A Spring Break I’ll Never Forget

Emma Stessman University of Cape Town, South Africa


September 15, 2016

A year ago if you told me I’d be spending my spring break making my way through the southern countries of Africa, I would have thought you were crazy. But now, I couldn’t picture having spent it any other way.

Last week’s “vac,” as they call it, took me to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. I stood atop one of the natural wonders of the world and looked nearly 400 feet down from the top of a waterfall. I awoke to the sound of hippos encircling my campsite, and elephants playing in the water just feet away. The sunsets and sunrises that I saw beat out anything that I had ever seen before.

The adventure began early Saturday morning (at 3 o’clock to be exact) as we were picked up by Southern Ambition Africa, a travel agency geared towards study abroad students. A quick flight to Johannesburg, and then one more to Zambia, and we arrived at our destination. We were met by an intense heat wave, something we had yet to experience in Cape Town, since winter is just coming to an end. The heat was much needed for the next morning, as we took an early morning swim in Devil’s Pool, a swimming area aptly named for its proximity to the edge of the great Victoria Falls. Because of the lack of current, you can sit along the edge and look over as the water tumbles down. The whole while, the most defined rainbow I have ever seen encircles the Falls, only adding to the beauty.

In Zimbabwe, we got a few different views of the towering natural wonder. We hiked along the sides of the Falls and stopped at all the viewpoints, each looking completely different from the other. Then, we went further down into the heart of the Zambezi River as we rafted down the 19 rapids on one of the best places to white water raft in the world. We paddled down 21 miles of the river, flipping our raft 5 times in the grade five white water rapids. It was simultaneously one of the scariest and best things that I’ve ever done.

In Botswana, we got to take a more relaxing boat ride, as we took a four hour trip in mokoros, or dug out canoes, into the heart of the Okavango Delta. The Delta was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, a swampy and island filled area in the heart of Botswana, filled with African wildlife. It’s one thing to see these animals in a zoo, but it’s a whole new experience seeing a crocodile swim by your canoe, or hear the rough sounds of a hippo breathing outside your tent.

It was hard saying goodbye to all these places, but at the end of the week I felt myself yearning for “home,” my little Cape Town paradise.