DIARIO DE UN VIAJE | Safari a caballo

BRAND AMBASSADOR | Marta González.
PHOTOGRAPHY |  Kika Thous.

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AFRICA, MORE THAN A DREAM.

A Horseback Safari through Zambia and Tanzania.

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Galloping through natural wilderness. We ride inside one of the very last places that still preserves the wildest fauna on this idyllic continent. Zebras, buffalos, giraffes, elephants, even a rhino may surprise you as they wander in total freedom. An unforgettable journey, from the Savanna to the paradisiacal Tanzanian beaches. This was the start of an adventure: To accomplish the African Dream…

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After a long trip, British BA55 flight landed at Johannesburg, final destination for most tourist. Only those travellers searching for the unknown continued to Zambia, the main Southern African country treasuring amazing contrasts and mysteries.

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Upon arrival to Livingstone, a local guide named Tandy was waiting for us. He answer a never-ending list of questions about his country while crossing little timeless hamlets. People wearing tattered occidental-like outfits, walking back from a working day on the fields. Women carrying heavy packs on their heads. All those images repeatedly shown on TV are part of their routine. We suddenly passed a group of young cyclists. They were coming back from the Zimbabwean border where they sell potatoes, as these are much better paid there in comparison with the prices in their own country. The few trucks we encountered were loaded with ‘copa’ the local gold; the precious copper which constitutes the main national source of income. Nevertheless, and little by little, tourism is becoming a fairly important part of their economy, and due to that the locals make a huge effort to take good care of the traveller.

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Just from the car it is easy to mark that Zambia is neither South Africa, nor Kenya. On these aforementioned countries terrain has been fenced, animals have been raised and reserves have been protected, all set for the tourists. Not here. The wild essence may still be perceived with all that implies.

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THORNTREE RIVER LODGE

After a one-hour drive full of inputs we reach our lodging. Located in the vicinity of Victoria Falls and in a privileged setting close to the border limiting Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

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There are other hotels in the area, but the real experience requires a lodge. There are only six luxury villages located at the Zambezi riverside, with a full range of comforts but perfectly integrated in the nature. You feel like in the centre of the African heart. There are some armed security guards, as animals may show up at your doorstep at any moment.

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Personnel’s assistance and handling was excellent. Dumy, the director, is a top host. After sunset we prolonged dinner time under the moonlight, by the river and with candle lights only. He told us amazing stories about his entire life in Africa all under a family atmosphere. On day 2 we knew everybody by their names. The rest of the team are workers from nearby villages who sow hospitality and affection to the travellers. Through them we could know more about African people’s life.

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HORSEBACK SAFARI

We went alone, Kika Thous, the photographer, and me, together with Likuito, an experienced guide grown in a village nearby. We began in a quiet zone close to the waterfalls in the Zimbabwean border, and we began to penetrate and area of dry jungle. A wildlife safari has pros and cons. The complicated part is that animal watching is not guaranteed, as they are free. The best part is that, if you get to see them, you can feel your heart beating at the speed of light to be able to get close to them.

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So far nothing seen after two hours on the horses. The guide was tracking footprints and excrements in order to follow clues to find the animals. The blue-collar bird sang from the top of the acacia indicating tranquillity in the area, which leaded us to forecast a longer walk. However, the wind direction changed and luckily we could hear something through the deep forest. Giraffes! Some taller than thirteen feet.

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After we galloped though a plain to cross to the river’s part closest to Zimbabwe. Afar we saw elephants and then a herd of zebras. Back to pacing with the horses, while some impalas and warthogs crossed randomly, I heard the different sounds of Africa. Exotic birds, monkeys in the branches difficult to see, but easy to hear, flying insects sparrow-sized… Africa wraps you because it has sounds, odours, and a mixture of unique colours that cannot be found in any other place.

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FROM SAFARI TO EDEN, TANZANIA

After experiencing Zambia, the next stop was the wonderful island of Zanzibar, in Tanzania. First, scale in Kenya and the Kilimanjaro. The natural richness and variety of Africa’s landscapes can be appreciated at a glance from the aircraft: planes and forests, jungle areas, iced summits or coral reefs, which were waiting for us in our last stop.

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GALLOPING THROUGH ZANZIBAR, AFRICA’S JEWEL

The last day we headed north in order to gallop through one of the most spectacular beaches, ranked within the best t10 in the world. Just visiting the stables, located within a spot in the jungle and ride to the beach was unforgettable.

That feeling of freedom riding on the beach was the way to close with a flourish such marvellous experiences, still difficult to put into words as a diary. A unique trip which once upon a time was a dream and today is much more than that, a memory that cannot fade. That is the reason why we must dream. Nothing in life can be achieved if it has not been a dream before. And that is Africa.

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PLACES TO VISIT

 

ZAMBEZE RIVER’S SUNSET

As soon as we reached the lodge and taking advantage of the 25 degrees of temperature, we barely showered in order to get out and witness the sunset over the Zambezi. Neither the best pictures nor documentaries can reflect the natural beauty of the evening colours.

 

VICTORIA FALLS, ZAMBIA

Beyond the horse-riding routes, it is a must to visit the wonder discovered by the explorer David Livingstone in 1855, perhaps the most spectacular sight of the trip.

The flow of tourists is low during this season, and if you can arrive there before 8am you can enjoy such a spectacle almost by yourself.

The main appeal for the tourists is the Devil’s pool. It is a natural pool which is formed right before the waterfalls, and it is included as a ‘must’ in all the tourist guides. However, they forget to remark that the pool may become dangerous when the water levels raise.

 

NUNGWI Y PRISON ISLAND EN ZANZÍBAR

Nungwi, a small fishermen village is the perfect place for scuba diving. Barracudas, rare sharks, manta rays or different coral spices. All can be found while snorkelling.

Prison Island or Changuu is a small island located 3 miles from the capital city, Stone town. It is a meeting point for tourists that get there to see the turtles. Even though this last activity is not highly recommendable due to the current situation of these herbivorous, it is a great spot to scuba dive and see sea stars.

 


To travel to Africa demands prior readiness and assessment. Not only about the routes of cloice, the flights and lodging, but also about the traveller’s preparation (vaccination, medication, food policy, recommended dates and seasons) Due to this, is very important to pick the right travel agency. Especially in the case of a horseback safari, as there are two kinds: First, those that take place in reserves or fenced areas, where the rides are controlled. Second, the real safari where animals are free, which must be managed by somebody with enough expertise and knowledge to properly assess the travellers. That is the reason why I chose the agency ‘Viajes latitude 40 (Conde de Aranda 24, Tlf 608155057), where the director, Alberto Torrejon, prepared an ad hoc trip for us in order to live the full Africa experience.


Marta González Tarruella, Journalist and blogger, published since 2013 in HOLA through his blog Equus. She has also collaborated during three and a half years in a bimonthly magazine GALOPE.

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