Crossing the globe back to New Zealand: The travel plan

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m leaving the UK to travel the world back to my home country of New Zealand. What lies ahead of me for the next 8 months is a bit of a ‘dream trip’, a bit of a ‘journey’ and a bit of ‘giving back’.

Sheep at Papamoa Hills, I've learnt to become proud of my country having such brilliant farms and open spaces for animals to roam

Starting off: Volunteering in Africa

To kick off my adventure I have organised to volunteer in Namibia at a Wildlife Sanctuary. How did I decide this? Well I stumbled across an article in National Geographic about volunteering in Africa and they had organised the trip through Amanzi Travel. It sounded incredible! So I looked into the various trips that I could afford and got chatting to the fantastic people at Amanzi Travel (they are super helpful) and booked two weeks working with a range of big cats and wildlife, from lions, leopards, cheetahs to babysitting orphaned baby baboons! I know it won’t be all fun and games, but I know that it will be an incredible experience.

Overlanding from Victoria Falls, through Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Southern Africa

Having visited Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda a few years ago with Intrepid Travel and loving every moment of it, I decided to do another basic camping trip with them. This time I will be visiting many places that I have had highly recommended to me from various travellers over the years. Highlights will include Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, Etosha National Park, Cape Town and much more.

Delving into South America

South America has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. From the photos and tales I’ve heard it sounds like such an incredible continent with so much wildlife, culture and history to offer. This is where it gets a bit different.

I’m going solo. Completely solo. I’ll be flying into Sao Paulo, making my way down to Iguazu Falls, through Argentina and parts of Patagonia, up through the Lake District for Christmas, further up to the San Pedro de Atacama and the Salt Flats of Bolivia.

All going well I’ll jump into the Amazon region for a few days in either Bolivia or Peru. There will also be Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines, the sand dunes of Huacachina and I’ve course a visit to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately due to the weather and my knee injury I’ll be skipping the Inca Trail, but visiting by train instead.

Volunteering in the Amazon region of Ecuador

This time around I stumbled across an excellent website called volunteerlatinamerica.com that lists a range of excellent volunteering programs at a small cost, compared to most other companies. I got all excited and couldn’t decide where to go!

Then came the tricky part of contacting the companies myself and asking the right questions. Some are more willing than others to help you out. Some are also more welcoming of photography than others. The tricky thing with volunteering is knowing whether they are actually helping people/wildlife or just out to make money. So there are a lot of considerations when organising a volunteering opportunity. Due to time, I ended up only booking one more volunteering stint, but depending on how I go for time and how my knee injury is, when I am in South America I may consider more.

So, come March 2015, I’ll be in Puyo in the Amazon region of Ecuador at the Yanacocha Animal Rescue Center. There I will be helping care for animals that were illegal pets or trafficked wild animals.

Snorkelling through the Galapagos Islands

Yes I know. It will be incredible. I’m going to play it by air and book once I’m out there for a late deal on a boat for about a week, aiming to check out the central and west islands if I can. It will be a photographers paradise and I hope to put my equipment to good use while marvelling at the incredible unique wildlife the Galapagos holds.

Venturing into Central America

I’ll travel through Colombia sampling their coffee and admiring the landscapes before hopefully taking a boat to Panama. It’s either be by boat or plane as overland is far to dangerous. All going well I’ll have a few days aboard a boat snorkelling the seas on the way to Central America.

Once I’m through Panama I’ll spend the last month in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is another wildlife rich country with so much to offer, it was one of my biggest highlights as I planned my trip. It offers lots of nature, beaches, yoga and surfing opportunities (so I can attempt to rid myself of the pale white skin England has given me before I reach New Zealand).

Stopping over in San Francisco and Yosemite

I have learnt my lesson over the years, not to attempt two back to back long haul flights if I can help it. So, it was looking like I would be staying in LA for a few days.

I got thinking of how little LA really appeals to me at this stage in my life. I know many people love it, but I think after seeing the poverty and simple ways of life in Africa and South America I think I may feel a little bit sick of all the richness LA holds. I’m not saying I’ll never go there, but after chatting to a friend I realised I had another option: San Francisco.

After seeing an incredible timelapse called ‘Project Yose’ a few years ago, I wanted to visit Yosemite National Park. However, flights were always so expensive. So, here was my chance. For just a little more than the flight to LA I could check out the city of San Francisco for a few days, then head out to Yosemite National Park to unwind and enjoy nature before jumping on a long haul flight to New Zealand.

Arriving in the Land of the Long White Cloud

This should bring me up to mid June 2015 when I land in the city I was born in and see my family. I was back once in the last 5 years, but by the time I reach NZ it will have been over 3 since I saw any of them in person. I’ll get to meet my ever growing little nephews. I’ll see friends who have been married and other who have also had children. I’ll get to sit down at the beach and eat fish n’ chips with family. I will wander around Mt. Maunganui breathing in the fresh ocean air and gazing out over the incredible ocean. There is so much to look forward to.

View of the beach and city from the top of Mt. Maunganui

View of the beach and city from the top of Mt. Maunganui

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