanjab Game Park, Namibia
July 3rd-5th: Epupa Falls, Namibia
July 6th: Van Zyls Pass/Marienfluss Valley
July 7th-9th: Etosha National Park
July 10th: Grootfontein, Namibia
July 11th: Cross into Botswana

Is this place for real? Epupa Falls, Namibia

After Etosha, we'll head into Botswana via Grootfontein, and we'll spend some time in the Okavango Delta region at Moremi National Park, Savuti Camp, Chobe National Park and Maun. From there, we may go to visit our friend Ben at Victoria Falls in Zambia, or we may head straight to Hwange National Park or Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. Part of the adventure for us is leaving our options open. 

We promise to do our best to post photos and updates as we travel. The challenge with Africa is that nothing is guaranteed, so who knows what kind of internet access we'll have, let alone having power that's consistent enough to connect and post. Check back here to see where we are or you can sign up updates below by clicking "subscribe to posts". And please leave your comments and questions - we really want to stay connected with everyone at home and this seems the best way to do that.