World Cruise Countdown

Sea-Princess-2.jpgIn our current location of Thailand, the calendar has already ticked over to May 2015, which is the departure month for our World Cruise. A scant 3 weeks from today we will be completing the check-in process prior to boarding Sea Princess.

However, we have a busy 3 weeks ahead, with our son’s wedding in a few days, another week in Koh Samui, followed by a week in Saigon, before finally arriving in Sydney, a couple of days before departure. Before arriving in Sydney we have 1 short flight and 4 long haul flights.

Since the last update, Princess have posted tours for most ports, so we have completed the tour requests and planned our activities in ports where we are not using Princess tours.

Are we ready? Most definitely yes and are already counting down the hours – 501 hours.

Cape Town to Koh Samui, Thailand

Cape Town AirportShortly after our final breakfast at the magnificent Victoria & Alfred Hotel, it was down to the lobby for our 08:30 pick-up and transit to Cape Town International Airport, about a 1/2 hr drive on this Monday long weekend. We had hoped they could check our suitcases directly to Koh Samui, but alas, twas not possible. Bangkok Airways is not a member of the One World Alliance, so our round the world flights take a sabbatical in Bangkok and thereafter we are a domestic connection to/from Koh Samui. Oh well, just means lots of walking in Bangkok and fortunately, we have plenty of time for the connection.

This is the worst of the flight segments on the entire adventure, with 3 flights and a middle of the night layover, over a full 24hr period; however, the first two are on Qatar, the world’s best or 2nd best airline. They tend to switch annually with Cathay Pacific for the # 1 or # 2 spot. Continue reading

South Africa and Zambia Summary

South Africa FlagThis past three weeks have comprised a number of firsts for us, first time in both South Africa and Zambia, but also it was the first time we have used a travel agent, rather than planning and scheduling everything myself. Overall, the past three weeks were a raging success, and as expected, we experienced mostly positives, but also a couple of  negatives. Continue reading

Cape Town – A Welcome Return

View From Our Room - Life Is Really Tough

View From Our Room – Life Is Really Tough

After three days in Zambia, we were very happy to return to Cape Town and the exceptional Victoria & Alfred Hotel. Mind you, after three days at the Royal Livingston in Zambia, paying 5-star prices, but receiving budget motel standards, we would probably have been happy at a Motel 6.The distance between Livingstone and Cape Town is only a couple of thousand miles, but it took about 12 hours from hotel to hotel. Continue reading

Thunder and Fury of Victoria Falls

Dr Livingstone statue at entrance to park

This was a day of contrasts, with a quite walk along the banks of the Zambezi River to the thunder and immense fury of Victoria Falls, which has 900,000 litres of water pour over the top of the Falls, each second. Fortunate to have seen Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls within 9 months, we can comfortably state that Niagara was amazing, but Victoria Falls are simply in a different league, especially at high water. Continue reading

Zambezi River Sunset Cruise

African QueenThe mighty Zambezi River, at about 1,700 miles in length, is Africa’s 4th longest river, behind the Nile, Congo and Niger Rivers. However, it is the longest of the African rivers that flow East. Starting in NW Zambia, close to the borders with Angola and Congo, the Zambezi flows through 6 countries before discharging into the Indian Ocean.

Probably best known for fury and thunder of Victoria Falls, which will be the subject of tomorrow’s post, as today I will describe our contrasting serene sunset cruise aboard the African Queen. Continue reading

Final Arathusa Lodge Safari

Andy, Judi, Ranger Cedric and Tracker Derek close-upWith our 05:30 wake-up call this morning came the realisation that this was our final safari and shortly we would be moving on to other adventures. Immediately on leaving the cabin and heading along the path towards the Lounge, we heard an animal noise that we both thought was a bird, so we happily continued. While enjoying a quick cuppa and chatting, we described the noise, at which point the Rangers advised it was a Hyena. Gulp! had we known it was Hyena, we would have retreated to the cabin and called the Ranger. Ha Ha! City Slickers and proud of it. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 5

Zebra herd at the edge of the airstripHeading to the Lounge area for the pre-safari afternoon tea, we spotted a couple of female Waterbuck grazing at the edge of the path, just outside our cabin. We stopped and thankfully they turned around, retreating into the bush. Continuing towards the lounge area, we had only taken a few steps when we spotted a large male Waterbuck walking along the path towards us. Oh! did I mention he had huge horns and he stopped in his tracks, watching us intently. Definitely time to practice discretion or valour, so we beat a hasty retreat to the cabin and phoned the desk. We were advised, if it was a Waterbuck it would walk away without bothering us, but if it was a Buffalo stay inside and they would send a Ranger. Fairly comfortable that it was Waterbuck, we again ventured outside, following the path to the lounge. We spotted him about 5 or 6 feet off the path and he watched us as we walked passed. Now that’s what I call getting up close and personal with wild life, but wait, read on for our even closer encounter with a big cat. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 4

Elephant juvenile male in a staring contest with our Ranger trying to get us to moveThis morning started with the customary 05:30 wake-up call from the on-duty Ranger. Once dressed we headed out for the 250 to 300 yard walk along the path to the lounge area. It isn’t too bad during the day, but in the dark of night, we never felt overly comfortable, although we know we could always phone for a Ranger for an escort. A quick cup of Ceylon Tea and we were off to climb aboard the vehicle. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 3

Shadow, the female Leopard in clearing with close up on face

Shadow, the female Leopard in clearing with close up on face

Between breakfast and lunch I spent a few hours back at the cabin working on the photographs I had taken on the first two drives. Then, we have a short break after lunch before returning to the trough for afternoon tea. A quick cuppa is the perfect prelude to our afternoon safari. Cedric’s group has now grown to 6, with new arrivals Kim and Samantha, a couple of very nice young ladies, who are having a girls weekend break from husbands and kids. Continue reading