Gail and Chuck at the Royal Livingstone - Victoria Falls in Zambia!My friend Gail called me from Los Angeles and left a message on Saturday, October 17th, 2005. 

She and I had traveled around the Netherlands for the tulip  festival on a Uniworld cruise in the spring  of 2004.  

She then asked if I wanted to go to visit Africa!  

I immediately said " Yes" if we were going to also see Victoria Falls in Zambia!  She agreed and the planning began!

Check the end of this webpage for how we Planed Our Trip to South Africa

Also, check the end of this webpage for an overview of the African continent.

On the left, we are having breakfast at the five star Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town!

On the right, we are having lunch on a Uniworld cruise around the Netherlands!

   Air France - San Francisco to Los Angeles and on to Paris and Johannesburg South Africa

February 27th, 2006 – Monday:  The first day of the trip to Africa started out with heavy rains in the Bay Area of San Francisco! South African Visa - Johannesburg Stamp to Zambia   My flight at one PM was running late so I got on the noon flight.  Then in Los Angeles it was also raining very hard.  I finally met Gail and we had several glasses of wine to celebrate our trip to Zambia and South Africa before boarding our 777!

February 28th, 2006 – Tuesday:  We landed in Paris and had a ten hour lay over so we went to the spiffy de Gaulle Sheraton Hotel and took a five hour nap and then showered and went back to board the plane.  It was 11:30 PM and the plane was going to take off a little late as they were still loading the Air France 747 – 400.   Suddenly Gail asked me if it was raining.  I said no; it is snowing!  

I was sitting at the bulkhead and within half an hour the plane was covered with over five inches of snow so we had to pull over to a turn out and have two trucks de-ice the plane, which took over an hour. Finally we were ready to go but when one of the crewmen closed it, there was enough snow inside on the door to make a big snowball. He plopped it on the back of a woman crewmember and she was not amused! So finally we took off for Johannesburg South Africa!

   Johannesburg and the Rosebank Hotel - South Africa - our jump off point to other places.

March 01, 2006 - Wednesday: We took off from de Gaulle Airport at one AM and were picked up at the Johannesburg Airport and driven to the Rosebank Hotel. We were told it was very dangerous in the city and there were approximately three to four million people there and over a million living in poverty.

These people had come to Johannesburg looking for work or a place to live and there isn’t enough jobs for so many people, especially without and education.

You almost feel guilty as you sit by the pool having a bottle of champagne with so many people in need. Gail and I drank our champagne and then had a great lunch and decided we were so tired we needed to take a rest. Suddenly there was a great crash and a bolt of lightning and down came the rain. We were told Johannesburg if famous for the thunder and lightning storms and we can agree to that. One thunderbolt almost threw us out of bed! We decided to get a lot of sleep as tomorrow would begin our adventure at the famous Zambezi Victoria Falls and we wanted to be ready for the flight and the falls.


Air France from LAX to Paris to Johannesburg
View of Johannesburg from the Rosebank Hotel

A sunny afternoon with champagne but then......
A horrible thunder storm and buckets of rain fell!

   Victoria Falls Zambia

March 02nd, 2006 – Thursday:  We were up early and went to the airport to fly to Zambia on Nationwide Airlines, a 737. We landed and were greeted in the beautiful lounge and given a run down of the five stars Royal Livingstone Hotel. It is fantastic, situated on the Zambezi River, right at the lip of Victoria Falls.

Note: You can read about our trip to Zambia and the Victoria Falls on the home page link - Zambia - 2006.


Our fist view of the falls!
Close up and very loud and damp!

Enjoying the view!
Bungee jumping off the bridge, but not for us!

   Our flights on Federal Airlines to Leopard Hills in South Africa!

