Friday, May 30, 2014

Africa: What we missed

You can't do everything when visiting a continent, especially one as vast as Africa and while we visited five countries (in various detail) in our five weeks there were a few key places we missed:

1. Cape Town
All the accounts I've been given is that Cape Town is THE place to visit when in South Africa. But it involved an extra flight and an extra 4-5 days we just didn't have.

2. Namibia - particularly Hiking the Fish River Canyon

3. The Gorillas of Rwanda - you can see the gorillas from Uganda or The Congo as well, but we heard great things from those who had visited via Kigali

Of course that's still not everything Africa has to offer!

Looking back at things it would have probably been smarter to do Rwanda this trip and leave Botswana for when a trip to Namibia is planned, but that's one of the great things about travel, each trip you learn!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Africa 2013: Summary

September/October 2013

The glacier at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro

  • Tanzania in general - people were friendly, food was fantastic and the sights were varied
  • Seeing the big 5
  • The Devils Pool


  • If you only have a few weeks I recommend Northern Tanzania, you can climb Kili and get a number of Parks in, with a variety of wildlife
  • Be careful about going during peak, we were in off peak and it was still busy in parts. Some parks would be a nighmare in peak
  • Its the wild not a zoo, don't embarrass yourself and request an animal, but by all means let your guide/driver know that you'd really like to see a rhino or your interested in birds or big cats - otherwise be like us and go with the flow, you never know what you will see when you least expect it!

Favoutite Photo
I have many but the below two are my absolute favourites.

The cheetah above sat quietly in the grass, she is so old that her spots are fading, she was so rare even the guides talked about her all night

Apparently Hyenas don't wallow in the mud, except for this one. S/he proves that even though people might think they've seen everything they usually haven't.

Favourite meal/dish
Most of our meals were included, but the "stews" in Tanzania were hearty, tasty, especially the fish and eggplant variety.

As usual its a vast continent, we only touched parts of Southern and East Africa, we met a large number of Australians on long service leave who did a lot in 12 weeks, but still only got through a large chunk of Southern and Eastern Africa.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Catching the Train from OR Tambo Airport to Rosebank

September/October 2013

If you can recall when I first started the African trip blog posts back late last year, when in Johannesburg we stayed at the lovely Winston Hotel.

When we started to research getting from the airport into Rosebank where the hotel is located there were a few options, taxi, airport transfer bus or train. The train seemed quick and convenient and we were going to need to do this trip a few times so decided to go via train.

It really was easy, you brought a transport card to top up, found the platform and got on. Rosebank required a transfer, but one the train there were plenty of maps clearly showing this.

I don't think I would hassle with a cab or minibus transfer if staying near or on the train line in future trips. It was clean, quick, inexpensive and safe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe

October 2013

The Victorian Falls Safari Lodge  is 4 km from the magnificent Victoria Falls, just out of the main town (with free minibus services or a quick cab ride).

The rooms, while older, have been well maintained.

We were lucky to get a room with a balcony with views of the waterhole.

The pool was refreshing after being out and about during the heat of the day and once again had great views of the waterhole.

Each day the vultures came in for feeding and it was quite a sight to see these large birds of prey up close.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cruising the Zambezi, Zimbabwe

October 2013

There are a number of cruises that run up and down the Zambezi and we selected a sunset cruise with Shearwater.

There's mainly two animals that are easy to view on the Zambezi, one being the Hippopotamus.

The other being the elephant.

Once you've viewed the animals, had a few drinks and a snack its time for the main event. The sunset.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Livingstone Island and the Devils Pool, Zambia

October 2013

Viewing of the Victoria Falls can be done on the Zimbabwe side or the Zambia side, and quite a debate rages to which is better.

The Zambian side allows for a unique opportunity, a trip to Livingstone Island and the Devils Pool.

The Devils pool can only be done in certain parts of the dry season for safety reasons, and only in small groups so bookings sell out fast.

I originally thought it might be a bit cheesy, a bit of a gimmick, but this had to be one of my favourite things all trip and well worth crossing the boarder for.

The morning tour also is accompanied by breakfast (the meal changes as the time of day does), and for being cooked in a tent, perched on the Victoria Falls on Livingstone Island I was impressed.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Crossing the Border at Victoria Falls

October 2013

The information online is varied, and often incorrect (as this will probably be 6 months after the fact).

The process is relatively easy, with a double entry visa for Zimbabwe (the original entry and then the one back). We crossed by foot over the bridge and then hit the people traffic, with a tour group ahead of us.

Coming back into Zimbabwe was even easier due to not needing a visa, and no lines.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

October 2013

Victoria Falls, or the Smoke that Thunders boarders Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The falls are twice as tall as Niagara Falls and several times longer and has the longest sheet of water of all falls in the world (although they aren't the highest, widest or largest in volume of water).

The Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side was easily viewed by a nice even path, that allowed you to see as much or as little as you wanted or had time for. We spent 2 hours and got to see all of it, but were a bit rushed in parts. We were also lucky it was quieter, without large packs of people to deal with.

The spray in parts was strong, although refreshing on the 40C+ day.

We visited in the dry season, when a large part of the falls were, well dry.

We have also see Iguazu Falls (both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides) and I have seen Niagara in the middle of winter. They are all so different, it's hard to compare.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana

October 2013

Chobe Safari Lodge is located on the banks of the Chobe River and borders the Chobe National Park. The Lodge is old and overrun by pushy tourists. Having come from Pom Poms which is under the same management we were extremely disappointed. The Lodge comes at a high end price, without being high end.

The rooms are old and tired. The beds were lumpy.

All food is via buffet and repeats itself. The food was poor, but the service friendly.

The pool is located right near the dining area and bar, with great views of the Chobe river and a good place to cool down and watch the sunset.

I would not recommend staying here, you could get much cheaper options, of the same or better quality.