Well we did it! Two years of Peace Corps service in Namibia have been completed, and we are still healthy and happy. There is relief in knowing that we have made it through some tough times and to have finished the many bureaucratic hurdles and sad good byes of the last few weeks. It is finally sinking in a bit that this is not just a short vacation from our work and that we won’t be returning to our site of Rundu anytime soon.
We have just started the “close of service” trip that many Peace Corps Volunteers take after they finish their commitment but are still overseas and highly-vaccinated with a passport that needs more stamps.
For our very extended COS trip we decided to split our time between Southern Africa and Southeast Asia with a goal to be back in the U.S. for Christmas. We may never have another opportunity like this in our lifetimes so we want to make the most of it! We plan to travel for the next five months on a budget but still allow ourselves to splurge for cool experiences (like Devil’s Pool at the top of Victoria Falls or the boat ride tomorrow to see penguins). We will try to post highlights of our trip here, and yes there will be plenty of birds! In preparation for this epic trip, Josh even treated himself to the Sasol Birds of Southern Africa app that should take his birding to the next level.
We don’t know what the next level in birding is really but we do know that we will see even more than the 98 different species of birds we have currently spotted in Namibia and Botswana. In fact one of our first stops will be the Nata Bird Sanctuary in Botswana.
Here is a rough guide to our upcoming travel:
- Namibia – Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei, Luderitz, Quiver Tree Forest, Brukkaros
- Botswana – Okavango Delta and Nata Bird Sanctuary
- Malawi – Mount Mulanjie, Nkata Bay, Nyika Peninsula, various other places
- Tanzania – Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar
- South Africa – Cape Town and Stellenbosch
- Indonesia – Bali, Java, other islands?
- Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, beaches
- Cambodia – Siem Reap, beaches
- Laos – Mekong River, still planning
- Vietnam – still planning
- Myanmar (possible)
As you can see, we don’t have a very set agenda for the Asia portion of our trip, but if there is one thing that our time in Namibia has taught us it is not to plan! Just kidding, we are planning as we go and the nice thing about a trip like this is that we don’t have any reason to be tightly scheduled, so if we want to take an extra day somewhere (as we are doing in Luderitz, Namibia right now at the very pleasant and quirky Element Riders Backpackers) we are able to do it.
We have booked flights to reduce the amount of overland travel in some stretches of our African itinerary but so far we are only firmly planned to Zanzibar which we should reach in mid-September. After that we want to make Cape Town our finale in Southern Africa before really shifting gears and flying to Indonesia to begin experiencing a totally new continent and set of cultures.