Africa Expedition 2012

Many of the photos on this page are posted other places on this site. . . . . and many of those other pages give a much more
complete story of each adventure, I decided to create a page showing the itinerary of my travels through Africa in Nov/Dec 2012.
During a 5 week period, I traveled to 5 different countries and had many amazing experiences. Having downloaded my photos
on nearly a daily basis, I was amazed at how much I had actually seen and done, so I decided to create a timeline of the travels.
This is as much for myself as for everyone else.

(To keep this page from having an overwhelming amount of photos, I've tried to pick one photo from each day,
something special, unique or representative of what was going on. If you would like to see more photos,
I very well may have a page covering it.)


Total Distance Travelled: 37,665km (23,398 miles)
Air: 32,585km (20,242 miles)
Road: 5,000km (3106 miles)
Boat: 80km (50 miles)


 

Day 1: Fly from Myrtle Beach to NYC. In the evening I saw my first play on Broadway, "The Book of Mormon."
The play was as irreverent and hilarious as I had hoped it would be. My hotel was near JFK airport, so I got to spend
plenty of time on the NYC subway system. I returned home from Time Square about 1:00 AM, in time to get up at
6:00AM to leave for the airport and catch my flight to Johannesburg.


Time Square after watching "The Book of Mormon."


 

Day 2: After an early morning transfer to the airport and a couple hours in the terminal, I boarded my 16 hour
flight to South Africa. With the length of the flight and the time zone difference, I would not arrive in Joburg until
the next morning.


Most of New York was cleaned up after Hurricane Sandy, but there was still quite of debris and wrecked boats along the coast.


 

Day 3: Arrival in Joburg. I met with my four guests at the Intercontinental Hotel as they were finishing up breakfast.
We transferred to the opposite side of the aiport where we took a private chartered flight to our camp in the bush,
Mala mala.


Dropping a couple people off at another camp before continuing on to Mala Mala, we took the chance for a bathroom break.


Day 4: Our first full day on safari at Mala Mala was no disappointment. I will have to create a page specifically about the safari
in order to fit in all the photos and do justice to the experience. Below is one of those amazing encounters that are truly once in a lifetime.


This is a CRAZY story. You will notice that the leopard is carrying a snake. That is just the middle of the story.
This rock python was able to catch and eat a baby impala. Because the snake was not able to move well after such a large meal,
the leopard was able to catch the python. While the leopard is sitting in the grass eating the python (with the antelope inside of it),
a hyena runs up and tries to steal the whole thing. The leopard runs up a tree carrying the snake with the impala sticking out of the side.
If you look at the photo, you will see the leopard with the snake, with the impala sticking out (those are not the entrails of the snake).
As the leopard sits in the tree with the snake, the impala falls out of the snake, out of the tree, to the ground, where the
hyena picks it up and runs off with it. All of this happened at a distance of 40 feet from our vehicle. What a great first night!


Day 5: Mala Mala Safari


The highlight of the day for me was to watch two leopards courting at sunset. Leopards are an unusual sight.
Seeing them cross a river and breed along the bank is a very rare encounter indeed.

 


Day 6: Mala Mala Safari


The rest of the group arrives at Mala Mala, including my mom, who is joining me for the first time on safari.


Day 7: Mala Mala Safari


We had excellent encounter with a male cheetah. He is part of a coalition with his brother.
The brother wandered off with a female cheetah a couple days before, so the cheetah above
climbed atop a termite mound and continuously called. It was an amazing display of vocalizations.


 

Day 8: Mala Mala Safari


One of our Land Rovers watching a passing herd of elephants.

 


Day 9: Mala Mala Safari


White rhinos taking an early morning nap.

 


Day 10: Mala Mala Safari


An absolutely amazing sighting of wild dogs chasing a leopard up a tree.


Day 11: Mala Mala Safari


Part of the group hiking the Stweiss Kopie during the midday walk.


Day 12: Mala Mala Safari


Crossing the sand river.

 


Day 13: This morning was our last game drive of the trip. Afterwards, we drove to the Mizenyane school, which our
safari helps support. We drove from the town of Lillydale to the town of White River, where we stopped for lunch.
We continued on to Nelspruit airport and then a short flight to Johannesburg airport. Our guests took a flight that night
back to the U.S. and I met up with Deon Cilliers from the Endangered Wildlife Trust to talk about their conservation work
and the role that myself and Rare Species Fund help play in it. After the meeting I spent the night at one of the airport hotels.


This kid is already throwing up gang signs.
The guests and children got to interact with each other. It is hard to imagine which group was more entertained


Day 14: Waking up very early in the morning. I checked in for my flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia.
After a several hour flight, I arrived in Windhoek, picked up my bakkie (Afrikaans slang for pickup) and drove about 3 hours north
to meet with friends at the Cheetah Conservation Fund outside of the town of Otjiwarango. CCF is probably the world's
most recognized cheetah conservation group. I spent three days with them, to expereince their project firsthand.


My bakkie next to a really tall termite mound. It did take a couple hours to get back into the "groove" of driving
on the opposite side of the road, the opposite side of the vehicle and shifting with my left hand.
Countless times I started to get into the wrong side of the vehicle and wondered where the steering wheel was.
By the second day I was alright.


