South Africa changed my life. I went into this trip with an open mind not expecting too much like coming out with some new passport stamps and academic credit for my school. Man, could I have been more naive of what was about to happen.
I was able to volunteer for two weeks in the "Bush" with no wifi or anything around for that matter. It absolutely amazing to be completely off grid and really get in touch with nature. I was able to truly appreciate clean air, the quiet sounds of nature, and the unbelievable stars we saw at night. These two weeks challenged my values and made me think of what was really important in life. The project leader would give lectures on sustainability and showed us new ways to be sustainable and changed so many of values I can't even begin to explain. For example, I never will use plastic bags again, shorter showers, became a vegetarian on the trip, appreciating everything, and overall living a sustainable life when we got back home.
Then we had the adventure tour for two weeks, and what a adventure tour it was!! We started off walking with elephants and experiencing all the different parts of South African culture. Then we were off to Blyde River Canyon where we saw animals right up close to our cabins, and kloofing definitely challenged mentally and physically but was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. Then we were able to go to the famous Kruger National Park where we were able to see 4/5 of the big 5! Then we went to Swaziland where I got to go horse back riding around our accommodations and we went to the local orphanage. The orphanage made me not only thankful to be able to volunteer at such a unique place with such wonderful children but realize that our petty problems are nothing in the "big picture" of life. We were also able to go caving which was incredibly challenging and a whole lot of fun. Then we were off the Mozambique where we got go scuba diving, snorkeling with dolphins, and surfing! Being a marine biology major, I had such a blast at Mozambique in particular with such beautiful beaches and ocean. It was one of the most relaxing of the trip.
Then as my 4th-week friends went back home, I stayed with the 5th-week excursion people. If you have the money, it is unbelievably worth it!!! We went to Zambia where we able to go white water rafting on level 4 to level 5 rapids which for my first time was incredible and I want to go rafting again. Then I was able to go on a microlight flight where I saw the beautiful Victoria Falls from the air, which is a little expensive but the experience is worth it. I was able to make a big cross off my bucket list with doing Bungee jumping, which was so scary and adrenaline filled it's so worth it! We got to see the Falls up close and get drenched by the mist, bring water proof camera for that day! Then we made our way to Botswana where I had the best game drives of the entire trip these two days! We not only saw so many lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, etc., but it made for one incredible camping night!
I wouldn't trade this trip for the world. I will always remember the memories I made but also got me thinking of the potential working jobs or internships I want in the future. If you do this trip, it may be expensive but through fundraising early and getting excited it is well worth it. Last piece of advice make sure to JOURNAL YOUR TRIP, it will be a lifesaver when thinking of all the amazing experiences you had. From this Texas Aggie you will not regret one minute of it!