Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Who Cares about the Cheetah? Look at this Adorable Dog!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 23rd, 2010

On our way down to Swakopmund, Namibia, we stayed at a campground called Cheetah Park. Cheetah Park is a rescue organization that rescues, well, cheetahs. You see, in Namibia there is a law that gives farmer the right to kill a predator if it hunts their livestock. Well, that didn’t sit well with the founders of Cheetah Park, so they opened the reserve a few years ago and started collecting cheetahs that were on the farmers’ hit lists. Today, they have 17 wild cheetahs they keep in a fixed enclosure and a few domestic ones they rescued as cubs and raised them as house pets.

Our group met the three domestic cheetahs first. It was an experience to be able to have hand-to-hand contact with a cheetah, but there was also one of the cutest little dogs I have ever seen! Everyone made comments on how I was more interested in the dog than the cheetahs, but I couldn’t help it, he was too cute!

We then went on into the reserve to observe the feeding of the wild cheetahs. Here’s how it works: We drive in there in the back of a pick-up truck, and the cheetahs surround the truck because they know its feeding time. One by one, they throw the chunks of meat out, and the cheetahs fight for them, and as soon as one cheetah wins, he runs off with the meat to safely consume his prize.

Here’s a vid:

A lot of people grumbled how they thought the feeding was inhumane, but can you honestly think of a better way to feed them? It guarantees that all the cheetahs will be fed their fair share everyday. So what’s wrong with that?

If you are ever in Namibia, make sure you check out Cheetah Park.

Has it Really Been Four Hours?

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 22nd, 2010

Before I came on this trip, I was not a patient person. I could not even stand to wait for Aaron to use the bathroom outside of the movie theater. It drove me crazy!

Now, I have grown pretty accustomed to waiting. I wait for planes, trains, taxis, ferries, overland trucks, etc. I wait in lines at the Coliseum, the Pyramids, the Parthenon…  I wait for the other travelers of African Trails…Yes, being patient has become a huge part of my life.

When we came to Etosha National Park in Namibia, we knew it was our last chance to see animals. You see, going on safari doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will see wildlife. The animals don’t really care if you have traveled thousands of miles to see them. Up to Etosha, we had only seen one lion, at a distance, mind you, and we had not seen any rhinos, leopards, hyenas, and many more. Having not gone to the Serengeti because it was too expensive, we were pretty sensitive to the fact that we had not had a proper look at a lion.

Let me explain how Etosha works: It is an extremely dry desert climate. There are water holes all over the park which the animals depend on for hydration. The key is to stay at a water hole viewing area and wait for the animals to arrive.

When we came to our campsite in Etosha, I grabbed a bottle of wine and headed for the camp site’s water hole viewing area. I sat patiently, for four hours in fact, and waited for the animals. Sometimes there was nothing at all, but since I was patient, I saw a leopard, a face-off between an elephant and a rhino, a hyena, a couple of baby rhinos, and number of antelope and zebras.

The water hole is my favorite part of the world trip so far. As the sun set over the park, I took a few pictures of the elephant and rhino, but these still don’t give the site justice:

I was still a bit disappointed that we didn’t see any lions. I was hopeful, however, that we would see them the next morning before we left the park. Low and behold, as we were driving across the reserve, what should cross the road right in front of the truck? LIONS!

The previous day we have seen a number of giraffes as well, including my favorite one, who was too preoccupied with getting hydrated to pay much attention to us. He has too work really hard for that water, doesn’t he?

We saw all the animals we wanted to see throughout our trip in Africa. Thanks, guys, for your cooperation!

Christmas Crackers!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 19th, 2010

Most of the people on our tour are English. With the Christmas season approaching, the grocery stores in Africa are filled with Christmas merchandise, including Christmas Crackers. No, I am not talking about Christmas tree-shaped “biscuits,” as the Brits would call them, I am talking about the traditional English Crackers that they open every Christmas day.

You may have seen movies such as Harry Potter and Bridget Jones’ Diary where the characters have paper crowns on their heads head on Christmas day. These came from crackers. Here is what they look like:

The idea is that two people pull on each end, and when the cracker pops open, the person holding the larger end receives the contents of the cracker (Think of a wishbone).

