Safari, freedom, and bungee in Africa

As a teenager, I would watch a show called Big Cat Diary. Safari master Jonathan Scott would scoot around in his 4×4 safari vehicle and document the lives of lions, leopards, and cheetahs in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.

I told myself before I died, I needed to get to Africa on safari. I had no idea I would check it off my bucket list at just 26 years old.

Okavango Delta

Blood

My safari experience started in northwestern Botswana. The Okavango Delta is one of the natural-occurring wonders in the whole world. Every year, rains from Angola flood previously-dry channels and the flow makes its way south. Due to tectonic plate shifts over time, the rainwater pools in present-day Okavango Delta. I went in March, so the Delta was not flooded. This gave me a unique chance to go on many walking, driving, and helicopter safaris.

Xigera Camp

The first camp I went to was Xigera (Key-Juhr-Uh) in the Moremi Game Reserve. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the friendliness of the staff. From the manager, Quest, to my safari master, Wise, a sense of community and family could be felt every day. I immediately felt a part of this family and spent time with both Quest and Wise to learn more about their way of life and their past. It was rewarding, indeed.

From Maun – the main airport nearest the Okavango – we took a chartered flight to Xigera and upon landing found a nice little surprise:

Lion.jpg

A sleepy lioness was waiting for us once as we touched down, and this photo was the first one I snapped on safari. After I got situated in the tent-style accommodations I’d be staying in for the next two nights, we loaded up the Toyota 4×4 and went on our first game drive in the Delta. Today’s star of the show: leopard cub.

Leopard1.jpg

This was the second cat I saw and my second favorite of the trip. My favorite was this lovely lady’s brother, who can be seen as the premier photo on this post. Wise told us that the cubs’ mother was spotted nearby two nights back with both cubs. We arrived at the spot to find only the female cub. Wise guessed the mother was out hunting and that the brother was close by. He was right.

An elephant trumpeted a warning call behind us as I was taking the above picture, and I yelled out “Holy shit” pretty loud. I had never seen an elephant in the wild before and it had crept up behind us. The bull wasn’t too pumped that we were there so we gave him space and went to look for other animals.

Elephant

The Moremi Game Reserve is known for its impalas, kudus, and other species of antelope. Wildebeest readily grazed the planes with zebra, and hundreds of species of birds could be heard every moment. I fell asleep to the sounds of lions and the thoughts of the next day’s impending adventure.

Impala.jpg

Eagle Island Camp

Helicopters, mokoros, and rovers, oh my!

Eagle Island is an upscale lodge in the heart of the Okavango. At one point, a fully grown elephant came within five feet of me while chomping down some brush. I had my own apartment, plunge pool, and bathtub.

But that’s not what made this place special.

Upon disembarking our charter flight from Xigera to Eagle Island, we settled into our accommodations for the night and hopped in the Land Rover in the morning. Our first sighting? A pack of wild dogs.

Our new safari guide, Mo, said he hadn’t seen the pack in over a month. The endangered species was quite an awesome sight to see.

Dogs

Traveling to the other side of the world transcends you into different cultures, foods, and ideas while dealing with local people and their histories. You throw yourself into a different place and traveling like this forces you to be in the present.

“Worrying about the past is pointless, and worrying about tomorrow takes away from the beauty of today!”

There is just something about seeing the tallest mammal in the world walking past you 20 feet away to make you get goosebumps. I found the giraffe to be the most majestic of all the animals I saw. These friendly creatures could be seen dotted along the plains nibbling on greens at the tops of trees.

Giraffe

A magnificent part of my trip to Africa was the opportunity to go on a helicopter safari. Seeing the delta from up above gave me such a unique perspective of the landscape and geography.

Heli.jpg

After getting back down to Earth, we hopped back into the rover and backtracked to inspect a single hippo in a single small pond. Mo said it was likely that the hippo was forced out of the pod, and definitely wasn’t too pumped to see us.

Hippo

We had a wonderful opportunity to visit a local village in the Okavango – one of two left in existence. The people make their houses out of clay and aluminum cans. As the cans were spread about the village grounds, I asked Mo why. He said the children play with the cans in the streets and that they are also used in the construction of walls. The huts were all one room, with no electricity or drinkable water.