March 05th, 2006 – Sunday:  We were up early to get to the airport in Johannesburg and went to the small terminal for Federal Airlines. The plane was a twin prop and Gail and I were the only ones on it! The pilot said there was trouble in the reserves as there had been terrible rains and many of the resorts had been flooded and the computer systems completely ruined. We took off and I had the pilot take a photo of us alone in the plane. We flew on and after about an hour and a half, suddenly flew low and landed on a small runway in the middle of the jungle. We were surprised and the pilot and co-pilot took our luggage off and told us a small single prop plane would take us to Leopard Hill. That trip would be only ten minutes long! The small plane landed and the pilot was a bush pilot and we had to laugh as we took off and flew over the trees and savannah and then landed rather roughly, on the runway by Leopard Hill. A four wheel drove up and the driver, Rudi, was to be our own safari driver on the three runs we would take.


Landing in the jungle to transfer to a one engine plane!
Don't we look cute!

This was our stop over to wait for the single engine plane to pick us up!
We made it to the Leopard Hills Lodge!

   Private Lodging at Leopard Hills

We were shown our private bungalow and the restaurant and library and we then went on our first evening safari.


Our 'private' lodge at Leopard Hills resort!
Check out the bed, baby, baby!

A nice living room for viewing the savannah!
Our private patio and pool!

   Evening Safari!

There were four other people in our vehicle.  There was a wife and husband who were organic and in-organic chemists from Scotland and another couple from England who worked in a distillery.   They all were very nice and we would also have dinner with them each night.  We started out and suddenly there was a lioness walking past us and she lay under a tree a few feet away!   We then saw rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, a huge male lion, impalas, wildebeests, Cape buffalo, an elephant about a half-mile away and some rabbits!  Sp we had the big five all within the fist safari we took.   The elephant was a long ways away but we saw mane more at the Addo Reserve north of Port Elizabeth!

Rudi our driver and our tracker Jun!
A close encounter with a lioneness!

Rhinos and I mean big!
Cape Buffalo, very dangerous!

   Safari and Chanpagne Cocktails!

March 06th, 2006 – Monday:  We had a knock on the door at five AM and off we went on the morning safari. We saw leopards in the trees and many antelope and an elephant in the distance but not up close.  We were told the ground was too muddy from the rains and the elephants would sink up to their knees so they were up in the high country where it was dry! After last night and all the animals, this morning was very quiet!

This evening was exciting as we saw a mother leopard with her twin cubs under a tree. The mother had a kill and sat there eating the impala as we sat next to the cubs, about four feet away! We sat there for over half an hour. We drove around and saw an huge old male giraffe and then saw elephant tracks and followed them until we sank into the mud up to the axle of the vehicle. We all had a good laugh and of course, everyone had suggestions as to how to get out. Rudi was in a dither, as he didn’t want to have to call anyone to pull us out.

Then around 11 AM we took an hour walking safari and saw four large giraffe and suddenly they ran across the river and out of a bush a huge baboon came out to chase them!  We saw a plant you use to wash your hands and one to use as a bathroom substitute!  Then we decided to take a nap before the evening run!

We stopped at sunset and they set out a snack and wines and other drinks for us. So here we were, in darkest Africa on a safari and having cocktails as the sun set.

As darkness approached we drove though the jungle and suddenly Rudi turned on a spot light and there were 14 lions! There were two females and 12 juveniles who were being taught how to hunt. The females were very irritated at the juveniles, as they had charged the wildebeest too soon so dinner was long gone! We were going back to the lodge when a large male lion appeared in the middle of the road and he would walk about 30 feet, stop, mark a bush, walk some more, mark some more, give us a dirty look and just kept on walking and marking his territory. We laughed about where does a lion walk?


Jun setting up our wine and snacks!
Celebrating our great time with Chardonnay! 

Sunset on the Savannah!
Cheetah prowling the grass lands at night!

   Leopard Hills Dinner!

So back we went to a fabulous dinner with candles and waiters, just like in the movies. Gail and I went back to our bungalow and the maid had turned down the mosquito netting over the king sized bed and put a chocolate on the pillow!


Just a dinner in the jungle after a safari!
Life is rough! Champagne my dear!

