Trekking in the Time of Coronavirus

Trekking in the Time of Coronavirus

For me, it’s helpful to recall how much optimism there was at the end of February. Writing now from the confinement of quarantine, I often find myself wondering why I ever thought going to Nepal was a good idea. But then I remember back to just two months ago, to what already feels like a different lifetime. While all of my work taking school groups into the outdoors had been cancelled for March, my boss was confident that programming would be running by mid-April. My friend in Malaysia was equally certain that his wedding celebration would still take place. So rather than wait around in limbo, Gary and I bought last-minute round trip tickets for Nepal. We planned to escape into the mountains for the month of March to hike the Three Passes Trek, assuming that when we emerged from the wilderness, life would continue as usual.
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Gentle on My Mind

Gentle on My Mind

Cape Town is a real charmer. We ended our six weeks in Southern Africa with a long weekend enjoying the city, which was definitely not enough time to fully experience the spectacular hiking, wildlife and many delicious (yet inexpensive!) wines. If I was to return anywhere from this trip, this would be the place.
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Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere

Now that I’m self-quarantined in New York, looking back on photos from our road trip around Namibia makes me feel a special kind of nostalgia. Originally the plan was for Namibia to be the final chapter in our Southern Africa trip, before we returned to Southeast Asia to work from February through November. While I didn’t know it at the time, this vacation wound up being a last breath of normalcy, the calm right before COVID-19 began dominating global headlines. In the midst of trying to reimagine what 2020 is going to look like, I’m grateful to have these happy memories as a balm.  Continue reading “Road to Nowhere”

Under African Skies

Under African Skies

The Drakensberg Mountains completely captivated me, and may just be the highlight of my entire trip around Southern Africa. After an early morning slog to Witsishoek Mountain Lodge, buckets of rain forced us indoors. Luckily watching creeping tendrils of fog curl around distant peaks from inside a cozy hotel room is my idea of a lovely afternoon. I went to bed that night crossing my fingers that the weather would improve enough for us to hike, and woke up the next morning to bluebird skies. I’ve never been more grateful for a good weather window, because the jaunt to Tugela Falls (Africa’s tallest waterfall, the second tallest in the world) was one of the most beautiful hikes ever.

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Late Night Morning Light

Late Night Morning Light

I’m convinced there must be some sort of witchcraft brewing, because over a full month has passed since I visited eSwatini and I can’t figure out where the days went. At first I figured I’d just cheat and post a few of the best pictures from the trip, but then I re-read my journal. And I remembered the freshly born baby giraffe, and the rhinoceros (rhinoceri?) that followed us around like puppies, and the pet warthogs sleeping by the campfire, and I had to at least attempt to eke out a little post. 

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Rise to the Sun

Rise to the Sun

Spending two weeks road tripping around the eastern half of South Africa was incredible, but constant motion takes a toll on my energy levels these days. With three more weeks of travel still to come, I needed to press pause and sleep in the same bed for more than a night or two. To combat long-haul holiday fatigue we decided to post up at Waterval Boven for the week.
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Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

Eish! Our week exploring St. Lucia and Kruger was jam-packed, with plenty of early mornings, late nights and in your face wildlife. We kicked things off with a sunset river cruise down the St. Lucia Estuary, the biggest estuarine system in the whole of Africa. Famous for its abundance of crocodiles and hippopotamuses, we were not disappointed. Our boat got within a few feet of several different floating pods of hippos and creepy crocs, in addition to spotting plenty of zebra, waterbuck and bird life on the shoreline.

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Maraqopa

Maraqopa

After the wedding Gary and I let the newlyweds have a little romance while we took a tour of Sani Pass. High up in the Drakensberg Mountains, Sani Pass is just across the border into the land-locked kingdom of Lesotho. Pronounced ‘Luh-zoo-too,’ this country is known as the ‘Kingdom of the Sky,’ and is home to the highest pub in Africa.
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Graceland

Graceland

As much as I tried ahead of time to mentally prepare, the long haul flight from New York to Johannesburg still absolutely sucked. I know that flying is a privilege, and it’s incredible that we’re even able to soar through the air high above the clouds. But at a certain point, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to practice gratitude— you’re still just a sucker trapped in a metal tube, breathing someone else’s air.

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Ripple

Ripple

It is not in sorrow that I am moved to speak or act, but in the beauty of what remains. -Terry Tempest Williams

After a delayed connection followed by a frantic, sweaty run between airport terminals, Gary and I just barely caught our flight to Tahiti… only to have the plane get struck by lightening. Throughout all the turbulence and the loud flash/bang that struck the wing right outside my window, Gary remained completely unfazed, barely looking up from Keanu Reeves’ riveting performance in ‘Point Break.’ I, on the hand, squirmed and sweated while compulsively tightening my seatbelt, until the pilot  announced over the loudspeaker that we would be forced to turn back. After a night in a hotel and a long day twiddling our thumbs at the Auckland airport, we finally reached Tahiti at 3am, shuffling bleary-eyed off the plane into the balmy Pape’ete breeze.
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