All the money the village received was from tourists such as myself coming into the village and buying souvenirs. Of course, I got one.

To see how these people live further opened my eyes to well off I have it in America.

Hey.jpg

Victoria Falls

For those of you that aren’t aware, Victoria Falls straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe just northeast of Botswana. The Falls are the largest in the world based on cubic flow. The amount of water that falls from the Zambezi River per second into the Batoka Gorge 364 feet down equals the amount of water New York City uses in one day. Re-read that if you need to.

The first morning I woke up in Zambia, we went to nearby Mosi-o-Tunya National Park in search of the elusive white rhino. What a trek.

Rhinos

After three hours of walking with our guide “Skinny” and Mike the government official with the gun, we still had not seen a rhino. We had seen plenty of bugs and scenery that made me feel like I was in the Vietnam War, but no rhinos. Finally, a guide on the other side of the park radioed Skinny and told us there had been a sighting. We blazed down the road and found this mom/daughter combo:

Rhino.jpg

With this sighting, I was able to accomplish the rare feat of seeing the “Big 5” on my first safari. The Big 5 includes Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Cape Buffalo and Rhino.

Bungee

When I was approached with the opportunity of bungee jumping Victoria Falls, it intrigued me. It also terrified me. Fear is one of the greatest deterrents to personal growth. If I am to complete my goal of traveling around the world, I need to get over the fear of the unknown. I decided that if it was my time to go, I’d rather hang out in the Zambezi River than in a bed when I’m 80 anyway. I took the leap.

And I’m so glad I did.

The feeling of freefall wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It was the initial anticipation of putting my feet over the ledge 364 feet above crocodile-infested waters in the middle of Africa. After a nice 5-4-3-2-1- BUNGEE countdown, I flung myself off the bridge into the Batoka Gorge. What a rush.

I knew that I would regret not jumping the whole way 44 hours back to the USA, so I took a deep breath and just went for it. I recommend bungee jumping for anyone that feels hindered by mental restrictions. Calculated risk can be a great growth tool.

I was on a natural high for days afterward, and the view of the Batoka Gorge on the way back up was something I will not soon forget.

Traveling makes the soul full

At the end of the day, we are all humans. Politics, agendas, wars, and society like to strip us of that basic fact. When I travel, I love to meet and learn from other people. This trip was to the other side of the world, and I fully immersed myself into it.

Skin.jpg

You are forced to live in the present when you travel. If you don’t why bother? Turn off your email, Facebook messenger, and just let go a little bit. There’s more to this life than your cubicle. Go find it.

Next stop, Iceland.

 

Advertisements

Why I travel

I travel because it makes me happy. I travel because I’m astounded by the beauty of this world from the smallest critters to the biggest mountains. I travel because I feel truly free when I do, and I travel because there is something out there bigger than myself.

What makes you happy?

SD.jpg

True happiness is sometimes hard to find. For some people, happiness means security. Going to school gives a person the avenues to get a good paying job, financial “security,” a nice house and a nice car.

For some people, a family is all they need. Blood runs thicker than water as they say, and so long as someone has their family around them, all is okay in the world. A good family will go to bat for you always, love you unconditionally, and pick up the phone at all hours of the day. A person from a sound and loving family often wants one of their own as soon as possible, and they take happiness from their own flesh and blood.

Health and fitness make some people happy; movies make some people happy; cooking makes some people happy; animals make some people happy. Whatever makes you happy, I tell you this: keep doing it. But just being happy and finding true happiness are two different things.

I love my family unconditionally, but I don’t have much blood left. Working out doesn’t make me happy – I tolerate it because I understand my body is a temple and I need to take care of myself if I am to live a long life. I like movies, books, and love my furry children. But those things alone don’t fulfill my purpose in life, it doesn’t make me unconditionally happy.

Stepping out of the comfort zone

IMG_5249

Many of you might think or say that the traditional norms that society places on us are a good foundation for a happy life. I reject that notion completely. Go to school, get 9-5 job, get married, buy house, get dog, have kids, die is normal and it is boring.