   Off to Port Elizabeth

March 07th, 2006 - Wednesday:  This morning was fabulous as we sat on the deck of the restaurant overlooking the water hole and enjoying a great breakfast.  There was a large contingent of antelope around the watering hole and monkeys on the roof of the next lodge.


We actually did see some animals at the watering hole!
Our last breakfast at Leopard Hill.

We then flew on a single prop plane to Johannesburg and transferred to a 737 jet to Port Elizabeth. We got our Audi car rental and drove to the beach and rented a room at the Garden Court overlooking the Indian Ocean. We ate dinner at the Mediterranean Restaurant run by a Portuguese man from Mozambique and of course, had our champagne!


Final farewell to Leopard Hill on the way to the runway!
Dinner on the Indian Ocean in Port Elizabeth!

   Addo Elephant Reserve

March 08th, 2006 – Thursday:  Addo Elephant National Park is a diverse wildlife conservation park situated close to Gqeberha in South Africa and is one of the country's 20 national parks. It currently ranks third in size after Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Today we drove to Addo National Elephant reserve and hired a guide, Leonard, to ride with us as we drove around the reserve. We got up close to animals we hadn’t seen before.

We were lucky and saw a huge turtle, Egyptian geese, wart hogs, ostriches, hyenas, a Kudu Antelope, and especially, a huge herd of elephants! At one point at the watering hole, there were over 50 elephants and their babies.

We decided after touring the Addo Reserve we would have lunch down the road and I had Kudu stew and Gail had Chicken Peri-Peri!

Kudu is an antelope and you can see it in the following photo.

Gail asked me how could I eat a Kudu stew after seeing one!


This one almost ran over our car!
Cute babies at the watering hole!

A Kudu Antelope.
Mr. Wart Hog to you!

Slow but sure.
Mr. Ostrich

   Danielle’s Cheeta Breeding Farm

March 08th, 2006 – Thursday: 

We then drove to Danielle’s cheetah breeding farm and were able to pet two male cheetahs and a baby lion cub. They are breeding the cheetah so the babies can be released into the reserves again to keep up the population in the wild.


Chuck - To pet or not to pet?
Gail was into petting!

   Birds of Eden - Plettenberg Bay

March 09th, 2006 – Thursday:  Birds of Eden is the world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary, located in Kurland village near Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, South Africa. The mesh dome of the sanctuary was built over 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres) of indigenous forest, and is up to 55 metres (180 ft) above ground level. 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) of walkways, about 75% of which are elevated, let visitors see the birds at all levels of the aviary.

Birds of Eden is one of the four Sanctuaries under The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA). As a member of SAASA Birds of Eden was honoured with four major tourism awards in 2014. The four awards are namely the Lilizela Tourism Visitor Experience of the Year Award at a 'Wildlife Encounters', the Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award, Overall winner of the World Responsible Tourism Award as well as the Gold Award in World Responsible Tourism in the category of 'Best Animal Welfare Initiative'

This is a great place to visit.




   Jeffery’s Bay - Savoy Hotel

After this we drove to Jeffery’s Bay and stayed at the Savoy Hotel down town. This was a regular beachfront town and had a population of about 9,000 by was told in the summer months it would swell to about 30,000!

Dinner again with champagne and an early night but we did laugh as we were spoiled with the five star hotels and this one had a sliding door on the bathroom like a closet door. Also the door only slid open half way so we had to slide sideways into the bathroom and then try and slid the door shut. Well what do you expect for $100 a night!


Savoy Hotel
Bathroom Door!

   Plettenberg Hotel - Five Stars!

March 10th, 2006 – Friday:  We drove on to Paradise Cove and finally Plettenberg Bay where we checked out the five star Plettenberg Hotel. Is it located on the Indian Ocean and is fabulous. Rather expensive, about $400 a day but worth it!  We had lunch on the terrace overlooking the swimming pool and met Allen. He said he was a guest liaisons and head of the restaurant.  That evening as we were having our champagne dinner, I asked Gail if I had seen correctly. Was that Allen waiting on tables? Yes it was! I have something to say about Allen later when we got to Cape Town and Cape Grace and his friend Tom!


