Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tweet us?...Meet The Acacia Wild Bunch: Vivian McCarthy...

Got a burning question on Africa? Now you can tweet with your own personal Africa guru, courtesy of the "Acacia Wild Bunch”. Chosen for their total and unwavering addiction to the most adventurous continent on the planet, these experts are bound to have a few insider tips from the road. Feel free to contact our Africa pundits from 07 December onwards, putting #AcaciaWildBunch? ahead of your tweet…

Name: Vivian McCarthy

Nationality: UK/NZ

Which Acacia Africa tours have you travelled on?

Most of them at one time or another – I’m the font of all knowledge when it comes to Africa and Acacia!

Your favourite Acacia tour?

Perhaps one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever had to answer, but I’m a BIG East Africa fan so I guess I’d opt for the 13-day Kenya & Tanzania Adventure. It’s a great bite size overland experience featuring many of the regions best national parks and reserves.

Who do usually travel with?

I like to mix it up! Sometimes you’ll find me travelling solo, but I love the group camaraderie that you get on an overlanding trip.

Travel Motto:

Things don’t always go to plan but if all goes wrong one day, there is always tomorrow when it’ll go right.

Favourite place in Africa?

Yet another difficult question I always loved the Sahara – although the Namibian desert scenery is just as good really (only not quite so big) - and the Nyika Plateau (Malawi) rates a mention if you like high altitude fresh air in the middle of Africa. Somehow I always end up going back to East Africa as it’s top of my list. And for that perfect vista…give me the view over the Masai Mara a few miles into the Sekanani Gate (which is the one most of our trips enter by). Beautiful!

Most memorable moment in Africa?

Too many to think about, but I recall the time I managed to lose my bearings in the Sahara, when I was on my own as guide. It was a tricky moment! And the first time I saw the Victoria Falls (from the Zambia side) – it was such a mind blowing experience I’ve never forgotten it. I also recall my first leopard in the Lake Nakuru National Park (Kenya), partly because it was such a beautiful sight but also I remember spotting it before our driver did!

Best adrenaline/adventure activity and why?

For me, it’s the white water rafting (Zambezi River, Livingstone/ Victoria Falls), but I haven’t done gorge swinging so perhaps next time I am at the Victoria Falls in Livingstone I will give it a try.

What would you say to someone thinking of travelling to Africa?

You’ve got to go! I first went there over 20 years ago and still love it. If someone asked me for advice on their first trip I would say try to think about what you want to see, but depending on how much time you have, don’t try to see too much on the first trip.

Where’s the next adventure in Africa?

These days much of my travel there is for work reasons, which somehow detracts a little bit from the adventure aspect, but I still get the feeling when I come through the airport that it feels great to be back in Africa.

Viv’s top three tips for Africa travellers!

1. Take sensible precautions with anti-malaria tablets etc. but also remember to take it easy, at least to begin with, when it comes to the sun and local food and drink.

2. Don’t walk around with all your valuables. Always leave the bulk of your cash or passport somewhere safe. Carry a small amount of local money whilst out and about - and yes, always err on the side of caution, but take a chance sometimes…who knows where it will lead you?

3. Pack and then repack! As a general rule, pack your bags as well as you can a day or so before you fly, and limit yourself when it comes to clothing and personal items. Once you’ve finished go and have a coffee and come back later for another look. Then remove half of it...the chances are you wont need it!

4. Remember you can fire away on our Twitter page with your questions from 07 December onwards, and add #AcaciaWildBunch? ahead of your tweet…

And, finally Viv, what about that all important checklist of African countries you’ve visited?

I’ve indulged in a fair bit of Africa, but my desire to head back to the continent never wavers! So far the list includes, Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Zaire/DR Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and I’m not done yet!

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