Transit to Sabi Sands and Safari Drive # 1

Leopard male cub about 9 months old just outside the resortOur tour guide from the winelands tour yesterday collected us at the hotel and drove us to Cape Town Airport for our 2.5 hr flight to Hoedspruit. Wow, after flying A380’s, 747’s and 777’s we got a shock when walking out of the terminal building, as the plane was a turbo-prop and the overhead lockers were tiny. Fortunately the cabin crew were brilliant and stowed the bag that didn’t fit in one of the empty seats. The flight was actually rather pleasant with the cabin crew serving a light lunch, water and a couple of rounds of drinks. On arrival the airport it is an old military base with a single room terminal that only opens for the couple of daily flights. Our guide met us at the building and off we headed for the 2 hr drive to Arathusa Lodge, with animal sighting starting almost immediately.

Note – While we did not wish to observe any lion/leopard kills, I have included photographs of the Lions gorging on Giraffe, which may not suit all readers. Continue reading

Cape Town, Our Initial Impressions

Cape Town 2

Our flight arrived early on a foggy morning at Cape Town International Airport, for the start of our African Adventure. As I normally plan and book all our travels, this will be a new experience, as we booked a personalised package through Pembury Tours. Therefore, in addition to posting about our travels I will also provide feedback on our experience with utilising a travel agency. The package includes a number of tours and their respective pick-up times, but did not state whether they were personal tours, or part of a large group on a tour bus. Continue reading

Edinburgh to Cape Town

With British Airways you can check-in online 24 hrs before the flight, so we drove up from Manchester a little faster, so we were back at Strathkinness to complete the check-in when it opened.

However, we experienced a similar error as the previous flights that not only prevented us checking-in, it wouldn’t even let us select seats. Calling BA, I spent 45 minutes in the call queue and after explaining my issue, the young lady put me on hold while she checked her system. While on hold, boom the phone went dead and no way was I waiting another 45 minutes.

The Cape Town flight didn’t have many unassigned seats left, and as we do prefer to sit together, our only option was to check-in early at Edinburgh. Therefore, we shoe horned the luggage into the rental car and hit the road about 10:00, which had us dropping the car off shortly after 11:00. On checking in the young lady advised we had 2 seats together on both flights, so we headed to the comfortable BA lounge, for the 3+ hour wait for the flight. Our flight departed at 15:40 for the scheduled short hop down to London, but as usual LHR was backed up, so we completed a few laps of the track, NW of London, before getting clearance to land. On departing the plane in Heathrow T5, we reached the concourse and almost immediately arrived at the transfer gate, which required a ticket scan and bang we were through to the departures area. No walking miles of corridors and no security screening at Heathrow resulted in us settling into our seats in the BA lounge about 10 minutes after leaving the plane.

After another couple of hours we headed out to the departure gate and boarded the flight for the 20:15 departure. Arriving at our seats we noted an issue resulting from us not asking the correct questions at check-in. Yes, we had 2 seats together, actually 2 pods together, problem is they both face towards the rear and Judi doesn’t travel well facing backwards. She survived the take-off, barely; my hand fortunately is still functioning and the bruising from crushing should be better in a few months. For those that don’t know Judi, she doesn’t mind flying when 7 miles up, but really doesn’t like the take-off and dislikes landings even more. Therefore, she tends to use my hand as kind of a security blanket, which is great until you throw in some turbulence, then it’s bye, bye hand. For the landing, the exceptional crew found her a forward facing seat, which means I am actually able to type with both hands. Other than the length, almost 12 hours through the night, it was an excellent flight. Great crew, great meals ( smoked salmon & filet steak) and even tried a few glasses of South African wines.

The final approach and landing was smooth, especially considering the airport and approaches were covered in fog. Shortly after finding the gate, the pilot came over the P/A, saying for those interested in the operation of the plane – due to the fog, they were required to conduct a full auto-pilot landing. Judi is very happy he provided this information after we landed and not before.

Summary

Flight Completed – 4

Flight Distance – 11,546 miles

Flights Remaining – 18