Golden in Gorgeous Africa


The Travel Peoples’ Q & A with first-time book writer and New York-based flight attendant Lia Ocampo. She traveled to Africa in September 2019 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Completed my personal “Mission Africa” with these girls.

Q: Can you name unforgettable moments or things that became part of that trip?

A: I traveled to Africa to complete my personal challenge to finish traveling 50 countries for my 50th birthday. This challenge also coincided with my challenge to finish exploring 50 lighthouses and completing 50 hours of volunteer work. My goal (of) traveling to Africa was not just to spend my birthday in Victoria Falls and see the largest waterfall in the world, but as well as to fulfill my “Mission Africa.” This mission was part of my advocacy to volunteer and spend time doing good deeds. I was grateful and happy to have fulfilled both goals – I completed my 50 countries and accomplished my “Mission Africa.” I unofficially adopted five teenage girls from Zimbabwe and taught them how to set and achieve their goals. I had a birthday lunch with them and spent a day shopping for them. I woke up on my 50th birthday seeing the beautiful sunrise and I also witnessed the majestic sunset on a cruise.

Q: Did you encounter any unusual incidents while on the trip? Tell us more about it

A: There’s not much unusual negative incident encountered except for the unavailability of cash money in the ATM and bank. You have to be prepared to carry enough cash to spend. Overall, I have exceeded my expectations. The roads are fully constructed and tourism was organized. I felt safe traveling by myself as well. The people were nice and the food was good.

Q: Did you have any impression or expectation before going? If yes, tell us more about it. Mention any favorites.

A: Everything I did and experienced was my favorites. The Victoria Falls guided tour was great. It was a walking day tour with a small group of tourists. Despite the drought season, seeing these falls nevertheless was great. I had an amazing Safari tour in Botswana. Everything about the safari journey was memorable. From traveling by car, and making occasional stops to let the elephants on the road pass by, to seeing giraffes and many wildlife animals you won’t see ordinarily. The experience of visiting this beautiful side of the world for me is priceless. I joined a sunset cruise and witnessed the spectacular sunset on the Zambezi River. It was almost a private sunset cruise and they surprised me with a birthday song. It was a relaxing time with cocktails and light dinner while waiting for the gorgeous sun to set. I attended the Boma dinner and dance show that night. That ended my full long yet fulfilled birthday.

Dancing and cheering to my golden year.

Q: Would you suggest going back to that place? Why?

A: Absolutely. These countries have a beautiful landscape and blessed with many natural resources that a traveler may not have ample time to see everything in one visit. I will definitely go back.

Do you see the alligator behind me?

Rubbing elbows with Nelson Mandela, his wax figure at least. Haha!

Q: Any tips for readers?

A: Bring enough cash to spend. If possible stay longer to maximize your trip. It’s okay to travel by yourself, just be cautious and join other tourists.

Q: Do you have any additional thoughts?

A: Africa is a huge continent. Make sure to include it in your bucket list or travel destinations to visit a country or two. It is definitely worth it. To see that side of the world, to travel long hours on a plane, and to experience the unique culture, are indeed memories to keep. Finally, if you have extra money or skills to share, there are many organizations that you can help in. This can be a wonderful lifetime experience that you would be glad to have. I know this for sure.

Reflecting on my golden year with the golden sunset as my African backdrop.

Lia is currently promoting her first book What We Know for Sure. It’s a compilation of 26 beautiful tales of challenges and successes faced by Filipino special immigrants in the U.S. To know more about it, visit