Sept 4-19 2019 Botswana zambia south africa

We booked this trip through Cruiseone in October 2017.

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 were not overweight, 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 15minutes.  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.



  • Safe and wonderful travels!!! We can't wait to hear about your great adventure!!!!!

  • You two look so cute. Enjoy, enjoy!

  • Good to hear you arrived in blighty. Just chill out when you get to the Royal Livingstone, the massages were great.

  • edited September 15

    the royal livingstone

    our first African sunset

  • edited September 15

    the royal livingstone

  • edited September 15

    the royal livingstone

  • edited September 6

    Hey, I think i know that family of zebra! :D

    At the airport did you get in the line for a regular visa or the one for the KAZA visa? When we were there the line for the regular visa was really long, but there were only about a half dozen people in the KAZA visa line and we were second!

  • Sorry for my ignorance Alan, which is which. We had visas in our passports from the visa service when we took the tour.
    We always make a point of walking very fast whenever we leave the plane so we can get to the front of the line. A small backpack and sensible shoes help instead of a wheel along carry on. We leave a bathroom stop until we get tp baggage claim. We have on occasion had to wait for other people. We arrived two days early on this tour to allow time to recover from jetlag and to site see. This was our fourth time to Africa so we knew how tough the early morning starts can be when you are already trying to deal with time differences .i guess one of f those big zebras could be hte baby one we saw.

  • edited September 6

    We were in the line for the kaza visa...and the line was 2-3 people wide and wrapped all the way around the building and out the door. I am estimating at least 200 people. We knew to get into the line on the right, thanks to Alan.

    We were near the back of the plane...we had sensible shoes and sensible luggage and we walked as fast as we could and we did not use the restroom. You cannot simply push past those who are in front of you. A plane had just arrived and loaded before we are the SECOND plane full of people in line.

  • edited September 10

    cathyandsteve, 7:53PM edited 7:55PM. We were in the line for the kaza visa.We were near the back of the plane... .A plane had just arrived and unloaded before we are the SECOND plane full of people in line.

    Well that explains it. That and the fact the KAZA has gained wider acceptance, especially since the sticker shortages of a few years ago seem to have been resolved, really sealed it. We flew into Livingstone on SAA, though we were late departing Jo'burg, we still took off minutes before the BA/COMAIR flight which landed right behind us at Livingstone. Plus we were in the front of the plane and hot footed it to immigration- from plane to visa to luggage to Tauck transfer- 15-20 min. at most.

    Sorry you missed the boat transfer and water arrival but I don't think you had any choice. By now you have had the lunch cruise which departs from the same place and you'll see much of the same stuff, so you really didn't miss too much except the musical performance when arriving at the Royal Livingstone- you may have been met with that anyway.

    British, I may be wrong, but I don't believe we could get a KAZA visa (we planned and made an excursion into Zimbabwe so needed the KAZA or the more expensive multi-entry Zambia visa.) via the embassy in DC or via the e-visa process. As you know I had activities planned the afternoon of the day we arrived. As it turned, because of our flight arrival, aircraft seating, etc. we didn't need to get a visa ahead of time anyway. It also helped that we had a good, full, night's sleep at the Continental in Jo'burg before heading to the airport and flying to Livingstone a day and a half early.

  • I’m not suggesting people ‘push’ past others. We are very fast walkers, we walk for exercise pretty fast almost every day but also notice when we are in the city that we easily are able to get from place to place more quickly than most people around us. When I was working, my job involved being very fast on my feet at times. We both find these days that walking slowly like when in a group and site seeing gives us a kind of backache. Now uphill, that’s another story, I’ll find out how good or bad I am at that when we hike in Rwanda, heat and elevation makes me think I will find it a challenge.

  • We have an explanation ....the water levels are extremely boat rides to the hotel

  • Wow already low. I wonder what Botswana will be like? When we were there in a September the waterways were very shallow and when we did the small canoe trip it was difficult going. We were charged by a lone hippo and the guides had to curtail the ride. I must admit I was frightening to death, so much so that if we do that tour again I may pass on the canoe ride.

