Getting to South Africa
Ever wonder what a safari trip to Africa is like? I did too and after years of talking about it, I finally got my chance to find out first hand. The following is a description of my trip to Botswana from New York passing through Johannesburg, South Africa.
The trip began with a 14.5 hour flight from JFK airport to Johannesburg. Unfortunately, I don't sleep much on flights and after 7 hours or so I was ready to get off the plane. On the plus side there was plenty to eat and drink. There were also on-demand movies which I took full advantage of — I watched 5 movies! In the end, I still prefer a long direct flight over the potential hassles of connecting flights. The South African Airways crew were also very pleasant and I recommend them as a carrier.
Getting through immigration was uneventful. The immigration officers were efficient and the facilities were modern. We weren't questioned much and our luggage arrived at the carousel rather quickly. I guess the one positive of dealing with New York airport madness is that every other airport seems great by comparison.
Once we had our luggage, we met our first Wilderness Safaris representative who took us to the hotel shuttle which turned out to be a bit of a walk. We took full advantage of the time and asked a bunch of questions to get our bearings.
The shuttle ride was quick and in no time we were at our hotel — Metcourt Suites. This hotel wasn't particularly fancy, but the room was large enough and comfortable. Our rationale was to select a place that was convenient because we'd only be there one night. However, although not necessarily of interest to us, there was a casino in the same complex. And at the end of the day we took advantage of the many restaurant options that were also available at the same location.
The funny thing is we arrived without any problems or delays. We were happy with this, but it did mean we now had more or less a full day and nothing planned to do. Can't come all this way and waste a day!
A quick chat with the hotel concierge and we found an activity — the Rhino and Lion Preserve located a little over an hour away. Sure, no preserve is going to compete with the wilderness we were heading into the following day, but it did accomplish a few things 1) kept us from sleeping and 2) provided good practice for me and my camera. The drive back, which was during rush hour, was a drag, but overall a good first day all things considered. Here are some shots of rhinos from the preserve. It's good to have seen these because they're largely extinct from Botswana (where we're headed) and so we're not likely to see them again.