Four More Sleeps (two of them on airplanes) and The “Dream of Africa” Becomes Reality

August 23, 2017

Originally posted July 31, 2013

When my granddaughter, Delaney, was still a little girl (she hit her teen years this past May) and would ask her parents something like, “When do we leave for Nebraska,” they would answer her by telling her the number of “sleeps” before the event would happen. As small children have a bit of difficulty with relative time…especially the future…it was a pretty neat way to communicate that concept to her. And as families do, the term and its usage have made its way into our lexicon. So, as this is written on Wednesday, July 31st, Cindy and I are looking at four more sleeps, and we’ll be in South Africa.

Two of those sleeps will be on airplanes.  The way it goes is that we get on an American Airlines flight around noon on Friday at Eppley. That will be a short hop over to Chicago, where we’ll board a late afternoon, overnight flight to London. We’ll be there the better part of a day before getting on a British Airways 747, which will fly overnight to Johannesburg, arriving bright and early on Sunday.

And we’ll be in Africa!  Unbelievable after all these years of dreaming of that place.

AfricaPakAfricaPak Getting ready for this trip – just like making it – hasn’t been exactly simple. Many hours were spent just researching wildlife safaris in South Africa and the agents who make them happen. Ultimately, I hooked up with Safaris 365, located in Cape Town, and worked with Romy and then Kerry (once Romy went on maternity leave) to select two lodges in the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which offer very comfortable accommodations and two game drives each day out into the African bush via open Land Rover, with the afternoon/evening one being concluded with sundowners served in the field from a full bar laid out on a white linen tablecloth.

Once that was settled and the necessary airline reservations were completed, “all” we had to do was decide what to take with us on such a trip and then round those items up. Again, this was anything but simple. The photo shows the bed in Delaney’s bedroom in our house, where I’ve been laying things out as I locate and/or access them. Without any clothing or camera gear (which is a strategic challenge of its own) it appears to be about half a suitcase full. Because South African Airways – who will fly us on the last leg of the trip, (an hour hop up to Hodspruitt) has an 80 kilo (44 lbs.) weight limit on checked luggage, there will have to be a weigh-in before we ever leave home.

For the photographically inclined, you might be interested in that aspect of packing for Africa.  I began with a commitment to take with me a whole heck-of-a-lot less gear than I did last summer to Alaska. All of the wildlife photos will be taken from an open vehicle shared with others, and there just won’t be room for my Think Tank chock-full rolling bag, requiring three men and a strong boy just to lift it. Plus, it isn’t necessary. I bought a Think Tank Airport Essentials, which is advertised as small enough to fit in the overhead of regional jets and am taking two Nikon DSLR bodies, the new Nikon second generation AF-S 80-400 zoom, a Nikon 24-120 zoom, and a Nikon 17-35 zoom, as well as a Kenko 1.4 tele-converter (because the Nikon 1.4 converter is not compatible with the 80-400. And of course, I’ll have the usual chargers, extra batteries, sensor cleaning kit (a necessity in Africa, I’m told) a Nikon 600 speedlight, two external hard drives and my 13 inch laptop, etc., etc., etc. I’ve already weighed in with this gear, packed, and it comes to 23lbs, and it will never be out of my sight on this trip.

(Cindy will be equipped with both of our Nikon 1’s, with a 10-30mm and a 30-110. Those are roughly equivalent to a 28-80. And an 80-330, and as usual, I expect she’ll bring back photos that will make all the stuff I’ll be lugging around, look kind of silly.)

Finally, there are the pills and shots. The Kruger area is malarial, and the medics felt that Hepatitis A and typhoid inoculations would be a nice accompaniment to the anti-malarial pills.

At times, all of this preparation has seemed almost over-whelming, but I feel as though, once the regional jet is pushed back from the gate at Eppley, a kind of calm will descend, and Cindy and I will for the next ten days be in a – brand new – little world of our own, which will be the neatest part of the adventure…sharing it with the wife from central casting.

Look for some Africa photos to be added to this site in the weeks ahead, and also, I’ll be able to tell you if, in the Southern Hemisphere, the water really does circulate down the drain counter-clockwise.

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