  • British, I think it was the same hippo that didnt like me!! When his ears started twitching and then bobbing up and down in the water, the canoe guide hightailed it out of there. Everywhere we went after that our fellow travelers teased me that the hippo was still looking for me :D

  • edited September 15

    sept 7 We had booked an animal encounter online prior to our trip. At 6:30 we were picked up and taken to the Makuni 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 Mygyver. They had on harnesses and were very well behaved. We pet them and then got to walk with them. Next we went to ride the elephants. We rode Bonny then afterwards we fed them elephants. Then we went to visit the lions…there were 4 of them 3 girls and a boy named Eric. We pet them and then we walked with them. 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. We saw all kinds of baboons. We came back to the royal Livingstone shared a cheeseburger for lunch. At 3:00, we met our fellow Tauck travelers. Chris 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.

  • edited September 15

    the encounter

    victoria falls

    baboon in zimbabwe

  • edited September 15

    giraffe royal livingstone

    The train dinner

  • edited September 8

    Except for the low water level and no boat arrival, it sounds like things are off to a good start!

    British, 9:31AM. Wow already low. I wonder what Botswana will be like?

    When we were there this past May the flow over the Falls was reduced a little from normal but still decent. However, at Eagle Island Camp in Botswana, the only water was in the stream (a tributary of the Okavango River) just past the Fish-Eagle Bar. We were only able to travel a few hundred yards by mokoro and ran aground a couple of times before we had to turn back. It is a shame, but from cathyandsteve's description of the falls, I think there will be even less water at Eagle Island. Hopefully, the water level at the Khwai River Camp will be ok.

    Except for the causeway leading to and the Fish-Eagle Bar itself, the grassy areas between the "tents" and the stream and on the far side of the stream are normally flooded in the spring and (early to mid?) summer. In May, we experienced water levels like in my photo below and the Camp's website banner photo at this link: If you scroll down there is a video of the surrounding area that illustrates normal flood water level.

  • Cathy, Chris was our Tour Director, he’s really nice, and handsome! He lives in Arusha.
    By looking at Alan’s photo, it’s much drier there in May than we had in a September. We actually found the Victoria Falls more interesting when the rocks were exposed than when we saw them at high levels when we saw them from the Zimbabwe side several years before. In Zambia we could see a guy fishing at the top of the falls like we had seen on a TV documentary.
    The animals must be having a really hard time in Botswana if it is so dry already.
    Cathy, thank you so much for all your photos, it’s so helpful for people who have yet to go and nice to see you two enjoying yourselves.

  • edited September 8

    Sunday September 8, we had breakfast at 6:30 then we boarded a bus to go to a tour of Victoria Falls. Along the way we saw mongoose, baboons, monkeys, zebra and giraffes. Then we boarded the bus to go to a walking safari in the rhino sanctuary. We saw 10 Rhino. Then we went on a driving safari. We saw impalas, kudu, waterbucks, wildebeest, giraffes, zebra, and warthogs. We then drove to the David Livingston resort where we boarded the Lady Livingston boat and we had a lunch cruise on the Zambezi river. We saw elephants, hippos, warthogs and crocodiles. We came back to the 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.

  • edited September 15

    victoria falls

    Rhino santuary

    elephants on the chobe

  • Great shot of the rhino and baby! I don't know how may rhinos or herds of rhinos there are in the sanctuary, but there wasn't a baby in the group of 10 or so that we saw. Our guide didn't get us in as good a position as the other guide and group, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of this slightly older juvenile. It kept bumping heads with and nuzzling her momma.

    Buckle up, you ain't seen nothing yet!!! More to come on this great tour!

  • The baby s 3 months old...there are 10 rhinos in the sanctuary. We were very was AMAZING!

  • edited September 9

    I would like to add some observations.

    The Royal Livingstone clearly states that dress is "Smart casual". I did brings dress slacks and collared shirts for Steve and some harem pants and sweaters for me....HOWEVER....had i truly known that people dress up as much as they have...I would have bought more appropriate attire. NO ONE wore safari clothing to dinner on the train or to eat at the royal Livingstone. No one wore shorts. No one wore sports coats. I wish I had brought dresses.

