Three Generations on Safari with Outside GO
Three Generations Experience the Outside GO Safari of their Dreams
Expert Outside GO travelers, Ginny and Rich Linting, took their whole family on vacation in southern Africa for the ultimate shared adventure. Here's their story.
PHOTOS BY JEFF HARTVIGSEN
THE GRANDPARENTS: Ginny & Rich
Experienced Outside GO Travelers
Q: What did it mean to take your kids and grandkids on the safari of a lifetime?
It was a realization of a dream. We had been fortunate to be on two prior, month-long, fabulous trips to Africa arranged by Sandy at Outside GO. Africa is a life changer. After our last trip Ginny said, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring our daughters, their husbands, and our two identical twin granddaughters to Africa while we can still do it with them?” Absolutely! But we didn’t know how old our granddaughters would need to be to really remember the experience. We settled this by deciding to do it as a celebration of our fiftieth wedding anniversary, when our granddaughters would be just over nine years old. It turned out to be perfect for everyone, and the grandkids absorbed it like sponges. All agree this was a highlight of their lives…doesn’t get any better than that.
Q: Why did you pick southern Africa?
Well, we had previous experience with southern Africa and loved it. Factors we considered in planning the trip with Sandy were: experience of the travelers, complexity, breadth of experience, travel safety in these unsettled times, fantastic safari experiences, history of South Africa, limited packing and unpacking. We regarded Botswana as having the very best safari experience and we were not disappointed. Victoria Falls is a wonder of the world coupled with a safari experience on the Zambezi River. Johannesburg is great for initial rest and exposure to historic events. Cape Town is wonderful for exposure to a fantastic city and so many sights in the surrounding area. All this in a fairly tight geographic area (South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana) that we considered safe. No regrets, just absolutely amazing for everyone.
Q: What were you most surprised and delighted by during the trip?
The list goes on and on. No arguments, no tantrums, nothing upsetting, just all family warmth supporting each other and enjoying every minute together. What more could we ask for? The breadth of what we saw and experienced was just awesome for all. The Okavango Delta is a natural wonder of the world. We love the combination of waterways and savannas with sunsets to die for with wildlife everywhere (we experienced all the Big Five). All our accommodations arranged by Sandy were terrific. Our favorite, the new Duba Plains Camp, was absolutely exceptional and unique in every respect. Viewing Victoria Falls by helicopter was another unforgettable experience.
"No arguments, no tantrums, nothing upsetting, just all family warmth supporting each other and enjoying every minute together. What more could we ask for?"
THE PARENTS: Julie & Jeff
First-time Travelers to Africa
Q: Taking your twins all the way to Africa–what were you thinking?
We were nervous about how the girls would handle such a long flight, but they were rock stars and probably fared better than any of us! The girls began their life of adventure at three-months-old when they made their first flight to California and haven’t looked back since. They’ve clocked hours of flight time on trips to Italy, France, Canada, and frequent visits to Grandma and Grandpa in Laguna Beach.
Q: Jeff, your photography was off the charts. What gear were you using? What is your number one tip for other photographers going on a family vacation?
Thank you! I’m glad you like the photos. I started my career as a commercial photographer, but travel photography has always been my passion. I’ve always been a Nikon guy, but I’m pretty rusty these days because I haven’t shot professionally in many years. When I was planning on what to bring on the trip I realized that my personal gear was a little outdated, so I was fortunate to have some Canon gear lent to me.
Here’s what I brought:
EOS 5D Mark IV
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
Extender EF 2X III
Speedlite 600EX II-RT
GoPro Hero 5
Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with the Gitzo fluid head.
I only ended up taking a couple photos with the wide angle lens, so if you need to lessen your weight, then I would leave that lens home. I do think the flash was helpful, especially during the day, because I could get that little extra pop in face when the shadows from the sunlight were too harsh. When shooting the wildlife I used the Extender with the 70-200mm most of the time, but the 24-70mm was the work horse for most of the people shots. I didn’t use the GoPro as much as I wanted, but I did attach it to the vehicle and got some cool footage.
I would say that there are two tips I would give the serious photographer when going on a family vacation.
