Sleeping in the Desert 

Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

Four hours of driving and we passed only two very small towns on the way from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, to the Namib Desert. 

We stopped in Solitaire – an interesting place known for its cars drowning in the sand.
I was seventeen when I went to Egypt and saw the desert for the first time: a million stars in the sky and I thought the sand came from another planet. Some nights I still wish I could go back to this moment just to feel it twice.

We don’t have the luxury of going back in time but this was a new and beautiful opportunity to experience something close to it and yet – so different.

Namib was incredible. I felt the same way again – smaller than nothing, standing in front of the old sand dunes.

I never really understood what was so special about the sunsets until I came to Africa – the sky here is just different and the horizon stands much lower.
We slept in a tented lodge and this is definitely one of my most memorable travel experiences ever.

A view through the window of the tent:


It was extremely cold at night and very windy – although it wasn’t supposed to be like that. 

The good thing is that the tent and the nets keep the incests away, so if you don’t want to share a bed with a scorpion, this is a great option (much better than a room but definitely not as comfortable in terms of temperature).


There are a few people living and working in the lodge and they were all very nice. The chef was taking his job seriously – the food was really delicious, the main specialty was Oryx – a type of antelope, huge and with big horns.

We also met Meowie – the local cat hero who fights scorpions and cobras. He was the cutest kitten ever and he had survived several poisonous attacks. He managed to sneak in one night and purr on the bed – I love cats, so that was a great surprise for me.


I believe Namibia could be a very interesting and beautiful honeymoon destination too, especially during the summer season (most of the year).
Don’t miss the sign Tropic of Capricorn on the way to Swakopmund – after all, there are only two tropics in the world 🙂

Namib Desert

I was thinking of the fox in the “Little Prince” as I was leaving the Namib Desert and there he was, right in front of me.He winked at me.

I saw many mirages that day but this wasn’t one of them. It was so surreal that I had to make sure I took enough photos.

You probably remember this part:

“So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near –

“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”


It made so much sense in the desert – and it happened just as I was leaving Namib. In my previous post I mentioned that Namibia was a magical place.

One doesn’t go to the desert just like that. Most people prefer to go to Paris or Venice or a fly to a tropical island with white sand and turquoise water.

The desert is a special place where you are all by yourself and your inner demons; there you can set them free.

Have you ever felt the same way during some of your travels?

MY NEW LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA 

It’s been almost a year and a half since I moved to the other side of the world.
Africa.

South Africa.

It’s autumn now, almost winter, while the Northern Hemisphere is expecting the summer. 

The stars are different. 

August brings hot wind and red dust, December – heat waves and rain that does stop for a week. 

There are eleven official languages in South Africa and countless accents. 


Most people go home before sunset; the day starts at 5 in the morning with the shouts of the incredibly loud hadeda birds. People sing while walking on the streets. 

Now I know what is the true meaning of the safaris.

I’m not afraid of lions anymore. I know how to track different animals in the savannah and have no problem sleeping in a cave. 

The Ocean’s waves are huge but that makes them great for surfing. 

I made friends with a few blue cranes and a penguin colony. I learned more in one year that I had learned during my entire 4-year undergraduate degree . I know who are the people that I can trust even when I’m at the end of the world.

 I used to wait for the summer to come, now I’ve come to the summer. Because at the end of the day, the winter in South Africa is like a nice summer day in most countries.


Life is short and precarious and boring, so we must take the opportunity to change this and live it the way we want it to be.
No reason to stay is a good reason to go.

Zebra vs Lion Fight 

The fist animals we met in Kruger were two lions.



It was 5 am and they were having a nice breakfast. We couldn’t see what animal it was because they were hiding it behind a fallen tree, but they stayed there for many hours. We spent about 20 minutes watching them eating before continuing with the safari.

The sun was rising.
A few hundred meters away from the lions, a group of three zebras crossed the road in front of our car. The third one was wounded.


And then we realized it was the stallion that had been fighting with the lions. Their kill was another zebra and he tried to stop them.
Zebras are very social animals and they are quite strong as well. The stallion wasn’t badly wounded but there we could clearly see the scratches from the lion’s claws.

It was the first time we witnessed this aspect of the animal’s life. Most of the time you won’t see a predator hunting.


We asked the ranger if a vet is going to treat the zebra. Apparently they almost never do, the idea is to let the animals live as they would if no vets existed.

