African Safari 2010  Header

Gene & Lee's African Safari
South Africa - April 28 to May 24, 2010


Introduction to our African adventure!

April 28 - Edmonton to Calgary

April 29 - Calgary to Frankfurt

April 30 - Frankfurt to Jo'burg

May 01 - Jo'burg

May 02 - Jo'burg to Livingstone

May 03 - Victoria Falls, Zambia

May 04 - Livingstone to Jo'burg

May 05 - Jo'burg to Hazyview

May 06 - Kruger National Park

May 07 - Kruger National Park

May 08 - Kruger to Pongola

May 09 - Pongola to Durban

May 10 - Durban to Cape Town

May 11 - Cape Town to Gordon's Bay

May 12 - Gordon's Bay / Gansbaai

May 13 - Gordon's Bay / Stellenbosch

May 14 - Cape Town to Jo'burg

May 15 - Jo'burg to Lephalale

May 16 - First day of hunting safari

May 17 - Second day of hunting safari

May 18 - Third day of hunting safari

May 19 - Fourth day of hunting safari

May 20 - Fifth day of hunting safari

May 21 - Sixth day of hunting safari

May 22 - Seventh day of hunting safari

May 23 - Jo'burg to Frankfurt

May 24 - Frankfurt to Calgary


Sunday, May 2nd - Jo'burg to Livingstone

Tough night as I could only sleep till 2:30 a.m. or so, but then I did manage to doze until 5 a.m. We made our way to the dining room at 6:00 for a breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast. Back to the room for some last minute packing and squared up the bill with our host Annelise. We bid her a fond farewell. The Afton House was perfect for our stopover and the hospitality was first class. We left 3 suitcases in storage, along with the rifle case. We'll reunite with all that stuff after two weeks of touring when we come back here to be picked up for our hunting safari.

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At 7:00, it was into the van again with our one suitcase apiece for travelling and back to the airport. There was a bit of confusion when we arrived at departures. We were dropped off for our flight to Victoria Falls in Zambia at the International Terminal A, but we had to check in to 1st time Airlines in the Domestic Terminal B. Then it was back to Terminal A and through security and the passport check point. No problem though, we made it to our boarding gate with lots of time to spare.

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The 1st Time Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-87 took off on time. The seating was three and two across. My knees were hitting the seat in front of me but the flight was less than a quarter full so Lee moved to an empty row. Then we had lots of room.

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An hour and a half and an instant coffee later brought us to an on-time landing at Livingstone in Zambia. We deplaned and walked along the tarmac to the terminal. Once inside, we each had to pay $50 in U.S. cash for a Zambia visa.

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After we collected our luggage, we were met by a representative from Bushtracks Tours. There's something very comforting about arriving in a strange airport and being met by someone with your name on a sign. Purity, our driver, got us and our luggage out of the terminal, into a comfortable van and on our way to our resort, the Zambezi Sun.

Livingstone is the tourism centre for Victoria Falls and has a population of 97,000 with 66 percent of the population living below the poverty line. It was about a 20 minute drive to the resort and passing through the town of Livingstone there sure didn't appear to be much prosperity from what little we saw. The main road was paved but in need of a lot of repair and the hospital didn't look like the kind of facility you'd want to be admitted into. There was just a general sense of disrepair and poverty.

Driving was on the left hand side of the road like in South Africa and Purity, our driver kept up a steady dialogue throughout the drive about Zambian, Livingstone and Victoria Falls stuff. When we turned in off the highway to the entrance to the Zambezi Sun, we were met by six zebra and a giraffe to the side of the road. Welcome to Victoria Falls.

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Check-in was relatively smooth except the key making machine was broken and we wouldn't have keys to our rooms for a few hours. Oh well. The architecture at the Zambezi Sun is inspired by African tradition and has the feel of an old walled, adobe city. A porter escorted us and our luggage to our rooms, let us in and we were able to unpack, relax and settle in a bit. We had very nice rooms with balconies located on the second floor of the building we were in.

