I’m Going on an African Safari Next Month!

Three gorgeous giraffes at sunset in Namibia, Africa
In a sharp departure from last week’s post, let’s talk about something more uplifting. Ever since I began learning about the world, I’ve dreamed of visiting Africa. That desire only increased once I started traveling. I’ve always imagined this big trip: a few months around East Africa on safari (plus a long hike up Kilimanjaro), discovering spices in Zanzibar, and spending as long as humanly possible relaxing on the beaches of the Seychelles. That is my ultimate dream trip. But I’m saving that trip for when there is someone to take.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more than just those sights in Africa.

On the 28th of this month, I’ll fly to Cape Town for a three-week trip through South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana with G Adventures.

I don’t really know what to expect from this trip. I’ve never been to Africa, and I don’t know much about the countries I’m going to visit other than what I’ve read online (well, I do know a bit about South Africa). Maybe that’s a good thing. This way I’ll have no preconceived notions or prejudices to overcome — I can just take the countries as they are. Pre-conceived notions can ruin a place.

This will be a “basic” trip, meaning lots of camping in the bush, which sounds completely awesome. Being internet-free while I’m there will let me focus on what’s really important: not getting eaten by a lion or trampled by an elephant.

Jokes aside, how excited am I about going to Africa?


And what I find very cool as I count down to this trip is that even after six years of constant travel, I can still get butterflies in my stomach over visiting a new place. Will I make it to the hotel OK? What will the food be like? What scams do I have to look out for? What about malaria?

Of course, I learned long ago that all these fears and questions are natural but unfounded. I’ll be perfectly fine. I’ll make it to my hotel in one piece, I’ll be safe, I’ll see amazing things, and my time there will be perfect. But in a way it’s comforting to know that no matter how much of an “expert” you are, new places can still take you back to those first travel moments when you boarded the plane and thought to yourself, “Will everything be fine, or am I crazy for doing this?”

Yes, yes I am. I’m crazy for doing all this. Crazy like a fox! Africa will be continent #6 for me. I’m really hoping I get to the see the famous honey badger — those things are badass. Just how badass? This video shows just how:

But even if the honey badger eludes me, I’m going to spend three weeks on safari turning a long-held dream into reality. It may not be my ultimate Africa dream trip, but it’s still a dream come true.

Merry Early Christmas to me!

  1. You must try springbok and warthog. Some of the best food I have ever eaten was in that area of the world. Cape Town is great. Hike up Table Mountain if you can. It’s fairly strenuous, but worth it. The best steak I’ve ever eaten was in Botswana in the Mokolodi National Park. Unfreakingbelievable. I think everyone there buys cattle rather than put their pula in banks, and with steak like that, I’d eschew banks too. Have a great time!

    By the way, I’m writing this comment while on the dirt slow wifi of the Megabus, so hopefully I don’t wind up posting this a dozen times trying to get through!

  2. I SO want to return to South Africa and explore beyond. I’m seriously thinking of changing my winter travel plans from Costa Rica to Africa. You’re going to love it! Just watch out for the lions, leopards, elephants and most dangerous the buffalo.

  3. Margaret Walton

    We did this trip with G Adventures a couple of years ago. It was amazing. The camping is less basic than you think (hot showers, pools and bars) and the food was fantastic (try ostrich, kudu, etc). Take the plane ride over the Okavanga Delta – you get a totally different feel for the area than when you are going through it. Stay up till the lions come to the watering hole at Etosha.

    • NomadicMatt

      Thanks! Glad to know it is so good. I would expect a G trip to be great but it’s good to hear from someone who has done the same tour!

  4. Angela O.

    As soon as I read this blog was up, I immediately thought of the Toto song “Africa” and now it will be stuck in my head the entire rest of the day. Have a very safe and amazing journey!!!
    …gonna take some time to do the thing we never have…

  5. That’s awesome! Africa is probably the continent I want to visit the least, but your trip sounds awesome. I hope you see a honey badger, too, they’re super badass.

