One of my least favorite questions to answer is "What was your favorite part?" Slimming down a trip into the best moments leaves out all the thrills in between and the trip's entirety as a journey, which amplifies the highlights even more. The experience of the World Traveler Internship had an obvious highlight for me: the job itself. Going back to my room at night to write a blog or make a video was fulfilling and affirmed my desire to be a travel writer.
You've just flown thousands of miles across massive oceans and expanses of land. You've had too many airport transfers to bother remembering. Those weren't cheap tickets or easy transit days. But you came to relive those deeply rooted Lion King fantasies from your childhood and by golly you'll do anything to make those happen!One thing you will realize upon getting to Africa is that the wild animals aren't really as close to civilization as some North American wildlife can be. We may imagine lions wandering into people's flower gardens and elephants backing into generators, cutting of the city's power supply. But unless you hit up a National Park in a city like Nairobi or Nakuru, you have a long way to drive to get to those classic landscapes teeming with long-necked, 2 ton, man-eating herds.
Therefore, most travelers who want to see East Africa and live out their safari dreams either book a full service transport/guide/camping/catering service from Arusha or Nairobi or they overland on massive multi-functional vehicles. Regardless of your travel mode, quality is key and can dictate whether you enjoy yourself or not. Research the companies and their average age of passenger or style of travel and make sure it fits with you. Ask about the experience of their drivers or guides. When it comes to the driver or tracker on safari, he or she needs to have loads of experience in order to find what you are hoping to see. Those who have been around for a while are downright psychic when it comes to predicting animal appearances or future behavior. Also, inquire about the vehicles for the drives into and around the game parks. Land Rovers clearly trump Land Cruisers, and vehicles with frequent maintenance will make, not break, your experience. No one likes getting stranded in those steamy, remote landscapes.
And if you're looking for a straight forward recommendation, I actually really dug our tour company because they met every standard of quality I found important. Bottom line is to decide what you find important (comfort, experience, fellow passengers, travel style, etc.) and do the research. No one wants to spend wads of dough and realize they missed the mark on their travel dreams.
Even though I’ve hiked through Yeti country and bush camped in East Africa among wild buffalo and hyenas, never have I been so afraid to walk around a country as I was when I got to Australia. This place could hard core kill ya. What a statement to encourage tourism in Oz!
But really, I say this because of the research I did on this country/continent. Bill Bryson, in his book In A Sunburned Country, mentions that the top ten most venomous, dangerous, poisonous creatures on the planet all live on, or in the waters surrounding, this massive island. If the crocs in the mangroves don’t snatch you off the pier, then maybe the box jellyfish will whip you with the World’s deadliest sting while swimming at the reef. Or maybe you could just be that unfortunate one that sits down on a toilet seat where a poisonous spider has made its home.
Gives ya the heebie jeebies, huh?
The reality, as it is in most countries, is that you’re more likely to simply get hit by a car crossing the street than you are to encounter the trigger-happy animal kingdom. But the fact that Australia has such hard core creatures (and terrain!) has certainly altered their mentalities. They live fast. They live like they’re still young. They travel. They do ballsy things. They seize life by the huevos and cheers to it with their incredible beer drinking abilities. They’re fun-loving, adventure seeking people who know that nature and fate have the ability to take what’s theirs at any time, making them the kind of people that live enviable lives.
Oz is where the young and young at heart can write their big life stories. I’ll take a page from their book and work my youth like it’s my job…which it is, right? ;)