Well, we had a pretty amazing trip. In case you’re not aware, we just spent three weeks in southern Africa – mostly Namibia, but we had some stops in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa as well. It was beautiful and amazing and worth the suffering finances (please, please, don’t let anything go wrong with the house in the next two years!).
This is just a few snippets of our three weeks on the road. I will say that Africa, especially Namibia where we spent so much of that time, was so much easier than I anticipated. We’re reasonably well-traveled, being lovers of visiting the world, but I admit I was a little intimidated before we went. Now I know I didn’t need to be. The food was good, the supermarkets were plentiful, the people were mostly very friendly and the roads and drivers weren’t nearly as bad as we had heard. In other words, if you have the time, money and inclination, then GO!
One of our first stops was Sesriem, in Nambia. Above are Mushroom and BalletBoy in a little cave they climbed up into in the canyon and below is Mushroom sitting on one of the tallest dunes in the world.
For much of the trip, we were driving around Namibia in a truck with pop up tents on top of it. We were, ahem, a little more lax about seat belts when we were in the national parks, driving really slow and the kids were nearly as thrilled about that as the sights.
We saw a lot of animals as we drove around and occasionally were driven around. Giraffes, zebras, lions, elephants, hippos, baboons, a rhino, and more bird species than I could count. It was like being in an aviary. And we learned to spot the differences between various antelopes like impala, springbok, kudu and so forth.
Well, you get the general idea. And as beautiful as the land was (with or without animals), sometimes we got a bit bored. There’s BalletBoy and me mocking the Husband, whose tongue cannot curl. Poor man. There’s probably some springbok outside that truck that we’re totally ignoring.
I was really pleased that there were so many geology tie ins on our trip. We learned all about how the Namib is the oldest desert in the world. And the Tsumeb Museum was full of crazy minerals. Like, really crazy awesome.
And, since it turns out there are unusual roadside attractions even in Namibia, we also took a small detour to see the world’s largest meteorite. It was really, really big.
Continuing the geology theme, Victoria Falls was one big geology lesson (it was formed through volcanic activity). Below is the Husband and the kids getting drenched in the spray. It was truly one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.
Okay, now this is all out of chronological order, but whatever. We also got a nice dose of culture. If you look closely, you can see the ancient rock painting in the picture of me and the kids. We hiked a long way up a mountain to see it and there were lizards and geckos everywhere around us. It was pretty cool.
And there were a lot of tourist cultural encounters. Finding the supermarkets and fast food of a place is always an experience. When we were in the fancy hotels instead of camping on top of our truck, we saw a good bit of singing and dancing that was somewhat authentic, I’m sure, but also somewhat staged. Still, BalletBoy was pretty thrilled to be called on “stage” here to dance in Zimbabwe. He was the only person to do so!
And when we were in South Africa, we got a lot of Apartheid history. The kids had prepared by reading about Nelson Mandela and reading books like The Day Gogo Went to Vote, but it was still a lot to take in to see prisons and townships. Mushroom was especially affected during our quick time in Jo’burg and we decided to skip doing much more with that when we were in Cape Town. Instead, we just enjoyed the seals, the views from the mountain and the beach.
Now that I’m home and we’re all easing back into routines (though we’re off school until after Easter), I’m just feeling grateful for homeschooling and how it allowed us to not only take this trip, but to build learning around it. We got to devote all our social studies to it beforehand for two months and I know we’ll devote a good bit of writing and project time to processing it afterwards when we start back with school.