THIS IS THE PRE-CRUISE JAUNT TO SEE THE FALLS & A COUPLE OF DAYS ON SAFARI
Tue 1 Jan 2013 - Sat 5 Jan 2013
Getting to Johannesburg....& pre-cruise journey
The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was very good as they were able to get me on an earlier flight which give me more time to make my connection. Even though I have a Nexus (trusted traveler) card, US immigration made me go through a secondary inspection & went through my bags. Took over half an hour so I was glad of the extra time available to me.
In the event, I did not need the extra time as the plane to Atlanta had broken down & they had to bring in a replacement. Arrived very late at Atlanta & made check-in 5 minutes after the plane was due to leave. Naturally, this plane was leaving on time.
The girl at the desk chatted on the phone while I fretted about how to proceed. She finished her call & said the plane was still at the gate on account of bad weather & they were opening the door for me to board. Never heard of that before. A stewardess kneeled down beside me gave the safety talk - just for me.
I tried to make small talk with the lady sitting beside me but she kept crying. A couple of hours later she explained that she was being deported from the US for outstaying her visa. Sad story - they would not even let her return to her home to get her husband’s ashes.
Hotel in Johannesburg was very swish, if you discount the mushrooms growing on the outside of the patio door. Had golf buggies to take guests from reception to the room. Press a button & the TV rises from a cabinet at the foot of the bed.
At dinner met the other 20 some people on the tour. Seem like a nice crowd. US & Canadian couples mainly & 2 sets of 2 ladies... & me.
Arriving in Zimbabwe...
We had all been told that we needed a 50 dollar, multiple entry visa so we all lined up on the Multiple visa line.
We found that US people had to pay 47 dollars for a multiple entry while having a UK passport, I had to pay 70 dollars. Canadians were incensed when they found out they would only be issued single entry visas at a cost of 70 dollars & they were in the wrong line. While they were arguing the toss, a couple jumped the line ahead of me. I asked why they were doing that & the guy replied. ‘I am american’. I assume he meant the he was not Canadian but it came across as very arrogant. Did not get on well with him for the rest of the trip.
When we eventually all got across immigration the guide didn’t know how many people we were supposed to be, so another delay.
This really is amazing & we had great weather for it. The falls puts up lots of spray so photo taking is difficult but there are rainbows in every direction.
The falls are a lot longer than I expected & we walked for quite awhile.
It was a bit rushed though on account of the delay at the border & the need to get to the Botswana border before it closed at nightfall. We made it, just.
Chobe Park Botswana....
We arrived at the lodge after dark to a great reception with the staff singing a welcome. & what a lodge. We are led to our separate lodges by a guide & shown around the room.
Huge room with another large room behind housing bath & shower & another shower in the garden beyond. Not that I ventured out there to use it.
The next 2 days we were out on safari. Elephants, Elephants & more elephants. Maybe 58,000 in the park although we did not see near that many. Lots of other animals. Up close Giraffes & all sorts including my favourite - Dung Beetles. No - these are baboons of course...
This Elephant took exception to us & charged - No damage.
At another spot, we sat in the car with another 4 or 5 cars trying to spot a lion the guides said was in the bush. We never saw a Lion. Just as we were leaving, a car broke down & some passengers transferred cars & we all left one couple with the broken car. We learned later that the Lion came out of the bush & charged their car.
A likely story!
The view from the bar down to the Chobe River
We came across a pack of Wild Dogs, maybe 20, & travelled with them for a while. DId not see them catch anything but a couple were eating something raw.
All great fun.
We were due to go on a boat ride on the river but it was cancelled due to a huge thunder storm. A clap of thunder almost made me bounce off the bed.
Back to Zimbabwe....
Less Visa aggravation this time. The guide took all our passports & we waited for him on the bus. We did manage to leave 2 guests behind at the lodge though. These guys have a problem keeping count.
A wonderful trip but too many border crossings in too few days. I knew it was going to be like that.
Then on to Johannesburg where I was reunited with my luggage which did not make the original flight. The Botswana lodge had free laundry but I had no spare clothes so could not take advantage of that.
And on to Cape Town to board the Oceania Nautica. Oceania has an amazing reputation as being one of the best cruise lines afloat. I differ...
Anyways - the actual trip was quite good.