For me, normal and boring is the exact opposite of happiness.

What I’ve learned since moving from rural Wisconsin to the Pacific Northwest is that I have an unyielding passion for seeing things I have not yet seen, driving along roads I have not yet driven, and experiencing things, sights, and people I wouldn’t have seen or met if I had stayed in the Midwest. I love to travel and I love to document.

By traveling and experiencing other cultures, foods, and people, I can rid myself of biases I have accumulated by being a white male in white America. I think knowledge, acceptance, and understanding are missing pieces of the puzzle we call life. Some of my happiest memories come from times I felt uncomfortable, afraid, or overwhelmed. What comes out of those situations is beautiful indeed.

Unplugged

IMG_9197.JPG

Before I came to Washington, I had never owned a pair of hiking boots. I hadn’t explored what my own state had to offer and family camping trips felt like a bore. “I just got my new phone, mom, why the hell do we have to go to Devil’s Lake again?”

What I have found being a millennial in the Information Age is that we are essentially slaves to our technology. Technology was built and formed to give us access to all things, and to make the world a smaller place. You can communicate with someone on the other side of the world in under a second flat. What I have found is that we become dependent on our technology to a point where face-to-face communication and meaningful relationships have dissipated. Everything from relationship to banking has been digitized and you must be plugged in to “function” in our society.

So that’s why when I have my windows rolled down, music turned up, and my phone off, I feel truly at peace. There are no emails to respond to, no time-wasting questions to answer, no desks to sit at, and no responsibilities to attend to. Life is short and nothing really matters. I’m trying to spend more of my time doing things I enjoy so that when and if I have children and grandchildren, I’m not that grouchy old fart regretting the decisions he’s made along his boring life.

Relationships

UtahStorm.JPG

Friends come and go, but family is forever. I’ve had thousands of “friends,” throughout my life. I can call about three of those people real friends. Friends to me are those people who are always there for you no matter the circumstances, stay by your side and go to bat for you. Friends you can collect experiences with, not things. These are the people that you can see for the first time in years and pick up a conversation like you just talked yesterday.

I like to give every single person I come across an unbiased, open shot to become someone who can enhance my life. I listen because I want to learn, I ask questions because I want to understand, and I like to give out the kind of aura and respect I want to receive in return. Sometimes I gain an awesome relationship, sometimes I don’t.

Group or solo travel?

Agpar1.jpg

I love traveling with others because I can share my thoughts and gain insight from another person’s viewpoint. Traveling together bonds people in a way that buying a couch or TV never can. You don’t go around remembering, “That one time we went to the store and bought some soup and cereal together.” You talk about, “Remember that one time we went to that music festival in the middle of Belgium with 200,000 other people?”

But I also love traveling solo. There’s something about setting a destination, a plan on how to get there, and just doing it because you can. I am privileged more than most this way. I was given the opportunity to be in a place where I can travel where and when I want. I have a car, gas money, and a camera. It also gives me a chance to just be David. That’s all I really need.

I’ve found it’s a combination of many things. As I pass through a small town or a huge city, I take in the geographical landscape and compare it to other places I’ve been. I put myself in the shoes of the family-owned business owner and imagine what his day-to-day life might be like. I take mental notes about the makeup of the town, city, people, and structures. I call the gas station clerk by his or her name in hopes I make a small difference in that person’s day. I stop at viewpoints and soak it in, go to a local area favorite for food or drinks, and actually live in the moment for once.

“Worrying about the past is pointless and worrying about tomorrow takes away from the beauty of today.”

A lot of people, myself included, have a hard time living in the present. They worry about their past mistakes and worry what people think of them. You can’t change the past. Learn from those mistakes, forgive yourself if necessary and use that as a guide what not to do moving forward. A lot of people also, myself included, worry about tomorrow’s presentation, meeting, ballgame, or rent check. You only have one right now, use it wisely. When you travel, it’s almost impossible not to live in the present. The journey really is more than half the fun.

