In our fourth month of travel, we visited Spain, France, Belgium, Morocco and South Africa. The art and architecture of Spain’s Andalusia region showed up again in Paris at the Louvre and in Morocco in Marrakech. We enjoyed scenery on the long drives between our base in Sevilla and the neighboring cities of Cordoba, Jerez, and Huelva. Our brief stay in San Sebastián gave us a hunger to return. In Paris, we met up with good friends, took selfies with Mona Lisa, and stood at the base of the Eiffel Tower. We did no sight-seeing in Belgium, but we walked everywhere in that little old city as we ate good food and took care of some final errands before leaving Europe.
We returned the leased van with a little more than 14,000 km on the odometer, which we clocked over 94 days through 14 countries. Through many long drives and audiobooks and short parking garages, the Vasavagen treated us well. Driving through Europe allowed us a different glimpse of each country than what you get by train or air travel. What an experience!
Month four began in Europe and ended in Africa. After weeks of fairly repetitious travel (drive to a city, check in to an apartment, walk to find food, figure out transit, visit a museum, rinse, repeat) we visited Morocco as a part of a guided tour. It was supposed to be a group tour, and we were all very disappointed to learn that we were the only guests booked. The disappointment cleared quickly as our guide and driver took us from Marrakech through the High Atlas Mountains and out to the Sahara Desert. We drove through the highest pass in Morocco, drank mint tea on the daily, and pushed way out of our comfort zones by riding camels through the sand dunes to camp overnight at a traditional Berber camp. In Morocco, I felt a perspective shift occur, and although I can’t quite articulate it yet, I can say that I cried more than once on those long, Saharan drives.
From Morocco to Cape Town, South Africa for a relaxing week overlooking Camps Bay. Our Airbnb rental was fantastic, as was the food scene. We took one sight-seeing trip (penguins!) and spent the rest of the week recharging. It was during this week that we discovered we were the recipients of some parting gifts from Morocco: bed bug bites and traveler’s diarrhea. Fun.
Four months to the day of our U.S. departure we arrived in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve for our safari stay. On our evening drive, we saw elephants and white rhinos, many types of antelope, one hippo, a beautiful female leopard and a pair of the rare saddle-billed stork. It was an amazing end to a pretty amazing month.