    IF i had known that the train STOPS ride beside the sign that says Zimbabwe and you can take your picture there...I would NOT have waited in a miserable line to get a visa for entrance into Zimbabwe. They sell wares RIGHT beside the train on the bridge. I would have saved myself the aggravation of being hassled all the way on our walk into Zimbabwe...going through immigration and paying two boys money just to get the hell away from us. IT was frightening and not something I ever want to do again.

    If I had known that the same airline rules apply on the small planes as they do on any other plane...I would not have fretted and worried so much about liquid sizes. You can put any liquids you want into your duffel bags. There is no size restriction. The size restriction only applies to carry ons...and the duffel bags are CHECKED bags.

    The plastic bag ban applies to plastic shopping you get at walmart and target etc. It is not plastic zippered bags.

    The internet at the Royal Livingstone has been FLAWLESS.

    Chris is our tour guide... is amazingly organized....PERFECT! He is from Connecticut but lives in married to an African woman from Tanzania and has a little 4 year old girl. He alternates between the Tanzania tours and this one.

    So far...TAUCK has done EVERYTHING right...EXCEPT for the boat ride to the hotel the first day...and they cannot help the river levels. They are in desperate need of rain here. They are even supplementing hay to the Rhinos in the sanctuary.

  • edited September 10

    At only 3 months old, the baby rhino wouldn't have been born when we visited.

    Wow, you must have an upscale group!

    Yes, when the train stops on the bridge, so if you walk past the sign in the middle of it, you are "technically" in Zimbabwe, but you aren't truly there until you have your passport stamped! :)

    Don't say I didn't warn you about the walk and the aggressive vendors on the way to Zimbabwe!! :o Be sure you are ready for the ones at the Zambezi River crossing. :o Aggressive vendors and touts are often a fact of life when you mix rich tourists with people from poor, third world countries.

  • Yes, agree with Alan, you must be with a fancy group, I’ve been on a couple of land tours recently when I’ve been the only woman in a dress and others have worn as casual as cut off jeans at the Welcome dinner. Groups vary greatly,it doesn’t matter, you will 99% never see these people again. It doesn’t say anything about them or you in real life. People are not the same on vacation as at home. My best example are friends who love to dress up and yet their home is like a pig sty, but that doesn’t matter either. By the end of all my Africa tours, no one cares what they look like, no makeup, grungy hair and so on. Even with a hat on your hair gets ratty in the wind and blowing dirt. I love it, no one cares, no one is looking at you. Remember no hairdryers at Camp Kalahari and you will be sleeping overnight out in the desert with you day clothes on, you getup as you are, eat breakfast there if I remembered correctly and go back to camp.
    Re vendors by the train, I think I mentioned that, I bought stuff and chatted to the guys, but their stuff is poor quality and I think I mentioned that. At the restaurant, the more dressed up people were not on the Tauck tour, when I was there, I noticed most of them were British.
    Very important. Do not cave in and give money to people pestering you, that is the very worst thing you can do, it encourages them even more, any tour director will tell you that. When we were on our first safari we were strictly told not to give stuff to begging children by the roadside as it discourages them form attending school and that is not what their parents want these days. The kindest thing you can do is give a fair price for crafts you are buying from them, bargain a little because that is the custom, but don’t screw them over. If you ever go to India, you would never survive the hordes of people around you begging for money.
    Sorry, I thought you understood that duffels are checked, there is no room for more than a small bag on the little planes. I knew that it’s just plastic shopping bags are banned, but I am not going to take ziplocks because you never know in these countries when a customers officer is having a bad day or takes a dislike to a particular American. You do have to be careful when you get to Moan about checking what is in your carry on, it’s a more regular airport and some people had things confiscated from their carry on on our tour.
    Cathy, your blog is wonderful. Continue the great work, lots to learn, you’ll be a pro in no time

  • Monday sept 9, we got up this morning we had breakfast then boarded the bus for the border to Botswana. We took a ferry across the Zambia river. Then got onto buses that took us to a motorboat on the Chobe river. The we took the bus to the Kasane airport. We then checked in to the Khwai river lodge. We took a game drive and then had dinner. Our room is magnificent…the view is incredible.

  • edited September 15

    Kwai river lodge

  • edited September 15

    Kwai River lodge


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