MY LITTLE BIG AFRICAN ADVENTURE: PART TWO
They say, “Always have low expectations and that way you will never be disappointed.” But that philosophy didn’t really apply to my trip to Africa because it’s incredibly difficult to have expectations about something you know nothing about. Before June 19th I had never been to Africa, never been camping (no surprises there), never done an O.E., never heard of G Adventures, never been a solo traveller that didn’t involve hotels/best friends/WiFi/room service, and had never seen wild animals in their natural habitat. Therefore, I went into my Kenya and Tanzania Overland tour with no expectations and no idea what I had got myself into.
There is something incredibly special about doing something for the very first time because you only have that moment once in your life; you can never do something for the first time, twice. So whether it was watching my first African sunset, trying traditional East African dishes like Ugali, Kachumbari or Sukuma Wiki (I swear I didn’t make those names up), seeing two lions walking proudly alongside our jeep with their bellies visibly full from a recent kill, or looking up to see more stars in the night sky than you even knew existed, every moment was surreal. Slightly less surreal moments, but moments nonetheless, included showering in the dark under a cold tap, learning what to do if you encounter a hungry lion on your way to pee in the bush, tasting “home-made” alcohol (rookie mistake), or pitching your tent three metres apart from your neighbour to avoid being trampled on by a bolshy elephant.
It sounds cliché, but every single day felt like a dream. Not in the way that it was elusive, or felt too far removed from reality, but in the way that I often found myself taking mental images of how beautiful everything was, knowing that photos would never do it justice. It was as if I’d never realised life could be this good. Some days, the dream was an early morning bike ride through a local village in Tanzania to see how other people started their day before the bustling markets made it too loud to hear yourself think. Other days the dream was more simple, like watching a man from Kisii create a masterpiece from a huge chunk of soapstone within a matter of minutes, or seeing a group of women laughing or gossiping in that beautiful way only true girlfriends do, as they carried huge loads of water, food and firewood on top of their heads so effortlessly.
But the dreamiest days were those spent with the animals, standing out the top of our four-wheel-drive with the vast orange and yellow landscape surrounding us. Watching a tower of giraffes that were so tall, yet moving so gracefully, that you couldn’t help but think they really are the supermodels of the Serengeti. A pride of lions looking for their next kill, a herd of elephants keeping a close watch on their babies, making sure they don’t fall too far behind. Hundreds of zebras and wildebeest grazing together, with the unspoken agreement that they would act as each other’s eyes and ears if a predator came too close. Or even a pack of vultures feeding on the carcass of an unlucky giraffe before they were intercepted by a hungry hyena – Africa’s cheekiest scavenger.
None of the amazing experiences I had would have been possible without the dedication of G Adventures, and in particular, our beautiful guide and driver who never stopped trying to make every moment unforgettable. I have so much respect and admiration for the people who work for G Adventures and its founder, Canadian Bruce Poon Tip, who launched the business in 1990. Bruce saw the need for a type of travel that encouraged adventure and authenticity, as well as a focus on sustainability and supporting smaller communities along the way. Today, G Adventures is the world’s largest adventure travel company and is consistently recognised for leadership and outstanding business practices.
I only found out recently that the letter “G” in G Adventures stands for “great”, which is nice, but it doesn’t even begin to describe the experience G Adventures gave me. It doesn’t do justice to the friendships that were built or the memories that I will cherish forever. It doesn’t explain how beautiful the Masaai Mara looks at 6am in the middle of June, or the stories that were shared around the campfire after dinner. It doesn’t describe the adrenaline rush of being less than a metre away from a lion and it certainly doesn’t describe how I felt when I had to say goodbye to 18 of the coolest people I have ever met.
So if you ever have the opportunity to travel with G Adventures in the future, take my word for it, it won’t be “great”.