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A Trip to Qatar, Southern Africa and Singapore | Qsuite, SQ J and UA Polaris

A Trip to Qatar, Southern Africa and Singapore | Qsuite, SQ J and UA Polaris

Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:55 pm
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A Trip to Qatar, Southern Africa and Singapore | Qsuite, SQ J, HO J and UA Polaris

Join me on a trip to Qatar, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and a layover in Singapore. From a hot day in Doha, to the coast of the Cape Peninsula, to the elephants of Chobe National Park.

Previous reports:
A Weekend in the Canadian Rockies: Banff National Park

A Whirlwind Trip Around SE Asia: Bangkok, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia

Two Days in Guatemala

A Weekend in Austin, Texas

Exploring Ukraine - Kiev, Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant and Pripyat

A Short Trip to Panama City, Panama

A Week in the Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan

A Landscape Photography Trip to Oregon

A Trip to Nigeria

A Trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona

A Trip to the Azores.

One Week in India: Mumbai, Amritsar, Agra/Taj Mahal, Jaipur and Delhi CX and EY J

A Snowstorm in Tokyo and Volcanoes in the Philippines

New Years in Seoul, South Korea Delta A350 Suite

Keeping it Domestic: Grand Teton National Park

9 Days in Asia: Taipei, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Shanghai

Two Weeks in South Africa and Namibia: Joburg, Cape Town, Sossusvlei and Kruger

Bienvenido a Cuba!

Last edited by ChiefNWA; Dec 21, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 2:59 pm
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The trip started with some flights from Tampa - New York JFK with an overnight.

Day 1

My first time flying Qatar, the A350-1000 (A35K) and my first time in QSuites. Pretty excited!

The newly renovated BA lounge in JFK. The morning LHR flight was on a rolling delay before canceling while I was in the lounge. Tensions were high.

7A, my seat for the next 13 or so hours.

Contents of the amenity kit.

Pre-departure champagne.

Holding short at JFK.

Warm nuts to start.

Qatar offers dine on demand, so I took advantage of that and tried multiple items. I started with the eggs benedict, which was fairly average.

Tomato soup.

Salmon main.

Cheese plate to end the meal.

I ordered some more food about two hours out from Doha. Started with the Arabic Mezze.

Beef tenderloin.

Fruit for dessert.

Descending into Doha, Qatar - my 2nd country in the Middle East. The region has long been a hole in my travels, so I'm glad to add another country to the list. A third will be coming in October.

Day 2

Before landing in Doha I received a message from my friend who was supposed to be meeting me in Cape Town the next day; he didn't make it. Apparently, he only had one blank page left in his passport and QR staff in LAX denied him from checking in due to South Africa's requirements. Luckily, it was an award ticket so his loss amounted to just the cancellation fee. However, that now meant I was on my own the remainder of the week. I did some schedule readjusting when I got to the dayroom at the Doubletree Doha as I had already previously been to Cape Town. I cut a day in Cape Town and added it to Victoria Falls in order to go on a safari to Botswana for the day.

The dayroom at the Doubletree Doha. I only spent a few hours napping here in the afternoon but it was nice to have on my 6AM - 2AM layover.

My first stop was the newly opened National Museum of Qatar.

The museum is a 40,000 square meter facility designed to resemble a desert rose.

Desert Rose.

Pretty stunning architecture.

The museum used walls and projectors for various videos, which was interesting.


The backbone of the country.

I decided to walk from the National Museum of Qatar to the Museum fo Islamic Art. Even as a native Floridian, the heat was starting to become unbearable. Next time I'll take an Uber.

Museum of Islamic Art - Doha.

Inside the museum lobby.


I have to say, I enjoyed this museum quite a bit because of one thing; air conditioning. Not because it was hot in Doha, but because I can't even tell you how many museums I've been in the world where the temperature inside the museum is 80F+, which makes it just completely uncomfortable. The Museum of Islamic Art had to have been kept around 65F.

I headed over to the Souq Waqif next but it was virtually empty. My best guesses? It was hot, it was a Sunday (Ramadan started that evening as well) and it was still ~11AM.

Next, I took an Uber over to the Pearl-Qatar, a 4sq-km manmade island. Audi R8 spotted on the Pearl.

The Pearl-Qatar was also void of people and car traffic it seemed.

The Pearl-Qatar Marina.

Just when I thought I could escape Applebee's...

A very clean Porsche 911 GT2RS.

Hummer H1.

I stopped at a random restaurant at the Pearl-Qatar. I assumed it would be expensive but I got this "business lunch" for ~$8, which included a soup to start, salad, main, rice, a drink and dessert.

Walking around the Pearl-Qatar.