Self-accomplishment

Robson3

I travel to prove to myself that I can do the things that make me happy without regret. I used to feel that if I enjoyed myself, someone else would suffer. After spending a majority of my adult life looking out for others, I can finally just focus on No. 1 for once and it feels spectacular.

I’ve found that there are few things more rewarding than setting a short- or long-term goal and accomplishing it with flying colors. You got to have some serious cahones planning a 30-mile backpacking trip in the Candian Rockies and completing it. The rush you get while planning the trip is beaten by not only the vistas (if you’re in nature) but the sense of accomplishment you feel after doing it.

“It’s not the mountain you conquer, but yourself.”

The natural high you feel after completing a trek, race, or climb with your feet bleeding, stomach growling and back aching might feel insane to some. It’s pure bliss for me.

Beauty

IMG_2984

Perhaps the biggest reason I travel is for the natural beauty. I love photography more than most things, and I hope my work inspires others to get off the couch and see some of what this crazy world has to offer.

Once you round that turn and get the first view of that lake, ocean, mountain, river, tree, or waterfall you’ve worked so hard to get to, there is not only a sense of accomplishment but of awe and beauty, too.

Where do you want to go to today?

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Location independence – break free

Hopefully, in less than six months I will be location independent. If this is your first time to Skyscrapers & Mountains, welcome. Likely you got to this page because you have at least once thought about how life would look unlocked from the chains attached to your desk in the normal 9-5 lifestyle. I feel you. Throughout this post, I will be sharing some travel photos in hopes it sparks some kind of wanderlust in you should you not already have some.

This article won’t be a cure-all for how to solve your problems. Everyone is different. People have different goals, different objectives. The route I am taking may not be right for you. But when I am finally living the life I want to live, I hope this post can give some of you reading it some inspiration. If you want something bad enough, go get it. You are only limited to what you tell yourself you can’t do.

Today is Valentine’s Day. For many of you, this is a great, joyous occasion that gives you an excuse to pamper your partner, make the bed squeak, and snuggle each other until you wake up tomorrow. After a relationship of five years and a somewhat messy break-up, V-Day for me is just like any other day: a chance to improve myself. I’ve learned that to make any changes in your life, you have to do it for – and with – the ones you love. As a single guy trying to see all the beauty this world has to offer, it’s easy to focus on No. 1.

Unrealistic goals

One of the suggestions I have taken to heart from The 4-Hour Workweek is to make unrealistic goals. My goals may be realistic to you, but for me, they are tough to imagine. The following are two long-term goals and two short-term goals I am trying right now.

  • Become location independent by June 13.
    • There is no other reason for this date other than this is the date where flights from Chicago to Bangkok, Thailand are the cheapest. To be honest, there are two things limiting me from taking off right now.
      • 1.) Money (which we’ll get to later) and
      • 2.) A free trip to South Africa paid for by my current employer (the No. 1 thing on my Bucket List right now is to go on an African safari).
    • I believe that there is a learning curve (again, scroll down to the challenges section of this post if you are jonesing for how I am adapting to challenges), and things you need to learn about yourself before you attempt what I am trying to accomplish.
  • Get to Everest Base Camp in September.
    • “It’s not the mountain you conquer, but yourself.”
    • In contrast to some people who wanted to be a firefighter, astronaut, or doctor when they were growing up, I had no clue. Not only will this trek test me physically, but even more so mentally. If I can accomplish this feat, I’m confident I can accomplish anything.
  • Get out of my comfort zone every day.
    • This could be talking to someone you don’t know, it could be eye gazing while you talk to people or while other people talk to you. If you are looking for a change, it’s likely you have some fear about it. Face it head-on.
  • Write an email to an impossible person to get a hold of.
    • I limit my emails to 200 words and they are directed at former Presidents of the United States, men and women who have changed the world in their respective fields, and visionaries from across the globe. I end with a question in hopes they will take time out of their day to write four words in a row to me.

