Sept 4-19 2019 Botswana, South Africa & Zambia Tour
We booked this trip through CruiseOne in October 2017. We booked our air in October 2018 for premium economy on American and British air .
Because we are a Tauck repeat customer, we were given a free night pre tour at the royal Livingstone in Zambia.
We began our journey at 10 am Wednesday September 4. We drove to the airport and checked in. Our bags weighed 46 pounds each...we packed the tauck duffle bags in them as well as a very small lightweight back pack for me to use on the safari portion of the trip. Steve's back pack weighed 10 pounds and Steve's camera bag weighed 13 pounds and my camera bag weighed 4 pounds. We were able to check the bags all the way through and we went to the admiral’s club. We were able to watch the last flight of an MD80 take off for retirement.
We boarded the flight for Chicago. The flight leaving Chicago was our first time on a 787. It left two hours late. We arrived in London and sat in the admiral’s club for the next 10 hours. We took a shower to freshen up a bit. The showers were very nice. We boarded the flight for Johannesburg south Africa on British Airways. To date…this 11-hour flight was our longest and by the time we got to Africa we were exhausted. We arrived in Johannesburg and walked around looking at different shops. We decide to use our priority pass card and went to a quaint little lounge… Mashonzha lounge upstairs. I had water and steve had coffee. It was very nice. We were leaving out of gate B19. We were taken to the plane by a bus. We boarded the next flight for Livingstone. The flight took 1 hour 25 minutes. We got off the plane and went into immigration. There were 3 different lines and of course the line for the KAZA visa was HUGE. We waited well over an hour…we finally got our visa, paid $100 cash and went outside to find the TAUCK representative. He was there but informed us the other TAUCK customers had already left and he would call another van to come and get us. We waited about 15 minutes. The van arrived loaded our things and we started the drive to the royal Livingstone. We were terribly disappointed that we were not transported to the resort by boat. It was one of the things we had looked so forward too. We did get to see the city of Livingstone and we passed a herd of elephants standing beneath shade trees.
We arrived at the resort, were given fresh cool towels and a lovely drink. We checked in and were taken to room 5058. The room is nice…we have a king bed, a lovely bathroom with a tub and shower and a balcony. The view is pretty good... the river is a bit obstructed but nice none the less. I unpacked and separated the items that go into the duffel bags. We got cleaned up and were going to walk around taking photos… and as we came down the stairs, we were greeted by a small herd of zebras…one was a baby. That certainly brought a smile to our tired faces.
We then went to the Kubu bar overlooking the Zambezi river. We had some wonderful South African wine, watched the hippos’ surface, had a gorgeous sunset, ate crocodile spring rolls, and watched the mist of Victoria falls. We took a few photos, came back to the room and crashed…. tired but happy.
Saturday sept 7, We had booked an animal encounter online prior to our trip. At 6:30 we were picked up and taken to the Mukuni big 5. We checked in and paid…. $540 for the three encounters and $65 for the video. We first went to visit the Cheetahs. There were two…Lily and Magaisa. They had on harnesses and were very well behaved. We pet them and then got to walk with them. the cheetah team included, Haggai, Melvin, Peter and Lee. Next, we went to ride the elephants. We rode Boniface then afterwards we fed the elephants, Tata, Temba, Mouse, Sondela and Boniface. Elephant handlers on duty that day were, Brighton, Guessman and Fanfred.
Then we went to visit the lions…there were 4 of them 3 girls, Lorretta, Anna, and Zdenka and a boy named Eric. We pet them and then we walked with them. Lion walk team comprised of Goodson, Nicholas, Christian and Lunda. We bought the video and the trainers were very good to take our photos with our camera.
We came back to the royal Livingstone and then walked to Zimbabwe. A young man named John, offered his services as a guide and we took him up on it. Somehow, we felt safer with him in charge. We went through immigration then crossed the bridge. We saw all kinds of baboons. We paid John $5. We came back to the royal Livingstone shared a cheeseburger for lunch. At 3:00, we met our fellow Tauck travelers. Chris Mancini, our guide gave us instructions. Then we rode a bus to the 1920’s train and rode the train back to Zimbabwe and to Victoria falls. Unfortunately, it has been a very dry year and the falls were almost dry. We got back on board the train and had a 5-course dinner. We got back to the hotel about 9:30. We had a very full but fun day.
Sunday September 8, we had breakfast at 6:30 then we boarded a bus to go on a tour of Victoria Falls. Along the way we saw mongoose, baboons, monkeys, zebra and giraffes. The Falls were very disappointing. The lack of rain and the use of the falls for electricity left them a trickle. We boarded the bus to go on a walking safari in the rhino sanctuary in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. We saw 10 Rhino including a baby. Then we went on a driving safari. We saw impalas, kudu, waterbucks, wildebeest, giraffes, zebra, and warthogs. We drove to the David Livingston resort where we boarded the lady Livingston boat and we had a lunch cruise on the Zambezi river. We went through the Moremi game reserve. We saw elephants, hippos, warthogs and crocodiles. We came back to the Livingstone resort and had dinner at 6:30. It was another busy yet wonderful day. Every trip we take…I have a cry day…days of complete and utter astonishment and joy that I am here. Today was that day…but I have a feeling there will be more days like today.
Monday sept 9, we got up this morning and had breakfast then boarded the bus for the border to Botswana. We took a ferry across the Zambezi river, then got onto buses that took us to a motorboat on the Chobe river in the Okavango delta. They also served lunch. This cruise was even better than the one the day before. Then we took the bus to the Kasane airport. We were greeted by Giraffes as we drove into the Belmond Khwai River lodge. We checked in and were assigned room 14. Our room is magnificent…the view is incredible. Our driver Mr. T took us on a game drive, and we saw hyenas, elephants, giraffes, zebra…so many! and then we had dinner back at the lodge.
Tuesday sept 10, We got up this morning at 5:30 to go on a safari at 6:30. Today we saw wild dogs and lions and a leopard. There are so many amazing animals! We stopped for a coffee break in the bush next to hippos! We went back to the lodge for lunch and went on an afternoon safari. We stopped for sundowners, then we had dinner at a BOMA.
Wednesday September 11, we got up at 5:30 and went on a 6:30 safari. We saw 5 hyenas with babies and 2 leopards. We then had lunch. We flew to our next camp…Belmond eagle island lodge. We were assigned room 4. The room is simply amazing. As we were sitting on the deck looking at the view, an elephant decided to eat the palm tree next to the deck. I could have touched him!!! We went on a mokoro ride on the little pond. We had sundowners then dinner and retired to our rooms…. another day of amazing sights.