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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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  • 14,000 miles from New York City to the first elephant

    Posted on May 12th, 2010 Nicolas 21 comments
    OK, I'll let you go...

    OK, I'll let you go...

    Another early start the following day allows me to see more wildlife. The sun raise early at around 6 a.m., and soon enough, temperatures and humidity are at the highest. Most days, the temperature is more than 30 degrees C.

    After riding dirt roads for the first two hours of the day, I am out of the Saint Lucia Wetlands Park, due west in order to avoid Swaziland. My passport is almost full, and until I get another one – probably in Tanzania – I need to avoid too much border crossings.

    Alongside the Swaziland border, I find pine forests

    Alongside the Swaziland border, I find pine forests

    As I go north following the Swazi border, I gain in elevation, and soon enough, I am deep into huge forests of pines. Eventually, I stop in Amsterdam for the night, where a white farmer let me camp on his land.

    Towns up there are simple, but you can feel the timber trade put a little bit of extra money in pockets, compared to other places I crossed.

    Gold Stock Exchange

    Gold Stock Exchange

    Globe Tavern

    Globe Tavern

    Lewis and Marks building

    Lewis and Marks building

    I leave in the morning, and use dirt roads through the forest to reach Barberton, a city of historical interest. Of commercial interest as well, for me, since I need to get a bit of groceries, to cover for my needs while I will be traveling for few days through Kruger National Park. When it is done, I visit the town, and discover the history of this old gold mine site. Some preserved Victorian homes as well as elegant buildings make the place an interesting stop. Sights include the De Kaap Stock Exchange building, built in 1887 site of the first gold exchange in South Africa. In the same street, the Globe Tavern and the Lewis and Marks building are from the same period.

    10 minutes after entering Kruger, I see my first African giraffes.

    10 minutes after entering Kruger, I see my first African giraffes.

    I have lunch there, and get back in the truck to drive a bit more and reach the park gate at the end of the afternoon. At the Malelane gate, a hotel let me camp in the backyard for US$13.

    At 5:30 a.m., monkeys can witness once again a French guy coming out of his tent, tired but excited about seeing more of Africa. Extended time in Buenos Aires, Johannesburg and Durban reinforce my pleasure of being out camping.

    Lions sighting in Kruger around noon.

    Lions sighting in Kruger around noon.

    Hyena close to the campsite

    Hyena close to the campsite

    For around US$ 40, I can enter the park, and pretty soon, I see many animals, including giraffes.

    I spend the day driving north across the park, and find a small rustic camp where electric wires protect travelers from omnipresent hyenas. It cost me US$10 to stay here for the night and have a nice bush camping experience.

    Sunset on the Oliphants River.

    Sunset on the Oliphants River.

    After a night in the camp called Balule, I get again an early start to see hippos, zebras, elephants and hundred of antelopes.

    Antelopes

    Antelopes

    The most impressive of course are elephants. You can really see a lot of them here.

    Elephants

    Elephants

    Around 11 a.m., I go east and after an hour, I reach the border with Mozambique. This is a straight forward affair, since there are not many people crossing at this location. The visa cost me US$25.

    Zebras in Kruger

    Zebras in Kruger

    Once I pass the border, I find myself in the Limpopo Park, the equivalent of Kruger on the Mozambique side, and have to pay US$10 to cross it. It is done in two hours of dirt roads, which become a badly potholed tar road.

    The road to the Mozambique border.

    The road to the Mozambique border.

    After hours of driving, and after dark, I am back on the Indian Ocean coast, looking for a camp ground. I find one on the beach in Xai-Xai, where I am happy to stop, exhausted by the long drive (US$ 8.50).

    Crossing villages in Mozambique

    Crossing villages in Mozambique

    Mozambique is still recovering from a traumatic past. Formerly a Portuguese colony, the country went through a war of independence, and a civil war ending in 1992. Natural disasters also took a toll on the inhabitants.

