Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Big Cats, Fast Cars and a Stolen Phone: Southern Africa, Portugal and Brazil

Big Cats, Fast Cars and a Stolen Phone: Southern Africa, Portugal and Brazil

Old Nov 26, 19, 11:20 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Big Cats, Fast Cars and a Stolen Phone: Southern Africa, Portugal and Brazil

Background:

Picking up where I last left off, I'm making steady progress toward my goal of visiting every country. This trip came about because I had an inbound portion of a JNB-BOS-JNB ticket to use. Initially, I was planning to make a run North from JNB and knock out a bunch of countries in West Africa. However, the flight planning was a bit challenging and I couldn't settle on a satisfactory itinerary that minimized backtracking and red eyes.

As such, I decided to finish off Southern African (excluding Madagascar and Comoros). Coming back, I couldn't find any reasonably priced Africa to US itineraries, so I decided to add a stop in Brazil to catch some F1 racing before heading home. As a bonus, the stop in Brazil would allow me to begin earning *G status with OZ.

Despite some hiccups near the end, the trip went very smoothly overall. The planning was very challenging, primarily because I wanted to finish off Southern Africa with a minimum of backtracking (through JNB). I'm mostly happy with how I planned out the trip, though I'd have preferred to have a bit more time in Lesotho.

The biggest challenge for this trip was the luggage. I wanted to bring a DSLR and telephoto lens (weighs 1.5kg alone) for some wildlife photos and my carry-on luggage allowance in Zambia was only 5kg (I don't check bags). Ultimately, I made it work, but it was tough.


Overall Routing:


Africa Routing:



Stats:
  • Countries Visited: 10
  • Miles Flown: 26,000
  • Classes of Service: Economy and Business
  • New Airlines Flown: 5
  • New Countries Visited: 9
  • Updated Country Count: 78
  • Total Packed Weight: 4.9kg

In this report:

British Airways Business Class: Boston - London
British Airways Business Class: London - Johannesburg
Airlink Economy Class: Johannesburg - Maseru
Avani Maseru Hotel
Airlink Economy Class: Maseru - Johannesburg
Airlink Economy Class: Johannesburg - Kasane
Chobe Marina Lodge
Chobe National Park (Day 1)
Chobe National Park (Day 2 - AM)
Impalila Island
Chobe National Park (Day 2 - PM)
Chobe National Park (Day 3)
Victoria Falls
Tongabezi Lodge
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
Proflight Zambia Economy Class: Livingstone - Lusaka
Proflight Zambia Economy Class: Lusaka - Lilongwe
Latitude 13
Lilongwe, Malawi
Malawian Airlines Business Class: Lilongwe - Johannesburg
Driving: Johannesburg to Piggs Peak
Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge
Driving: Piggs Peak to Maputo (via Malelane)
Maputo, Mozambique
Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Maputo
TAP Air Portugal Business Class: Maputo - Lisbon
NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade
Lisbon, Portugal
TAP Air Portugal Business Class: Lisbon - Rio de Janeiro
LATAM Airlines Economy Class: Rio de Janeiro - Sao Paulo
Hotel ibis Sao Paulo Paulista
Sao Paulo, Brazil
LATAM Airlines Business Class: Sao Paulo - Boston


Previous Trip Reports:
10 Countries in 9 Days (CX, KE, QR, TG, KL, BI)
Former SSRs: the Baltics, Belarus and Back
Bangladesh, Burma and Beijing the Long Way (with stops in Laos, Singapore and Tokyo)
A Passage to India with stops in Qatar, Sri Lanka and Scandinavia (AA, QR, UL in J)
An Engagement to Remember: BOS to ZQN (with a few stops along the way)
RTW in J: Cairo, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Bali and Nepal
Touring the Five Stans
A Quick Trip to Brussels and Montreal
Steppe, Beaches and Rainforest: Mongolia and East Africa
Our Honeymoon in Morocco and Spain

Last edited by swingaling; Dec 2, 19 at 2:33 pm
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 11:32 am
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
British Airways Business Class: Boston - London

British Airways
Business Class
BA238: BOS-LHR (Boston to London)
5 Nov 2019
Boeing 777-200ER
G-YMML
Seat 11A
Departure: 7:30AM
Arrival: 6:55PM



This was the first time I'd flown a Transatlantic Eastbound flight during the day and I actually liked it. Instead of struggling to get some sleep over the course of a 6 hour flight, I was able to relax and get some work emails done instead. Because of the early morning departure, I had to alter my typical airport routine a bit. I didn't want to rely on being able to get an Uber at 4:30AM, so I arranged for a Blacklane to take me to the airport instead.

