To try to spice things up on my blog, I am going to be doing a ‘Flashback Friday’ every Friday to highlight an event that took place in my life at least a year ago, but perhaps occasionally less. When I think of exciting things I have done over the years I immediately think of traveling with one of my best friends, Olivia.
Olivia lives either on the East Coast or West Coast depending on if she’s in school or not, and since I live in Texas, we usually only see each other twice a year – I go to her in the summer, she comes to me in the winter. She and her dad are both big travelers, and over the summers they have invited me to come on their awesome adventures with them:
-Summer 2012: Myrtle Beach, SC (tame compared to what was to come…)
-Summer 2013: East Coast of Australia (Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane area)
-Summer 2014: Iceland (Reykjavik), England (London), Scotland (Edinburgh and surrounding areas)
-Summer 2015: South Africa (Cape Town and surrounding areas, Shamwari Game Reserve)
To sum up each adventure in one blog post would be impossible, so in the event I talk about my travels (likely) in my Flashback Friday posts, I will most likely be talking about one event that took place during one adventure. I tend to ramble (in case you haven’t already noticed), so I will force some of these topics to be extremely brief for time’s sake. Trust me though, I could probably write a book about just a few events that have occurred on my adventures. In fact, a lot of my blog posts (including today’s) will probably be segments of what will occur over several posts just because I don’t want to skip out on important/interesting details.
Shamwari Game Reserve (Part 1)
Since I was little (let’s be real, since I saw The Lion King) I had always dreamed of going to Africa on a safari. When I say that, I mean borderline obsessed. I’ve always been really into studying animals, specifically predators, and lions, hippos, crocodiles, etc are all animals of interest to me. Considering that, going to Shamwari was truly a dream come true for me. Because we stayed at Shamwari for several days, I will probably talk about it over several blog posts simply because a lot of exciting things occurred in those days.
Because Shamwari is a game reserve, it is miles and miles long and, therefore, the drive to the actual lodges is long. So long, in fact, that we were a bit concerned we were totally lost. Coming off the main road, we turned onto a stretched out, extremely bumpy ‘road’ that definitely wasn’t paved and reminded us that Shamwari wasn’t right in the midst of things. Because the road was so bumpy we had to drive slow, and the total time spent driving from the main road to the lodges was roughly 45 minutes. There are several lodges at Shamwari, and I was surprised by how truly beautiful Olivia and my’s room was – it definitely did not feel like we were roughing it.
After putting our things in the room, we headed down to the dining area of the lodge for lunch where I had – I kid you not – one of the three best burgers I’ve ever had in my life, extremely juicy, perfectly medium rare with a generous portion of avocado. As an appetizer I had ordered a delicious hummus plate, and that meal is still one I reminisce about. Anyway…
At around four (I think) we set off on our first game drive. That first time out was truly a breathtaking experience, and even emotional in the way that I was privileged to observe these beautiful animals up close, all the way in South Africa, in their natural environment. One particularly serene moment that sticks out in my memory was gazing out at the African sunset and thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I’m really here.”
It kills me to end this blog post so early because it’s not nearly descriptive enough to explain the physical and emotional impact I felt on that first game drive, but unfortunately I’ve run out of time. If my memory serves me correctly, on that first evening we saw mainly elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes (from a distance) and gazelles. The elephants in particular were plentiful and we were extremely close to them. I didn’t realize just how many there would be, and this picture I shot of a surprised calf I thought was particularly adorable. (By the way, these are all iPhone pictures, so sorry for the less-than-stellar quality)
Like I said, Shamwari was truly a magical experience and I could write an entire book on it, so it pains me to be so brief. For time’s sake though, I hope this post and its pictures were enjoyable, and if anyone has any questions about Shamwari I would be happy to answer them.