Beautiful day at the Plettenberg.!
Clear and sunny!

We thought this place had the best food in South Africa!
Lunch time at the Plettenberg!

   Mossel Bay and Protea Hotel

March 11th, 2006 –Saturday:  We had a great breakfast at the Plettenberg Hotel and then drove to Mossel Bay.   It was beautiful and sunny so we had lunch and then decided we needed a break so off we went to the Protea Hotel where they gave us a break on a three level room!   The central floor was a big kitchen and large living room with a balcony.  The bottom floor was a huge bedroom and balcony and a bathroom with a tub big enough for four people.  There was a top floor with two beds there so there was plenty of room.   We got into our swim gear and ordered champagne and sat on the lounge chairs, watched the ships and the bay and sunned and drank!  What a life!  Then we had a nice champagne dinner and a walk around and then time for bed!


Lunch on the terrace of a restaurant!
View from our private balconies off the bedroom and living room!

Early morning breakfast before driving to Cape Town!
Talk about a morning wake up drink!

   Driving into Cape Town - Shanty Towns

March 12th, 2006 - Sunday:  We had a great breakfast at the Portea Hotel and then drove to Cape Town.  We stopped half way for to fill up the car and had a basket of greasy fried chicken at the local fast food stop!  Our friend Viviane told me to be careful about chickens crossing the roads and causing accidents.  I told Gail and she laughed, the only chicken we saw on route was the one we were eating and it wasn’t road kill as far as we knew!


A least five miles of shanties on both sides of the road.
Johannesburg has about a million people living like this.

Washing ~ drying in the breeze near Cape Town!
Many of these shanties had TV antennas! 

   Cape Grace Hotel - Only 5 Star Hotel in Africa

March 12th, 2006 – Sunday:  We finally arrived at the Cape Grace without any trouble driving into town and there the guest liaison, yes, another one, Tom, booked us in and suddenly asked if we knew Allen.   He went to school with Allen.   We said yes, a small world and then proceeded to tell him about Allen waiting on tables.  We all laughed about that!  We decided to have dinner in our room so we ordered champagne and dinner delivered.   We enjoyed dinner and went to bed early as the next two days would be very busy!


Cape Grace and the pool!
The view from our Room!

Fine dining!
High Tea on the veranda with Table Mountain in the background!

   Cable to the Table - Mountain that Is!

March 12th, 2006 – Sunday:  The manager of Cape Grace, Carol, took us on a short tour of the hotel after breakfast.  We saw the homey moon suite and the spa and since we were in a superior room, we didn’t need to see much else except the bar with over 450 different whiskeys in it!

We ask about the cable to the top of Table Mountain and were told it was too windy. So off we went to shop at the big local mall. We came back around 11 AM and were told to get ready as the tram was running.  So off we went in a cab to ride the cable to the table!  Exciting, needless to say but if you have vertigo, forget it! The cable car looks like a huge washing machine and is round and all glass. It is bad enough the cable car goes almost directly straight up the cliff, the floor also starts to revolve so you cannot hang onto the safety bars.  The views are terrific and we wondered all over the top and then came down to discover the cab driver had come back just in case we were coming back down. So nice of him.


Looked like a Washing Machine!
Very steep!

Great views!
I thought we were going to hit the steep walls!

   Cape of Good Hope - Tip of South Africa

March 13th, 2006 – Monday:  Last night it rained gently until morning when the third biggest bicycle race in the world took place, 35,000 riders from around the world.   We were lucky, the sun came out and it was perfect so off we drove to the Cape of Good Hope.  We drove to the tip and took a tram to the top of the mountain and walked all around taking photos.  I had to laugh as we went into the gift shop, who should appear, but the couple we sat with on the African Princess at Victoria Falls.  I chatted with them for a while and decided we were on the same path of discovery before we drove to the African Penguin colony on the east side of the cape at Boulders.


I have been at the tip of South America, now Africa!
Off to the Light House!

A Fantastic View of the Cape of Good Hope!
Baboon waiting for a meal ticket!