The ride was great and I arrived at the airport just as rush hour was starting. Check in and security were both quick, as Terminal E is pretty quiet at 5:30AM. I went off to the BA lounge and had a snack before the flight. The food options included a hot breakfast, which was nice, though the food was pretty standard quality. The espresso machine was working again, so I was able to make use of it this time around.

Before long, it was time to board. Today boarding was directly from the lounge, which is always a cool experience.

Apron Views British Airways Lounge


G-YMML



I really dislike having to stare a stranger in the face during takeoff and landing. The seat isn't horrible otherwise, but the complete lack of privacy isn't preferred.

The Seat


Face to Face


Legroom


Seat


Pushback


El-Al 777


Menu


Menu


Muesli


Omelette



For breakfast, the omelette was pretty good and not overly cheesy. The FA neglected to provide any bread for whatever reason and service was a bit curt. A snack was served prior to landing and it was pretty good too.

Snack



Overall, a pretty decent flight. Really nothing overly memorable or special. But we arrived on time and no one died, so that's a plus.
offerendum likes this.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 11:46 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
British Airways Business Class: London - Johannesburg

British Airways
Business Class
BA57: LHR-JNB (London to Johannesburg)
5 Nov 2019
Airbus A380
G-XLEA
Seat 53A
Departure: 9:10PM
Arrival: 10:15AM+1



Once at Heathrow, I made my way to transit security and ultimately the lounge. Very few other pax on my flight were transiting; most headed to immigration instead. At the lounge, I grabbed a quick shower and relaxed briefly before it was time to go to the gate. Arriving at the C gates, I learned that the plane had a mechanical issue.

Apparently, a fairly typical occurrence for BA's A380 fleet. The plane had a problem with its water systems and required a repair. Ultimately, the repair took around 90 minutes, so we left roughly 90 minutes late. We'd make up some of that time en route, but we did land at JNB a bit late. Luckily, I had a large buffer at JNB, so I wasn't concerned.

Once boarded, I settled in and got ready to depart.

Face Off


Breakfast Card


Menu


Menu



Since I was still on East Coast time, I wanted to have some dinner before bed. I'd pre-ordered my meal some weeks previous, so I knew what was on offer.

Salad and a Fizzberry



Curries are usually a reliable choice, and this was no exception. The presentation wasn't terribly appealing, but it was tasty.

Veggie Curry




Apple and Cinnamon Sponge Cake



Overall, dinner was pretty good. After eating, I went to bed and slept for a solid 6 hours or so. Upon waking, it was nearly time for breakfast.


Fruit Plate and Yogurt


English Breakfast



The breakfast was good, but the English breakfast was very greasy. I'd have liked something a bit less heavy, like I'd had on the BOS flight.


Tiny Passage to Aisle


A380



Another perfectly acceptable flight with BA. Despite my criticisms of the seat, I usually do have a good flight with them.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 11:57 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Central Florida
Programs: UA, IHG
Posts: 346
Subscribed :-)

BTW, you confused me when you said inbound JNB-BOS-JNB leg. It took me a while - after reading your itinerary and comparing with previous trip reports - to figure out that you are based in Boston not Johannesburg LOL!!
an_asker is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 12:00 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Airlink Economy Class: Johannesburg - Maseru

Airlink
Economy Class
SA8062: JNB-MSU (Johannesburg to Maseru)
6 Nov 2019
Embraer 135
ZS-SWN
Seat 2A
Departure: 3:00PM
Arrival: 4:00PM




Upon arrival at JNB, I had a very long walk to the transit area for my onward flight. First was a stop through immigration for a transit stamp in the passport, then onward to the ticket counters. I arrived 3hr prior to my flight and the Airlink counter was not yet open. After waiting around for a few minutes, I gave the automated check-in kiosk a shot and was able to get a boarding pass out of it. So I was saved having to wait around for the ticketing agents to show up.

