The BBA V4 Great African Adventure Makes It to The Victoria Falls,Zimbabwe

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Africa » Zimbabwe » Victoria Falls
June 11th 2019
Published: June 13th 2019
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Again we didn’t a wakeup call for breakfast and then a ride to the airport for our flight to Livingstone, Zambia as we are now well in the mode of waking well before dawn. In saying that the sleep we do have is solid and we generally seem to last the day without a ‘nana’ nap in the afternoon.

O R Tambo airport is spacious and modern and we got some help from a woman at the automatic check in machine to get our boarding passes. We had done everything else ignoring the chance for an upgrade on the flight to business class where the lowest bid was USD85 that you could make for the upgrade. What do you think they take us for? There was heaps of leg room and the economy seats were generously wide, why pay any more for a 1 hour 20 minute flight.

As we said the airport is spacious and we started walking in what we thought was the right direction only to be nabbed by a porter in an orange vest who took over the trolley and turned us around in the direction we had come from.

We did have a counter number for the bag drop and we were sure it wasn’t where the porter was taking us. But we tagged along and he found us a counter where there was no one waiting and the deed was completed very quickly. Once again it was time to put ones hand in a pocket and fish out a tip to give him for his work. We think we are getting used to this thing called tipping….just as long as we forget all about it when we get home to NZ where people are generally paid well enough.

Next was the queue for customs and looked like it might be Auckland departure all over again but as we joined the queue we found it was moving along quite nicely and we were through and up to the scanner as the last obstacle before making the departure concourse, before we knew it. We did avoid the grumpiest customs man to get there though.

The departure concourse was another huge cavern with ‘shops for Africa’(silly phrase we use at home when we ARE in Africa)and a ten minute walk to our departure gate that was almost as far away at the end of the terminal that we could get.

We had time to fill so Gretchen went window shopping while I looked after the backpacks and caught up on a blog.

Then it was onto the departure gate and one of the longest escalators down to the ground that we have seen since riding on the London Underground, it was all of 3 or 4 stories long and all in one piece.

The routine for boarding our Airbus 319 to Livingstone was going to be the same as our arrival into Jo’burg from Port Elizabeth and that was to catch a bus to take us away from the terminal building to the aircraft parked on the apron.

The aircraft didn’t look as though it was going to be a full flight and it is always interesting watching people come aboard when you are already seated. Today was no different with a diverse section of people heading for Zambia

One family, who were American, did attract our attention and they were of 4 children with their parents.

We always wonder whether people that bring what effectively are suitcases on board to put in the overhead locker are ever checked when they go through the boarding process because these guys certainly weren’t.

We recall there were notices about bag sizes that can be carried onto the aircraft at the departure lounge but clearly they didn’t look at them and as we recalled Americans do have a penchant for taking oversize bags into the cabin so they don’t have to wait for their bags to come around to them on the carousel.

It just so happened that there was a burly chap, South African, we think seated where the father was trying to stuff 6 suitcases in the overhead locker. In the end the bags were scattered over 4 lockers.

It was another smooth flight and a landing equal to that of our flight from Port Elizabeth, very smooth.Wsa it something to do with the performance of an Airbus 319 or this time the female co pilot in charge of the landing?

As usual there was a race to stand up and get ones belongings out of the overhead locker and be ready to disembark and of course the large bags belonging to the American family were hauled sideways and somehow found the floor of the cabin to be wheeled out without knocking any other passenger out cold!

Disembarking at Livingstone, Zambia was via a covered set of stairs wheeled up to the aircraft once it came to a stop.

And it had to happen.

One of the American suitcases had been left behind in a locker and we had the sight of the mother racing back up the stairs while other passengers were disembarking to locate the missing bag. What a shambles!

Livingstone airport terminal has that new look about it and it probably only sees a few aircraft of the size of an Airbus 319 each day but there is potential for growth clearly. The aircraft had stopped close to where the departing passengers for Jo’burg would board the plane in a half hour or so and we had a long walk across the empty tarmac to the arrivals hall and joined the lines to immigration to buy our Kaza or visa which allowed us multiple entries to Zambia and Zimbabwe over the next week. We parted with USD50 each for this additional piece of paper in our passports.

The man from Wild Horizons was there with one of those signs which had our name on which are coming to like very much as it makes arrival seem so much more personal.

Why we chose to fly into Zambia when we weren’t actually going to be staying in Zambia we cannot recall but this being the BBA it was probably to do with a cheaper flight into and out of Zambia than Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe just a few kilometres away across the border.

Our driver was a happy chap who was very informative about everything we wanted to know about Livingstone, Zambia, the state of the economy etc etc and he kept this up as we drove away from the airport, through the very tidy looking town and on towards the border until we came across a small herd of elephants very close to the road we were travelling on.

He pulled over and we noticed that there were a considerable number of men standing next to their bicycles which were piled high with ‘stuff’.

Our driver explained the cyclists were coming from Zimbabwe with goods to be sold in Zambia although it was hard to tell what it was exactly they were carrying. No one on a cycle or on foot were going to risk passing before the elephants so they would have to wait until the elephants move on while we in a minivan drove on towards the border.

The border between the two countries was very interesting with a long line of trucks parked up waiting for someone from customs to check them for contraband and let them pass into Zimbabwe.

Our transition through immigration was a breeze whereas we thought this might be somewhere where we would be tested by local officials on the make.

We carried on through no man’s land which includes the Victoria Falls road/rail bridge high above the Zambezi River. It was here that we got a glimpse of what we had come to see, Victoria Falls.

Getting into Zimbabwe was just as easy and perhaps it was because we had purchased our Kaza at the airport and not waited until we got to the border that it was so easy.

We got a bit of an orientation of Victoria Falls Township as we drove through to our hotel about 300 metres beyond the shopping area.

Pulling into the entrance to the hotel lobby we were greeted by a guy in traditional native top playing a flute like instrument as a greeting to us. Oddly enough though below the knee length native top he wore a pair of business trousers.

He and a porter took us to our room and gave us the run down on where things were and invited us to make whatever bookings that we cared to do through the hotel from helicopter flights over the falls at USD150 each for thirteen minutes to a luxury steam train dinner excursion at USD189 each !

We were actually feeling a bit tired as we had been on the go for 6 hours including the flight and decided instead to put our feet up, have a coffee and read a book until that made us nod off for a nana nap. Before we did nod off the phone rang and reception was eager to see what we trips we would like to book. On this occasion the BBA was going to rest.

After a rest we took a walk feeling quite refreshed and were lucky to spot the luxury steam train excursion passing over the main street on its way to the bridge where it stops for people on board to take photos.We also found the local liquor store and purchased a couple of cans of lemon squash fizz and a genuine original bottle of coca cola so we could make a further impression of the vodka and orange still to clean off as a nightcap or two.

We then decided it would be wise to dine early as the hotel reception said not to be out after dark alone because of the animals that roam the streets once the sun has gone. So we headed for dinner at an exotically named restaurant called ‘In da Belly’ which was part of the motor camp just down the road towards town which would mean we only had 100 metres to find our way to the hotel at dusk after an early dinner.

There were a number of different types of meats on the menu from animals we had seen on game drives and so I gave the warthog steak a try and found it very tasty. Gretchen opted for the burger of beef on this occasion.

It had been a long and quite tiring day and we were ready for bed after our nightcaps but tomorrow we get to view another wonder of the world, the Victoria Falls, which we feel will be another unforgettable experience of the BBA V4.


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