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Met back up with Harold and Wendy about an hour later and went down to the desk to inquire about a helicopter ride later in the day. We were in luck, they could accommodate us at 4:00. With a couple hours to kill it was over to the poolside bar for a bit of a bite to eat and a Mosi lager beer, Zambia's main beer that is named for the indigenous name for Victoria Falls (Mosi Oa Tunya).

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While we ate we listened to a quartet beating out tunes on their silimbas. The silimba is similar to a xylophone and has a series of tuned wooden keys arranged in varying sizes tied atop resonating pipes. The beat was very good and the boys were very enthusiastic.

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After lunch we stopped by the desk to see if they had our room keys. They did. Refreshed it was back to the room for an hour or so. However, Lee and I were still a bit restless so we decided to take the short walk to the Falls. The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is located on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are some of the largest in the world.

It's only a ten minute walk to the river on a cobbled path, but you had to sign out of the resort before you got there. When we arrived at the river we were in for a bit of a surprise. The Zambezi River was right there and there are no barriers or fencing between you and the top edge of the falls 10 metres away. The raw power of the flowing water is pretty spectacular when you're that close. We're going on a helicopter ride shortly and a walking tour tomorrow morning so I'm guessing we'll get a lot of information on the Falls then.

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After twenty minutes or so of walking along the top of the falls we thought it was probably time to head over to the Activity Centre and meet the guys for our excursion. As well, we weren't all that comfortable walking along the paths unescorted. There were a number of local gentlemen standing idly about by themselves or with a buddy at different spots off to the side of the paths. While we were never approached or threatened in any way, none of them looked all that friendly to us.

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We met up with Harold and Wendy just after 3:30. Seems when they got back to their room after leaving us, the key they had been given didn't work. After trekking back to the desk they discovered the desk had made two keys for our room and none for theirs. They had to wait while someone ran over to the Zambezi Sun's sister property, the Royal Livingstone, to make the right key.

Our ride to our United Helicopter excursion arrived right on time. Our driver Brian loaded us into his van for the ten minute drive. It was five minutes on the highway and five minutes on a goat trail which didn't seem to be leading anywhere. However, at the end of the trail was their helipad and a very nice facility on top of a hill, Baobab Ridge. We had a short orientation, then into the chopper, strap in and lift off. There were six passengers in total with Lee, me, Wendy and Harold seated four across in the rear.

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This was Harold's first copter ride and he was a bit concerned about motion sickness. Not to worry though, smooth as silk for the 30 minute flight. We took off from the helipad and flew low level over the plain covered with Baobab trees, Mopani trees and Acacia shrub, to the Zambezi Gorges. At rapid number 21 the pilot dropped into the Batoka Gorge with its 800ft rock walls. Then it was a fast flight down the river past rapid 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 to rapid 26, which is a very long and straight rapid. At that point the pilot lifted out of the gorge, 880 ft above us. When we were clear and had gained some altitude the pilot turned the chopper around and headed back towards the falls.

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From here the spray was very visible and when we were approximately 2 miles out the pilot climbed up to 1500ft above the ground to give us a full panoramic view of Victoria Falls. Arriving over the Falls, the pilot spent a few minutes around the falls orbiting right, then through the center of the Falls, then left through the center and up to the original falls. From there we proceeded over Long Island and to the Mosi Oa Tunya game park. Then it was time to head back to the helipad.

Great flight, Harold kept his cookies down and it was well worth the price of admission. Then it was into the van again with Brian for the ride back to the resort.

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Spent an hour or so visiting with the Nikolaj's in their room and drank some more of Harold's Hennessey. Then we went down to the buffet for dinner and had grilled crocodile, which was the tastiest item available. The buffet was very expensive and overall, not very good. When we finished dinner we went back to the room to sort pictures for an hour or so then off to bed at 9:30.

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