In 2011, my partner took a spectacular photo of a boy literally jumping off a cliff and diving into the water from a beach on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania. A few weeks after his trip, a good friend suggested that he submit it to a travel photo competition hosted by KLM Airlines and Holland Herald. Little did we know that a year and a half later, (after he won the grand prize which included two, anywhere in the world airline tickets), we would be taking the trip of a lifetime to South Africa!
I’ve had incredible opportunities to travel all over the northern hemisphere, but this was my first trip beyond the equator. Over the past several years as MCLD has grown, I have not had a chance to sneak away for more than a couple days at a time, so while planning this trip we thought we better go big and make this an experience to remember… Well, frankly, the trip was beyond anything I could have ever possibly imagined, and we saw and did more than this Yankee can even begin to describe.
Our journey took us on a phenomenal 1,500 mile road adventure through some of the most brilliant natural and built landscapes I have ever seen. We drove through dramatic mountains and deserts, and traveled along much of the continent’s vibrant southern coastline. Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was a 3-day safari at the Kichaka Private Game Lodge, about an hour from Port Elisabeth on the country’s east side. We were so incredibly lucky to have an extremely passionate guide take us through a number of diverse biomes throughout the reserve, which included a savanna grassland, valley bushveld, fynbos, riverine forest, and an acacia woodland. At first glance, the scenery alone was beyond amazing, but the next thing I knew, we were literally 15-feet from a mother cheetah and her cubs while they fed on a freshly caught impala! Moments later at dusk, we were driving next to a male black rhino who was in hot-pursuit of finding himself a mate. The next morning we had hot coffee on the ground near a herd of inquisitive giraffes, and my mind was completely blown… Over the next couple of days we saw lions, elephants, zebras, buffalo, ostriches, warthogs, hippos, and countless herds of eland, springbok, gemsbok, and wildebeest. We even had a rare siting of the elusive South African bush pig!
I couldn’t wait to write a post about this experience on the MCLD blog for all my friends back home. I’ve been pouring through my 1,300+ vacation photos from the trip, in search of a photo to submit for another travel photo contest––I now must find some way to get back to South Africa! : )