    P_elephantInfrastructures are in bad shape, even so the country seems to be on the rise, and gets a bit more tourists every year. It should be an interesting trip of around 2,000 miles across the country. As previously thought, it looks like finding spots for camping will be harder in Africa compared to Latin America. I stick to camp grounds at this point, and will see how things change while I am going north.

    Sunset in Kruger

    Sunset in Kruger

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21 Responses to “14,000 miles from New York City to the first elephant”

  1. Amazing photos
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Brave traveler,

    So far Africa is my favorite location, I am following daily and sharing with co-worker, even if they do not want to hear about it.

    All our best!

  3. Fastantic pictures you got there. Love the african bush and lovely sunset. Animals are amazing on safari. I amuse you don’t get a familiar name called Impala instead of saying Antelopes. I get to see different types of deers in Wyoming. There are dozen of antelopes and much alike impala. I find it interesting.

    Keep going Nick. It is thrilling hey.

  4. Stacey Orlowski

    I want to thank you for all the fabulous updates. I can only imagine the joy you must have when you see something for the first time on your travels. You are bringing areas that I have never thought about to life for me and making me want to hope in the car with you. Thank you again. Safe travels.

  5. Marti-Nashville

    Hey Nick! So glad to see you back on the road. Thought of you while on the Playa in AZ, sooo much sand and dirt. Looks like you have much dirt to deal with. What happen on that tuesday that everyone was suppose to post to your site? I didn’t see anything on the blogs.

  6. Good to see you back on the road. Stay safe crazy and watch out for the monkeys.

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colleen Fraser, Nicolas Rapp. Nicolas Rapp said: New blog post: 14,000 miles from New York City to the first elephant http://transworldexpedition.com/?p=1407 [...]

  8. that was very coooooooool the elphant

  9. I’ve been following your travel blog since its inception. I love the photos you have taken on your travels. Can’t wait to read more! :) Have you tried any interesting foods in Africa?

  10. Paschal Nneji (Philadelphia, PA)

    How are you adapting to driving on the left side of the road with your left-hand steering?

  11. Incredible vistas – thanks for the pics!

  12. WOW! What an amazing change in scenery…thanks for the update.

    My daughter (11) and I are following your every move. :)

  13. Nick,

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. If only I could be in East Africa! Seeing the girafes running, they are more elegant than we wearing stilettos! Witnessing a cheetah stopping its eternal nap, in an accasias tree to speed-up and catch its diner. The sounds of the fauna at night, when camping is also a memorable memory. And meeting people. How is it for you? “See you” on this blog

    H

  14. Hey Nick. How did you manage to get “that” close to the hyenas? On my first safari I remember seing hyenas cross the road and said to our guide “oooh..look at those dogs” and it was then that I realized that this city girl had a lot to re-learn. :) . Great photos and thanks for keeping us informed as it is appreciated. You are “living it up” and teaching many about courage, persistence and inner beauty.

  15. Love the photos! It seems like a lonelier trip for you this time. Glad you saw the animals you were hoping to see. Be safe and enjoy …

  16. Hi Nick, now you’re ready to create some animal documentaries.

  17. Nick,
    everyone here in the office follows your blog and we love it. We all secretly wish we could be there with you. Having been to Africa once myself I can say you’re in for a real treat. The sunsets there are great. Are you traveling through Kenya? If so i highly recomend the Masi Mara you’ll find lots of animals there. Also you if it is your travels check out Lake Nakuru the site of the flamingo’s in front of the duck in front of the pelicans is very cool.

  18. Paul in Sarasota

    I love to travel, but I’m not as brave as you. You are on a true adventure in Africa, and we are all interested to see how you manage at every turn. How are you dealing with the food, insect, and safety issues?

  19. AWESOME!!!! simply AWESOME!!!

  20. it’s been wonderful following you around the world. know that you’re not alone. your travels are going to eventually be a book, aren’t they?

  21. Nick, a friend from work just turned me on to this blog and your adventures …I wanted to just say thank you for sharing the adventure and the pictures are fantastic..
    I would love to make a trip to Africa someday..
    Take Care and God Bless You