Pamela MacNaughtan

I woke up feeling more than a little groggy. I had slept the night before, but not a lot and it definitely wasn’t a deep sleep! The fact that I had to pack-up and meet back up at the truck for 7:30 am, added insult to injury.

I walked up the large dirt hill in a daze. I needed sleep, a lot more sleep. It wasn’t that I was grumpy, it was that I was still half asleep!

Today we leave Kitonga (and Ben) behind because non South Africa vehicles are not allowed to cross the border. Which I think is incredibly stupid. So, we had to move our things from Kitonga into this smaller and much more annoying truck, which we called the lawnmower. Man, I am SO happy I wasn’t traveling in that thing for 45 days. I would have pitched myself off a cliff before I had reached Victoria Falls!

Today was not a particularly long travel day, but it is definitely an eventful one.  For starters, we left Namibia behind and entering South Africa this morning! It was both exciting and sad. South Africa is my 8th country on this trip and today is the last full day.

The scenery was beautiful as the deserts of Namibia slipped behind us and we stared out the window at green grass, mountains, and shanty-like towns.

It was afternoon when we reached the winery in South Africa, where we’ll be camping for the night. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to upgrade tonight (which is why I upgraded at the Orange River).

Once tents were set up, many of the group headed up the hill to the pool. Unlike most campsites, nobody actually wanted to swim, which was strange. I sat by the poolside and slipped my feet into the cool water. Shortly afterward, Simon appeared (our Intrepid chef), stripped down and jumped in. We were all in shock. Simon never goes swimming.

“Simon, I think there is a scorpion at the bottom of the pool. Can you pick it up?” Someone asked from the sidelines. Simon, however, didn’t really want to. I sat there and watched. Everyone wanted to see it, but nobody wanted to jump in and pick it up. Eventually, I got tired of hearing all the talk about seeing the scorpion and nobody willing to actually get the scorpion.

I must have been really tired from the night before, or in the sun too long because the next thing I knew, I was jumping into the pool, with all of my clothes on! I dove to the bottom, felt the scorpion and delicately picked it up. It felt creepy and before I reached the surface, I dropped it. It took me three tries to actually get the thing to the surface. Then one of the others scooped it out of the water and placed it on the ground so everyone could take photos.

After swimming around for a bit, I climbed out of the pool, grabbed my bag and slowly slogged back down to my tent. My clothes were drenched (obviously) and heavy. It was time to have a shower and put on dry clothes, before our wine tasting and dinner.

Our group gathered together inside the winery and spent the next hour or so sampling various wines, and eating cheese and crackers. I’m not going to lie, the wine was definitely going to some heads as it had been a few hours since any of us had eaten.

After our wine tasting, it was time to relax and enjoy our last night together as a group. The winery cooked dinner, complete with homemade bread, drinks were flowing and everyone was chatting. When a birthday cake, complete with sparklers came out of the kitchen, I was floored. I never expected to have a cake. It’s been like 2 or 3 years since I’ve had a birthday cake! It was absolutely fabulous.

For the next several hours, we danced, played pool and watched as Miyuki passed out on the mats by the fire place. It was a great birthday and a great last day on the trip.

Traveling with a group of people for 45 days has a lot of challenges (which I will write about), but in the end, I’m glad I did it.

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo, can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 


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