Going (back) to Africa is always a bit of an adventure. For one, there are a few planes you have to take before getting to your final destination. Being from Belgium is no exception.
I booked my tickets with Alitalia and after all the, well not so positive reviews about them, I was a bit apprehensive. But I must admit (knock-on wood for the return flights – which we shall not mention at all) that both service and available seat space was much better than expected. I know, don’t always believe what you read online!
After a 2,5h flight from Brussels to Rome and a +10h flight from Rome to Johannesburg I finally touched African soil again. From the window I could see how dry the land around the city was, which is not really a good sign.
That’s a whole other conversation.
Anyway, back to the airport where the queue for customs was pretty long but because of that wait my bag (totally visible with the rainbow suitcase belt) was already there – bye bye apprehension.
My quest wasn’t over though. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to just re-check my luggage but I had to actually go back to the check-in counter.
Even though I was warned about pushy porters, one was pretty quick to grab my passport and put it in the self check-in machine. He wanted to grab my bag to escort me to yet another line but told him thank you and off I went.
Having said that… I didn’t really look where he told me to go to .. so I did… stood in line for what seemed like half an hour, only to be told I was at the wrong drop-off. Grrrr. My own fault, right.
I sure wasn’t the only one who was tricked into going the wrong way (we should have just checked, I know).
By that time I was already completely into the T.I.A.
Bags checked, off to security. Again queue. But this time around I was lucky, someone came to pick a few of us out from the queue to escort us to a shorter one where the staff had to go through. Easy peasy.
I had plenty of time so I wasn’t worried about the long waits at all. My back however… (2 camera’s, 2 lenses, laptop, ….).
Anyways went to my final gate where I had my first and much needed COFFEE! What a joy that was. The barista was from Zimbabwe, Bulawayo (and may that be the very first place I went to in Africa, way back in 2010) and he was so full of joy and happiness. Singing, rapping, talking while helping his customers. I knew I was in the right place.
The plane ride to Richards Bay was well, a bit different than the other plane rides I had been on. The plane was small, very small and you could feel every bump, wind there was up in the sky. And it was loud. Started talking to my neighbour and the flight was over before I knew it.
On the flight there was another woman who’s going to the same place I am going to Umhkuze Game Reserve with Wildlife Act. After all that is the reason for this trip. I can not wait to finally get out in the bush and track these magnificent beasts. Tomorrow, or the day after.
For now I am having my sundowner at Aristo Manor in Richards Bay.
Their shuttle service guy met me at the airport and brought me here. The room is big (too big really), bathroom with shower/bubble bath and swimming pool.
I settled for a dip in the cold pool, some sun rays (with the necessary protection of course), reading out on the deck and now, enjoying my first African Sundowner in a very long time. No wildlife or mother nature’s beauties just yet. But still, a pretty darn good way to start my holiday.
Tomorrow I need to be back at the airport by noon time where the Wildlife Act team will pick me, and the other volunteers up. Our 2 week adventure shall begin!