Overseas Adventure Travel
Ultimate Africa Tour Review
July 19 through Aug 9, 2022


Due to the length of the review, it is in six parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page. 


Page 1:  Fly to Johannesburg; Karongwe Game Reserve, South Africa; Hwange NP, Zimbabwe
Page 2:  Hwange NP, Zimbabwe; Kafue NP, Zambia
Page 3:  Kafue NP, Zambia; Chobe NP, Botswana
Page 4:  Chobe NP, Botswana; Okavango Delta, Botswana
Page 5: 
Okavango Delta, Botswana; Bwabwata NP, Namibia; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Page 6:  Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Return home



Day 20 - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

After a great night's sleep at the Shearwater Explorer's hotel, we were ready to enjoy the great facilities and service.  I have tried not to talk too much about the food we were served, but I have to mention the breakfast we had.  Cathy and I both ordered their type of eggs benedict.  They were so good.  Perhaps because we had been eating in bush camps for the last twelve days and hadn’t had anything this fancy in a while, it tasted even better. 

We were excited about the day’s activities.  This was basically a free day for whatever anyone wanted to do.  We had chosen to take two optional excursions.  The first one was a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls.  This is the only way to see the whole falls at one time.  The cost was $155 per person plus a $15 airport fee.  We were picked up by the helicopter company at 8:00AM.  When we arrived at the office, we found out that the airport fee had increased on Aug 1 to $25.  We had chosen the shortest flight option, 13 minutes, called the Flight of Angels.  There were two other longer more expensive flights.  One included flying over the falls gorge where the falls had been moving back from.  The other included the gorge and flying over the gorge and Victoria Falls National Park nearby.  There was no reason to take a longer flight since we would see the gorge and national park from our shorter flight.  It was hard to miss since they are right next to the falls.

After our orientation and safety briefing, we were taken outside to put on our headphones. Cathy and I were on a small helicopter with Marianne. 

Cathy was in the front seat with the pilot.  Marianne and I were in the back.  Zambezi Helicopter has all customers with a window, so no one was in a middle seat.  The windows were very large and perfect for what we were doing.  We would do a couple of slow figure 8’s around the falls, so that both sides of the helicopter would see all the views.  As we lifted off from the airport, we could see the Zambezi River heading toward the fall’s cataract.


The views were amazing.  The mist was really thick over parts of the falls. 


In addition to the falls itself, we had a great view of the Victoria Falls Bridge we had walked over when we went to Zambia. 


We saw more angles of falls.  It was such a treat seeing everything from above.




We could also see the gorge.  Of course, the longer, more expensive flight would see more of it and be right over it.  But we were in the helicopter to see the falls.  We could also see the national park, but it is better to see the park in a safari truck rather than a helicopter.  You can’t see much wildlife from that high up.



We continued looping around the falls enjoying every angle.  Because the shorter lens on my DSLR wasn’t working, I had to take all my photos and videos with my iPhone.  I’m actually glad that is all I had, so that I could enjoy the falls more through my eyes rather than the camera.  The nice part of using the iPhone was that I could take shots and be looking at the real thing at the same time.  This was an experience that I didn’t want to miss.  Below are two short videos of our flight.  It does bring the experience to life.




As the ride was ending, I saw a strange looking rock formation under the water at one end of the gorge.  I guess it was from erosion from the rushing water.

We were back at the hotel at 9:00 AM, so, we were able to go out and get some money from an ATM as well as do a little shopping.   We had spent more cash on drinks and tips than expected, so we need to make sure we had enough for Mr. V’s tip.  Tips and drinks at the camps had to be paid in cash.

After visiting the ATM that Mr. V had told us about, we walked into the shopping area to see if they had something we couldn’t live without.  Cathy did find something and we came back to the resort to be ready for our next excursion.  We were meeting at 10:15 AM for an elephant encounter.  It cost $100, so before we booked it, we asked Mr. V to make sure that it was more than just seeing elephants and hearing about them.  We had seen more than our share of elephants in various parks.  He called and verified that we would get to feed and touch the elephants.  With that info, we were in. 