Boarding pass in hand, I headed airside to the Bidvest lounge. Since I was traveling in coach, I used my Priority Pass to get into the lounge. Overall, it was a pretty decent contract lounge. I had a shower and relaxed waiting for my onward flight.

Glad I'm Not Flying on This



The Airlink flight was on a small plane, so boarding was from the bus gates. This area is not air conditioned, for whatever reason.

Bus Gates


Bus Gates


After a short wait, we boarded the bus to the plane. The flight was fairly full and it seemed mostly locals. Not many tourists, that's for sure.

ZS-SWN


ZS-SWN


Galley Equipment from Chautauqua Airlines


Galley Equipment from Chautauqua Airlines



Decent pitch, though seats were slightly narrow

Seat



Once in the air, the FA did a drink service and offered a choice of almonds or chips. Not too shabby for a 45 minute regional flight.





Coming into Lesotho, we passed some rain storms and the ride was a bit bumpy at times.

Lesotho Final


Lesotho Final


Lesotho Final


Lesotho Final


Lesotho Final


Lesotho Final



I was lucky enough to catch a shot of the lightning.

Lightning








Once we landed, it was a short walk to the terminal and I was the second person through immigration. I'd arranged for a transfer to the hotel because there are no taxis to be had at the airport. I also tried to get a SIM card and some Lesotho currency (as a souvenir), but both shops were closed.

I met the driver and then waited for the remaining passengers to clear immigration and collect their bags.

Airport Shuttle


Solar Array at Airport


MSU Terminal


Pretty Quiet


Another Lightning Shot
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 12:11 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Avani Maseru Hotel

Avani Maseru Hotel
Standard Room


Apparently there are two Avani hotels in Maseru. The one with the casino and this one. I thought I'd chosen the better of the two, but that turned out to not be the case. It's fine. Only one night, so the hotel was perfectly decent for a short stay. At check-in, I attempted to get some loti again (LSL), but the counter had none. It's pegged 1:1 to the rand, so everyone just uses rand. A bit disappointing that I couldn't get any currency, but perhaps not too surprising. After all, this is Africa.


Do you have the ballz to join us?



This warrior run sounds like it could be highly entertaining. Plus it includes a Speedo, t-shirt and painted-on six pack.

I was checked in fairly soon and headed directly to the room. A pretty basic affair, but it was clean and the A/C worked so that's a win. I was a bit tired and hungry so I decided to check out the hotel restaurant for dinner around 6PM. I was the only person there and it was a buffet, so I decided to have some room service instead.

Room


Room


Room


Room


My only piece of luggage for this trip. Total weight was 4.9kg -- a new record for me.

Room


View


Salad


Club Sandwich



Dinner was decent and I slept fairly well. The sound proofing isn't the greatest, but thankfully there weren't any loud neighbors nearby. I probably wouldn't stay at this hotel again, but it was a decent enough choice for a short overnight.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 2:34 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Airlink Economy Class: Maseru - Johannesburg

Airlink
Economy Class
SA8051: MSU-JNB (Maseru to Johannesburg)
7 Nov 2019
Embraer 135
ZS-ALY
Seat 2A
Departure: 8:10AM
Arrival: 9:05AM



The next morning I headed to the airport a little past 6:00AM. I'd ordered a breakfast box the previous evening so that I could have something to eat before my flight. Predictably, they had no record of my request and nothing was waiting for me. To say I wasn't exactly surprised would be an understatement.

As before, mine was the only flight departing and the airport was very dead. The check-in agent showed up after a while and checked me in quickly.


Maseru



After that, it was a wait in the departure lounge (if you can call it that) until our plane showed up from JNB.

Maseru Departure Lounge


Maseru Departure Lounge


Maseru Departure Lounge Shopping Options



As you can see, there wasn't a lot to do airside. However the views from the terminal were pretty nice.

