In my last post I told you about my first husband, Pierre, the photographer who died from an aneurism while out running on the streets of Paris.
Well, just a couple of years before that tragic incident, we travelled across North Africa – Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. We were in a Land Cruiser that Pierre and I had bought to drive down through Africa from North to South. But then I got the call from Calvin Klein, I agreed to the modelling contract, and we had to cut the trip short. I returned to a life of billboards and magazine shoots.
It was in 1984, my first and only real experience of cross country over-landing in Africa. It was in August during Ramadan, a very interesting time to be travelling. The desert was beautiful – a place with freedom to just be. Pierre took lots of photographs of me. I took a few of him too.
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Fast forward nearly 30 years and here I am, about to travel across southern Africa – the part I’ve never really got to see, and strangely enough in another Land Cruiser, an old car (not dissimilar to the one Pierre and I drove) that I managed to beg, borrow and steal from a good friend of mine in Cape Town.
I tell people I am doing this trip alone, but technically I don’t think one can be alone in Africa. I know there will always be someone or something out there. The guys at Africa Geographic have put together a rough itinerary for me to follow and they’re going to be putting me in contact with some amazingly interesting and wonderful people along the way.
First draft itinerary:
1. Namibia – ballooning over Sossusvlei, kayaking with dolphins and seals in Walvis Bay, staying with the Himba people in Kaokoland, searching for damara rhinos, desert ellies and desert lions, rafting down the Kunene River, finding out what a cinderella waxbill, souza’s shrike and a racket-tailed roller really are.
2. Zambia – walking among the wildebeest in Liuwa Plains, witnessing the largest bat migration event in Africa, looking for shoebill in the Bangweulu Swamps and game viewing in the Luangwa Valley.
3. Malawi – exploring Lake Malawi and checking out the country’s newest lion pride at Majete Game Reserve.
4. Mozambique – climbing Mount Gorongossa in search of green-headed orioles, game viewing in Gorongosa National Park, whale-shark diving near Vilanculos and finding out what on earth is a Dugong?
5. Zimbabwe – birding the Vumbas, unveiling the artistic heritage at Matopos and Great Zimbabwe, walking with elephants in Mana Pools, Hwange National Park, and going to Victoria Falls for the ultimate adrenaline surge
6. Botswana – a photographic safari in Chobe, canoeing in a dugout in the Okavango Delta and learning to track game in the Kalahari.
7. South Africa – caving, surfing, doing a mountain pass slalom, meeting meerkats and ostriches.
8. Lesotho – climbing Sani Pass to the highest pub in Africa and cruising the highlands.
My itinerary will obviously grow and evolve as we move closer to my departure date (October 14th) and, I suspect, it will change while I am travelling. BUT what I really want to know is what do you think I should be doing? If any of you out there have tips and pointers on what to do where, please tell me by leaving a comment below!!!
As I prepare for this big trip I think about what I am looking forward to. I live with a lot of noise around me and I am looking forward to the silence of being alone. My head constantly spins with thoughts but I think the silence will allow me to put things in perspective, a form of meditation. I love living with the elements, I am not an air-conditioned, high maintenance kind of girl, and I can’t wait to surround myself in wilderness and rough-it in the bush. Africa is still so “third world” in places, the likes of TV hasn’t tainted people and poisoned their culture, I am hoping to encounter this rawness.
Photo taken for a French fashion magazine near Dakar, Senegal.
I will not worry about anything that could go wrong until it does go wrong. If I have to change a tyre please let there be a big, strong friendly person to pass by and help me.
I know I am going to miss my kids terribly, I will worry about them, as I am sure they will worry about me too….I feel bad about leaving them for so long. I know I will have serious separation anxiety, as they are so much a part of who I am today and so entrenched in my every day life. I have been aware for quite a few years now, that they will grow up and leave home Who will I be? No more school lunches, no more driving to school and home again, no more lifting and carrying, no more company in the evenings reading the little one to sleep, then what? Hopefully this trip will give me the skills I need to move forward without them…watch this space *tears*.
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