Day 15: I spent a full day with the staff and founder Laurie Marker filming a "behind the scenes" little documentary for
promotional use by CCF.


One of the cheetahs chasing a lure.

Check out a video that I filmed for CCF during this trip.


Day 16: My last day at CCF, I filmed more, spent the morning wandering with a shepherd and one of the Anatolian guarding dogs out
in the bush as the herd of goats grazed. One of the important projects CCF runs, the the raising and training of livestock guarding dogs.
By placing these dogs with farmers, the are far less problems with predators eating the livestock. This in turn means those cheetahs and
leopards are not being shot by the farmers. After a long morning of filming, I also had the distinct pleasure of having lunch with the
U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, who stopped by CCF for a few hours. Afterwards, I packed up and drove north towards Etosha National Park.


It's not a great photo, but I was so excited to see my first African crested porcupine in the wild.

Check out a video that I filmed for CCF during this trip.


Day 17: Etosha National Park - self drive safari.
Arriving at the eastern gate of Etosha I made my way to the Namutoni rest camp, which is dominated by an old German fort.
This was my lodge for the evening.


Outside the Namutoni Fort.

Check out the Etosha page HERE.


Day 18: This was a long day of driving across the park and along all of the back roads. I had many great wildlife sightings,
but things were much different from the safari experience in South Africa. There were vast open plains and large herds
of grazing animals, but not quite the density or diversity as seen earlier in the trip. Nonetheless, I was very excited
because there were many different species of animals I had never seen in the wild before.


Black rhino drinking at the Okaukuejo watering hole after sunset.

Check out the Etosha page HERE.


Day 19: After getting up before sunrise, I drove another couple hundred kilometers through Etosha National Park, watching
the vast herds of animals. By noon I headed out of the park and made the 5 hour drive towards Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site.


Notice the heat waves in the photo.

Check out the Etosha page HERE.


Day 20: I spent the night in a lodge that wast built amongst the giant boulders on a mountain side.
Early in the morning I got up and drove to the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, which is home to a very
large number of ancient carvings. These were created by the ancient people of the area and are from 2000-6000 years old.


Even the ancient people had their own stylized art. Notice the lion has a paw at the end of his tain and the
rhino has an extra long horn (this was dipicted in all the rhino etchings).

 


Day 21: I drove from Twyfelfontein into the Skeleton Coast National Park and south along the coast. This is such an isolated and desolate
area that I traveled for four hours without seeing another vehicle. The coastline is full of shipwrecks and the bleached bones of countless animals.
I eventually made my way, 9 hours later, to Walvis Bay.


One of the many shipwrecks along the coast.


Day 22: This morning I went kayaking out at the point of Walvis Bay with about 10,000 cape fur seals. I also saw a number of
heavy sided dolphins in the water, as well as jackals and flamingos on the beach.


The sea lions did not care about the kayak and I could get quite close.

To see the video of the kayaking trip click HERE.


Day 23: Spending the night in Walvis Bay, I woke up the next morning and rode approximately 80km into the Namib Desert on an ATV.
My guide, Fanie Du Preez, showed me the "Sea of Sand" and some of the remains of the lost inhabitants, thousands of years old.
We drove for about 8 hours through the desert, I was tired, sunburned, covered in sand and completely happy.


One of the many skeletons we found sticking out the the rock and the sand.

Check out the Sea of Sand page HERE.


Day 24: Driving from Walvis Bay, I headed east with a group towards Sossuvlei. Most of the day was spent driving.
We stayed at incredible desert camp with permanent tents, which were much more like small lodge rooms.


One of the old cars outside of the Solitaire Rest Stop.

Check out the Sea of Sand page HERE.


Day 25: Waking up before dawn, we drove into the national park and down an ancient riverbed into the middle of the Namib Desert
and the endless sea of sand dunes. Once we got to the parking lot, we had to take a 4x4 deeper into the park. We then proceeded to climb
"Big Daddy" considered to be one of the largest dunes in the world. It seemed almost like mountain climbing by the time we got to the top.
After the victory of ascent, we made our way down the side of the dune into Dead Vlei, an ancient marsh dried up thousands of years ago.
The ground is baked and cracked with ancient dead camel thorn trees sticking out of it. The red sand dunes in the background only adds to the
surreal look of the place. After making our way out of the Dead Vlei, we hid under the living trees of Sossusvlei to have lunch. The temperature
reached 108 degrees that day. We eventually made our way back to the desert camp and I promptly left again to take a scenic flight of the desert,
which is the BEST scenic flight I have ever taken.

Click HERE to watch the scenic flight.


Walking along the ridge of "Big Daddy".

Check out the Sea of Sand page HERE.


Day 26: I met with some of the people form the Solitaire Guest Farm and the Naankuse foundation, another group
working to save cheetahs and other carnivores in their natural habitats. We spent a while radio tracking wild cheetahs
and discussed the potential of RSF helping to support their efforts. After this early morning adventure, it was another long day of driving,
about 7 hours back to Windhoek.