  6. Africa! I LOVE Africa. I hope you get the chance to surf down Dune #7 in Swakopmund – and it can’t hurt to be flexible on the day. My one chance to do that was crushed by a wicked sandstorm…

    I second Jason’s comment on the warthog. I’m southern and have high BBQ standards, but warthog ribs beat anything I’d ever had. Really, every animal tastes wonderful in Africa. And Joe’s Beer House in Windhoek has delicious food and is a rockin’ good time (from what I remember…). You are going to have a BLAST!

  7. Great going Matt! I guess a traveler starts to crave Africa once he’s seen all the rest of “safe” places in the world, which is kind of expected I guess. I’ve seen documentaries of safari and park camping trips and well, even with the facilities provided it still takes real guts to go there. Talk about going off the beaten path – by a longshot! Enjoy!

  8. Have just returned from my first Africa trip – absolutely amazing. Hard, but very rewarding. I’m also a ‘pro travellers’ with 11 years on the road, but I also get anxious when going to a new country :-)

  9. Awesome! I’m headed to Africa next month as well but doing the Africa that you mentioned you weren’t doing right now – East Africa, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. Even still, good luck with it all! It will be nice to see your updates (when you do get to update) to compare terrain. Have fun!

  10. Matt

    Awesome Matt! I too have always dreamed of a badass Africa trip. Such an exotic place, how could you not wanna go?
    Just don’t get eaten by the millions of things that could!

  11. Stephano

    Welcome home, you’re going to love it. Great choice of places although you’re coming during our peak season, so the beaches are packed, popular sites are busy which means more opportunities to meet the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever meet., South Africans know how to have a great time. So try spend time at Mzoli’s in Cape Town or go to Franshoek for the day.

  12. Sounds like it’s going to be a great trip! I did Cape Town and drove myself all over Namibia. I agree with the food – lots of big game out there that all tastes amazing. Namibia had Germans colonize it, so the sausage and beer is phenomenal. The Brauhaus in Swakopmund was awesome, if not quite a weird cultural juxtaposition 😉 Enjoy!

  13. Matt, your fellow Biscuit here. I just got back from Tanzania two weeks ago. I volunteered for 3 weeks, went to Zanzibar, went on safari and (successfully) climbed Kilimanjaro. I absolutely loved Tanzania and wish I could go back with you to see the other parts of the continent that I missed. I am excited FOR you. I love it there. Did you get all your shots and visas prepared?

  14. When we did East Africa the big one we wanted to see but unfortunately missed out on was the Sand Puppy. Yeah, we saw lions, leopards, elephants, crocs, chimps, gorillas, rhinos et al, but no Sand Puppies (naked mole rats). :(

    Africa is awesome. Have a great time.

  15. I spent 2 months in Africa in 2010 – in Kenya and Ghana – and the experience was surreal. My buddy and I planned to visit South Africa for a month as well, but both of us ran out of money on the tail end of our 7 months of travel and I had to return to the US to make some money. So, SA is still #1 on my list of countries to visit – aiming to make it happen in the next 2 years.

    Have an awesome trip!

  16. Mikaila

    Oh you will have so much fun! I recently went to Ghana in west Africa for two and a half months and it was awesome! I was terrified as it was my first trip completely alone, but I’m proud to say, I took an hour and a half long taxi ride to my new African house and I came back home alive! And if the food in South Africa is anything like it was in Ghana, you will find yourself missing it once you leave – even though I lived on 9 weeks of rice 3 meals a day – I miss all their sauces! And of course the people were a blast to hang out with.

    I am so jealous you are going! I can’t wait until I return to Africa! Have fun!

  17. Jeff

    My wife and I are thinking about Africa soon as well. Would you mind posting what you packed (before you go) and then re-visit it afterwards to mention what you did and did not need?

  18. Marc

    Hi Matt,

    Been an avid reader for ages now. I am actually based in South Africa (JHB), and will be flying down to cpt on the 29th for work. Would love to meet up for a coffee of a beer if possible.

