Day of departure, finally get to sleep at 2am after all the usual last minute checks & re-checks – you know - where is my passport and have I got the tickets, there're very valid questions after all!
Up at 6.30am and after a nice relaxing coffee, we head for the airport.
Leaving at 8am for a 11.30 departure should have given us plenty of time but, there’s this thing called Sydney Traffic. The 1st 30km took 30 min – the last 1km took 45 Minutes. Great Start to the Adventure.
My wife Wendy dropped me at the Airport, we said our goodbye’s and she headed home.
Now I have to find my travelling companion, Vic Widman, the Tour Leader from Great Divide Tours. He had been caught up in the traffic as well so was 5 min behind me.
Now we were finally ready, all we need to do is check in our bags, clear customs, find our gate and have a last relaxing coffee before settling down to a 14hr flight.
Surprise, surprise – the plane is delayed but only by 30 min. I went for a late minute walk to stretch the legs then finally boarded the plane and found our seats all the way at the tail end, this was quite good as there were only 2 seats together which gave us plenty of room. 12 Midday and wheel were up.
After departing, we headed south over Melbourne and out over the Southern Ocean towards the 42nd Parallel, unfortunately not South enough to see the ice shelf or any icebergs, but lots of clouds. After a while, the food & movies started and continued for most of the trip. I managed to watch the classic “Crocodile Dundee” while sipping on a Whiskey or 2.
So, after some restless sleep, another movie, dinner, another movie, more Whiskey, more restless sleep, we finally landed in Johannesburg Sth Africa at 5.30pm local time.
The usual delays in clearing customs and collecting our bags took some time then as we emerged from customs we must have had the neon sign that said 'Tourist' on our chests as immediately some Porters grabbed our bags, then asked where we were going. These guys can be a bit pushy mainly because their only income is from tips, the Airport Authorities issue a permit to these guys that allows them to access to certain areas so they are relentless in trying to help you. All was good, as they took us to our shuttle in quick time in exchange of a tip.
Our Pre-Trip paperwork mentioned about 10 Rand (A$1) was about right but these guys asked for 200 Rand ($20) we settled on 50 Rand ($5) and told ourselves to be more aware from now on.
We're now on the shuttle, the final leg of our journey from Sydney to Johannesburg. The motel was 5 Star, check-in was easy and our room was very comfortable. Time to relax and after a coffee and a shower, it was now 8pm. We had been travelling foe 22hrs all up. Having been fed on the plane, dinner wasn’t required so I hit the sack at 8.30 and didn’t move until 8am the next morning.
Now I’m relaxed. After breakfast, it was back on the shuttle to the airport then another flight to Windhoek in Namibia.
2.5 hrs later after flying over what looked like outback Australia, we landed in Windhoek and found ourselves in a very different part of the world. Customs was very slow with only 3officers processing the passengers, luckily for us we were the 1st of 3 planes arriving at the same time so our 45-min wait was short in comparison to the others.
Our bags were waiting for us and our driver found us and before we knew it we were in the car on our way to the Country Club, this was a 45-min drive passing lots of game reserves and farms along the way. Our first animal sighting was a baboon and then a giraffe, the expectation is growing!
Catch you next week for a full report on my first impressions.