Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport

Arrived today on my trip to my Zambia, Botswana and South Africa and was attacked by a swarm of young men wanting to help me with my luggage outside customs! Even telling them I did not need their help they just almost take your cart away. He open my side zipper of my carry on to tried to steal what was inside before I caught him. BE VERY CAREFUL. I have traveled all over the world and never experienced anything like this. The government should crack down on this.



  • Yes, the “helpers” at OR Tambo can be aggressive. They all work for tips, but evidently some want more. We went through there two weeks ago. Luckily our “helper” was just that. He wore orange and had an ID badge- if you need help, they are the only ones you should ever deal with. It sure doesn’t help that the signage is very poor there.

  • Depends on your flights. We booked our own flights and flew Delta from ATL to JNB, retrieved our bags, spent the night at the InterContinental hotel at (25 yds from) the airport, then flew to Livingstone on SAA on separate ticket the next morning. If you fly BA your bags will be checked through to Livingstone.

  • You can't be too careful while connecting at airports when it is your entry point and especially at OR Tambo. You can't avoid running the gauntlet of "helpers" as you exit Customs & Immigration and head for your connecting flight. We managed to do it several times and we stayed focused on where we were headed and on our personal property. It is truly amazing that they allow this activity to take place.

  • Cathy, just a couple of tips based on our experience, make sure in STL its tagged all the way through to LVI, when you get off the plane in JNB look for the international transfers NOT domestic. If I recall after going through security we checked in at the BA desk and they asked for our luggage tags and confirmed they were on the way.

  • That's very helpful. Thanks, taxere!

  • CathyandSteve ... I think we have done a similar connection with BA on this trip. We had around eight hours at LHR. We got a room at the Sofitel Hotel which is ‘attached’ to Terminal 5 via walkways and elevators. They gave us a “day” rate. It was well worth it. A nice place to shower and relax even if you don’t sleep.

  • Cathy, if you have business class tickets or can go in and AMEX lounge, there are showers there if you don’t want to pay for a hotel. Great food too.

  • Have flown economy to Africa several times. Premium Econ is a great compromise. One time we got an upgrade to business from economy when we got to Heathrow. They called it a teaser rate and was only about $200 each. We could not believe our good fortune

  • Cathy, you are going to love this tour so much.
    I’ve decided to let you into the secret of sleeping in the Kalahari because I want you to know exactly what it is like since AlanS’s wife was a little nervous

    Hopefully the photo is here. Yes, that’s me in the bed, that’s how far the beds are apart, maybe 100 feet, so lots of privacy, no fear of hearing anyone snoring

  • What about animals? Is the area fenced off? Also, what time of year was this? I am worried it is going to be too cold in July. What about bathroom privacy? Sorry, I already knew this was an option and am a bit fearful.

  • edited June 2019

    Oh my, the cat is out of the bag! :o You are in the middle of nowhere on the salt flats. We did not see any animals on the pan, though I saw tracks near the edges :) A few camp staff/guides stayed the night with vehicles to watch over us and our ATV. There is a kerosene lantern on all night at the latrine and you are provided with a big beam flashlight. The latrine was (or at least "seemed") a bit far away, especially for the guys, wink, wink! The bedding is plenty warm and augmented by hot water bottle(s). Most of us only removed our shoes. I placed a kikoi over my head to keep it warm, protect it from the dew, and so I could breathe (while laying on my side). The bedding is enclosed in a green waterproof zippered case visible in British's photo- don't pull the top up and zip it because body moisture will be trapped inside and your bedding may get damp. As British said spacing between beds was 75' - 100' but might as well have been 20' or 200.' (I have a video, but no stills showing the spacing.) Even with the brightness of the stars you could not make out your neighbors, you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. It was deathly quiet on the pan which absorbs the sounds- you can't hear your neighbor sneezing, snoring or talking in their sleep. Do not be disappointed if this option is not offered on your trip if it is during the wet season or later in their winter when the nighttime temps are really low. Look at the temp charts on Weatherspark dot com for your location and date. We were at Camp Kalahari on 1 June.

    With no air or light pollution the star show is simply amazing!!!!

  • Cathy, everything AlM says is correct. There was a toilet tent, not a latrine which to me is a ditch. That tent was so far away. We were told we could pee pee at the end of the bed which is what I did in the dark. Pretty soon after dawn you head back to the camp. We went in September

  • Toilet tent / latrine- a small 3' X 3' "tent", a wooden toilet seat on a wooden box, placed over a hole in the ground- that is a latrine to even a Navy guy! :smiley:

  • Thanks for clarification Alan, I guess I only ever heard y dad talk about latrines during the Second World War until I came to the US.

  • Luvs to travel, I could not get more writing on my post earlier, the website was funky. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this, it is one of the most amazing things we have ever done. Seeing all those stars
    I have another pic I found of the row of beds which I will try to post now.

  • Not sure I could do that, I can’t seem to figure out how to edit a post I have just done yet. But pleased I can now figure out how to post photos. We are not keen photographers and firmly believe that sometimes its best to put the camera aside and observe everything with your own eyes. I couldn’t even tell you what brand my camera is, never mind what the lens can do. But am just about to post one amazing photo we took in Namibia. My very old camera was ruined there by sand getting into it even though it was kept in a plastic bag. I now have the equivalent new model, but don’t know the brand. Mr B has a Tamron lens on his camera. Don’t know which of us took this shot. The young male elephant came up to the Jeep and wrapped it’s trunk around the bar on the roof and stayed there for several minutes looking us in the eye.