So that was the scary side of the safari – you suddenly realize that the animals are not just beautiful and magnificent and happily running around and just enjoying the day – from dusk to down, they fight for survival

The South African Cuisine 

A lot of people have been asking me about the South African cuisine. 

With so many different cultures in the country it’s very difficult to tell what is the authentic food and what is not, so I just decided to pick a few examples.

Enjoy!
1. Braai – the absolute South African number one!

It’s the South African barbecue. The meat is done medium-rare, maximum medium.

2. Pear & white chocolate cream 

3. Mixed Berry Pancakes 

4. Mushroom cream wrapped in cabbage 


5. Oysters – especially around Cape Town. 


6. Freshly squeezed juice.

Together with the 9 months of summer, the unlimited amounts of fresh fruit are one of the best reasons to live here 😀

SO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN SOUTH AFRICA?


It’s been more that a year since I moved to live in South Africa. I remember the first time I saw the land from the plane – perfect squares of neat green fields and red soil. I’ll never forget this moment. 

All people need some time to adjust to a new country. For me this period lasted for about 5 minutes. I came to my home country for a week and even though I enjoy seeing my family and friends, the truth is, I can’t wait to go back to South Africa.
This doesn’t mean that I have no problems living there. 
Living in South Africa as a foreigner is almost mission impossible: you’re not able to get anything without a SA ID number, there’s no information on the Internet, in fact usually there’s no Internet, no public transport, you can’t even buy a SIM card…if you’re lucky you might have electricity. 

It’s a very developed country but also a very restrictive one. I know it sounds weird.


But at the same time – the people are great and the food is delicious, the arts scene is very good and so are the jazz clubs, it’s a very young nation, the weather is probably the best in the world, and of course – the national parks are amazing (and the whole country feels like one huge park). 
Life in South Africa may not be for everyone, but for me it’s still a dream come true. ❤️

The 10 things you need for a great safari experience

A question I’m always asked is “What do I need to wear/bring on a safari?”So here is a short list of the most essential things for a game drive (according to me).


1. A wind proof jacket 

If you’ve never been on a safari before, you probably don’t assume you’d need one. Still, most game drives start around 4.30-5am and most likely you’re going in an open vehicle, which means the wind would be quite strong and cold. The temperature will start going up after sunrise, so layering is the best option.

2. Sunscreen 

Once the sun has risen, you would need to use sunblock. A typical safari would last for a few hours after sunrise, so make sure you don’t get sunburned.

3. A hat/ cap

I’m a fan of the Indiana Jones type of hats as they are also very good for the walking safaris, as they can protect you from the thorny bushes/trees. But even for a game drive you would need one, as you’re going to stop on the way for breakfast/lunch and also because there’s not always shade in the open vehicles on the game drives. A baseball cap is fine too.

4. Binoculars 

Many of the animals would be in the distance, especially the shy ones like leopard, cheetah and serval. It’s always useful to have binoculars with you and it would definitely help to find more animals.
A photography tip: if you’re taking pictures with your phone camera, put the binoculars in front of the lens and it would help you zoom in and take a close-up picture of an animal in the distance 🙂 

Here’s an example from Mr. Jonas

5. Water/ coffee/ tea
Preferably in a thermos.
6. Khaki is the best color for your safari outfit, but it’s not the only option.
Okay, here’s picture of me and our ranger-tracker-driver-genius Jonas. You could wear whatever you feel like, but I guess  it’s more fun to dress in safari style 🙂

This really depends on the area though. In countries where the tsetse fly is a problem, definitely stick to the classic khaki/ beige colors. 

Wearing white is not a good idea as it’s too bright and it might scare the animals away. The same rule applies for any flashy and bright colors.

My advice would be to stick to the earth colors.

7. A good camera
If you’re planning to buy a camera for your safari adventure, make sure you choose one with a great zoom.

8. Repellent 
As they say, the deadliest animal in Africa is the mosquito.Again, that really depends on the country – for example there’s almost no malaria in South Africa, except in Kruger Park.

9. A nice backpack
The best way to keep you wallet, binoculars, phones, cameras, sunscreen etc. in one place, otherwise you might forget something in the car.
10. A map or a book of the area.
They’re very useful. Many of them will tell you what is the likelihood of finding lions or elephants (or whatever other animal you want to see) in a certain area. You definitely need one of the if you’re planning a self-drive