Southern Africa

It was a mighty long airplane ride, 25 hours travel from Orlando to Johannesburg, via Dubai. We were at dinner for our anniversary three days early on August 2, Friday evening, when I got a text from my oncologist and friend, Dr. Hodge, saying he had a deal for us and to call him. I said i would call him in the morning, having an idea what he wanted and not being too excited at the thought. I called hm Saturday morning, and to make  a long story short, a couple had dropped out at the last minute from a photographic safari he was leading to Southern Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana. He would give us a deal if we wanted to go. Byron had been trying to get us to join him on a safari for several years. Why not. Gina went out to show a house, and when she returned I was working the Emirate Airlines web site. We got every thing ready in four days, and the Emirates driver picked us up at home and delivered us to the Orlando airport. The Emirates flights in business class were very comfortable and showed us that the only way we would take flights of that length was in Business Class.
Arriving in Johannesburg, we were met by the driver from the Witwater Guest House and delivered to our lodging. A delightful oasis in the middle of a “transitional” in other words depressed area 10-15 minutes from the airport. https://www.witwater.com/guesthouse_home.html

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We had a full day there to rest and mainly laid on lounge chairs under a tree and read. The rest of the group arrived that evening, and after a good meal and a nights sleep, we went to the Johannesburg airport to fly to Victoria Falls.

The Vistoria Falls Airport, in Zimbabwe, was a treat, or rather a nightmare.  A new airport, but the procedures for handling passengers through passport control were non-existent. Finally out of the airport, we were conveyed to the Victoria Falls Hotel, a grand old hotel dating back to the turn of the 20th century. http://www.victoriafallshotel.com/

Victoria Falls Hotel pan

Victoria Falls Hotel entrance

Skin on the walland stair of Vic Falls Hotel

Gina’s gin bar:

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Looking toward the Zambezi River

Victoria Falls Hotel looking toward river

Looking at the Bridge over the Zambezi

The first evening in Victoria Falls, we took a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zambezi.

We were greeted at the dock by a native group (well, they weren’t all native):

Africans and the girls at the Zambezi dock

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The first thing I managed to do was to lose the sunshade from my 55-200mm lens in the river.  Way to start out! I heard a clank, and watched it slowly sink into the river.

As soon as we left the dock, we saw our first elephants in the wild, coming down to the river to drink.  We were excited, not realizing, being new to Southern Africa, that in Botswana, we would see elephant poop and indeed elephants everywhere.  Botswana has somewhere around 130,000 elephants roaming around the landscape. We also saw our first hippos:

Hippos in the Zambezi

African Jacanas being observed by a crocodile:

African jacanas and croc

A Jacana and an Egyptian Goose:

African Jacana

Egyptian goose

As will become obvious, one of the most exciting things for me was the new birds I would see during the trip.   A bird nerd you might say.  You might, I wouldn’t.

Sunset over the Zambezi River:

Sunset over the Zambezi

Next morning we took a walk to the little town of Victoria Falls.  Byron and I were resting on a low wall beside the sidewalk, when the warthog squeezed out of a culvert and walked in front of us:

Warthog in culvert

Some views from our walk:

Not your everyday rhino

Sculpture in vic falls

Sculpture and musicias

Beelongings on bike

Following our jaunt into town, we returned to the hotel, and caught taxis to the entrance to Victoria Falls, in Lozi: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls

 We paid the modest admission fee, and walked down the path to the falls.  We passed the statue of Livingston, and of course someone, I think Sig, said “Dr. Livingston I presume.”

Livingston statue

Part of the group at the falls:

Some of the group at the falls

A lovely (and loving) couple:

Gina and i falls and rainbow

Some beautiful pictures of the falls or maybe pictures of the beautiful falls:

Falls and foliage paint2 3

Falls and foliage paint2 2

Falls and foliage paint2

Falls and rainbow 2

Falls and rainbow

Falls painterly2

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The Falls were a truly awesome sight.  Our taxi driver was waiting for us and returned us to the hotel, where we had dinner in the Jungle Room, an outdoor cafe, protected by a roving guard to keep the baboons away.  Undeterred, they would jump on the tables and steal food. The guard is on the left.

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The next morning, we boarded a small bus and headed for the Botswana border.  That is a story for another day.

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