I found some side alley along these condo buildings to get out to the beach for a look around. No one. Literally no one around.

I then took an Uber to downtown Doha.

"Qatar will remain free."

I headed back to the hotel for a two-hour nap before heading out for sunset. After waking up, I walked over to the Museum of Islamic Art again and walked the promenade.

I found a spot on the top of a hill overlooking the city waiting for the sunset. I was joined by these two.

Doha skyline after the sun went down.

Museum of Islamic Art after sunset.

Back at the Doha Airport for my 2AM flight on Qatar from Doha to Cape Town. Excited to be returning to one of my favorite cities.

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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:01 pm
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Inside the massive QR Al Mourjan Business Class lounge in Doha.

Day 3

Boarding the Qatar A350-900 for Cape Town just before 2AM.

Not QSuites, but still a great seat.

Warm nuts and drinks to start.

French Dip sandwich.


Omelette before landing in CPT.

Descending into Cape Town. Great use of 75K AA miles.

Welcome to Cape Town, South Africa!

I went straight to the Airbnb in Green Point to check in.

I headed out to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for lunch and to see if I could get a ticket for Robben Island.

V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain.

A seal sun bathing.

Sushi and shrimp for lunch.

I also took the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain.

At the top of Table Mountain.

Overlooking Cape Town.

A 2-minute picture of the surrounding mountains.

Camps Bay.

After Table Mountain, I took an Uber down to Camps Bay.


Camps Bay and Lion's Head.

For sunset, I went over to Signal Hill. I originally planned to hike Lion's Head again, but I got lazy.

Sunset at Signal Hill.

Filet for dinner at Hussar Grill.

Day 4

Even though I had driven the Cape Peninsula the last time I was in Cape Town, I decided to do it again as the rental car was cheap and I enjoyed it so much previously.

Be Shark Smart at St. James Beach.

A massive drone.

Surfers as the fog slowly lifted.

Muizenberg Beach huts.



St. James Beach huts.

Near Kalk Bay.


Kalk Bay.

Fishing boats.

Fish and Chips for lunch.

Boulders Beach was the next stop. I didn't see nearly as many penguins as last time.

Boulders Beach.




It's coastlines like this that made me remember why I enjoyed this drive so much last time.

Baboons running down the road.


At the Cape of Good Hope.

Waves crashing.



After a short drive to Cape Point, I followed this path to find a good view.

Came across this fellow on the trail.

Cape Point.

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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:03 pm
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Dias Beach.

I could've guessed that.

Looking down on Cape Point.

Cape Point Lighthouse.

Baboon hanging out on top of the car in front of me.

On the way back to Cape Town, I drove along Chapman's Peak.

Chapman's Peak drive.

Hout Bay.

After dropping the rental car off, I barely made it to the airport in time for my flight to Johannesburg.

I spent the night in Johannesburg before heading off to Victoria Falls the next morning.

Day 5

When planning the trip, I had a few choices with where to go for the 2nd half of the week; drive down and explore Lesotho or fly up to see Victoria Falls. I chose the latter as I figure I'll do another road trip around South Africa again in the future.

Taking off from Johannesburg heading towards Livingstone, Zambia.

Welcome to Livingstone, Zambia.

No Uber in Zambia, so I had to resort to ole school haggling for a cab into town. I ended up negotiating with a guy to drive me into the city, to the falls, back from the falls and back to the airport two days later. Definitely cheaper overall.

Protea Hotel by Marriott - Livingstone. Decent property. It could do with indoor hallways to help prevent mosquitos, but none the less, at 7500 points a night it was a good deal.

When landing in Livingstone, I bought my three-country visa valid for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. My driver took me straight to the Zambia-Zimbabwe border after dropping my bags at the hotel so I could explore the falls.
In line at Zambian exit immigration.

Welcome to Zimbabwe!

First view of the falls when crossing the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

I decided to start my tour of the falls on the Zimbabwe side.

Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls.


Cell phone pic of the falls at this viewpoint as the mist was basically a downpour here.

I then walked back over the bridge and over to the Zambian side of the falls.

The falls.

Zambian viewpoint.


Some Indian food for dinner that was within walking distance of the hotel.

Butter chicken masala.

Day 6

With the extra day in the area, I decided to book a day tour safari to Chobe National Park, located in northern Botswana. After an hour of driving from the hotel, we arrived at the border between Zambia and Botswana. The border is currently only crossable by boat.

The Chinese funded bridge being constructed to connect the two countries.

We stopped at the small lodge to gather together with other groups and disperse out on the boats for the first half of the safari.

Out on the Chobe River.


An elephant running towards the impala.

