We decided to take this vacation because Rochelle bid on and won a Safari in South Africa in March. I’ve wanted to do a motorcycle tour in South Africa, so we planned the trip to combine both a motorcycle tour and the safari.
The flight over goes from Denver to Chicago to London then Johannesburg and finally Richard’s Bay where we rent a car and drive to the game lodge which is about an hour north of Richard’s Bay. In total, we are spending about 3 and 1/2 weeks in South Africa. We managed to pack pretty light, a skill developed over the years of taking motorcycle vacations.
We left Tuesday, November 3 about 12:35 pm Denver time to catch a shuttle to the airport. Our departure was set for 3:45 pm. We arrived on time in Chicago, waited about 2 hours, and boarded the flight to London at 9:00 pm. “Are we there yet” was Rochelle’s question as we got to the departure gate for the London flight. When I told her no, but she would have the great pleasure of my company sitting right next to her for the next 36 hours, well, her face just lit right up 🙂
We left about an hour late due to 2 issues with the plane, but arrived on time in London at 11:00 am on Wednesday, November 4.
Our layover in London was 7 hours, boarding the South Africa Airways flight at 6:00 pm. Rochelle took advantage of the comfortable sofa in the bar to catch a nap. A gent heading to Ireland took a couple of photos for documentation. He then asked to borrow my boarding pass so he could buy duty free cigarettes leaving me his passport and wallet. When he came back about 10 mins later, he offered to buy me a scotch, a Bells, which I had not had before. A friendly and generous gent indeed. Afterwards, I wondered if I should have been more cautious …
I wandered around a bit finding a currency exchange to get South African Rand (a Rand is about $0.14). I got screwed however. It seems that since I was in the UK, and used US dollars, they first converted US dollars to British pounds, then converted British pounds to Rand. So, I got hit by 2 currency exchange rates plus fees. Lesson learned. Get the currency exchanged at my bank in advance of the trip for the best deal.
After boarding our fight to Cape Town, we settled in for the duration. I tried sleeping, but was only able to dose off and on until our arrival in Johannesburg. We cleared customs quickly and headed to our gate for the flight to Richard’s Bay. Rochelle was pretty tired by this point and took another nap in the lounge before we boarded our flight to Richard’s Bay.
When we arrived in Richard’s Bay, the first sight was a fire truck at the airport. Was there a subtle message there? 🙂
Rochelle was past tired at this point unable to keep her eyes open. I rented the car, got the luggage loaded and then put her in the left seat to sleep.
I was off on the road to Zulu Nyala game lodge, reading maps, shifting a manual transmission with the left hand, and at every intersection repeating to myself, “Drive left, look right”. After about an hour of driving on the left side of the road (speeds were 100 to 120 kph or about 60 – 75 mph), the last 20 km on dirt and gravel roads, we arrived at the game lodge and checked in. Total transit time was about 40 hours, door to door.
Rochelle went to the room and to bed. I stayed up and went out on the afternoon safari with our guide, Kyle, at 4:00 pm meeting the other friends of Rochelle’s from Denver who were joining us for the safari. I finally got to bed that night about 48 hours after leaving the house in Denver. I slept quite well 🙂