Hannah and Adam are 2013 Bloggies Award finalists and editors of Getting Stamped. They have already covered the Philippines, New Zealand, and Cambodia, and that’s only a small portion of the destinations they’ve made it to on their current two-year travel jaunt. Their Acacia Africa overland expedition departing on May 4 will take them across seven countries; but before they head for the continent, we thought we’d ask them about their expectations for this once-in-a-lifetime journey, and get their perspective and helpful tips for other first-time travellers to Africa.
Out of all the continents why put Africa on the list?
Africa was a must on our RTW trip, and it happens to hold our number-one spot as one of our most anticipated places to visit. It would be impossible not to go, and there are too many reasons to say why, but as a one-of-a-kind continent a trip around the world wouldn’t be complete without touching down in Africa. We both remember growing up and watching National Geographic, and to have an opportunity to see Africa for real and on a safari is a lifelong dream.
Hannah, we know you’re a bit of a beach fiend, so is there any one beach location that you think will have it all – “sands down?”
From the pictures we have seen, Zanzibar looks like it will hold a place on our favorite beaches around the world. While I hold down the beach, Adam will exploring the underwater world in the reefs of Zanzibar.
Game viewing must be right up there, but, do you have any plans to see the game differently than on a 4X4 drive?
We love to do things outside of the norm and we hope to find a way to get up and personal with some of Africa’s famous residents. Our trip covers mokoro safaris in the Okavango Delta, walking safaris in the Namib Naukluft park, the chance to go walking with lions in Zambia and a wildlife cruise across the Chobe River. We haven’t decided on all of our final activities as yet, and there are some optional extras on our overland tour, but we’re all go for the safari experience!
Culturally, how has travel undoubtedly changed you? And based on that knowledge, what experiences are you looking forward to most in Africa?
Traveling through nearly 20 countries back to back has shown us a wide variety of cultures, beliefs, and religions. In the modern time that we are living, cultures and new generations have easy access to the rest of the world and we are beginning to see that having an influence. We want to see that world how it is now, with all of the vibrant and interesting cultures still intact. We have high hopes about interacting within some of the African villages, talking with the people, tasting the food, and just learning to understand the world as they see it. The Masai tribe village visit and Kalahari Bushaman walk are going to be top contenders when it comes to getting up close and personal with Africa.
What’s the best advice you can give to travellers about money in Africa?
Money in Africa is something we are going to have a harder time with because we are coming from Thailand and flying into Kenya. Since most safaris require their local payment to be in USD, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for those coming from USA/EU/OZ but other locations may be more difficult. Our safari company is giving us the option to pay our local payment in advance via credit card, and although there are fees involved with this, we think it will be the safest and easiest way for us.
In our current travels we have mainly used cash in the local currency. Our bank refunds all ATM fees we incur and there are no international transaction fees. Therefore we only take out enough cash to last us a few days, so we don’t have an excess amount of money on us at any given time. With proper budgeting we find this the most efficient way, and we don’t like losing money to money exchangers. We have also used our credit card here and there, because using it abroad can incur lots of fees. Generally the business will pass the 3-5% fee charged by the card company on to you, and on top of that there may be international transaction fee of 2-3%. Our cards don’t charge us the international fee, but we still don’t like when our money costs us money.
We’re imagining you’ve jumped out of planes or done some great adventure travel stuff before now – what excites you on the adventure front about this trip?
Most of the thrill seeking is going to be centered around Victoria Falls. There is something for every adrenaline junkie here and you can even bag a safari atop an elephant if you want to take it at a slower pace. We learned in New Zealand that bungy jumping is not for us, we stood on the hanging platform and watched others jump 300+ feet. Sorry there will be no jumping… But we do have our hearts set on a scenic flight over Victoria Falls, and we hope to make it up in the air and see the world’s largest curtain of falling water from another point of view.
Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Southern Africa, and since this is Adam’s forte I’m guessing he knows the score, so what’s his take – will you be opting for the Kenyan Tusker or the Namibian Windhoek, or do we have to wait?
In true beer-judging fashion I must sample ALL of the contenders before picking an ‘official’ winner. I have only encountered a few African brews so far on our travels, so I am excited to know that there will be some nightly samplings along the way on our safari. You will all just have to wait and see which beer quenches my thirst, and which one I sample the most.
They say Africa can change your whole outlook on life – name three destinations where that’s happened so far and where you think the same might happen in Africa?
Every country we travel we learn a bit more about the world we live in. We leave with a better understanding of its people and the make-up of the land, but some countries have shown us a little more than others:
Cambodia: On our tour of the killing fields we listened to the stories of pain and suffering that happened just a generation ago. Suddenly, our guide rushed us to the car and we had to take a new route; a garment-factory strike had just turned deadly. The army had just shot and killed several workers who were peacefully seeking to increase their 40-cent hourly wage. It left us feeling as if Cambodians haven’t had a fair chance at life for several generations.
New Zealand brought to light how gorgeous the world really is in its pure state. The landscapes were breathtaking around every corner we took. We’re expecting the same jaw-dropping vistas to leave us speechless in Africa.
The Galapagos Islands: It was amazing how close we were able to get to the wildlife, and how amazing it was to see how the animals behave due to the lack of human interference.
Expectations for Africa: It seems to be the only place left in the world to witness the natural world, the last place that is truly wild. We have the Big Five and especially the big cats on our check list (who wouldn’t?!), and Adam is also a bit of a camera buff so you can expect some great photos and video. We’re still waiting in the travel wings, but as we make our way from Kenya to South Africa we’re sure the continent’s larger-than-life landscapes, Spitzkoppe and Mount Kilimanjaro amongst many others, will give us pause for thought. With an opportunity to explore the wilds of Africa including the Mara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, we’re pretty sure we won’t be the same people that arrived.
When you think of a safari naturally your mind goes to the animals, but we are also genuinely looking forward to interacting with the local people along the way – Malawi, Tanzania and Botswana are cultural hot spots on our expedition. We want to see how people live, and to experience part of their culture. We always love to walk through local markets, as it’s one of the best ways to see into the heart and soul of a culture. There are always exotic foods, local crafts, and one-of-a-kind adventures. Zanzibar’s Stone Town is something we don’t want to miss, as there’s nothing like a bit of bartering to sample the local flavour of a place.
Not specific to any one destination/continent – why would you tell people to travel?
Well first we must warn you, travel is addictive. Once you start, you won’t ever want to stop. After your first passport stamp you will begin to realize how big, beautiful, and amazingly different the world is.
[box]Photos provided by Acacia Africa, who are part-sponsoring Hannah and Adam’s trip.[/box]