Into the unknown with Flash Pack: “I couldn’t have asked for better memories”

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Real tales of adventure, told by real Flashpackers. This piece is written by a member of our incredible Flash Pack community. To share your own Flash Pack story, drop us a DM on Instagram and we’ll be right there.

If you’re anything like me, you probably stumbled across Flash Pack because you’re looking for your next big adventure. You’ve already done a little solo traveling, maybe some group travel, but you’re ready to level up, try something you haven’t before.

Isn’t that why we love to travel after all? The expectation of the unknown? Perhaps after two years in quarantine, the idea of the unknown seems a little scary. But if you travel with Flash Pack, trust me, it’s the kind of unknown that will leave a warm and indelible mark on your being.  

Travellers with soul

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I’ll be the first to admit that I might have come across as a bit unhinged when I first met the other ten people in my group, on my Flash Pack adventure to Zimbabwe and Botswana in 2019. I was brimming with enthusiasm, but the 29-hour journey to Victoria Falls and the jet lag were catching up with me quickly, and my filter was perhaps at an all-time low. 

Luckily, my roommate (a fellow Canadian who’d been living in Australia) had already had a chance to settle in and gave up the room so I could have a much-needed nap before we went out for dinner. 

We then discovered that it was one of our fellow travelers’ birthday. And the birthday lady was also one of two people whose luggage had rudely decided to stay in Johannesburg for an extra day. So we quickly found a card and passed it around the table at dinner, and as the cicadas tried (and mostly succeeded) to drown us out we sang her “Happy Birthday.” Keep in mind, this is a group that had only just met, and we were still trying to remember each other’s names. But these are the kind of people that travel with Flash Pack. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that when my roommate came down with food poisoning, it was my turn to give up the room, so she could get some rest. Like a good roomie, I made sure to bring her some toast, and all the water I could find. 

A little R&R

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I think one of my favourite memories from that adventure was when our bus broke down an hour into our trip to a game reserve. To some, it might seem like the end of the world, but to this group of intrepid travelers, it was a chance to get to know one another better. We spent a happy while exchanging stories about why we’d chosen this adventure, and where else we’d travelled recently. We ended up pulling out our binoculars to scan the horizon, in search of the wildlife we’d come so far to see.

I think one of things about Flash Pack that perhaps doesn’t get enough credit is the impeccable itineraries they put together, and all the organizing that’s done for you. You don’t have to worry about anything. Sure, you might need to wonder if you have a high-enough SPF in your sunscreen, but not about getting to your next hotel, or even what time it is. 

That feeling of being so incredibly well-cared for by your amazing guide? That’s the definition of relaxation. Our pack leader, Wayne, wasn’t just a fount of knowledge about the area; his calm, cool attitude set the tone for the whole adventure.

Wildlife wonders

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Then, of course, there are the series of amazing experiences that come with a Flash Pack adventure. Be prepared to have your jaw drop multiple times and to say to your new friends over and over, “Oh my God! I can’t believe we just did that.” While our days in Zimbabwe and Botswana were filled with show-stopping highlights, I have three standout moments.

I’d never heard of “a sundowner” before, but after taking part in several of these sunset safari cocktail rituals, I’m fully on-board with the concept. There’s absolutely nothing like the skies at sunset in Africa. They are a whole new level of outstanding. While sipping on a gin and tonic, with a herd of African buffalo grazing nearby, we got to watch the sky paint itself with pinks and oranges. In Botswana, we came to a dried-up watering hole and sat while the clouds turned purple. I’ll never forget the sunsets in Africa

My second highlight was the animals. Not every adventure comes with amazing wildlife, but the Zimbabwe and Botswana one was full of it. I came face-to-face with the kind incredible natural sights that I would never have chanced across in Canada. With the exception of the rhino, we saw all of Africa’s “Big Five” (elephants, African buffalo, leopards, lions and rhinos) up-close on our safaris. 

We watched an elephant (whom we named Bernard) lumber down to a watering hole where a dazzle of zebras was already drinking. I got to see a baby impala take its first steps. We spotted giraffes standing by the side of the road and warthogs everywhere, their sweet little tails pointing straight up in the air. You’d think seeing your umpteenth impala would get old, but it never did. The sense of wonder was there every single time.

Life on the edge

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The final and most outstanding experience from my Zimbabwe and Botswana adventure was one that wasn’t on Flash Pack’s official itinerary – a visit to Devil’s Pool on the rim of Victoria Falls. During the dry season, less water goes over the falls  – one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World  – and a small pool can be found right on the edge. 

It’s hard for me to describe the right combination of giddiness and fear that you experience as you find yourself sitting on the edge of one of the five highest waterfalls on the planet. The guide/lifeguard we had for that excursion was amazing,. And the guy taking pictures was indispensable as well, as we were all too wet and exhilarated to even think about holding a camera or phone.

My incredible adventure was in November 2019. Little did I know these would be the last travel memories I’d get to make before the world shut down for a little while. But I couldn’t have asked for better ones, made with better people. 

It’s time to get back out there, make new memories, and meet new people. Dreaming of the experiences you’ve had, the things you learned, and the people you met along the way – this is what life’s all about. 

Flash Pack’s adventure to Zimbabwe & Botswana is not currently running, but for more incredible sunsets and safari action – including the wildebeest migration, aka “the greatest show on Earth” – check out our Tanzania adventure

Photos: with thanks to Andrea Westaway

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