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.  South African Visa - Johannesburg Stamp to Zambia

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!

Click on this link - Planning Our Trip to South Africa - to see what we did to get the travel and flight plans setup!  

So here we are, having breakfast at the five star Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town!

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Use this link to view the South African photos taken on our trip, especially the safari and Victoria Falls!  

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Below is a blow by blow description or our fabulous trip to Zambia and South Africa, read on! 

February 27th, 2006 – Monday:  The first day of the trip to Africa started out with heavy rains in the Bay Area of San Francisco!.  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!

March 01st, 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.

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. 

After checking out the hotel, we took a river cruise on the African Princess.  We laughed and the African Queen wasn’t being used.  One couple asked if Gail and I were going to be Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn and play the parts in the movie the African Queen for the rest of the passengers!  It was rather cloudy and we had a bottle of champagne and sat in the bow with a couple from Germany.  We saw hippopotamus and a few birds but nothing too spectacular. 

Time for dinner and bed as tomorrow would be busy visiting the falls!  We were hoping for better weather as everyone told us it had rained day and night for three months and most hadn’t seen or down anything on his or her trips. We wondered if we would have the same problem.  But we lucked out and had great weather the entire two weeks!

March 03rd, 2006 – Friday:  We woke to 80 degree weather, 25 C, and went to breakfast at the outside dining area.  On the way one of the workers pointed at us and took us behind the private quarters of the workers where a sign said – Keep Out!   We followed him into the bush and came upon six zebra and two giraffe so we were happy, our first wild animals besides monkeys! 

Breakfast was great and then one of the staff drove us to the falls and we donned yellow slickers to keep dry.  The falls are fabulous!  We were lucky, the rain filled the river and the falls were at their peak.   We saw rainbows all over the falls as the photos show.   We met two women from southern England, about 80 years old, and they asked us to join them for dinner that night, so nice of them.  We walked the entire length of the falls and then went back to the hotel where we had cocktails on the deck over the Zambezi River. 

We had lunch and then decided to lounge by the huge pool and have champagne cocktails.  While we were lying by the pool, Gail suddenly said her sun tan lotion was gone!  Excuse me!   We saw it laying on the ground a few feet away, a monkey tried to take it!  We got another champagne cocktail and suddenly Gail yelled again.  Chuck, that monkey is trying to steal my purse!  Well it was too heavy so the monkey gave up.  We were warned about monkeys and how they would try and get into the room. 

We had trouble with the large glass door in our room opening onto our patio and it took both of us to finally pull the door open.  Five minutes later I was on one side of the room and Gail was on the bed and suddenly she yelled out, Chuck, the monkey just opened the door!  I had shut it and a female monkey came by and with one hand, pulled the door open and was ready to jump in the room.  I screamed and ran over to the door and slammed it shut.  Gail laughed and said that was the fastest I had moved in days!

I have to tell what happened at dinner.  We sat with Irene and Sheila from south England and I saw a young woman with her mother from Germany at the next table.  They brought the food with a huge metal lid over the plates.  The lids were silvery and looked up upside down bowls.  The waiters, with a flourish, whipped off the lids and the daughter just sat there with a stunned look on her face.  Then the people at the other table did the same thing, they just looked weird at the plates.  I told Gail something was strange!  Then Irene and Sheila ordered soup and the waiters with a flourish, took off the lids.  Well Sheila scooped up the soup and suddenly looked in the bowl and there was only a strange thing stuck in the bottom looking like a somewhat cooked ravioli.  Figure that out.  Irene just sat there and we all started to laugh about it.  No wonder everyone looked stunned.  Suddenly a waiter appeared with a large bowl of the pumpkin soup and ladled out a few spoons of soup into the bowl.  We had to go through all this drama just for a little soup.  I saw the German couple later and we had a good laugh about the flourish and the empty plates.  Go figure!

March 04th, 2006 – Saturday:  This morning we again sneaked into the off limits brush behind the workers building and came upon the giraffe, only about 30 feet from us.  Then the zebra came by and suddenly they started to chase me.  Gail said, Run Chuck!  Thanks a lot!  Then the giraffe and the zebra ran around each other and then off into the jungle.  I was not amused as they told us zebra are very nasty!

The very nice men working for a travel agency picked us up again.  As we got back to the Rosebank Hotel, another huge storm hit.  Thunder and lighting all over the town.  So we were lucky we had the fabulous clear and sunny day at the falls.

That night we decided to have our champagne and dinner in the hotel at a Japanese Restaurant.  It was very nice but we hit the bed early as the next day we were flying to Leopard Hill, a five star hotel on a private reserve next to Kruger National Park!

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.  

We were shown our private bungalow and the restaurant and library and we then went on our first 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!  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?  Anyplace he wants to!

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!  All in all, a great day!

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! 

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!

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. We did get out in time for more cocktails and so on and then finally back to the lodge for a great dinner and champagne!

March 07th, 2006 – Tuesday:  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 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! 

March 08th, 2006 – Wednesday:  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 to have lunch there and I had Kudu stew and Gail had Chicken Peri-Peri!  Kudu is an antelope and you may view one on the photo page!

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.

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!

March 09th, 2006 – Thursday:  We had a nice breakfast and then drove to Monkey World and Bird Eden.   The Monkey World took in abandoned animals and rehabilitated them into the forest but this is a contained forest for their safety.  This is the same for the birds, this is the largest aviary in the world and birds once, freed, can breed in the aviary.  This is a great place to visit.

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!

March 10th, 2006 – Friday:  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!

March 11th, 2006 – Saturday:  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!

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!

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.

We got back and changed into our swim gear and sat by the pool and ordered hot toddies especially made for us by the bar tender.  After two of them, he came by and thought we should have a bottle of champagne.  We said, No Thanks!    We did, of course, have dinner and champagne later so he wasn’t completely off the mark!

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!  The area is beautiful and then 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!  

By this time we were worn out but had a great dinner with champagne at the hotel and finally off to bed.

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!
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Return to the World Travels of Charles Walter Buntjer


  Charles Walter Buntjer


San Francisco California
Created on: 2006.03.20   


Published on: 2006.03.25