THE ‘MINI’ AFRICA DIARIES – SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL VLOGS
The ‘Mini’ Africa Diaries is a new, monthlong content challenge that I’ve created for myself (and any other travelers/content creators out there that wanna give it a go) as a way to bring a little wild adventure and positive vibes into my life — and hopefully yours — during these crazy times of COVID-19.
Throughout the series, I’ll be sharing short (roughly 3-minute or less) vlog-style videos that will be a mix of past Instagram Stories, never-before-shared travel video clips, and other wild moments from some of my past African adventures, starting with my husband’s and my 7-month, 7-country road trip around the continent.
First up, South Africa…
It was our first official game drive of Zander’s and my 7-month, 7-country road trip around Southern and Eastern Africa.
We had entered South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park through its southern Malelane gate, and within the first 15 minutes or so of the drive, we stumbled upon a pack of 9 endangered African wild dogs! What made this particular wildlife sighting stand out (besides the sheer luck of it given there are only an estimated 450-500 individuals in all of Kruger’s more than 7,500 sq miles) was that just moments before we spotted them I had LITERALLY told Zander “I just hope we see wild dogs”, which I really just meant as “I hope we spot them at some point during this road trip” (up until this day, I had never seen them in the wild).
And there they freakin’ were — half the pack taking shade under a tree on the left side of the road and the other taking shade on the right (unfortunately, both groups were a bit hard to see because of the dense bushes on both sides, not to mention how darn well their spotted coats blend in with them).
Then, as our vehicle, Hettie, slowly approached the pack, a female from the group on the left lazily walked into the road and plopped herself right in front of us — as if to sassily say, “excuse me, can I help you?” And that was the most action we saw and were probably going to see given the heat (this was all happen around midday — aka the WORST time to be on a game drive). Ultimately, we only spent about 5 minutes hangin’ with the sleepy pack before we were back the road for what was already shaping up to be a wild 7-month adventure in Africa.
First, it was the giant spider bite that manifested on my face out of nowhere. Second, it was losing our rooftop tent cover while driving into town to find me some antibiotics — a loss that we weren’t aware of until after we drove all the way back to camp for the evening.
Then, as if right on cue, the rain gods decided it might be fun to kick it up a notch. (As a side note, not having this cover wouldn’t have been an issue if the tent could have remain pitched all the time, but in order to drive anywhere it has to be folded down and secured. The issue was that the underside of our tent — the part that faces up when it’s stored — is made of wood, not to mention that the tent’s mattress is also exposed when folded down. So we needed to come up with something quick if we planned to drive anywhere during the rain that was being forecasted for the next 3 days.
We thought we’d at least be able to stay dry inside the tent for the night, but of course, we bought the darn thing used to try and save a lil’ money. So we spent most of the evening patching up holes with electrical tape and the bandaids that were meant to be used to cover up the monstrosity left behind on my face by “George” (George is the nickname we gave the spider).
At this point, I think we were starting to realize just how unprepared we were for our 7-month African adventure, but we weren’t going to let that get us down. So the next morning we rallied and made a new temporary rooftop tent cover out of our only stash of trash bags.
A bit defeated and slightly damp, packed up, and headed back into Kruger… and as you can probably guess by the end of the video — things were looking up again, rain and all. Until next time, stay safe and stay wild, my friends! Oh, and if you’re somewhere rainy right now, stay dry. ☔️🐘🌍
I’m pretty sure the last time I drove a manual vehicle was when I was a kid — and I was sitting on my dad’s lap while he handled the gear shifting.
So when we bought our Land Rover, Hettie, and geared up for our 7-country road trip around Africa I just assumed I’d ride permanent shotgun (especially because I don’t even really like to drive). But realizing that there were plenty of things could go wrong during our adventure — and God forbid one of those things was an emergency situation in which Zander couldn’t drive for some reason — he insisted I learn how to drive our new manual girl, Hettie.
So we looked for the most remote area we could find (where we hadn’t seen any other vehicles or animals for miles) and Zander did his best to teach me the ropes. While I WAS able to get us moving, as you’ll find out in the video, our Gone Wild edition of drivers ed didn’t really end on a high note.
With lesson #1 (of what would turn out to be one of MANY driving lessons) out of the way, I moved back to where my behind is happiest… the passenger seat. And with Zander behind the wheel, we made sure to finish the day on a high note — looking at cute baby wild animals outside our car door windows.
After a rainy week of camping in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, we were just about ready to pack up and head north to Mozambique (well, we definitely planned to take a couple of nights in town to regroup, relax, and wash Zander’s 4-day-worn white T-shirt first, after all, we were still easing this whole living out of our Land Rover thing).
But before we dipped out we knew we couldn’t wrap up our first official week on the African road without getting in one more game drive, and I’m glad we did because the park’s wild roads were poppin’ off that day! Not only did we spot some sleeping lions post-kill (albeit they were pretty far and hard to see), we had ourselves our first proper hyena sighting of the trip — and as you’ll see in the video, it wasn’t just any sighting.
As if that wasn’t enough wild for one day, shortly after we found ourselves head-on with a big bull elephant in musth after we accidentally made a wrong turn looking for a side road where someone had said they saw more lions. Last but not least, the day was also filled with troops of baboons (more like gangs) roaming the streets.
And with all that wild goodness it was only fair that our last night was capped with another rainstorm. Luckily, we had managed to come up on some ponchos (thanks to yours truly) in addition to a new, temporary rooftop tent cover.
So all in all, I’d say our last 24 hours in Kruger (on this leg of the trip anyway) was a pretty wild success.
For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to watch it yet, below is the longer (non-mini) Africa Diaries vlog that I originally put together from our time in South Africa. It includes adventures from our first couple of months in South Africa, which weren’t featured in any of the ‘Mini’ Africa Dairies episodes above.
Before heading towards the first official border crossing of our African road trip, Zander and I hung back in South Africa for a couple of weeks, catching up with his family and doing a quick videography/website job for two local lodges (you can check out some of that work HERE under the ‘promotional’ tab).
With a little extra cash in our pockets and all our goodbye hugs out of the way, Zander, Hettie, and I hit the road to Mozambique!
To watch Chapter 2: Episodes 5 – 9 of The ‘Mini’ Africa Diaries click the button below.
Thanks for watching!