    • NomadicMatt

      I land on the 30th for just a few hours before I head out with my tour group. Unfortunately, I don’t have any time for meet ups this trip. It’s really quick in CPT.

  19. Franki

    Make sure you go to more than just the safaris. I mean, they’re great, don’t get me wrong, but there are so many different layers and cool things. In South Africa, don’t be afraid of the ‘black taxis’. They are fine, and awesome, but white people will tell you otherwise. There is an incredibly strong and often not invalid fear culture among South Africans. Go to Soweto in Johannesburg, try a Kota. Go to a township, but be respectful. You need to go to Eastern Africa – it is absolutely incredible, especially once you get out of a lot of the bigger cities. Please post all about Africa. I noticed that Africa is one of the few continents without information from you! It’s an absolutely incredible continent, filled with so much beauty and variety. You’ll have an amazing time, I’m sure of it.

    Do check if you need malaria medication though. Also, do wear shoes. Jiggers are nasty. And try ugali and cassava and taste the difference in the food and animals! GAH I’m so excited for you. HAVE FUN!!

  20. This trip sounds amazing! And so does your future trip to East Africa. I’ve been wanting to travel to Africa for some time now so I can’t wait to hear about your preparation and adventures!
    I linked to your website in my latest blog post, 5 Remedies for a Bad Case of Wanderlust, as a resource for people who are travel-bound and needing some inspiration. Thanks for being that inspiration for me!

  21. Reika

    You are coming to Cape Town!!! You should do your meet up group in Cape Town?!?! I don’t know how many of your followers are located in Cape Town, but I would LOVE to meet up with you while you are in Cape Town and talk about our travel stories :)

    • NomadicMatt

      I won’t be running a meet up in Cape town this trip. I hope to be back next year for longer and will do something then!

  22. Claire

    Hi Matt!
    I love your website – so many great ideas/resources in planning for my big rtw trip next year. Really excited to see you’re heading to Africa finally, I’m actually a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia right now! Don’t know if you’ve left any open time in Africa after your tour, but there are volunteers all over the country who would be happy to show you around if you want to explore some more! Hope you have a fantastic trip, I did almost the exact same route in May and it was incredible!

  23. So awesome Matt!!! Glad to hear you sounding like your regular self again! If you need a spare to join you – let me know – has been a dream location for me for as long as I can remember! Trying to figure out how to get there next! Happy early Christmas to you!

  24. Raine

    So awesome that you still get excited and butterflies over a new place, it would be sad to lose that. Africa has a special place in my heart, even though I haven’t been there yet it is somewhere I have wanted to go since I did a school assignment on Kenya.

    Have a great time :)

  25. Sweet! We were in Eastern Africa for 5 months and had many ups and downs while we were on that wild continent…which is all part of backpacking. For any “downs” we encountered, there were many more “ups”. Have an amazing time.

    Goats On The Road

  26. MAN! Honey Badgers are the Shiz!

    When I was a kid, I thought my second “grown-up job” (after being a fighter pilot) would be to film animals in Africa. LoL!

    Enjoy the trip! Looking forward to the pictures.

  27. Amazing! You’re gonna have an incredible time… the wildlife, the nature – so beautiful. I went to Uganda a few years ago and fell in love with it. I also got malaria on the last day of my trip, and I think I only got about five mosquito bites the whole trip, AND I was taking anti-malaria pills. Would still go back in a heartbeat, though!

  28. Ahhh you are going to love this. Best you saved it until now, I always felt like Africa was so awesome it spoiled backpacking in later places for me.

  29. Matt, I am totally jealous. I cannot wait to get into that part of the world, but the unreasonable part of me is scared shitless of it. Will be following you closely for reassurance…

  30. Man I need to get back to Africa! I’ll be in Spain this summer and am thinking of taking a little time off that trip and heading to Cape Town now. Great read!