A family of meerkats came to greet us as we pulled into the Solitaire Guest Farm.


Day 27: Back in Windhoek, I shopped at one of the local craft markets before my flight from Windhoek to Maun, Botswana to
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

A traditional Himba woman and her child, selling jewelry along the street in Windhoek.


Day 28: I made my way from my hotel to the Victoria Falls National Park, which gives you a good vantage point of one of the
7 natural wonders of the world.


Looking at just one small section of the falls.


Day 29: One of the other organizations that the RSF has started supporting is the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit.
This grass roots organization patrols the Zambezi National Park looking for snares and signs of poachers.
Since their creation in 1999, the VFAPU has removed more than 27,000 illegal snare from the park and arrested countless poachers.
I spent the morning on patrol with one of the rangers and VFAPU founder Charles Brightman.


On the way to Zambezi National Park, Charles gives me an overview of the project.


Day 30: Riverboarding down the Zambezi River. Just in case going down a class 5 river in a boat isn't exciting enough,
try doing it with a boogie board and flippers! After a LONG day of riverboarding, I took a scenic helicopter flight over the falls
and then mad my way across the border into Livingstone, Zambia.


One of the many big rapids I encountered during the 27km float down the river.

Check out the Riverboarding page HERE.


Day 31: This morning brought one of my most anticipated adventures.
Although Victoria Falls is best viewed from the Zimbabwe side of the river, most of the the falls themselves lie in
Zambian territory. One of the highlights is to take a boat over to Livingstone Island, where famed explorer Sir David Livingstone
first saw the mighty falls. Once on the island, it is just a short swim over to a small outcropping and a leap of faith into the Devil's Pool.
This small pool is immediately at the edge of the falls. Anything except absolute low water could carry over the edge of the falls.
After the swim, I had an incredible breakfast set up in a proper tent on Livingstone Island. After breakfast and a short boat ride back
to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, I met up with a travel group and made my way through Zambia and crossed over into Botswana.


Relaxing in the "Devil's Pool".


Day 32: Waking up in a tent under a Botswana sky, I traveled into Chobe National Park for a morning game drive and then onto the
Chobe River in the afternoon for a 4 hour sunset boat cruise.


Hippos grazing along the river banks.


Day 33: A long days drive took us from Chobe to the Sitatunga camp outside of Maun, our base of operations for our Okavango
Delta Adventure.


A bush baby in camp.


Day 34: Another early morning takes us about 2 hours by 4x4 to a boat launch where we meet our guides into the Okavango Delta.
These local villagers make their living by guiding expeditions into the delta in their traditional mokoros (dug-out canoe).
We then traveled about 1.5hours by mokorro, back through the natural swamps and waterways, encountering the occasional hippos,
eventually arriving at our camp on one of the many islands.


The group in mokorros at the edge of one of the hippo pools.

 


Day 34: Our full day in the delta was full of hiking around the islands looking at the native wildlife, exploring the waterways by mokoro
and plenty of time sitting around the campfire.


The campfire was the hub of social activity in the camp.


Day 35: After our last morning in the delta, we packed up the mokoros and headed back to the landing.
We had a helicopter meet us to get an aerial view of the delta. The half hour helipcopter ride at 100 feet gave a whole new perspective
to where we had just been. After the helicopter ride, we drove with an old military Mercedes 4x4 back out of the delta to our
camp in Maun. I took an afternoon airplane ride back over the Okavango Delta. It was much higher and faster than the
helicopter ride, but it gave me a much better overview of what the entire area looked like. We flew up north towards the border
between Botswana and Namibia and even encountered a heavy thunderstorm along the way. I even got a picture
of lightning striking the ground from the plane. We spent one last night in Maun .

 


Flying over the Okavango Delta.


Day 36: Another early day gets us on the road just after dawn. A 10 hour drive takes us most of the way south across Botswana,
skirting the Kalahari Desert and making our way to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in the late afternoon.
This community run project is helping to protect and propogate the country's only viable rhino population.
It has been so successful that they have relocated some of their rhinos to other
parts of the country. This is one of the projects that we are helping to support through the Rare Species Fund.
As the sun set we made our way to the town of Palapye and the last full night in Africa.


Wildebeests along one of the watering holes at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. What is most interesting about the photo is the observation
tower in the background. Rhino poaching is such a major problem that the Botswana military patrol the park and a sniper was stationed on
top of this tower.


Day 37: Morning comes way too early again, but we load up the van and make our way to the border crossing back into South Africa.
After 8 hours of driving and stopping for lunch, I am dropped off at Johannesburg International Airport. With a few hours to spare
I do a little last minute shopping in the airport and get ready for the long flight home.


Goodbye South Africa for this trip.


Day 38: I swore I would give up the early mornings, but we arrive back at JFK Airport in NYC at 6:00AM.
After a making my way through immigration, collecting my bags and going through customs, I transfer
45 minutes to LaGuardia airport across Queens for my final flight home. While sitting in the airport,
I receive a text letting me know that tomorrow night I need to drive from Myrtle Beach, 700 miles south
to Miami for a few days. I've finished with one adventure and am on to the next.