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Prior to university I spent time in northern Namibia volunteering at a rural school, which sparked an interest in the continent and all it has to offer. A few years later I was back, but this time with four wheels (and a couple of spares) to undertake a rather bumpy Land Rover expedition across Botswana and the Okavango delta. It was this journey that really ignited my passion for the Southern African bush, and I soon began plotting my next African adventure.
Luckily, the wait wouldn’t be too long; after a year or so back at work in central London, I made the decision to pack everything up and return to Africa. My husband and I purchased a 4x4 and spent a wonderful 6 months overlanding 32,000km from South Africa to Tanzania and back again, covering nine countries and visiting as many national parks en-route as possible.
All good things must come to an end, and although I was sad to leave the bush behind, I was ecstatic to start working for Expert Africa - I still get to talk about safaris all day! I am on the East Africa team here, and after spending the last three years mainly focusing on Tanzania, I am now also spending time exploring all that Kenya and Rwanda has to offer.
Jessica's most recent Africa trips
This was my first trip back to East Africa post pandemic, and the return to the bush was better than ever! I spent two weeks exploring Kenya's Amboseli National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mara North Conservancy and ended with three nights on the coast at Diani. The wildlife was fantastic throughout; the real highlights for me were the elephants of Amboseli against the breathtaking backdrop of Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance, watching a serval and kitten hunt rodents in the Mara's Paradise Plains, and finally coming across my first aardvark while on a late night drive on Mara North. After a difficult 18 months, it is so wonderful to see tourism picking up again in Kenya - and the hospitality is as warm and welcoming as always. Covid protocols were in place for everyone's benefit, but these were subtle and they did not impact the traditional safari experience.
This was a really fantastic trip to Rwanda, I spent two weeks fully exploring all corners of what this incredibly beautiful country has to offer; from the tropical forests of Nyungwe, the shores of Lake Kivu, the plains of Akagera National Park, and of course Volcanoes National Park, home to the mountain gorillas. While the gorillas were the star of the show, there were many highlights on this trip. I loved watching the chimpanzees dance around in the trees, seeing the sun rise over Mt Bisoke, canoeing (in the rain!) on the Mukungwa River, hiking to the Isumo waterfall, spotting Akagera's re-introduced rhino, to browsing market stalls and watching an Intore dance.... Many people will fly into Rwanda for only just a few days to see the gorillas, but there really is so much on offer from wildlife, landscapes and culture, that it is without a doubt a destination in itself.
Another trip back to Tanzania - this time to Zanzibar and the Selous - a perfect beach and bush combination. First off however, was a visit to Pangani on Tanzania's mainland. Well off the beaten track, this stunning area of coast, offers a really relaxed beach experience! Then it was onto Zanzibar where I enjoyed getting lost in Stone Town's cobbled streets and soaking up the wonderful Zanzibari culture. I then visited a number of beach properties on the north and east coast, which made for a busy but interesting week. From here I then headed to Selous Game Reserve where we spent time enjoying a variety of activities - walking, boating and lots of birding. A dip in the Hot Springs near the end of the trip was a real highlight!
Jessica's previous Africa research
|Country||Arrived||Length of stay||Areas visited|
|Kenya||February 2019||14 nights||Nairobi, Laikipia, Maasai Mara Conservancies, Maasai Mara National Reserve|
|Tanzania||October 2018||7 nights||Ruaha National Park|
|Tanzania||October 2018||14 nights||Arusha, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Migration Area|
|Tanzania||February 2018||13 nights||Arusha, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Migration Area|