Count down to Africa

Almost two years ago, I was prepping to go to Africa for the first time. While we were in Botswana at Machaba Safari Camp, we were already talking about when we'd be back. I remember thinking, when we decided we'd return in 2017, how disappointed I was that it seemed so far away. Now, just like that, in what seems like a blink of an eye...it's here. One week from Monday, I'll be headed back to Africa.

 Safari at sunset with Machaba Safari, Botswana.

Safari at sunset with Machaba Safari, Botswana.

I never thought I'd be one of those travelers that returns to places they've already been. There is so much to see in this world and in the short time we're given here, that I didn't want to "waste time" experiencing something that I've already ticked off my list. That perspective changed the moment we got to Maun in 2015 and took a two hour truck ride with Chris Kruger (Machaba Safari's and friend) from the airport to camp. We had not even begun our "safari", and on our drive we spotted Zebra, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, and scenery like I've never seen before. I was already hooked, and if I am fortunate enough, I expect I'll be back several times more in my lifetime.

 Safari picnic was set up for us, including lunch with a full bar, oriental rugs and pillows to sit/lay on. "Glamping" on a whole new level.

Safari picnic was set up for us, including lunch with a full bar, oriental rugs and pillows to sit/lay on. "Glamping" on a whole new level.

What better way to reminisce about our trip in 2015 than while I am prepping for Africa 2.0? :) I've checked for my passport about 30 times over the last 6 months. I've started a pile of items on my pack list. I've made arrangements for place and pets. I've tested WhatsApp. I'm ready! Over the next week, I'll pop in and share a bit about our upcoming trip and itinerary. While in Africa, I'll keep close tabs, take lots of photos, and GoPro videos. We'll have extremely limited internet, so don't expect a lot of live updates. Keep an eye on the Instagram account feed @Clt_queencity. I'll try and post updates as I can.

Monday, March 27, we'll depart from Charlotte to Atlanta and after a pit stop we'll settle in for the 15+ hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. 

What's different this year than our 2015 trip? A lot. We have 17 (I think) people for the first week, safari portion of the trip. One of which is my Momma! I am overjoyed that I get to share this adventure with her! Last time, there was just four of us (Sherry, Paula, Kristen and me). We will return to safari at Machaba Camp for a few nights, but we'll then change locations to a camp we've not visited before, Meno a Kwena. However, after stalking their website and Facebook page, I am quite sure that we're going to have to pinch ourselves, as we're living a dream. Where before (in 2015), we popped down to Cape Town, South Africa after our Safari, we'll pop up to Zambia/Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls (and much more). Some of the larger group will join us for this "side trip" to Vic Falls, and I am excited for the jam packed itinerary we've set up. I'll share more about that later this week.

Today, I'll share a bit about our first stop outside of the United States - Johannesburg, South Africa. 

 Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg is a fairly young city. Officially settled in 1886 as a gold mining town. Joburg or Jozie, as some prefer to call it, is the second largest city in Africa, with more than 3 million people (average are between 19 - 39) calling this bustling metropolis home. It's land size is compared to Los Angeles, making it larger than other large cities including Sydney, London, and New York. Despite it's size, it is home to the largest man-made forest in the world. City Parks already has over 10 million trees and plans to plant another 200,000, helping the city's noise level and greenhouse effect.

  • The city of Johannesburg enjoys an average of 12 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Up to Forty percent of the population is under the age of 24.
  • An amazing 40% of all the world’s human ancestor fossils have been found in areas close to Johannesburg.
  • The city of Johannesburg has about 150 heritage sites, half of which are national monuments.
  • The city of Johannesburg houses the only two polar bears in Africa, at the Johannesburg Zoo.
  • There are 550 buses, which operate on 80 routes and transport about 20-million passengers each year.
  • There are 100 water towers and reservoirs. There are 8 000km of water pipes. There are 8 149km of sewerage pipes.
  • There are 180 000 street lights within the city f Johannesburg. There are 1 780 traffic lights in the city.
  • There are 35 cemeteries, which cover 626ha.
  • There are 106 dams.
  • There are 394 public sports facilities.
  • There are 98 public recreation centers.
  • There are 59 public swimming pools.
  • There are 126 community health clinics and 10 environmental health clinics.
  • The city of Johannesburg has 7 519km of roads.
  • The city has two active power stations, capable of generating 600mw (megawatts).
  • There are 63ha of bird sanctuaries in and around Johannesburg.
  • There are 1 000ha of green space in and around Johannesburg. The Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia are 81ha.

Read more: http://buzzsouthafrica.com/city-of-johannesburg/

We're only in Johannesburg for a day and a sleep, so we'll have limited time to enjoy all of it's offerings. We're staying right at the airport, for convenience for our morning flight to Maun. Anyone been before and have suggestions for markets and food? Any "must do" spots we should pop over to? I found a good list on Lonely Planet, including: Apartheid museum, Joziburg lane (market), and others but would love other travelers opinions! Share away!

After a good nights rest (hopefully) in Jozie, we'll be off to Maun in the morning! Once we arrive in Maun we'll take a "bush flight" to our first camp - Machaba. We'll land at a small "air strip" - no lights, no control tower, in the middle of nowhere, and hop on our open-air Land Rovers for a short ride to camp. Back in 2015, when we dropped Thomas Happe and son (our safari friend's from Germany) off at the air stip, there were elephants just off in the distance at the runway! I am hopeful we'll be so lucky again, with my Momma in tow. :) 

 Saying goodbye to the Happes! We really enjoyed having Safari friends that put up with our silliness! :) 

Saying goodbye to the Happes! We really enjoyed having Safari friends that put up with our silliness! :) 

Looking forward to sharing more with you about my upcoming Safari trip, as well as the itinerary for Zambia / Zimbabwe - it is surly going to be the most epic trip of my life...although, I look forward to attempting to top it!