   African Penquins

March 13th, 2006 – Monday:  After we drove to the Cape of Good Hope we drove to the African Penguin colony on the east side of the cape at Boulders.  The water there is fantastic, blues and greens and huge rocks dot the shores.  I finally found a wooden mask to buy and this will join the ones I have from Morocco, Fiji, the Yucatan, Guatemala, China and other countries.   We then drove through various beach towns and did some shopping at the local outdoor flea markets and then drove directly down town into Cape Town and to the Cape Grace Hotel without missing a turn!


The African Penguins live and breed on the east coast of the Cape of Good Hope!
Nesting birds.

Checking out the action!
Time to go home!

   Leaving Africa!

March 14th, 2006 – Tuesday: We had a great breakfast at Cape Grace and then took the Audi back to the airport.  Then we flew to Johannesburg for two hours and on to Paris for ten hours.

March 15th, 2006 – Wednesday: In Paris, we waited for about five hours and then took an Air France 747 to Los Angeles, another 11 hour flight!   Gail and I parted as I wanted to get home and I managed to get an early flight on the 6:30 PM Southwest flight to the Bay Area.  I landed in Oakland at 7:45 and took Bart to San Francisco and was home by 8:30 PM.   Well it took almost 40 hours and over 12,000 miles to get home and I was ready to settle down in my own bed after a fabulous vacation with my friend Gail!


Our Farewell Breakfast at Cape Grace!  Cape Town to Johannesburg.

Johannesburg to Paris, ten hours, then Paris to Los Angeles.

Eleven Hours from Paris to Los Angeles, then an hour to the City!

Finally after almost 40 hours, my Southwest Flight to San Francisco!

   San Francisco View

Chuck's View as he got home, tired but a great trip!

   An Introduction to our trip planning to South Africa!

My friend Gail called me from Los Angeles and left a message on Saturday, October 17th, 2005.  She asked if I wanted to go to South Africa!  I  of course, immediately said yes and then told Gail to began our trip planning.  In this photo we are going to dinner at the Captains table on the Uniworld Cruise in the Netherlands in the spring of 2004.     Gail suggested we may fly into the Lake Victoria region and visit the Victoria Falls, something I have always wanted to do!  We then would fly back to Johannesburg and drive to Kruger for a few days, back to Johannesburg and fly to Port Elizabeth and drive along the coast to Capetown.  It is interesting that my friend Barbara, whom I met in Turkey in November of 2004, asked me to go with her on a trip in October of 2005 to Costa Rica.  So two friends have asked me to travel with them in the course of just a few months!  Life is good!

This information is per my friend Jeff who has been to Capetown twice!  He said:  Concerning the Malaria drugs, try not to take the Larium. It has the easiest regime (1 tablet per week), but it messes with your mind. One of the possible side effects is suicide. It doesn't happen that often, but you only have to kill yourself once and then you're dead.  

Don't believe the doctors/drug companies when they say that side effect is so rare.  I took the doxycycline. It just made me feel a little bloated, and you have to try to avoid the sun, which is easy, you just wear a hat. You shouldn't be trying to tan anyway in South Africa because the sun can be pretty intense.

And this information is per my friend Barbara, whom I met in Turkey!  She said:  I took the chloroquine pills for malaria every day during our trip to Turkey (and the week or so before according to directions).  there was a whole list of possible side effects. The main one being dizziness and problems with equilibrium. That's why Helen didn't take it but I had no side effects or problems taking it at all.  It's the most recommended drug for malaria.

After all this helpful info, everyone I talked to has taken the Larium and hadn't any response, suicidal or otherwise so, I did take the first pill and nothing happened.  So one a week for two weeks before and during and after the trip for a total of eight weeks.   #1: Do not wear "Hollywood style" and/or camouflage outfits. Normal non-synthetic, comfortable fitting, neutral colored clothes are what you need to be taking with.

#2: Bright colored clothing should be avoided and white clothes will show up dust and dirt. Red makes you very conspicuous to the wildlife especially on a walking safari. Khaki, brown and olive colors are ideal.