  31. Sounds like an amazing trip! No doubt SA is also on my travel list, together with a hike to Kilimanjaro, that must be the experience of a lifetime. Enjoy your trip! Hopefully that honey badger doesn’t elude you.
    http://www.livin3.com Positive Tees for Positive People.

  32. The trip sounds just fab …. we saw honey badger around daybreak in the Kruger once, it was just amazing. We are leaving for an African adventure on 2 December, a 5 month camping trip around 11 countries. Start in Johannesburg and hopefully end up in Cape Town. I’m just hoping for the best! Maybe we’ll cross paths so look out for us with 2 Landcruisers bumping along:)

  33. Very cool Matt….congrats on soon exploring a new part of the world. The Dunes, Delta and Falls is one of the classic trips offered by G, I know many people who’ve done it and loved it…have fun!

  34. Saara

    Glad ur venturing into the African Continent. It’ll change u .. If u let it. Try and hike up lions head in cape town as well as Devils peak. There are a bunch of really beautiful hikes in Cape Town.

  35. Of those countries, I’ve ever only been to South Africa…and you will LOVE IT. Everything from Cape Town (favorite city in the world) to the wildlife to the coastal areas to the food gets a huge two thumbs up from this traveler!

  36. Enjoy your trip. My husband and I ended our four month African adventure in Cape Town this time last year. Be careful not to blow away in your tent by the dunes in Namibia. Hopefully G Adventures takes you via the Skeleton Coast becuase the landscape is unreal.

    If you get the chance I highly recommend rafting the Zambezi when you get to Vic Falls and Taking the trip out to Devil’s Pool for a peak over the falls. This two activities give you both extremes.

  37. Wow Matt, you’ll have a great time! I was in South Africa and Namibia in July / August and loved it. Photo opportunities in Namibia in particular are amazing. If there are any questions I can answer for you, just let me know (Twitter: @TravelEater).
    Have fun!

  38. Carmen

    Hey Mr. Mat!

    I live in Johannesburg, South Africa! Were always glad to hear that people are excited to visit SA! It may be a bit busy at all the tourist areas as it is school holiday during the time you are here in peak holiday season in SA. And bring lots of sunscreen the sun in Africa is usually a whole different ballgame, even though it doesn’t always get that hot you will get a sunburn rather quickly.

    I believe you wont be totally of the grid in SA you should be able to access the net in most cities.

    With regards to scams there aren’t that many running around, yes there is crime much like any other country though as long as you seem aware of your surroundings you wont make a target of yourself.

    Furthermore the food in SA is great, you will probably be offered some funky traditional foods but their not too bad (well not all of them…). Just be prepared to wait EVERYWHERE service is usually hectically slow.

    And if you have a day or two in Johannesburg or need a place to stay in Jburg, we would love to show you the city and all the sites around!

    (However we are shipping off to Italy on the 9th of December so if we miss you or theres no slack time in your tour we hope you have tons of fun!!!)

    O and don’t feed the animals, and STAY IN the vehicle when told. I’ve seen an American get chased by a Hyena, whilst the entertainment value is beyond hilarious, I’m sure you’d rather skip on that type of adventure!

    Geniet dit (enjoy!)

    • NomadicMatt

      Sadly, most of my tip is not in SA. I’m just in Capetown for a couple of days before heading north. I’ll be saving SA for a much longer trip. Thanks for the tips though. I’ll keep them for next time.

  39. I’ve done this same tour! Kinda..I went the other way but it was the same stuff. When in Windhoek be sure to lock your stuff away as the other tour staying at the hotel had their stuff stolen! Neither group liked the hotel much so they might (hopefully) have changed it.

    I liked the scenery of Namibia the most but the people of Botswana were some of the nicest I have ever met. The time spent in the park in the north of Namibia is amazing as is the time in the delta in Botswana. In Botswana a guy came up to us and started talking–after Zambia we all went to say ‘no, I don’t want to buy anything’–and he just asked us to enjoy our time in his country and to tell our friends how great it is to boost tourism.