The van arrived a bit late.  They had picked up some other people before us.  Karen, Marianne and Shulameth were going with us on the excursion.  It took about a half hour to get to the Jafuta Game Reserve.  This is where the Elephant Crew (www.elecrew.org) takes care of the nine elephants they currently have.  All of the elephants were rescued from difficult situations.  They have a wonderful staff that really love their elephants.  One fellow first gave us an orientation and had us sign some paperwork, mainly liability waivers. 

Then a fellow got up and gave a Through the Eyes of an Elephant presentation.  He first  had us close our eyes and imagine that we were all elephants.  He was a real character and great presenter.  We thoroughly enjoyed him and his presentation.


We were then broken into smaller groups and assigned to a person who would take us to the elephants.  We had to wait for the elephants to come marching together to where we would meet them.

Our elephant was named Kariba.  She is eighteen years old and was rescued from Hwange National Park, our first park on the main trip.  She is the youngest of the nine elephants at the park.  The oldest is 46.  Each elephant had a handler who showed us different things the elephant would do on command.  She was then rewarded with a handful of treats each time. 


The handler next asked for a volunteer to be the first person to have their elephant encounter.  Cathy jumped for the opportunity.  I was so glad that she did, since after she did the feeding trunk rubbing routine, she asked if she could touch the elephant’s ear.  Everyone after her was able to feel the ear.  Cathy was thrilled with this unique experience.


When my turn came, I walked up to the elephant, the handler put some treats in my hand and the trunk came around and sucked up the goodies.  It was a strange feeling.  It reminded me of an alien creature in movies I have seen.   The hide on the trunk was very tough.  The ears on the other hand were much softer, as would be expected.   Wow! What an amazing experience.  While standing next to the elephant, I had to take a photo of her lovely long eyelashes.


Cathy took the below video of my elephant encounter. It was quite special for me.



After each of us had our turns, we took some group photos. Cathy and I also had one taken together.


After all the groups had finished their encounters, we walked down to a viewing stand near a pond.  Within a few minutes all the elephants were walking toward the pond for a drink.  We enjoyed seeing more elephant activity but those people that hadn’t been on a safari like us were really thrilled to see the elephant behavior.


This experience exceeded our expectations.  I was so glad that we decided to book it.  When we returned to the resort, we were surprised to see some striped mongooses running around on the sidewalks.    

After lunch we went back to the shopping area.  There were so many unique beautiful things to buy.  Unfortunately, at our point in life, we have tried to stop accumulating souvenirs, unless they are very special, and we have a place in the house for them.  I did find a new golf hat with Victoria Falls on it. 

We met the group in the lobby at 4:30 PM for our farewell dinner.  This was going to be a special dinner since we would be having it on a boat while cruising on the Zambezi River.  The drive there was about fifteen minutes.  Our boat was waiting for us.

When we boarded, we saw that they had a bar waiting for us.  Behind it was the kitchen.


There was a long table set up for the group.  When everyone sat down, a group photo was taken.

I liked the baobab tree and hippo table decorations.

We were several miles upstream from the falls, so we had no worry about going over it by accident.  Cruising along the Zambezi was most enjoyable.  There was so much to look at, even hippos.




Our host, Mr. V, was his happy self as always, telling us stories and keeping us laughing.

At about 5:45 PM the sun was getting closer to the horizon.  With this being a sunset cruise, cameras were clicking.  We loved the reflection on the water.

Having experienced many African sunsets over the almost 3 weeks there, we knew the more gorgeous view would be after the sun went down.  It didn’t disappoint.

After the sunset was over, dinner was served.  It was quite a tasty meal, which was enhanced by our floating down the Zambezie River.  During the dinner, the cute solar lights contained in a large mason jar illuminated.  They did a great job. 

After dinner was finished, we were treated with an acapella group made up of 5 members of the boat staff.  They did a great job for us.

We had thoroughly enjoyed our farewell dinner, but it also meant that we would be saying farewell soon to our new friends we enjoyed being with so much.


Day 21 - Fly to Johannesburg to Return to U.S.