  • Thanks so much for the encouragement and beautiful photos, British. We are getting very excited. We leave in 11 days!! I really want to try to sleep under the stars if that is an option. I do use a CPAP device at night and bought a battery for this trip. I hope I will be able to charge it at the lodge in Kalahari and find a place to put it out in the open.

  • We have the Rhine,China and K and T and Rwanda coming up. Hoping we can negotiate the trek to the gorillas. Doing all we can with our exercise to keep fit but you never know at altitude. If we can, those pics will be worth it.

    wow this is the first time I used the Tauck website on my phone😀🍷drove to NY to see some shows this morning Waiting for lobster salad to arrive Life is good. Now phone goes away

  • Luv2Travel02- don't count on the ability to charge anything by small phone or camera batteries in Camp Kalahari. How big is the battery, what are the input specs (watts), how long will it last on a charge?

  • AlanS...The battery lasts 10 hours and is specifically meant for a CPAP. I can have it all charged up and ready to go for the first night in Kalahari, but for the second night I will need to charge the battery at the lodge. I can't be the first person with this issue. I will be fine the rest of the trip when I will have electricity.

  • Yes, I am wandering about Camp Kalahari too. Have you called Tauck to ask them about reliability of electricity. I think it was basic in the tents.
    As you can see by my pictures, there is just the bed on the salt pan.
    I do hope you can sort it out so you can do the trip.

  • Tauck says there is a charging station in the main area at Camp Kalahari. I assume I can charge my battery there during the day. I would have to think it will take priority over phones, etc. since it is a medical necessity. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

  • edited June 2019

    The only electricity in the Camp Kalahari tents powers two hard-wired lanyard bulbs. I don't know where the power comes from- the grid, or more likely a bank of batteries connected to an inverter (which turns DC to AC). It is also possible that the power to the bulbs is just low-voltage DC straight from the battery(batteries?).

    The charging station in the open air "lobby" is just one or two outlet strips with, what I believe were South African and UK style outlets and an unknown number of misc. adapters. During the day there were quite a few small chargers plugged in. But again, I do not know where the power comes from. Like with the tent lights, it could come from a bank of batteries, likely charged by a solar array, and an inverter (most chargers require 120V/240 AC.) I do not know the capacity (in watts) of the charging station, which is why I asked about the power demands of your CPAP charger. Years ago I had a CPAP. It was not a travel/battery powered one but I would think a CPAP battery and therefore its charger requires much more power (watts) than for a small cellphone, iPad, or camera battery chargers.

    Our TD is running another tour now- I will send sent him an email to see if he can provide better info.

  • The built-in CPAP battery charger operates on 100V-240V, .2-1.0 amps. Thanks for your help, Alan!

  • If the charger is built in and if the power station will provide enough power, you'll need to take the CPAP machine to the "lobby" to charge it.

  • Liv2. Maybe you could start a new thread headed CPAP to see if it attracts anyone who has been on the trip with one.

  • I hope there is no one who thinks their camera batteries, cell phone and iPad chargers take priority over your CPAP.
    I can’t remember which Africa tours have no night electricity, can you check that also.

  • The two electric lights (bulbs hanging from a cord) in the tents is new for Camp Kalahari. One of our group didn't catch the fact that there was a small rocker switch on the cord, so gave a good tug on the cord- yup, the light went out- for good! (until it was repaired). Can you believe it, I don't have any photos of our tent at Camp Kalahari. I haven't heard from our TD yet, I believe he is on the way to Cape Town.

  • This thread sure has changed direction from JNB airport. Alan not sure if Steve was the TD? If you don't hear from him I can check with Susan although she is a TD on the new Arctic trip. Unless things have changed dramatically from a year ago, to clarify for the upcoming guests, you are off the grid in Kalahari. That is no internet or phone service. The only reason someone would have to charge their phone or iPad is if they are using them as a camera. Most of the power in the camp was solar. Alan S has the most recent experience, but I don't recall anyone having a problem with charging anything on the powerstrips that would normally be charged. Also if it would be more comfortable for you, its your choice whether you sleep in the desert. You can always stay in your tent. If that would make it easier to have more power when the other guests are out, its an option. Good luck getting your answer.

  • Our TD was Eric. We had a number of folks using phones and iPads to take photos. Each tent had a solar water heater, but I don't remember seeing the solar electric panels so they may have been relatively small and I'm pretty sure there must have been a bank of batteries to handle peak loads and periods of little or no sun.

    Though, my camera battery and spare were almost drained, I didn't charge them at Camp Kalahari- my charger was in my suitcase so I didn't see it until we got to Maun :( I stopped taking videos which really drain the batteries after meerkat morning to save what little life was left in them. I was lucky that they lasted until Maun where I charged them in the airport cafe upstairs while we waited for the plane. Both batteries and my camera were ready to go by the time we touched down in Cape Town.

    taxare- on the way to Kazangula and the ferry I asked Eric to tell me when we passed the entrance to the Royal Chundu- Wow! you were really out there!!

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