It’s something we all dream about . . . and something we all ‘wish’ we could do. The Berger family recently packed up their 4×4 caravan, rented out their house, took the kids out of school and went on a three-month adventure through Africa.
Anyone can do it. You just have to believe you can, plan really well and make it happen.” This is what Joel Berger has told countless people since he and his family returned from their 14 000km trip through Africa.
“So many people tell us they would love to do something like this but just don’t believe they can. If you really want to do it though, you can make it happen.”
In June this year, Joel, his wife Candice and their two small children Jethro (6) and Lily (5) set off on an adventure that would take them across six African countries and bring them a lifetime worth of incredible memories.
Like most great adventures, theirs started with a dream. Joel, who loves camping and roughing it in the outdoors (unlike Candice, who admits she prefers sleeping in a bed and not sharing ablutions with strangers), had always dreamt of doing a trip like this.
The #4 Bergers as they have become known, live in Simbithi and both kids attend Village Kidz pre-primary. When Joel, who was planning to take a sabbatical to do the trip, discovered his company had been sold, he decided to step away from the business and it seemed like divine intervention and perfect timing. Candice made arrangements to take the kids out of school for a term and home-school them while they were away and, just like that, the trip was on!
The planning started about year before they left, with lots of research and slowly booking one country at a time. “Planning and packing were the hardest parts of the whole experience,” says Candice. “I definitely packed way too many clothes. We went in winter and I thought it would be colder, but it was very, very hot. In fact, I don’t think Joel wore shoes for the whole three months,” she laughs.
Good equipment and safety were priorities for the couple, who spared no cent in making sure they were fully equipped with the ‘bees’ knees’ of caravanning gear. They bought a 4×4 off-road caravan called a Bush Lapa Ratel. “It had to be a nice one, especially if I was going to convince my wife to go camping for three months,” Joel laughs. They also invested in a few added extras like a satellite phone and solar power, made sure they had roadside and helicopter evacuation insurance and took a fully-stocked first aid kit. . . just in case! “I even saved the numbers of ‘bush mechanics’ I found on Facebook,” says Candice. Amazingly though, there were no emergencies, the car never broke down and the kids were completely healthy for three months!
Lots of thought went into planning meals and making sure they had enough drinking water and fuel (especially in Zimbabwe where fuel is scarce and people queue for hours to fill up). And, of course, there were a few ‘necessary luxuries’ that came along, like an air fryer, “you can cook anything in those things,” says Candice, as well as a hammock, a movie projector (for watching movies on a white sheet hanging from a tree) and Joel’s much-needed Nespresso machine!
The #4_Bergers_in_Africa (the Instagram account Candice created as a way of keeping everyone updated on their trip) started their journey at the end of June and travelled to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and then back to South Africa.
So many incredible sights were seen and memories made, and both Joel and Candice excitedly share their tales of wonderful game sightings, terrible, sometimes non-existent roads, picture-perfect African sunsets and seeing their kids entertain themselves for hours on end.
Highlights of the trip, although there are way too many to mention, included incredible scuba diving in Mozambique, staying on a houseboat on Lake Kariba (a bit of a spoil), three weeks of incredible game viewing and close animal encounters in Botswana and the Etosha pan and Sossusvlei in Namibia. Back in South Africa, after a ‘mandatory’ stop at the Kimberly Hole, the family arrived in Johannesburg “We arrived in Joburg on the N1 in afternoon traffic and immediately felt panicky and claustrophobic,” says Candice.
But they finished off their trip on a high with a stay at Sun City and a few days in the Drakensberg before returning back to their home in Ballito at the end of September.
All in all, their trip was a huge success and both Joel and Candice agree that if they were to do it again, they would plan it all exactly the same way. What’s next on the list for the #4 Bergers?
“We are heading off to Mozam for Christmas and then who knows! We definitely want to see a lot more of Africa though!”
Details: Instagram: 4_Bergers_in_africa
Text: Leah Shone