Porcupyn's Blog

August 5, 2018

South Africa Trip – Day Twelve (Vic Falls to Johannesburg and Bye-Bye South Africa)

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 3:06 pm

And just like that, it was time to leave Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and then South Africa in that order. We had an early morning flight from Vic Falls to Jo’burg. This would reach Jo’burg at about 10:30 am, and we would have the whole day to twiddle our thumbs before boarding the Qatar Airways flight out of JNB to Qatar at 7:40 pm.

We had arranged with the taxi driver who’d dropped us off to come pick us up at 6:30 am. And after a couple of whatsapp messages back and forth, he showed up on time. The charge was $30 to the airport which we reached without much ado. And here we had our scare of the day, as the check-in agent was unable to find Baab in the reservation chart. What’s so weird is that it was one ticket booked for all of us together. I had the printout and we could see everything online at the airline’s website; but the agent’s window didn’t show him in the system. So, she directed us to the airlines booking office located at the other end of the building. After a few tense minutes, the agent there was able to find everything and notate this (by hand) on our ticket printout which we then took back to the check-in area, where we were finally officially checked in.

Once that was behind us, the rest was a mere formality … oh yes, except for when we waited too long at the souvenir shop. There were other folks from the USA as well, making last minute purchases. We finally settled on what I still think was an expensive $28 T-shirt for Mrs. Porcupyn. Even in Australia (Sydney to be precise), we’d managed to get T-shirts for $14 at the airport as souvenirs. But now, we knew we wouldn’t have any better luck in Jo’burg as we had already made the rounds there the night we overnighted at the airport. Nothing decent was to be had for less there either. By the time we ran down the circular ramp to the gate, we were the penultimate family to board. But we made it 🙂

Vic Falls airport – landside

Another view

What all can we buy?

Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe

Souvenirs galore

Vic Falls airport – airside

Our fastJet plane – zoomed in view

Long range shot

I was hoping to get a glimpse of the falls from the air, as I’d read trip report after trip report of folks getting one. We were not so lucky. There was a lot of haze in the air and soon we could barely see the ground below us properly. Less than two hours later, we were in Jo’burg. We had to go through immigration and customs and – once again – display the birth certificates before we were able to get back to the airport’s landside.

I might have mentioned this before, but now I think it was at this time that we found out that the Gautrain and/or other trains (I forget which anyway) were on strike. Anyway, the bottom line is that for all the time we spent at JNB, we were unable to catch a glimpse of either the local trains or of a Gautrain.

This is the area of the JNB airport from where, four days earlier, we had taken the flight to Bulawayo

This curio store had an excellent collection of souvenirs; however, they were pretty expensive. Besides, we didn’t have much space in our luggage anyway. So, I contented myself with some photos

I asked the shopkeeper for permission to take the photos; he said it was OK if I took a few 🙂

We spent time walking around the airport, getting coffee and snacks, uploading the photos from the SD cards onto Baab’s laptop and viewing them. I then walked over to the bookstore and thumbed though some South Africa centric books. One that I really liked was 101 Kruger Tales, but I didn’t get it as – like I said – we were pretty full with our luggage (plus I hoped that maybe it was available in our library system). [upon returning, I didn’t find it, but I did read the Elephant Whisperer whose sequel – written by the author’s wife – I had looked through at JNB]

By about 4 pm, finally the check-in counter opened. Baab noticed that there was a separate – and shorter – line for folks who’d checked in online. He quickly fired up his laptop, checked us in and voila, we were in the shorter line 🙂 This time, there were no surprises at check in. An hour later, we passed through immigration and customs – yes, we showed those birth certificates yet again – and were at the gates. Our flight took off on time, and soon, we were out of South Africa!

Sunset from the air

– fly from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg
– fly out from Johannesburg to Doha

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