    Zambia is the place you would need to be the most careful talking to people though. I spent a few extra days there and many people tried to rip me off. Even if you say you won’t buy anything they will follow you down the street saying that they want to tell you their life story and make you feel bad and give you money.

  40. I just know you’re going to have an awesome time visiting SA but it’s a pity you’re not spending more time in Cape Town though. I predict that you’ll see just enough to guarantee that you come back way sooner than you planned to.

    When you find yourself back in Cape Town let me know so that I can point you in the direction of some things to add to your next update of your “$50 a day” book: List of wineries that do free wine tasting, a really fancy restaurant where you can get a great steak and a glass of wine for under $12,etc…

    The only people in SA that eat warthog, crocodile, etc… are tourists. They’re great to try and you’ll have a cool story to tell but the quality of the “normal” food we have here is what will be memorable.

    Visiting the national parks you’ll be seeing more than most people that live in this country do. My wife, who was born and raised in SA, saw her first Giraffe at age 27 in San Diego! Good luck spotting the Honey Badger, or Ratel as we call it. They’re sneaky.


  41. fred

    Swing by Tanzania my friend. This country has MUCH to offer. From the Southern Highlands European style tea plantations to Lake Tanganyika’s Mahale wild Chimpanzees to Climbing Africa’s highest point to amazing safaris in some of Africa’s biggest national parks to teal coloured ocean water beaches to Zanzibar’s amazing culture!
    Karibuni Tanzania!

  42. Fan of Zambia

    Hi Matt,

    As someone who lived in Zambia from 2001-2004 and gets to travel there quite a bit with work, I have to say it is one of my favorite places. I am glad you will see Livingstone, it is a touristy town, but the Falls are breathtaking. Be prepared to be soaked at the Falls! Someone commented above that the marketers will try and follow you….it is true, but in general people mean well. Zambia also has some other great spots–South Luangwa National Park, Shiwa N’gandu, and Kafue National Park to name a few.

    Happy Travels!

  43. Eric

    If you love rough travel and getting to know the locals, Africa is the best continent to be on. I have lived homeless and nomadic in Africa for the last 3 years. The African bush lands are my home. I have never been to the countries you listed (except for a time I accidentally crossed the border into Zambia when lost on a bush road in Malawi). But I’ll give you some advice to take with you:

    Don’t be afraid of Malaria, to Africans its like the common cold. Everyone I know who takes Doxycycline has gotten malaria. Malarone and Mefloquine are much more reliable.

    Travel with Ciprofloxacin (stomach antibiotics). If you’re enjoying local cafes and street food on those loooong African bus rides, you will get stomach bacteria. But its very easy to cure.

    3 weeks will be awesome, but Africa is a big continent. You will be back for more.

  44. Laura

    I spent 3 months volunteering in Botswana last year, it’s a beautiful country! I lived in Maun but spent a lot of time in more northern villages and on/in the Delta, the boat rides are spectacular (especially from Kasane) You’ll have an amazing time, I’m doing some work with friends out there that i’m hoping will mean I can get back soon!

  45. Eda

    Remember its Summer here in the southern half, so be sure to bring sunscreen and do wear a hat (UV serious). Unless you smell like a zebra you will be safe from predators! If you’r lucky the poaches may have left a rhino or two. Chill & enjoy.

  46. Dom

    “But I’m saving that trip for when there is someone to take.”

    I love that sentence, the decency and genuinity behind it is the core reason I enjoy your site. Hope you have an amazing trip, look forward to reading about it.

  47. If my experience is any indicator, it will be a fantastic trip! We did a self-drive safari earlier this summer and spent 22 nights camping and driving ourselves through South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. It was far and away the highlight of our trip, and I’m not sure we could ever top-it!

  48. Just popped in to read this as first post on your blog. Thanks for this article. It’s inspiring to read about your adventures to Africa and my home town Cape Town. But looking at what you have achieved as a blogger is amazing.

    Well done. I will have to subscribe to stay in touch with your blogging ways.


    Johan Horak
    P.S. I’ll search but I suppose you did publish a follow up on this trip.

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