A journey of a lifetime
Of all the places I have visited, Africa – especially the eastern and southern parts of the continent – ranks among my all-time favorites. As anyone who has ever gone on a wildlife safari will tell you, it is an experience of a lifetime. The breathtaking encounters with the people, the animals and the landscapes of this extraordinary part of the world remain unforgettable.
To view some of the highlights of this safari on video, go to “Travels with Timi Gustafson – Africa.”
Our safari started in Nairobi, Kenya, where we had the chance to visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, which is dedicated to the survival of orphaned baby elephants in East Africa. Afterwards, we enjoyed an elegant lunch at the Ngong House, a famed private retreat located in an area that was once part of Karen Blixen’s coffee estate, a place that became known worldwide as the setting of her book and subsequent movie, “Out of Africa.” For the time in Nairobi proper, we stayed at the Norfolk Hotel, once a luxurious playground for hunting parties in the 1920s and 1930s, the heydays of Ernest Hemingway and Denys Finch Hatton (Karen Blixen’s lover, portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie). Our last stop in Nairobi was the Giraffe Manor, just outside of town. This was the fulfillment of a dream I had for years, and in many ways, it was one of the highlights of the entire trip.
From Nairobi we flew to Johannesburg and from there to a small town named Hoedspruit near Kruger National Park. Our final destination in South Africa was Kapama, a private game reserve around 500 km north of Johannesburg. There are three camps, one of which is called Jabulani. If you ever dreamed of staying at a truly luxurious safari camp, this is your place. First class accommodations and five-star gourmet dining combined with private wildlife excursions by Range Rover or on elephant back (both day and night), hot-air balloon rides and in-room spa treatments make this a getaway you may never have imagined possible.
Our next leg of the trip brought us to the Okavango Delta in Botswana where we stayed at Vumbura Plains Camp, another top-notch destination that knows how to pair elegant accommodations with a genuine African wilderness experience. Twice-daily private game drives and Mokoro (canoe-like boats) water trips allow visitors to see many different parts of the delta, all brimming with wildlife (if you come at the right time of the year). For photographers and videographers, this is a great alternative to the classic game reserves of East Africa because it is less crowded here than in the Masai Mara and Serengeti parks.
Our journey ended with a visit to the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Our camp was located on the small island of Siankaba in the middle of the mighty Zambezi River, not far from the town of Livingstone. The Victoria Falls are most impressive right after the rain season, which is April through June. It was a good place to end our trip, and watching the African sun set over the vast waters of the Zambezi made us feel humble and grateful for all the extraordinary experience we had.