By Matt Lindsay
At the end of 2017, my wife Abby and I traveled for just over two weeks to South Africa and Victoria Falls. The main purpose of the trip was to visit Abby’s cousin and her family, who are currently serving their third tour as employees for USAID in Harare, Zimbabwe. We agreed to meet them in Cape Town for the Christmas holiday, but spent the first four days of our vacation in the eastern South African Lowveld on the Timbavati Game Reserve. From our lodge in the bush, we were treated to twice-daily guided game drives where we saw an unbelievable array of wildlife: endless birds, baboons, leopards, lions, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and more.
After relaxing days on safari, we flew to Cape Town to meet up with our family for the holiday. Despite being a world away, Cape Town felt very familiar to us San Franciscans. The center city is densely populated and sits at the foot of towering mountains that overlook the broad bay. During our stay, we experienced some of the city’s most popular attractions, with a hint of Bay Area nostalgia: urban hikes (Lion’s Head and Table Mountain), great museums (Zeitz MOCAA), wine regions (Stellenbosch), a decommissioned island prison turned historic landmark (Robben Island), and even an impending water crisis…
After Christmas, we flew from Cape Town to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia where the Zambezi River surges over Victoria Falls and cuts a narrow canyon through the surrounding hills. Despite a few frustrating border crossings and battling the crowds at the falls, we found unmatched natural beauty at the falls and in the surrounding river valley. From our river lodge, we were also able to explore local villages and spot more wildlife including hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards, and monkeys. After fifteen incredible days, our first visit to Africa was over and we made the long journey by plane straight over the top of the globe and back to San Francisco.