Behind The Lens: Mia Gordon's African Adventure

kerongwe pool .jpg

You know those moments in life that truly take your breath away? Those moments that make you realize how small you are in this giant and beautiful world?

On a recent trip to Africa with G adventures and National Geographic, I had a chance to experience those moments for the first time, in a very long time.

Let me rewind a little. Like many, I am a first generation Canadian. Both of my parents are originally from South Africa, and as a young girl, some of my fondest memories come from spending time over there. However, as I grew older life got in the way. I had to do the whole adult thing, and time flew by. I realized I hadn’t been back to Africa in 18 years. It was about time.

I decided to join G adventures because the offered opportunities to visit more remote parts of Africa. As well, this Canadian company practices responsible tourism, ensuring the dollars spent abroad stay in the local communities.

Let me take you through a photo journal of my nine-day experience.

Day 1:

We arrived in South Africa and made our way to the quaint family-run Malikana Guesthouse in Johannesburg. I loved having morning coffee on the beautiful deck overlooking their animal camp and duck pond, complete with springbok and a black swan. We were treated to a homemade South African Braai, also known as a BBQ - it goes without saying that the meal was delicious.

Day 2:

We left early the next morning to start our journey along the Panorama Route. This was one of the most scenic drives I had ever experienced. We drove though magnificent mountains, panoramic passes and waterfalls. We got out to enjoy the views of Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon and God’s Window. The last stop offered views of the entire Kruger National Park, which truly made me feel like I was on top of the world.

Day 3 & 4:

We made our way to Muluwa Lodge, where we were greeted at the front door by a local giraffe. For the next two nights we camped out in a tent overlooking the bush, an ideal vantage point for spotting local wildlife.

Early the next morning, we made our way to the Kruger National Park. This also happens to be one of the largest national parks in all of Africa, and is home to the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo). We were lucky enough to spot all five on our very first drive.

Ask any South African, and they will all agree that Kruger is a truly special place. From the fresh air, to the beautiful nature throughout, the park is a remarkable place.

Day 5 & 6:

Our next stop was truly unique and incredible. We made our way to Karongwe Portfolio, a gorgeous private game reserve. Here we stayed in luxury tents that once again overlooked the bush. The views were ambitious to say the least, think buffalo and giraffe spotting from the pool. The difference when booking a private game farm is the access to open-air trucks, which allow for closer encounters and off-roading. We came inches from a family of elephants, caught some cheetahs out for a hunt and saw a leopard chowing down on dinner.

During our evening drives, we would stop in the middle of the bush for a glass of wine and snacks. Mornings drives were of course spent stopping for coffees with the hippos, as you do.

During our stay at Karongwe we had the opportunity to hear a presentation from the Endangered Wildlife Trust Cheetah Metapopulation Project. The team shared information about their efforts to protect endangered cheetahs as part of the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative. We had a chance to learn about how these animals fall pray to lions and leopards, and what steps they’re taking to reintroduce them back into the wild.

Day 7 & 8:

After some incredible safaris, we jumped in an airplane and made our way to Zimbabwe to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. The locals refer to the falls as the “Smoke that Thunders” because of the mist from the powerful falls resembles smoke in the skies.

That afternoon we decided to explore the falls from a few different angles, first from the clouds. Our helicopter ride over Victoria Falls allowed us to see just how massive they are - as well as the beautiful and varying colours of the Zambezi River.

Later that evening, we decided to really get our hearts racing, and live life on the edge at Devil’s Pool. After years of erosion, a rock pool formed high above the falls. Leaning over the edge and seeing the sheer drop while feeling the power of the falls was a truly exhilarating moment - it was if I was flying.

Day 9:

We finished the trip with a truly special treat. We had a chance to learn more about the local community of Victoria Falls by taking a stroll through the markets and even having dinner at a family homestead. Flatter welcomed us in to her home with open arms, and made us a traditional meal complete with pap and even worms.

As we wrapped up dinner, our host shared more about their culture. We learned about their marriage traditions and dowry, and what a typical day is like in their home. It was a really incredible experience.