First stop – LAX

It’s nice to be able to return to this blog’s original charter – travel blogging. Here we sit in the OneWorld Lounge at LAX, enjoying comfortable seats, some so-so food, and free drinks. Airport lounges are a godsend, even with so-so food. While on the subject, the absolute best airport lounge ever is the Turkish Air lounge in Istanbul. I could just live there – it’s that good. Gourmet food, top-shelf drinks of all types, beds and showers, a movie theater, workout equipment, acres of hospitality…it’s the best. So I can say with some authority that the OneWorld lounge at LAX is just OK. Beats the cheap seats.

I’m hoping we’ve done the hardest part of the journey already. The drive from northern San Diego to LAX on the 405N is/was bad. Stressful. Packed bumper-to-bumper on a Sunday afternoon. The least scenic drive you can imagine – it’s like driving through a post-apocalyptic world at 80 and 20 miles per hour, varying at random. I absolutely hate the urban sprawl up the Socal coast – I can think of few worse places on Earth. Worse than the traffic in Lima or Mexico City. Humanity is a plague, and we have royally fucked up a place that used to be paradise. That’s part of what I love about KY. Sure, there are messed up places in eastern KY and in downtown Lexington and Louisville, but they are small. Contained. Tiny. Most of the state still is a paradise. Just don’t tell the 30-40 million people living in concrete Socal.

Rant over, I suppose. But that drive triggers me. I did it or a variation of it for years. Decades. Kind of a crummy way to start on a vacation.

On a better note, at checkin the British Airways clerk showed us pictures of his Africa trip, and they were pretty great. He was anxious to share his tour/location details, but I think the dirty looks of the people in line behind us killed that idea.

We have about two hours to kill before boarding. After that, it’s fly all night a couple of times and we’ll be there. At least someone else will do the driving.

Departure day and thinking ahead

Here’s the weather we’re heading into at Johannesburg. Not bad at all. Pretty much San Diego winter weather.

On the 31st we move from S Africa to Zimbabwe. Quite a different weather situation there, about 15-20 degrees warmer, but still pretty darned good.

I have high hopes for the Zimbabwe/Botswana visit and Victoria Falls. Here’s the Natgeo writeup about our first day there.

Day 8 Victoria Falls   Morning Join a knowledgeable guide for an unforgettable experience at Victoria Falls. Explore the rainforest and learn about the geology, history, and local legends of this world wonder. After your immersion, get up close to the falls and discover the beauty of “the smoke that thunders.” Be sure to have your camera ready!   Zambezi River Sunset Cruise
Climb aboard and cruise along the beautiful Zambezi River. Enjoy some snacks, drinks, a festive atmosphere, and gorgeous views of the sunset. It’s the ideal way to end an eventful day in Victoria Falls.

And the next day we head to a wildlife area on the Zimbabwe/Botswana border.

Day 9 Full Day Excursion to Chobe National Park Depart Victoria Falls in the morning for a full-day guided tour of Chobe National Park in Botswana – a wildlife-abundant region covering about 11,700km2 of the Northern Kalahari. Begin your adventure with a cruise down the Chobe River, taking in the sweeping views and witnessing the wildlife grazing along the riverbank. Enjoy an included lunch on land before boarding 4×4 safari vehicles for an afternoon wildlife safari drive with an expert guide. Keep an eye out for lions, elephants, and buffalo. Transfer back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, arriving in the early evening. Please note that this activity includes two border crossings between Zimbabwe and Botswana. The ordering of activities is susceptible to change.

After that, it’s just unwinding all the travel – over 10,000 miles to travel to get home. Fly Zimbabwe back to Johannesburg, spend the night, then Johannesburg back to LAX via Heathrow. We gain a day flying west, just as we lost one flying east.

Sitting here today, I don’t know why we waited this long to make this trip. We got really enamored with wine trips to Europe in the 2015-2019 timeframe, as opposed to seeing the rest of the world. But that’s the theme of this blog – Better Late Then Never.