We had completed most of our packing the previous night for our trip home.  We would be picked up for the drive to the airport at 10:30 AM.  Cathy and I had to get the eggs benedict again for breakfast.  To help fill up the morning before heading to the airport, we were going to have a speaker at 8:00 AM to talk about David Livingstone.  We didn’t know much about what he had done other than discovering Victoria Falls, so we thought the talk could be educational.  Almost all our group had come to the lobby to hear the talk.  Our speaker was Libby who was from the historical society.  Almost from her first sentence, we were enthralled with her story of this man.  Libby was such a good speaker.  She made the story of Livingstone so interesting and brought this highly revered person to life for us.  Her talk was forty minutes, and we could have listened to her for hours.  Her talk was such a treat.  We learned so much about this great man.

We still had time before we had to have our luggage ready for pickup, so we were finally able to do something that we had been wanting to do since we walked into the resort.  Someone had ordered the cappuccino when we arrived.  It came with a shot of the African liqueur, Amarula.  I have had Amarula in the past and was looking forward to having it with a cappuccino, but the time was never right until that morning.  It was worth the wait.  So good!

After our coffee, we walked around the beautiful grounds.  This was a lovely resort.  We could have stayed here for a lot longer.



Unfortunately, all good things must end, and this trip had been a very good thing.  We went up to lobby after setting out our luggage.  When everyone was there for the ride to the airport, we had a group photo taken.

All the group was going to the airport, but only six of us were going to Johannesburg.  The other eight were flying directly to Cape Town, South Africa for their post-trip extension.  Other than us, one couple was flying home from Johannesburg.  The other couple was continuing on for an extended DIY vacation that sounded great.  Our flight was at 1:00 PM. 

We arrived at Johannesburg around 3:00 PM and our flight home didn’t leave until 10:00 PM, so we had plenty of time to kill.  We had to collect our baggage and recheck it after leaving the secured area.  We had planned on going to the Priority Pass lounge after checking in and going through security.  However, when checking in, the agent told us that we couldn’t check our bags and go through security until three hours before our flight.  That wasn’t good news.  We decided to have a late lunch before going to the baggage area to wait for over two hours.  With our flight being the only Delta flight that night, there were no agents at the counters to take our luggage before going through security.  Around 5:00 PM, we saw some Delta signs being put up and agents behind the counter.  A line was forming at the Delta signs, so I checked with the agent managing the line.  Sure enough, they had opened two hours early.

After checking the bags, we found out why they opened early, the security lines were horrendously long and there were only two machines working.  We had plenty of time to make our flights, but those on other airline flights that were earlier were quite stressed out.  It took almost an hour to get through security.  We were then able to go to the Bidvest Lounge to wait.  This was a very nice comfortable lounge that made our wait much more enjoyable.

Our flight to Atlanta would take almost 16 hours.  We were glad that we had upgraded to Delta’s Premium Select seats.  It wasn’t business class, but it made the trip quite comfortable where we were able to get some sleep and watch several movies.  When we arrived in Miami after the flight from Atlanta, we quickly moved through immigration using our Global Access cards.  They are a wonderful thing to have if you travel internationally. 

We then took an Uber to the Brightline station.  We didn’t upgrade our seats for this ride, since we got there less than 10 minutes before the train left.  Here is a pic of the interior of Brightline’s Smart class.  Very comfortable just like Premium.  We will be taking these trains in the future whenever we are flying from Fort Lauderdale or Miami. 


Moving along the tracks at 80 miles per hour on the way home allowed Cathy and I to talk about the amazing adventures we had experienced over the last three weeks.  We were already looking forward to our next trip.


I have been on many vacations and traveled to ninety countries.  I have been blessed to have been able to experience so many wonderful places.  When I look back, this trip will certainly be remembered as one of the best and most rewarding.  There are so many experiences that can only happen in Africa.  The people we met in Africa were so nice and such a pleasure to be with.  Being able to meet the people of Africa and experience their culture was so rewarding.  It is a trip that I would recommend to anyone.    Especially if you can do it with the type of awesome people, we were lucky enough to share this adventure with.  Any time you can travel with educated well-traveled people with great attitudes you are most fortunate.  We were and we were so grateful that we did this trip.





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