My African Odyssey
In May 2022, I was blessed to take a seven-week trip to Europe and Africa. It began with a one-week stopover in Paris where I enjoyed being a tourist. From there, I flew to Nairobi in Kenya for my first safari with tour company Overseas Adventure Travel. Our first stop there was the Sheldrick elephant nursery. It was established about 30 years ago by an English woman to rescue and nurture baby elephants that were orphaned by slaying of their mothers. I learned that baby elephants need milk for the first two or three years of their lives to survive. One man is assigned to each baby, and he basically lives with it for one or two years, feeding it and sleeping with it at night! From Nairobi, we flew west to the Maisa Mara in Kenya. There, we saw our first giant bull elephant, which weighed about 13,000 pounds. We also spotted our first rhinoceros and learned that they are in danger of extinction because poachers kill them for their horns, which have a street value of more than $65,000. While on the Maisa Mara, we took a balloon ride. From the air, we saw large herds of zebras and antelope and also got our first sightings of cheetahs and lions. After three days in Kenya, we flew to Amboseli National Park in Tanzania. It is home to families of elephants, zebras, and wildebeests. They thrive there on fresh grass watered by snowmelt from nearby Mt. Kilimanjaro. One of the highlights of this safari was a visit to Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania. There, we witnessed a pride of lions take down a cape buffalo for their afternoon meal. We next drove to the Serengeti plain in Eastern Kenya. It is home to more than two million wildebeests and 800,000 zebras. This is where the Great Migration begins—a 1,200-mile seasonal trek in a large clockwise circle north, east, and south following seasonal rains. The wildebeests and zebras are accompanied by around 12,000 elans and Thompson gazelles. This migration is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world! After two weeks in Kenya and Tanzania, we flew to South Africa. There, we visited Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. One of my favorite spots was Chobe National Park. It is home to large families of elephants, antelopes, and lions. The Chobe River is home to hundreds of alligators and hippos as well. It also hosts large flocks of colorful birds, including Egyptian geese and spoon bills. Our last stop was beautiful Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. This waterfall is not the largest in the world but is the longest with a cascade of water extending more than a mile long!