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The Travel Plan – Africa for 6 weeks with Mom

I’m not a big planner when it comes to travel.Generally I feel prepared if I’ve gotten a flight, a place to stay when I get in, and purchased a guidebook and read just enough to figure out necessities like visas, money, electricity and vaccinations.  If I’ve signed up for a group trip I’ll know where and when to show up.  If it’s a bike trip I’ll spend much more time prepping the bike and gear than myself.

I realize this drives many people nuts.

But this trip is a little different.  Quite a bit of advance planning and booking in advance … By my standards. I actually wrote an “itinerary”.  The good thing about traveling this way is it will let us cover a large swath of fascinating continent in a relatively short five and a half weeks.  And a schedule eliminates some of the negotiating that turns travel companions into mortal enemies as they bicker over myriad of details … where to eat, where to stay, where to go next, what to do when you get there.  The bad is it takes away some of the serendipity of staying longer and unplanned detouring when you hear about something great. 

So, we have a itinerary of sorts that will take us to at least 4 and possibly 5 countries, wildlife reserves, desserts, ocean, cities and bush camps.  We left the states April 23 and arrive in Capetown South Africa April 25th, and return from Namibia at the end of May.  

Here is our itinerary – and a map to give you a basic idea.  Let’s see if we stick with it … 

* Cape Town, SA and area 5ish days.

* Rent a car and drive the garden route along the southern tip of Africa to Port Elizabeth for a week with stops along the way

* Fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and then spend 3 days in Botswana in Chobe National Park

* Fly to Windhoek Namibia and join an organized overland camping safari that will have us in the Kalihari dessert, bush camping in the Okavonga Delta, wildlife watching in Etosha National Park, on the famous Skelaton Coast and looking at the sureal red Namibian sand dunes.

I’m writing this over Saudi Arabia – we just flew over ancient Medina.  We are flying via Houston on Qatar airlines through Doha, Qatar and then to Cape Town. That’s 29 hours airborne – plus an 8 hour layover in Qatar.  Luckily, this airline still treats passengers like humans and not cattle complete with not just getting food on the flight, but good food with wine.  
My lymphedema has been a big concern on this long flight.  Cabin pressure is the equivalent of about 9000 feet elevation … and high elevation can trigger lymphedema because of the reduced air pressure that helps lymph fluid move out of the arm past the surgery site where my lymph nodes under my arm were removed during cancer surgery.  So I have on a ton of compression garments – sleeves and shirts and pads to help it move along.  And devised a system to prop the arm up on backpacks in an empty seat to keep swelling down as we reach the end of this 14 hour flight.  And I regularly get up and move the arm around and stretch and get the muscles going to help the lymph circulate … which seems to amuse some of the others on the plane as alternative entertainment over the 4th movie.  
I can feel the arm complaining – achey and tired – but so far I think it will be OK and recover.  The ring is still acceptably fitted.  It would not be fun to deal with a swollen arm in Africa.  Lymphedema is the side effect I dreaded the most from cancer treatment because it is limiting and can be debilitating.    But now that I’ve got it, I can only live with it and figure out how to manage it and have my life anyway. 

A note about the blog:

If you don’t hear from us for a while, do not assume lions ate us. Unless you’d just like an excuse to dust off your passport and come running to the rescue, the most likely reason for silence is that internet access won’t be consistent.  So while I’ll try to post regularly it may not be possible – particularly the last two weeks in Namibia.  I will keep writing, but the posting may come in batches and delayed.  And if we do get eaten by lions then I expect someone back home will get a phone call.  Maybe.

I’ll clean up some photos quickly to share on the blog, but the real photography work will happen back at home with my real computer and more time.  So stay tuned … if I get enough quality shots I’ll look at putting together a real collection.

And, as usual, please forgive the typos and occasional grammar problems.  These posts often are written and posted in less than an hour.  So take the imperfections as an indicator that there are more fun things to do than exhaustively copy-check.

Thanks for reading, as usual.  And I love your comments.  Feel free to share this blog or posts or photos.


Leigh Pate
Leigh Pate lives in Seattle, WA. She is a two time cancer patient and cancer research advocate, a communications specialist and writer, a nature lover and fan of beaches, mountains and big trees in the Pacific Northwest.