Anyone been on this tour or South Africa?

Considering this Tauck tour.
If maxed at 18, how many vans on safari?
How difficult getting to Victoria Falls? Worth it?
Best months for seeing animals? weather?



  • We had booked this tour a long time ago but had to cancel because it was almost impossible to get there, a wait of 23 hours in Johannesburg to get the flight to Zimbabwe and no easy way to test in Jo’burg. We lost $700 on the cancelled flight ot Zimbabwe. We are sad but have been to all three countries before. It would have been a great tour.

  • edited February 27

    I haven't been, but you'll probably travel by full size bus from Vic Falls to Chobe, Botswana (that is how we got their from Livingstone during B,SA, Z . For game drives you'll likely be in 3 open-sided safari vehicles.

    There are flights to VFA available- you have a choice of US/EURO major carriers, but they have some long, long durations and layovers- the shortest en-route time I found was 32 hours from Dulles. Or, you can look at other carriers not bookable thru Tauck, like Ethiopian Airlines- much shorter (20 hours going over, 24 coming back) and much better routing (one stop from Dulles to VFA and one stop from CPT to Dulles and a few other US cities) and, if anything possibly too short of layover in Addis Ababa, but connections are easy to make there- very small terminal. You may be limited to certain fly days during the week. You might also find suitable flights on some Gulf States carriers, e.g. Qatar Airways or Emirates, etc.

    Any trip to Africa is definitely worth it!!

    Best time to go?- almost any time Tauck tours run. If anything, you might consider avoiding shoulder tours. Unlike Tanzania and Kenya, there are no great migrations. Check WeatherSpark dot com for detailed, yet easy to understand historical weather.

  • I did a little checking, and the K&T trip and the Z, B, and SA seem to be much easier to travel. We are doing K&T in June, and our connections are actually shorter than I would like.

  • Because of a cancellation from Johannesburg to VF, we now have to spend the night in Joburg at airport hotel and fly the next day to CTown to VF. Our trip now is taking 4 days from the time we leave FL to VF. On the Wildlife tour August 18.

  • edited August 4

    Can you get a flight from JNB to Livingstone (LVI)? It is only a minor hassle since Tauck will not provide ground transportation across the border and you'll need a KAZA Univisa which you can easily get at LVI, but if you fly to LVI you can get ground transportation, taxi or van, to the border, cross the Vic Falls Bridge, and then get a taxi from the Zimbabwe border station to the Old Drift Lodge. If it would save me a day, I would do it in a heart beat.

    When we did K&T several years ago our Delta flight from Atlanta arrived late afternoon so we spent a night at the Intercontinental at JNB. It worked out great. After a good night's sleep we had a mid-morning flight to Livingstone and since we were rested were able to hit the deck running when we arrived in Livingstone.

  • MarkErmine, I am scheduled to do what AlanS did : fly from Joberg to LVI after an overnight in Joberg. Is your flight cancellation something that should concern me? I am not flying that route until September 9.

  • We reluctantly canceled our Botswana Odyssey tour months ago because we could not get a flight to Vic Falls without at 23 hour layover In Johannesburg. At the time, testing was still required, so we would have not been able to check into a hotel overnight. What makes these Southern Africa tours a pain, is going to V Falls, it was a challenge even before Covid. If we go to Botswana again, we are seriously thinking of using a company that leaves Vic Falls, out, been there, got the t shirt twice, Seen them at full force, seen them as a trickle, see them from, Zimbabwe and Zambia….yes, I know we are lucky. I want to go to Botswana again, maybe Tauck will listen and do some tours without Vic Falls..there are now plenty of Taucktourians who have been to Africa but want to go again

  • I'm flying Emirates as I've last 5 years .
    I'm flying Seattle-Dubai-Lusaka-Livingstone. I'm staying 3 days in Dubai for fun-shopping and to relax , before I head to Lusaka Zambia (7 hour flight)- with a layover of 2 hours- then flying Lusaka to Livingstone on ProFlight 1 hour 40 min. no overnights anywhere...
    on my way back Cape Town (9hours)-arriving at 5:40 am- 3 hour layover and then flight to Seattle 14 hours.
    Easy itinerary , great airline, amazing service.

  • edited August 5

    mil, forgot to mention on the way over she is flying Emirates into Lusaka (LUN) then on Proflight Zambia to Livingstone (LVI). :D But as I said, it is possible to get from Livingstone Airport to Victoria Falls (town). Remember B,SA,Z starts in Livingstone, Zambia while the Wildlife Odyssey starts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Different countries, different airports.

    Just picking random dates, 31 May - 15 June 2023 I did a few searches and found pretty direct flights with some of the shortest en-route times of any carrier from the US to Victoria Falls (VFA), on Ethiopian Airlines- Dulles (IAD) to Addis Ababa (ADD) to Victoria Falls (VFA) with a return routing from Capetown (CPT) via ADD to IAD. Ethiopian has a few other US Gateway cities besides Dulles- flights from Chicago are about the same, but a bit more expensive. We flew on Ethiopian to K&T a few years ago; it was fine. After looking at some of the available flights, prices, and enroute times of other carriers, I would fly Ethiopian again!

  • AlanS - Based on your comments about Ethiopian I had to look them up. Below are extracts from two different websites. The first assesses Airline Safety and the second is simply an Airline Rating. Make of this what you want.