1. The first one is that you will most likely have to sacrifice some great shots because you need to make time to experience some of the adventure with your family. I struggle with this all the time because it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if you’re a serious photographer. Photos are really important to me, but missing out on those special moments is heartbreaking. You have to learn to balance them, so be prepared let some of those ‘killer’ shots go and be ok with it.
2. The second thing has to do specifically with safaris. Every day before you leave or when you stop to shoot animals, speak with your guide about what kind of shots you want to get. The guides we had were very photo savvy and automatically knew to keep the sun behind me whenever they could. However, during the lion kills, I didn’t let the guides know that I wanted to shoot video during the entire ‘chase’ and ‘take down.’ So, when the lions were ‘taking down’ the Wart Hog and the Red Lewche, the guide started moving the vehicle at the exact moment of the ‘take down’ because they thought that getting closer to the lions, as fast as possible, would be a better photo opportunity. I did get some great shots, but I wish I would have clarified my desires with the guides ahead of time.
Q: Julie, how did you prepare the girls for a trip to Africa? Were they on board with all the khaki?
How does one prepare two nine-year-olds for a trip to Africa? With umpteen trips to REI…and a lot of fashion guidance from their Grandma who rocked the khaki on two prior Africa trips!
Q: What was the stand-out experience from the trip as a family?
Where does one begin? It is absolutely impossible to narrow our trip to a single stand-out moment. The entire journey was one continuous jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, I would have to say that being able to share the beauty of Africa–the people, the animals, the magnificence of land–in the company of our whole family was what made our experience so special and a memory to cherish forever.
"It is absolutely impossible to narrow our trip to a single stand-out moment. The entire journey was one continuous jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime experience."
THE KIDS: Lily & Nora
Q: What were some of your favorite moments on safari?
Our favorite part was seeing all the animals. We didn’t know what to expect before we left on our trip. We were a little nervous, but once we got there and we were with everyone, it was just AWESOME! The animals came right up to our car! A huge elephant came out of the trees and was flapping her ginormous ears. Our guides, Milos, Kops, Chief, Godfrey, and Flame, were all so nice and made us feel safe the whole time. We also really enjoyed our Bush Buddy, Courage. She rode with us in the vehicle during our safaris and she braided our hair and made us laugh. We miss them!
Q: What's the one story you have been telling all of your friends since you got home?
The one story we’ve been telling all of our friends was when we tracked a leopard. It was the only one of the Big 5 we hadn’t seen yet, so we were super excited. Our guide, Godfrey, got a call on his walkie-talkie saying that there was a leopard nearby. Godfrey said that we should hold on tight because we needed to go into the bush to find it. Next thing we knew, we were driving over rocks and trees and branches were flying everywhere. We loved it! And the best part was that Godfrey found the leopard! He was so beautiful. We were so close to him and he just let us stay there and watch him. We will never forget it!
"Our guides, Milos, Kops, Chief, Godfrey, and Flame, were all so nice and made us feel safe the whole time."
DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW: Jen & Richard
In Love with Southern Africa
Q: What were the highlights from the trip for you two?
To limit the trip to a single highlight is impossible! The trip was made up of hundreds of highlights and moments we will never forget and cherish forever. Here are just a few.
..standing on a slight plateau overlooking the savanna with our entire family and Kops and Chief, our awesome guides. Enjoying a beautiful breakfast off the front bumper of our trucks after having witnessed a pride of lions doing the same thing.
...driving through the dense bush, machetes swinging at stubborn branches, in search of a leopard couple.
...a giant bull elephant walking out of the delta towards our truck, pausing a few feet from us and carrying on his way.
...enjoying a spectacular sunset and sundowner on the Zambezi river with Milos, our guide, and the whole family.
All these moments and many, many more make picking a single highlight impossible. They were all special!
Q: If you could have stayed longer at any of your destinations, where would you have stayed?
Again, tough to pick where we would stay on longer, but we could definitely see spending more time at Duba Plains Camp in the Okavango Delta. There just didn't seem to be enough time to soak it all up. If we're fortunate enough, we'd love to go back to all three countries...wonderful people, vistas, and animals. Truly special places.
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