BachalpseeBlog.jpg

How I’m trying to make money

Blogging

There are a bunch of different ways to make money online. Here’s a list of 64 of them. I am a writer by trade and by degree, so making a blog that fills a niche is the most appealing to me. My goal is to help inspire others by seeing my travel stories. I want to learn from, photograph, videograph, and document people who look different than me so that the people of this world can see that at the end of the day, we are all humans. Along with a little skill and a lot of hard work and discipline, I know I can be successful in one arena or another. So – a little shameless self-promotion here – subscribe to my blog if you find this helpful.

Affiliate marketing

A lot of people trying to make money online these days look to affiliate marketing to earn passive income on various Multi-Level Management business opportunities (MLMs). There are numerous success stories out there of people traveling the world and promoting their products through social media channels, emails, and word of mouth. Naturally, I thought with my 1,400+ Instagram followers, work ethic, and writing and people skills, this would be an easy way to make money.

So far, the verdict is still out.

Few people will do very good with MLMs, most won’t. I believe that people with natural-born leadership, a proven system, and a huge social media following can rake in money with by selling the opportunity of imitating their successes. Truth is, a lot of people will fail. For the right type of person, though, this can be quite lucrative, however short-term.

I am currently an affiliate with Digital Altitude. This high-ticket program pays out when you recruit new members to sell Digital Altitude’s products – educationals on how to be a successful online marketer. There are six tiers to the program, each buy-in more expensive than the last. The way you make money is recruiting others to join you. You are embedded into a community that has been successful, have coaching sessions to keep you on the right track toward success, and even Marketing Mastery Events that get you hyped up for what the future has in store. Sounds great, right?

Digital Altitude is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Founder and CEO Michael Force has relinquished control of the company.

There are two opinions on what will happen next.

  • 1.) The FTC is just looking into Digital Altitude because of the amount of success it is having, not because they have done something wrong.
  • 2.) Digital Altitude is going down and everyone is going to lose their money.

Stay tuned.

IMG_2984.JPG

Becoming an influencer

The problem with affiliate marketing programs that promote high-tier commissions is that it’s hard to start. Take me for example. I want to eventually travel the world. Right now, I’m working 70 hours a week. It’s hard to convince a snail that I am actually living my dream. It’s a Catch 22. You won’t have enough income to start living your dream life if you can’t get people to sign up for what you’re doing. If you book a one-way flight to Timbuktu, you have no sense of security. Security is the enemy if you want to have money start working for you.

Becoming an influencer could bring you sponsorships, partnerships, and publicity. You have to be one hell of a marketer, and/or unbelievably skilled to start making money quickly going this route. You need to find a way to have killer content like Nomadic Matt or a great goal like Johnny Ward

Go to Instagram and search @einnaroy or @danielkordan. These guys are near the top of my influencer list. These guys have great photos, great stories, great videos, and do it while trekking the globe. These kinds of people make their money and are location independent because they are so popular, brands throw their money at them. This could be a longer route and a route I would consider to be a bonus if it happens.

E12A8C92BBD45E6000C3D5A7B3FF3288.JPG

Freelancing

Freelancing or negotiating with your employer to work away from an office is perhaps one of the most common ways people can break the chains and live the life they want to live. Security blinds us. As employees in America, you are punished for sitting in an office chair from 9-5 Monday through Friday. The government takes nearly half of your wages to cover its federal programs, which sits on a foundation of fake money.

Contrary to what you believe to be true, the U.S. Dollar is not backed up by any gold anywhere. Baby Boomers looking to cash in their retirement programs after a lifetime of work will see a big pile of nothing in the near future. The Industrial Age of going to school, getting a good paying job, buying a nice car and a nice house, putting up a picket fence with two kids and a dog is great for some people. But it is the way of the past.

Welcome to the Information Age. A new study finds 35 percent of employees in this country have remote working locations. If the government is going to take your money away anyway, wouldn’t you like to be where you want to be with the people you want to be with?

There are a number of great freelance websites to get your name out there. Start with a portfolio of your work, send emails to clients or employers you think would be a good fit, and answer the phone. Say yes more than you say no. It’s amazing what having an open mind can do for you.

I currently have three freelance roles in North Central Washington. Although it is not enough for me to live on the road, I am building up to having this be a viable option for income I can make from my computer.

