When you think of someone's first trip overseas you expect them to travel to Europe or the Pacific. However I wanted to travel to a place that was out of the ordinary, a place that would take me out of my world of comforts and luxuries and challenge me to truly embrace a culture and new way of life.
I chose the vast and diverse southern Africa. The 19-day overland safari meant I would say goodbye to four walls and a comfortable bed and say hello to my tent and sleeping bag.
My adventure began in the mountainous Cape Town in South Africa. What a place of buzzing energy and ultra-cool bars and nightlife. I instantly fell in love, this city was a place to be in awe of. From the soaring table mountain caped with dense clouds to the golden beaches, boutique cafes, hidden bars and generous vineyards this place was destine to be entrenched into my heart.
What amazed me was only kilometre outside of this metropolitan city was miles and miles of shanty townships. I went and visited Langa Township and learnt of the devastation of Apartheid and how today the South African people are still trying to improve and mend the systems of racial segregation.
My journey then took me north through South Africa's Western Cape and through the fruit-growing regions of Citrusdal. Our first night under the stars was located at a local winery, near the Olifants River overlooking the stunning Cederberg Mountains.
I soon realised I was no longer in Kansas (Australia) when my tour leader informed me that when unpacking your tent in the morning be sure to shake it vigorously as there will be scorpions under it. Sure enough the next morning as I was packing up my tent two scary little scorpions scuttled away.
As we drove further north the lush green landscape soon turned into a barren dessert the closer we got to the Namibian border. Our next stop was the Fish River Canyon. This a definite must-see when in Africa. The canyon is some 500m deep and over 160km long and considered the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon.
We spent a night near the canyon before reaching the breath taking Sesriem, the gateway to the Namib Naukluft National Park, containing the world's oldest desert and highest sand dunes. Climbing the sand dunes was definitely the battle of the fittest. When I eventually reach the top it was worth it with a rainbow of colours appearing as the sun set over the dunes.
Our next stop was the Topics of Capricorn and then the endless sand beach town of Swakopmund. This town is Namibia's main seaside resort, and the hub of adventure activities. I skydived, sand boarded and went horse riding. Such a fun, friendly and welcoming little town.
The next few days was filled with astounding experiences. We slept under the stars at Spitzkoppe and cuddled up to cheetahs at the Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park before reaching the animal oasis at Etosha National Park.
The national park was by far one of my most favourite experiences. I saw more animals than I ever have in my whole life. From tiny little lion cubs, to proud rhinos and photogenic elephants and giraffes. I loved this place so must that I didn't want to leave and is a place I will definitely come back too.
My next favourite spot was the Okavango Delta which was when I first came face to face with not so friendly hippos. The delta was filled with wildlife and beautiful water channels.
A few days later I crossed over to Zambia and met the graciously huge Victoria Falls. I was absolutely breathless as to how beautiful the falls were. It is no wonder that they are one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It was supposably the dry season but the fall to me seemed as if they were full of life. My most amazing experience was swimming in the Devil Pools of the edge of these godly falls on the Zimbabwe side.
The next few days I explored Victoria Falls area on the Zimbabwe side. We stayed in a town called Livingstone. It was such a beautiful spot and it was so refreshing to see greenery and lush landscape. I had missed grass after a few weeks of dessert and sand.
Here is where I met two of the most gracious lionesses on a tour called 'the lion walk'. I got to get close and cuddly with these beautiful creatures. They were so inquisitive and cheeky, they made me smile more than ever.
At this point I knew my trip was coming to an end and I just could not believe I had been blessed with such wonderful experiences. I then flew to Johannesburg before embarking on my journey home. I was somewhat changed. I realised that there is more to life than superficial rubbish and to truly appreciate the simple things in life. My journey to Africa is one experience I will never forget.