Octobers in Africa

Looking for wildlife on a safari in South Africa in 2009

October is my favorite month, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been to Africa three Octobers in a row. 

In 2017, I was lucky enough to visit my favorite continent for a National Geographic magazine story on parrots. I wasn’t sure if I was going to see any in the wild—South Africa’s endemic parrot, the Cape parrot, is critically endangered—but I saw them several times, each experience equally thrilling.

Reporting abroad is always a bundle of emotions for me. There’s the excitement of being in another place, coupled with the anxiety of wondering if I’ll get the story I’m hoping for. As with every travel experience, there are always disappointments.

But that’s what makes travel so addictive—the unknown, coupled with the newness and the fact you’re forced to live in the moment and not dwell on future or past problems. You’re in the thick of it, right now, and you better take advantage or you’ll lose your opportunity.

On this particular trip I spent several days in Hogsback Village, a mountain town in southern South Africa that feels more like a funky Oregonian outpost than a place in Africa. J.R.R. Tolkien was rumored to have visited, and so the town is infused with a folksy, fairy-like spirit, including whimsical gardens and pubs, like the cozy Hog and Hornbill, where I had a nice dinner by a roaring fire.

Adding to the spiritual feeling of the place, if you walk down the dusty main street at dusk, you’re likely to hear a flock of noisy parrots above you, calling to each other as they make their way back to their evening roost.

The area is known for its many waterfalls and hikes—I didn’t get to do the more challenging walks, due to an episode of food poisoning (no need to elaborate on that!) but managed to see several, and, with it being a rainy period, they were at full blast. I enjoyed birdwatching and added a whole host of new species to my life list.

The October prior, I visited Botswana, where I reported on elephants fleeing poaching into Namibia, and the one before that was my amazing East African honeymoon

This October, I have no travel planned, and it makes me sad. Hopefully 2022 will bring some more adventures!


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