Maseru Airport


Maseru Airport


Maseru Airport


ZS-ALY



Boarding commenced after the inbound flight has disgorged its various cargo.

ZS-ALY


Goodbye Maseru



Airlink Economy Class: Maseru - Johannesburg


Airlink Economy Class: Maseru - Johannesburg




The flight itself was uneventful and unremarkable. This time, they served breakfast with a choice between a muffin or a cheese croissant. I had the muffin and it was pretty good.


Muffin and Juice



We landed at JNB on time and I headed to the lounge for a real breakfast.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 2:46 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Airlink Economy Class: Johannesburg - Kasane

Airlink
Economy Class
SA8306: JNB-BBK (Johannesburg to Kasane)
7 Nov 2019
Embraer 140
ZS-ALP
Seat 2A
Departure: 11:45AM
Arrival: 1:30PM



Another layover and soon enough another Airlink flight. The clientele on this one were very different from the Maseru flights. Almost entirely tourists on this flight. I overheard some talking about how they'd flown in from LAX on QR (via DOH) and had been traveling for 30-something hours already.

In any event, this flight was very similar to the previous two. Same type of plane and similar service.


ZS-ALP



Seat 2A


Another Chautauqua Airlines Dispenser


On this service, there was a more substantial meal. It was a cold meal, as the E145 has no ovens and they don't stock hot meals. Admittedly, PG serves a hot meal on their RGN-BKK service and that's on an ATR72, which also lacks ovens. Just saying...

I believe the choice was chicken or something else. Beef perhaps? I got the chicken.

Meal


Chicken Thing



The food was fine, though not really my cup of tea. It was nice to be served an actual meal, especially on a short regional flight.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 2:53 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: PVD, BOS
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,664
Chobe Marina Lodge

Chobe Marina Lodge
Standard Room


Immigration was very quick and I was land within 5 minutes of touchdown. My driver was waiting and he deposited me at the hotel after a quick stop for a SIM card and some local cash. After checking in, I went straight out to have a game drive in Chobe National Park.

Airport Transfer


Room


Room


Room


Room


Decent Bathroom


All my luggage


Room


Room View


Room Patio




This is a little out of order, but after the game drive I came back for dinner. Dinner was a buffet and the food was generally pretty good.


Dinner


Dinner


Dinner


Beef Schnitzel, Green beans, Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry


Dessert




After dinner, I went back to the room to conk out before an early morning start the following day.
swingaling is offline  
Old Nov 26, 19, 5:52 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: London, United Kingdom
Programs: British Airways Gold
Posts: 2,567
FYI on Club World the divider only needs to be down for the safety briefing then it can go up for the rest of the flight, including landing
stu1985 and swingaling like this.
ajeleonard is offline  
Old Nov 27, 19, 12:06 am
  #11  
Four Seasons 5+ BadgeSPG 5+ Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Germany
Programs: Some
Posts: 9,006
Originally Posted by swingaling View Post
But we arrived on time and no one died, so that's a plus.
Indeed
swingaling likes this.
offerendum is offline  
Old Nov 27, 19, 2:23 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Programs: BAEC Gold
Posts: 325
Good stuff. Looking forward to the rest.
avneeshj is offline  
Old Nov 27, 19, 3:30 am
  #13  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 94,391
Anyone else here waiting to find out more about where the phone was stolen?
andersonCooper likes this.
GUWonder is offline  
Old Nov 27, 19, 8:44 am
  #14  
SPG 5+ BadgeFour Seasons 5+ Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Germany
Programs: Some
Posts: 9,006
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Anyone else here waiting to find out more about where the phone was stolen?
Absolutely!
offerendum is offline  
Old Nov 27, 19, 8:46 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Central Florida
Programs: UA, IHG
Posts: 346
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Anyone else here waiting to find out more about where the phone was stolen?
LOL!!!

I'm so dumb. I should have added a similar click-bait to my travelogue - DS lost his iPhone too. Did you see where? If not, check out my recent (and still ongoing) trip report ;-)
an_asker is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: