This is the end of our safari trip in Botswana and Zimbabwe. We have just a short flight to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and then on to Johannesburg. With a 10 a.m. departure Don and I skip the morning hunt for lions and have eggs and toast for breakfast. Bacon is also offered. We pack up at our leisure.
We’re nearly packed by 8 when Stretch tells us that the maids at a nearby camp have spotted the lions and suggests that we leave early and have a look.
We throw the rest of our thing together and head out.
Stretch finds the lions lounging in the shade not far from the road. We get out of the vehicle for a better look. These are the ones we saw the first evening of the canoe trip and tried to see again on our first night with Stretch. The other guests who are out with Shawn arrive about 20 minutes later.
We walk deeper into the bush for a better angle, too many bushes in the way at our first location, but still keep our distance. After a short visit with the lions Stretch tells Don and I that it’s time to go. We say our good byes again and head to the airstrip.
As we reach the airstrip we pass another vehicle, a manager from another camp who informs us that the plane just left. After a lengthy back and forth with the camp and their point person in Harare it turns out that there was a mix-up in our flight time and we were supposed to leave at 9AM, not 10. Jean admitted to us later that it was a clerical error between him and Paul when Paul had left two days earlier and Jean took over. No one had confirmed our flight even after I had asked the day before to make sure that we would make our connection in Harare for our flight back to Joburg. Stretch and Jean had both assured me that it was all taken care of.
The next course of action was to try and get us a ride to Harare on the plane that was picking up two other guests at 11. This wouldn’t work according to Pete, the pilot, because he could fly only to Harare, in the north, or south to where the other guests were going. The pilot that had left without us couldn’t be called back because they have no communications with the ground once they are in the air. Pete said that once he was airborne again he would contact the owner, another pilot, and get another pilot to stop for us.
Stretch took us back to camp where he said he would personally straighten everything out for us and get us on a later flight to Joburg.
At lunch he told us we were to be at the airstrip by 2:15. The pilot would be there as soon as he could between then and 2:45. He showed up a t almost 3:30 and got us to Harare at just before 5 for the 18:45 flight to Joburg.
Stretch said South Africa Air (SAA) made him pay $500 to change our flight.
Once at Harare the pilot walked us to the SAA counter to make sure we were on the flight. From there it was easy, no queues at passport control or security.
The small Airlink flight to Joburg was nearly full.
In the end it was a stupid mistake that could have been easily avoided. Stretch, however, did his best to make it right, including having Flo, his point person in Harare, contact our B&B in Joburg to change our airport pickup time.
September 9, 2016
For links to all the posts in this series see the Botswana/Zimbabwe page.