After some amazing trips through Europe, Asia and North America, I was desperate to experience and photograph somewhere truly unique and wild on my next travels.
The perfect opportunity arose as myself and three good friends joined our Zimbabwean pal Kuda for a four-week trip through sunny southern Africa.
We started slow in the tourist mecca of Cape Town, before leaving our comfort zone and never really finding it again as we explored all corners of the somewhat forgotten nation of Zimbabwe.
In between a multitude of warm, humbling and sometimes hilarious experiences with friendly locals, we came away with a true appreciation of the beauty of this great continent.
Our trip started in Cape Town, and we wasted no time getting straight to Camps Bay to enjoy the famous white-sand beaches, crystal-clear water and epic views of Lion’s Head in the backdrop.
This coastal paradise features a strip of shaded restaurants and cafes that make for a perfect day trip just six kilometres west of the city centre.
It’s impossible to spend a sunny afternoon staring at Lion’s Head peak and not want to make the climb ... so we did! While quite challenging in parts, this view back towards Cape Town and Table Mountain was a stunning reward for our efforts.
One of the staples of the Aussie traveling experience is getting out to a professional sports match, so we were stoked to catch a sunny day’s play of test cricket between South Africa and the West Indies at Newlands Stadium.
With beers flowing and striking views of Table Mountain behind, it’s hard to say we watched the game too closely!
After a perfect city and coast experience, we went out in search of true African scenes in eastern Zimbabwe.
The mountainous region of Nyanga delivered. We were treated to classic views on a sunset tour towards the Mozambique border. It was really satisfying to tick off an iconic African tree shot so early in the trip.
On the way back to our home base in Harare, we stopped for a view of country Zimbabwean life in a timeless farm village.
Most of the young locals had never seen a white person before, and our arrival was as humbling as it was fascinating, speaking about the world with villagers as they tended to the fields that support their families.
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Even though the scenery was so special, nothing could compare to the experience of meeting Zimbabwe’s beautiful locals. I’ve never met such friendly, open people, and they were all thrilled for the opportunity to show off their country to travellers.
Four cheeky boys stopped their street game to pose for the portrait above in the southern outskirts of Harare.
You can’t go to southern Africa without going on safari! Our next stop was out west, where we ventured on an overnight camping trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana.
We had to push our tour guide to stay out later than planned, but he relented, treating us to warm evening sunlight that helped me capture a young elephant family on the march for fresh grass in the summer wetlands.
Staying the night in a tiny campsite in the middle of the African wilderness can be a bit unnerving, but I had to break right through my comfort zone to get the above shot.
Our guides only allowed us to stray 20 metres from camp, and a group of friends had to keep their phone torches pointed out into the darkness to check for the dreaded reflection of two wild lion eyes.
But in the relative comfort of our safari vehicle the next morning, wild lion eyes were exactly what we wanted!
After some skilled driving and spotting by our guide, I captured this once-in-a-lifetime shot of one of the only three male lions in the entire park. He stopped long enough to dismiss us as harmless visitors, before returning to patrol duties to secure his pack’s territory for another day.
Chobe’s safari trips are based from Victoria Falls. We couldn’t resist a helicopter trip on our last day in the area to give us a true feel of the scale and power of this natural wonder.
All 108 metres of surging water dwarfed a semi-trailer crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge that spans the Zambezi river.
The whole area was a thrill-seeker’s delight. We could've chosen between bungee jumping from the bridge or taking a wild water rafting trip to get our heart rates up – crocodiles sometimes included!
I could show off another 100 photos from the trip, but the only way to see Africa as we did is to get there yourself.
I entered the continent with trepidation, but found myself safe and happy in the hands of the most warm and helpful people I have ever met. Thanks Africa for a truly unforgettable experience.