Once on the plane, I had the best seat in the house. The best and smallest. Jammed directly behind the cockpit, I needed an extender belt. But so what? I was already getting used to being a bit embarrassed on this continent. And the seat next to me was unoccupied, so I could put my feet up on the cooler, stretch my legs, and watch the scenery through the Captain’s windshield.

When we landed at the Mala Mala Reserve, adjacent to Kroger National Park, I was told that the other tour groups had gone ahead, meaning that I would have my own personal guide, Don.

Over the next four days Don showed me some most amazing sights. I witnessed a giraffe munching on leaves, so close I could hear it chew. Exotic birds called to me from overhead. I saw a herd of impala, a dazzle of zebra, a pride of lions, a parade of elephants, and a lone cheetah. With each new sighting of these animals – animals I had only seen on TV or in photographs – I couldn’t keep myself from exclaiming, “They really exist!”

Those days in the wild provided an incredibly spiritual experience, and it made me feel very small and very important at the same time. I felt connected to a higher power.

The same two fine gentlemen from the first flight helped me board the plane out of Mala Mala. I was exhausted from the adventure, but ready to face the next one.

I flew into the small town of Knysna and there met my next guide, Johann, who showed me more of Africa’s greatness. In addition to more exotic wilderness, we went to Table Mountain, a prominent landmark featured on the South African flag. And I enjoyed the city itself – once I recovered from the embarrassment of falling as I was getting out of the van.

The diversity of the tourists and townspeople was thrilling, and on a daily basis I would hear a variety of languages: German, French, Hebrew, English, native African dialects. And every night, Johann and I ate at a different ethnic restaurant on the pier – South African, French, Italian.

Wheelchair or not, I had the time of my life.

On the plane ride home, as I reminisced about my journey, I realized that all of my fears were unfounded. What’s more, I realized that if I can do Africa alone, I can do anything alone.