The same elephant now swimming across the river.


Buffalo. Unlike my last safari, I was making do with a 24-105mm lens.


Big and small.




A sight to see.


For the 2nd half of the tour, we transitioned to a truck.

Running giraffes.

Elephant herd.

The mud they splash on themselves acts as sun tan lotion.

Sneaky fella.

Sable Antelope.

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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:05 pm
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Our group consisted of an American couple, two EK FAs (Czech and Belgian) and a guy from the UK.

Heading back across the river to Zambia after a great day in Chobe National Park.

Chili chicken for dinner at the same Indian restaurant as last night.

Day 7

It was time to start the trek back home after a week of traveling. My taxi driver picked me up in the morning for the flight to Johannesburg. He let me stop at a market first so I could pick up a souvenir from Zambia (sort of a ritual at this point).

Inside the souvenir market.

A319 this time from Livingstone to Johannesburg.

It's gonna be a long one...

I had an 8 hour layover in Johannesburg so I decided to take the Gautrain from JNB to Rosebank for dinner.

One final steak before leaving South Africa.

My first time flying Singapore Airlines in J as they usually restrict J to their own Krisflyer program (for longer stage length flights). For some reason, JNB-SIN was available in J via Aeroplan, so I booked it.

Nuts to start.

Duck starter.

Another steak, not nearly as good as the one I had for dinner earlier.

Day 8

Welcome to Singapore.

I only had a 6 hour layover in Singapore, so I decided to just walk around the Marina Bay Sands area then grab dinner before heading back to the airport.

Supertree Grove.

Looking towards the Singapore Flyer.

Marina Bay Sands.

I visited Chinatown for dinner.

Michelin stared roast duck for dinner.

Blue hour shot of the Marina Bay Sands.

The Jewel at the Singapore Changi Airport.

In the recently opened T4 at Changi.

Juneyao 787-9 service to Shanghai Pudong. It was quite the experience checking in. This whole return itinerary was on an Aeroplan award ticket. I had an eticket number for all segments but for some reason, Juneyao could not find me. After standing at the counter for about 45-minutes, they claimed they just "bought" me a seat and would deal with Aeroplan themselves. Ok then...

Congee and the Expanse for dinner.

PVG T2 during my 6 hour layover.

Boarding an Air China A330-200 bound for Osaka Kansai.

Decent for a short regional flight.

Dumplings for lunch.

Took this in the bathroom in the lounge in Osaka. I wasn't aware the third option was frowned upon.

My United 787-9 bound for San Francisco.

I had basically every UA Polaris route on alert via Expert Flyer but nothing opened up last second, leaving me with my original booking on UA out of KIX. It didn't end up too bad as the seat next to me was empty.

See ya Japan.

Japanese meal.

I skipped the pre-arrival as I was going to grab lunch in the Polaris Lounge in SFO.

Polaris Lounge SFO.

Beet and feta to start.

Salmon for lunch.


Well, that's the end to another great trip. I got four new countries win with Qatar, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana and I got to visit one of my favorite cities in the world, Cape Town. It would've been better if my friend made it, but I made the best of it either way. I probably could've done this with less flying, but at least I got to try a bunch of new carriers.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:26 pm
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The Victoria Falls pics look good. What time of the year did you visit? There have been some very worrying reports about the water levels recently.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer

The Victoria Falls pics look good. What time of the year did you visit? There have been some very worrying reports about the water levels recently.
I visited in May, I'm quite behind on my trip reports. Water levels look pretty bad right now, I saw a few articles about it recently.
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 4:49 pm
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Wow, incredible photos and another awesome report. Looks like quite a trip, and interesting airlines flown on the way home. I have not yet heard of Juneyao Airlines.

Thank you for sharing, Matt!
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Old Dec 21, 2019, 8:23 pm
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I truly enjoyed your report. The pictures of Cape Town and the safari were great>
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 12:44 am
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An awesome RTW to Southern Africa, ChiefNWA. Must be hard not to get used to all that tasty food up front.

Cape Town looks very beautiful as ever, I can understand why my wife gets a bit homesick sometimes.

Love all the Ellies at Chobe, especially the family chain crossing the river.

The bridge looks like it was funded by the Japanese(?)
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 12:51 am
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Great report and Great photos!
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 4:52 am
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Spectacular trip report.. THANK YOU...
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 7:34 am
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What a great trip^
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 8:00 am
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Great TR

Thanks for sharing those incredible pictures with the community ^
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Old Dec 22, 2019, 9:04 am
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Extremely nice trip report!!! Thank you for sharing. This is like a simple around the world trip with just few destinations which are fully explored.
Did you use a smartphone for these pictures?
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