ValiantLady.jpg

Investing

Easy, buddy. Eaaaaaasy. If you are in debt, have never invested anything in your whole life, or are clueless to how the stock market works, work up to it. Just throwing thousands of dollars into the new frenzy of cryptocurrency could spell doom for you. Make sure you read Think and Grow Rich to get your feet underneath you before you start buying real estate property in Waikiki Beach. With investing, you need to think and see with your mind, not your eyes. You need to be able to read numbers, not letters. Most people – about 90 percent of the population – will never try investing. This is the pinnacle of having your hard earned money work for you. Many people think investing is risky. If you have the right mentors and game plan, it could be the best way to make money.

I know these principles because I am learning one day at a time. I am by no means an expert and have loads of student debt myself. Someday I hope to break the trend of trading my time for money, and this is the way to do it. You can be financially free in 10 years if you learn how to invest correctly.

Waterfall2.jpg

Challenges

Direction

Apart from the obvious challenge of making money online to fund the lifestyle I want to live, I have some troubles with underachieving. Yes, you read that right. Underachieving. When we try to do too much, we get analysis paralysis. You do so much research on something and you don’t pull the proverbial trigger.

This is one of my biggest faults. An action that leads to inaction is still inaction. An action that leads to action yields results. It starts with a thought.

The problem that I have is I do not currently know the best way to proceed. I would love to have two things a day I do no matter what to achieve my goals in the most succinct way possible, but it is often not possible. Instead, I take what Tom Ferris said in The Four-Hour Workweek to heart. Just do something instead of nothing.

Action

For example, I’m writing this blog post right now, and I’m loving it. I’ll post it on my social networks and I”ll get X amount of hits. But I’m doing it. Baby steps.

Another example: I was skinny in high school, fat in college and I’m in the middle now. Instead of not going to the gym, I go for 30 minutes a day four times a week. I am losing weight and I feel better about myself. It kickstarts my mornings or evenings and gives me more motivation as I go through the day knowing I did something to better myself. It starts with one day. Don’t push it off till Monday because you’ll push it off till Tuesday. Just go. This is a challenge I have overcome.

Patience

Somebody smart once said, “Patience is a virtue.” I was not blessed with this virtue. When I figure out something I want to do, I seek immediate gratification. Financially free and independent thinkers enjoy delayed gratification. Taking steps to achieve those big, unattainable, and far-flung goals do not happen overnight. This is one of my biggest challenges. If you find yourself struggling with this as well, grab yourself a Panda Planner. This has increased my focus and productivity to what actually counts tenfold.

See you in Tibet.

 

What am I getting myself into?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

David copy

The term wanderlust is described simply as “a strong desire to travel,” but I’m not sure that describes but the tip of the iceberg. I first got a taste for this strong desire when I was in my last semester of college. At the end of my ninth semester, I was two credits short of graduation. To fulfill my degree requirements, I decided to take a Civil Rights Pilgrimage into the heart of the American deep south.

What I discovered in Memphis, New Orleans, Selma, Ala., Birmingham, Montgomery and Little Rock was a world quite different than the one I was used to in Wisconsin. I learned about happiness, grief, love, despair, injustice, and compassion on a whole new level. That trip changed me and the way I view the world.

I then stumbled onto the show “Departures” on Netflix. The thought of galavanting around the globe meeting people of different ethnicities, religions, colors, and creeds seemed more appealing and more doable.

Then, in the summer of 2017, my friend Jay and I went to Europe on a 14-day backpacking trip. Highlighted by the Tomorrowland festival in Boom, Belgium, we visited Amsterdam and the Swiss Alps. I discovered what a true borderless community looks like when I stepped onto the Tomorrowland festival grounds for the first time and found that fundamentally, we are all the same. There were no wars, politics, or arguments. Just people coming together for the same cause: love.

I want this site to be an inspiration for others looking to do what I will do; to prove it’s not impossible. I know there is more for me than sitting at a desk and if you’re reading this, likely you feel the same in some capacity.

I hope you’ll follow my journey as I try to give you travel tips, travel guidance, information about specific destinations, and ways to follow me into the nomad lifestyle. Buckle up, it should be a fun ride.