    Airline Safety comparison - just for a section of airlines that are alphabetically near Ethiopian.

    Airline Rating for Ethiopian

  • You pays your prices and takes your chance. :D A bunch of the other options included- can't get there from here and enroute times of 50+ hours!

  • edited August 5

    I’ve kept this article since 2014. It’s worth the read. I remember talking to an Emirates stewardess and I was fascinated about the training they have to go through among other rules and regulations.

  • milmil
    edited August 5

    I'm a witness of how amazing this airline is... the service, the customer service, the aircraft, itineraries , food etc..
    and some might think it is expensive but I have gotten great $$ .
    India I paid $900... for round trip- Seattle-Delhi. / $1100- Seattle Jordan-Egypt / now $3257.00 Buss. Seattle-Africa-Seattle.

  • OurTravels34, mil - You guys are lucky you didn't post any pictures in your only slightly applicable posts (to the Thread Topic) like AlanS and I did otherwise the 'Picture Spammers' would have Flagged your posts like they did AlanS's and mine. :D:D

  • Smiling Sam still early....

  • Here’s another current read. Wow! 300,000 people applied for Emirates jobs! That doesn’t happen here!

  • milmil
    edited August 5

    OurTravels34. When you're good, you're good.
    I talk about Emirates a lot ( I know) but there're folks that are afraid of flying with them because it's a middle eastern airline and reality is that it's an excellent airline, safe, always on time and with excellent service, that also flies over 158 destinations, being now the world's largest international airline, so it is really a shame to be mistreated and have your vacation ruined by an airline when there are other great options out there (Qatar-Etihad, Turkish, Jordan etc..)
    Just an informative contribution....

  • Mil, I totally understand what you're saying and you nailed it. I have flown Emirates business class and here is my simple thought process. I would rather fly Emirates preferred economy or even economy if I had to, than business class in an unreliable airline with so many problems especially the distance of travel we are talking about. When I travel with Emirates, that treated me like royalty, like I'm the Queen of Sheba or even Cleopatra. Another very safe airline is El Al. You can't believe what you go through before stepping foot on one of their planes. By that I only mean, the questions you're asked before boarding.

  • milmil
    edited August 5

    OurTravels34, glad to hear you have had same experience..
    Emirate's economy it's excellent too. I have flown economy with them seat 18C and it is very comfortable. :)

  • edited August 5

    I don't like Emirates double-decker airplanes! :D The service and aircraft are great but it can be a bit of a detour, psychologically if not actual distance and time, to go to via Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Istanbul, Addis Ababa on Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish, Ethiopian, etc. for some tours.

  • milmil
    edited August 5

    AlanS, :)
    of course Emirates wouldn't work for certain destinations... Why would I want to go to Dubai to them fly to Brazil... :)
    but for those going to South Africa, Maldives, India, and middle east it's a great option.
    The double decker Airbus A380's are a beautiful aircraft and the bar exquisite..

  • edited August 5

    AlanS -

    From the west coast going via the cities you identified might make more sense. My total travel time from Seattle to Cairo is 20h40m, the return leg is 20h15m.

    What was your total travel time each direction for the Jordan and Egypt tour? Were they considerably less than my travel times?

    Here is a sample of going to/from Seattle via Europe. They are pretty similar to the goes I have going through the midEast cities.

    To Cairo from Seattle

    From Cairo to Seattle

  • I flew Seattle-Dubai 14h.- 2h.layover and on to Jordan ( 3h.15m) total 19.15
    on my way back Cairo to Dubai (3h.20min.) 2 hour layover then another 14. so total 19.20
    Dubai Delhi 3.30 hours to turkey 4hours.Jerusalen 3h. Tel-Aviv 3.50
    But the layovers are always short because of the amount of daily flights to all destinations, they offer.
    I'm happy with the airline and their service, no complains- if anyone wants to fly other airlines great, I'll do Emirates as much as I can. I want my peace of mind. :)
    To Europe, I normally fly Delta-KLM through Amsterdam. great flight. and to France/Morocco I flew Delta/Air France.

  • mil - Looks like going through Dubai is roughly an hour shorter than going through Doha, since the layovers you had and the layovers I have are comparable.

  • Smiling Sam Hi.
    I want to visit Doha, I'll probably go for a week in the near future. Not for the World Soccer Cup , but soon.

  • edited August 6

    We did J&E which starts in Amman and true Business class w/sleepers on Turkish for all but the leg from CAI to IST. For that leg we had a new A321 NEO- no full recliners but very nice seats. Your return you posted has two stops that could be killers- CDG followed by AMS!! When you add 6+ hr flight time to adjust for the additional JFK to SEA flight time of 20+20 still beats 21+35 by over an hour.

    On the TK website a one stop flight CAI - IST - SEA is longer due to layovers, but if an extra stop in Vancouver is added (CAI - IST - YVR - SEA) the total enroute time is only 19+45.

    ATL - IST (5+30) - AMM [18+10]

    CAI - IST (1+30) - JFK [14+20]

  • AlanS - your post is too cryptic to understand. The times shown on what I posted was the total travel time. The return total travel time with two stops is 19h 25m, period, no time zone adjustments, nothing. That is elapsed time, including layovers along the way.

  • The times in parens are layover times, the times in brackets at the end are total travel times (which include the layover)

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