Inside the cracker, there are three items: a paper hat, a small toy, and a joke. The jokes are all cheesy, and the toys are pathetic (spinning tops, plastic charms, etc.), but it is all good fun.

So with the purchase of a few boxes of Christmas Crackers, a night of hilarity resumed.

I will now be incorporating them into all future holiday get-togethers. If the English got anything right, it is Christmas Crackers!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… BUNGEE!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 13th, 2010

Yes, I bungee jumped. Yes, it was awesome. And yes, I was scared out of my mind.

Ever since I saw “Long Way Down,” the documentary about two guys who travel by motorcycle from Scotland to Capetown, I’ve wanted to bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge. What can I say? I am an adrenaline junkie! (Sort of).

I was not scared of the jump until we arrived at the bridge, and then I thought to myself, “Damn! I am about to hurl myself 364 feet off a bridge. What is wrong with me?!” And I did the thing you absolutely must not do before a bungee jump: I looked down.

Wow. It was really high. 420 feet in fact. Turns out the bungee cord is the third longest in the world. I didn’t know that before I got to the bridge, and I really wish they didn’t tell me as I arrived.

I made Aaron go first. Here is the video:

Oh yeah, that is me screaming in the background. So embarrassing.

When it was my turn, I was shaking pretty badly. I wasn’t even that frightened when I skydived, and that was 15,000 feet. Again, what is with me wanting to hurl myself off of the things from significant heights?

I can’t really describe in words how scared I was, so I will just let the video do the talking:

It feels just how it looks: like you are falling towards the ground at an extremely rapid rate. What I don’t like is the bounce-back after the first initial jump. After the first big leap, I was ready to be done with it, but then you keep bouncing up and having to fall all over again. It made me kind of nauseous.

So, would I do it again? Probably not. I am glad I experienced it once, especially in such stunning scenery, but I don’t think I can bring myself to do it again. Did you see my face in the video? I don’t want to go through THAT again!

What is all the Noise?

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 6th, 2010

We were warned about the possibility of elephants in our in Mufuwe, Zambia, but I thought they would be at a distance at least. But were they? Oh, no, we got right up close and personal with wild elephants right inside our campsite!

The best was the first night when Aaron and I went to bed early in our tent. We were woken by commotion outside, and hearing the elephants close by, we scrambled out of our tent in a hurry, so fast I didn’t even put pants on. Outside everyone on our tour is staring at the truck about 20 feet away from our tent and the family of elephants tearing into the side of the truck.

So, inside the truck was a cooler, and inside the cooler was a mango. A favorite treat amongst elephants, they can smell them from a mile away, and they will do anything to get their trunks on them. The elephants managed to open the window (a clear canvas roll-up with a zipper), and all with his trunk, he found the cooler, opened to cooler lid, and found the mango. It threw of the rest of the contents of the cooler out of the truck, including some of our beer, but we weren’t too upset due to the fact that it was just amazing to witness.

I wish we could have gotten the whole episode on video, but were in such awe of the whole thing that we didn’t get around to taking the camera out. Oh, well, here is a picture of the damage the elephants caused:

A Quick Africa Update

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 11 5th, 2010

We are starting our third week of our overland Africa tour. We have been having a great time and we are meeting a lot of nice people. We are in a camp ground in Lilongwe, Malawi right now. For the first time on our trip we have access to Wi-Fi. Due to pent up demand we are sharing our computer with the rest of the truck. Instead of being able to catch up on posts like we planned, I am just posting some pictures. I do not think we will be able to post full entries until we reach Cape Town, South Africa. Enjoy making up stories for these pictures!

Christy and Aaron with the Maasai warrior Aaron helping with a mural at a Tanzanian school Christy helping with craft time in a Tanzanian school

Aaron learning to climb a palm tree Zebras!

Christy playing cards on the truck Christy setting up our tent Christy with her Pinapple-O-Lantern

Christy on a 18 mile hike in Malawi Aaron cliff diving in Malawi