Up until last summer I always thought my high expectations for Africa were The Lion King’s fault. Now, I can absolutely say that hippopotamuses are not the endearing animals advertising diapers, Hakuna Matata literally means “no problem” in Swahili and, the best of all, Pumba really exists!
Please tell me you are the other girl travelling alone. You seem really nice —wondered out loud a smiling and visibly tired little head just peaking over the seat in front of me on the flight to Nairobi…
…and that’s how my very own “Memories of Africa” began as well as a friendship with a person who is as similar as she is different from me who I turned out to really like.
Five hours after landing our pilgrimage to the Ngorongoro caldera began with a first stop at lago Naivasha.
If you’re thinking about travelling around Serengeti in a jeep, get ready to swallow dust, learn a bit of mechanics and load up your rucksack with patience because 100 kilometres can take several hours.
They were fifteen incredible days travelling by land, sea and air. I had never imagined one of the best sunrises I’d ever see would be flying over The Maasai Mara in a hot air balloon nor the fact that even the wheel of the small plane would blow. I also never thought we’d sleep surrounded by hyenas. And even in the era of Instagram, the lion continues to be the king of the savannah. For the first time in my life I just couldn’t sleep - quite the contrary - with channel 2 documentaries.
One of the most emotional moments was visiting Lake Victoria. The group was lucky to have a few doctors on hand who gave away most of the basic medications they were carrying in their bags which could not have landed in better hands.
Our final stop was Zanzibar, the island of spices and the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. Its terrible slave history, bathed by the enigmatic and paradisiacal Indian Ocean, left me breathless.
I’ll no doubt return some day, but probably in a different way. I can’t really describe it, but I felt infinitely happy and ridiculously extravagant. It just doesn’t seem fair that a few of us can go experience what others can only dream of.