Gap 360's Hannah in Africa: Her African 'Gap Year'
By Gap 360
Last updated: 17th September 2014
Back in July, Hannah flew the nest (aka, our Australian office) to go on a long 'gap year' in Africa. To find out about the INCREDIBLE adventures she's had so far, check out the below!
Hey there guys and welcome!
Hannah here from the Australian office. Having packed up my life back home for a bit, I am currently travelling around Africa. I am exploring the South before relocating to Kenya. I have travelled from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to Cape Town, South Africa in 21 days and am now back in Zimbabwe, ready to jump borders and check out our project in Zambia. Lucky me got to visit our Lion Rehabilitation Project in Victoria Falls, our Community work with children project in Cape Town and I hope to get to Zambia next week to see our Building, Wildlife and Community work project too!
I could talk about Africa until the cows come home...
I believe it is a truly inspiring destination and not enough credit is given to it. Having been to both East Africa and South Africa now and spending significant time in each, I have seen there is a distinct difference. Southern Africa is a great introduction to the continent. If you are worried about safety or the ease of getting around/shopping/language and culture etc, start here. It is quite westernised and modern - easy to get around and adapt to. If you want that 'real' Africa you witness on National Geographic with the quaint little shanty towns, the open savannah plains and the amazing game parks, then East Africa Is for you.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe I believe is a good mixture of the two areas (East and Southern Africa.) And that is where I started my journey this time around. The weather is hot and dry but makes good for swimming in your lodge pool or checking out the falls. I was lucky enough to visit our Lion Rehabilitation Project whilst there and loved every minute. The people at the project are amazingly friendly and I met with many volunteers who were all loving their experience too. The lodge where volunteers stay is close to town, has a swimming pool, free wifi and a bar on site. Someone from the project stays there with the volunteers, so they are well looked after! All Meals are cooked for the volunteers too by a personal chef - what else do you need?!
Where are the lions I hear you ask?
The lion project is only a 10 minute drive from the lodge and our guys will provide you with transport each day to get you there. If you're wanting education along with your experience (like myself) then this project delivers! Not only do you get up close with gorgeous lion cubs you get to spend a day per week in the Zambezi National Park, learning with the research team about tracking animals and the habitats they live in. The lion project in Victoria Falls, currently has 6 lions. Two of them are walked with the public each day. This is an integral part of a three stage process to release the lions back to the wild. The walks allow the cubs to become familiar with a natural environment. They quite often play and run along side each other. This seems to be a favourite activity with the tourists but as a volunteer, you will assist with the walks, getting to meet many people!
Don't worry though, not all lion encounter experiences will need to be shared. Part of your placement will include working with younger cubs who are not ready to walk with the tourists. You will be able to play with the cubs by giving them chew toys and preparing enrichment treats.
This program also allows you to learn about Zimbabwe. Cultural lessons and language lessons are set up for the volunteers to bring variance to your days. Practise Shona with the locals and live it up! Two weeks is long enough to see the basics, but three weeks is always better if you can!
One weekend I went to see the beautiful Victoria falls. If adrenaline is your thing, then by all means try the bungee jump, the gorge swing or a paddle in Devil's pool! If not, you can definitely spend some time there just taking in the beauty - like I did! The falls are walkable from the lodge where volunteers stay. It's $30 USD for a day pass. I did a section of it in a couple of hours but I'd leave half a day to do it properly.
Interested in helping wildlife? Check out our range of wildlife projects!