Continuation of day 14
We arrived at the Nice Airport right at 4am, just as it was opening up. We were 2 of only a handful of living souls floating around there this morning. Customer service for Air France did not open until 4:30am, so we waited right in front of the counter. Someone called us up almost immediately at 4:30am. There were 2 people working the counter this morning, and we were the only customers at that time of the day. We received the benefit of 2 helpful people. I went up with low expectations and walked away with a big smile and a new found love for an airline that I thought had just put a bid D in my A. They canceled a major international and important flight just 20 hours before takeoff. Air France put us on a flight to Amsterdam and then on to JNB later tonight. We left for Amsterdam almost immediately. We will actually be in JNB 12 hours earlier than or original schedule. This is a million times better than arriving 14 hours later than scheduled and long after a flight that may have been just for the Sellers clan. In my head I was figuring the worst is that we may have had to be driven from JNB to the game reserve. It’s a two-hour flight so not sure how long of a drive. It ended up working out better for us, as usual. But it has been a while since I panicked and freaked out about anything so it was good to get that out of my system.
Sometime during the flight I got up to pee and looked out the windows at the rear of the plane. Below was so obviously the Sahara Desert. I didn’t know it for sure, but it was as obvious as flying over snow-capped mountains, you just know what they are. I can’t believe that brown desert could possibly be so distinguishable from 35k feet. I got back to my seat and confirmed it was the Sahara with the in flight GPS map that was built into the back of the head of the person sitting in the row in front of me. We landed in JNB safely and on time. Luckily for us there is hotel right across the street from the airport, walking distance. It is by far the closest hotel I have ever seen to an airport. Hopefully we will get air France or the travel insurance to pay for our night at the hotel. We got a great night sleep, like corpses.
Day 15 South Africa
That’s right, Africa. Woke up after a fantastic night sleep and had breakfast. Went over to the airport only to find that nobody there had ever heard of the airline we were looking for. Turns out that is because it is a private charter airline and we had to go outside of the airport to meet up with them. We figured it out quick enough. It makes perfect sense…we had to go to the bus terminal to catch an airplane flight. The worst part of missing our original flight and coming in early was that we missed a guy standing at the gate with a sign that had our name on it, like celebrities. So we staged this picture. Turns out the flight to Londolozi was a private charter service. The flight we were on was more like a shuttle. It made a total of three stops and we were the third. The airstrips were all private and some were nothing more than dirt and rock. We had to take off and land three different times in a tiny plane. It was a Cessna that held 10 passengers at most, only 6 today. Wifey was pretty stressed out about it. She hung in there like a big girl. Before we even landed the first time we saw long neckers and grey fatsos from the plane.
We were the last people off the plane. The landing strip was right at the place we are staying. The treatment, presentation, and accommodations are all so far unparalleled. Way more than anything we deserve. This is quite the place. We didn’t expect today to be much but we already went out on a 3 o’clock game drive. The fact that they took us out on a game drive the same afternoon we arrived was simply a precursor to the unbelievable commitment Londolozi has to customer happiness. It was unreal. Maybe the best thing either of us has ever done. We were out long after sunset, in the pitch black by the light of only a splinter moon and a spotlight. We saw giraffe, baby elephants, lionesses and 5 cubs, male lion, zebras, and tons of impalas and wildebeests. The lion cubs were playing so cutely. One was eating his mama’s tail while she was sleeping and she woke up grumpy about that. In hindsight we are both so glad that our plans out of Monte Carlo changed and we ended up in JNB the day before. Getting a good night sleep was a huge benefit. Had we shown up after and overnight flight we might not have been able to enjoy our first day here nearly as much as we did. But again, we don’t typically expect much on check in day. Our guide for the entire week is Julius. So far he is great. He is a true local to this area. The food we ate so far has been delicious. Everyone treats us like we are royalty. I understand they are getting paid for it, but it is amazing. We had our first nights dinner with Julius. He gave us the lowdown on our upcoming week, and a lot of information about the local area and people. I was enthralled, so much more interested than I would have ever imagined. We heard hippos yelling while we were eating dinner and an Aussie guy showed us how to do the hippo dance. There is mosquito netting around our bed just like in the movies, but luckily it is not mosquito season in the winter.
A select few pictures here.