Friday, November 4, 2011

Our African Journey: Days 8-9, Johannesburg, Zimbabwe and Botswana

Saturday, October 22.  We checked out of the River Bend Lodge, were driven to the Port Elizabeth Airport, and were assisted on to our flight to the O.R. Tambo Airport in Jo-burg.  There we were met by another O.E. representative who drove us to the Westcliff Hotel where we’d be staying for just one night.  We were going on to the Chobe Chilwero Lodge in Botswana but we couldn’t fly there directly from Port Elizabeth and had to fly through Jo-burg to get there.  Hence our one night stay in Jo-burg.
View of Johannesburg from our hotel room at the Westcliff Hotel
When we checked into the Westcliff Hotel we were presented with a bottle of champagne to welcome us, even though we were staying for just one night.  The Westcliff is a large fine sprawling hotel with ample amenities and our accommodations were excellent.  But we were somewhat tired after our stay in River Bend and we weren’t especially eager to explore Jo-burg.  So we opted for a light snack at the Polo Bar in the hotel and an early bedtime.
The Polo Bar at the Westcliff Hotel
Sunday, October 23.  We checked out of the hotel early in the morning, were picked up by an O.E. representative in the lobby of the hotel and driven to O.R. Tambo Airport where we were assisted in going through immigration and boarding our flight to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (it is, unfortunately, necessary to fly through Zimbabwe to get from South Africa to Botswana).  We went through immigration, baggage claim, and customs at the Zimbabwe Airport where we also purchased our double entry visa to that country.  (The principal industry of Zimbabwe would appear to be the sale of visas to tourists: we required one to get into the country from South Africa en route to Botswana even though we weren’t staying in Zimbabwe and we would require another to get back into the country from Botswana en route to South Africa on our return trip home.  By contrast, neither South Africa nor Botswana required visas of any kind.)

Once through Zimbabwe immigration and customs, we were met by two more O.E. representatives who drove us to the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana (where we went through Zimbabwe immigration again on our way out of the country).  They then handed us off to O.E.’s Botswana representative who drove us the rest of the way to the Chobe Chilwero Lodge.

More to come in my next post.

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