Jobovic Safaris: South Africa, Zimbabwe, & Botswana
Our Jobovic Family (missing Laura from this photo)
Africa captured our hearts. We spent 11 nights camping under the serene African sky and were mesmerized by the beauty of the great outdoors. Africa brought us back to our roots…country living. We grew up in the country of rural Wisconsin with horses, cats, dogs, goats, a ferret (not a good animal), rabbits, raccoons (just for a short while), and a few other random animals at times. We spent our childhood playing outside daily, staring up at the stars in amazement, and enjoying life without a constant stream of technology. Africa showed us just how much we truly miss that.
We spent 11 days completely enthralled with the beauty of nature. And we could not have asked for a better group of people to experience this with. Piet: co-owner of Jobovic Safaris and driver for our trip; Bryce: tour guide; Liddia, Dani, and Laura: fellow travelers from Italy and San Marino. We immediately felt close to our tight-knit group and spent the time joking around, talking, playing pranks, and acting like children. The trip was passed with a steady stream of laughter and growing friendships.
From start to finish, our African Safari was a dream come true. We highly recommend Jobovic Safaris to anyone traveling to Africa…in fact, take us with you! Our journey started from Johannesburg, South Africa on Oct 19th at 5:00 am after arriving at the airport from Israel at 4:00am. We picked up our fellow travelers at their lodging and made our way to Kruger National Park in nothern South Africa, which began our 1st official game drive. As soon as we entered Kruger, we saw so many different species of wild animals including elephants, impala, zebra, giraffes, buffalo and much more. After driving through Kruger for a couple hours, we arrived at our 1st campsite, Satara, within Kruger. Each night we set up our tents and each morning we packed up camp – we never imagined that camping in tents for 11 days could be so amazing, but it truly was INCREDIBLE!!!
Our 1st night set the stage for having a blast goofing around and scaring each other. We set up camp next to a small kitchen building with birds flying all around. However, Kim thought they were bats and has a fear of bats due to her Charleston days. Of course, I (Becky) had to take full advantage of this fear since Kim gets a kick out of trying to scare me about snakes. So, a small twitch randomly finding its way to Kim’s head did the trick. Haha – so much fun scaring each other!
Day 2 was a full day of driving through Kruger National Park. Our extremely knowledgable tour guide, Bryce, spent the day teaching us all about the habits and characteristics of all of the wild animals we were seeing. It is absolutely amazing to watch wildlife in their natural habitat and understand how life in the wild works between species. After arriving at our 2nd campsite within Kruger, we went on a sunset game drive and saw a pride of lions with a kill (Buffalo) along with a herd of buffalo, elephants, giffares and more, up close and personal.
Leaving Kruger on Day 3, we headed to the Zimbabwe border, where we spent the day. True to our guides warning, crossing the border into Zimbabwe proved to be an adventure in itself. The adventure started upon arrival at the border and being sent back by the South African guards because they were unnecessarily requiring an additional letter from Piet, the owner and driver of Jobovic Safaris. We obediently made our way back to a gas station in South Africa to await the faxed document. An hour and a half later, we were ready to try again, but little did we know, the obstacles had just began. We were all cleared to exit South Africa and we made our way accross the river in no-man’s land to the Zimbabwe border post. We had to obtain visas to enter Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, our lovely traveling companion from the Republic of San Marino was denied access into Zimbabwe and deported back to South Africa. After spending 5 hours at the border and sending one traveler back to Johannesburg by bus, we were on our way to our 3rd campsite, Norma Jean’s Lake. What an eventful day!
From that point on, the running joke was who would be thrown off the island next..haha. Luckily, we all made it the rest of the way and even managed to recoup Laura when we arrived in Botswana. Zimbabwe was filled with adventure from exploring the Great Zimbabwe ruins and learning about life in years gone by (Kim gracefully participated in a dance with locals) to visiting a wildlife orphanage that rehabilitates and releases animals back into the wild and ending our time at Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Each day was an exciting adventure and each night was a peaceful paradise camping in the bush. Our campsites included Ivory Lodge where we watched elephants 20 feet in front of us and sat in a tree stand and saw a 500 strong herd of buffalo come down for a drink; Antelope Park where a zebra and horses roamed freely in the site; and Rest Stop at Victoria Falls where we witnessed monkeys feeding their babies mere feet from our tents and where the monkeys so cleverly broke into Lidia and Dani’s tent to steal their packaged cookies – haha.
Our time at Victoria Falls was pretty epic! We spent the day white water rafting down the Zambezi river. Unlike in the States, we were not driven down to the river to start our adventure. We hiked down the gorge, down steep ladders and over massive rocks, to get to the river. We then rafted down 19 official and many more unofficial rapids, up to category 5, which is the highest you can go down. There were 8 people in our raft and we victoriously made it through the 1st 7 rapids without losing anyone. Going into rapid #8, a category 5, we were all filled with confidence and that’s when we were taken out. The saying goes: Pride comes before the fall, how true that proved to be. In a matter of seconds, our raft had flipped and we were all tangled under the water looking for the surface. Talk about a rush! Scary, but fun at the same time. I (Becky) flipped out once more with 5 others and quickly got pulled back in to paddle through as it was the first of 4 consecutive rapids. Our entire crew flipped once more on rapid #18, and again were fighting to make it to the surface. It was so scary, but so much fun.
We decided to take a refreshing swim, as we neared the end of the rafting experience. Once most of us were out of the boat, a crocodile was spotted on the shore and took a dive into the water. Kim and I swam to the boat and begged to be pulled in quickly. Haha – I’m sure you can imagine the terror we felt at the possibility of being crocodile lunch. But, we got our revenge, for dinner that night, we ate crocodile pasta. Mmm Mmm Good! After surviving the water, we had to hike back up the gorge to the awaiting vehicles, which ended our rafting experience. This adventure was definitely not for the weary – we got a great workout!
Our adrenaline souls were not yet quenched after spending the day on the rapids so we decided to take a leap off of the 111 meter gorge. You can check out the videos of the gorge swing on FaceBook. Let me tell you, it was a massive adrenaline rush, but so amazing!!! Perfect way to end a day of adventure at Victoria Falls.
The last leg of our African Safari took us through Botswana. Thankfully, we had no problems crossing into Botswana and enjoyed wonderful accommodations and game drives in Chobe National Park. Botswana was a perfect end to the journey as we slept under the starlit sky, took a swim at Chobe & Nata Lodge, and enjoyed gourmet dinners.
Leaving Africa was by far the saddest part of our journey. We fell in love with this continent, living outdoors, and watching wildlife. True to the saying, Africa gets in your blood, and we cannot wait until our journey takes us back to this breathtaking oasis.
Until we meet again, Africa…
*Written by Becky
*We would post more photos of the wildlife but we took most of them with our cameras and cannot upload them at this time.