#3: Not packing something warm. Although the days in Africa can be blisteringly hot the temperature will sometimes drop sharply at nights. Pack a jersey, pullover or safari jacket.  

#4: Don't go without a safari hat.  Safari Hats are essential to ward of the African sun and protect you from sunburn.

#5: Packing in your heavy walking boots is unnecessary (unless you are doing a walking safari). Simple lightweight safari shoes/trainers (non white) or sandals/sports sandals are more sensible.

#6: Packing too much clothing. You will not need more than 2 or 3 comfortable non-synthetic short sleeved safari shirts and the same amount of long sleeved safari tops.

Also pack 2 or 3 (each) comfortable non-synthetic shorts and long trousers. Long trousers and a long sleeved safari shirt can be worn at night to stay warm and protect from mosquito bites and safari vests are great to carry all the essential gear with you.

   Overview of the African Continent

The continent of Africa covers more than 30 million sq km(11 million miles see Africa map to the left of page). Africa is the world's second largest continent, the largest being Asia. It is nearly bisected by the Equator, both northern and southern Africa extend to the mid-30's of latitude so that its climatic zones mirror each other from the tropical forests of the equatorial region through semitropical savannahs, dry steppe lands and desert to the Mediterranean climates of the extremities. More than 800 million people live in Africa, but the continent is lightly populated in accordance with the square area.

The birth rate in Africa is high, but is no longer matched by the high death rate. The people are poor, and disease, famine and drought are all too prevalent. Most of Africa consists of high plateaus, which descend steeply to generally narrow coastal regions. Waterfalls and rapids flowing off the plateaus made explorations difficult, since the only way into the continent for explorers was by sailing upriver. This contributed to isolation of the continent for a long time.

If you view the map of Africa you will notice there are few natural harbors and the coastline is very short in relation to the landmass. Fourteen of the forty-seven mainland African nations are landlocked. Four of the world's greatest rivers are on the African continent namely, Nile, Zaire (Congo), Niger, and Zambezi rivers.

There are some majestic mountains, often made more so by their isolation in vast plains. In the north the Atlas range stretches 1400 miles from the Atlantic to Tunisia and reaches up to13671 ft at its highest point. In East Africa the Ethiopian highlands form a great massif of intersecting ranges, whose loftiest peak is Ras Dashen 15157 ft. Farther south along the East African Rift Valley are the Ruwenzori mountains permanently covered with snow and climbing to 5110 m (16765 ft). Mount Kenya 17060 ft), Mount Meru 14977 ft. The mighty Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain at 19340 ft.

The East African Rift Valley, which is part of the Great Rift Valley system, is the world's most spectacular geological depression. It stretches from Beira in Mozambique to Lake Malawi.  One branch runs north as far as Lake Albert (Mobutu), while the eastern branch becomes the trench of the Red Sea and continues to south-west Asia. Along the Rift Valley are some of the world's largest lakes, Malawi (30040sq km or 11600 sq miles), the 676km (420 mile) a long Tanganvika and the sea-like Victoria - 70484 sq km or 26828 sq miles.

Nearly one-third of the African continent is desert. The Sahara, the planets largest arid area covers twenty five percent of Africa about 7.7 million sq km or about 3 million miles.  To the South are the Namib and Kalahari deserts.

Much of central Africa is occupied by a great expanse of tropical rain forest, second in size only to the Amazon basin. It covers much of the coastlands of West Africa from The Gambia to Cameroon, and it covers Gabon, Congo and half of Zaire. Overgrazing and climatic changes in the Sahara is causing the Sahara to advance its borders at an estimated rate of 5km or 3 miles a year. Africa is the hottest of the continents. 

Two-thirds of it is tropical or subtropical. The forests receive heavy rainfall that leaches the soil. Other parts of the continent get less than 250mm or 10 inches of rain a year. Devastating droughts are frequent. In 1983 - 1985 both the north and south especially Ethiopia suffered one of the most savage droughts in history.

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