Final expenses for our five night Zambia trip…On our way back to the bush!!!…

Sunset over the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Notice the spray from Victoria Falls in the left rear of the photo.

Note to our readers: This is the last day we’ll be posting this notice. Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

At the moment, we’re sitting on the bed in our hotel room in Zambia, after a lovely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, packed and ready to go. At 11:45 am, Chris, from Chris Tours (see his link here), a highly reputable tour and transport company in Livingstone, Zambia, will pick us up for the short drive to the Livingstone Airport.

We’re scheduled to arrive in Nelspruit at 3:35 pm when we’ll pick up our rental car and commence the 90-minute drive back to Marloth Park. If all goes well with immigration (fingers crossed), we should be at our holiday home in the bush by about 5:30. Before unpacking, we’ll freshen up a bit and head to Jabula for dinner.

We’re looking forward to seeing Dawn and Leon, our friends and the owners of our favorite restaurant (and lodge) in Marloth Park. They’d been on holiday for a few weeks before we left for Zambia, and it will be fun to see them again, to catch up, and dine on their fabulous food. Hopefully, we’ll be celebrating our return for another 90 days, providing all goes well at immigration in Nelspruit.

Load shedding has resumed in the park, so the power will be out while we’re out to dinner, hopefully back on when we get back to the house. Supposedly, it will be off and on until Saturday, after which they’ll be suspending load shedding for a few weeks, or so they say. It can change on a dime. Then again, TIA, “this is Africa,” and that’s what happens. We love it anyway.

We’ve had a great time in Zambia. We accomplished a lot of research, and I am down to page #18 (with 20 posts per page). At this rate, I will have completed this year-long project by the middle of November. I can hardly wait to be done and have my afternoons back to further enjoy life instead of working on my laptop.

Now, for the expenses, we incurred for this trip to Livingstone, Zambia:

Flight  (round trip) from Nelspruit to Livingstone:  US $1288.00,   ZAR 18938

Taxi: US $46.81, ZAR 690.68

Hotel (using some rewards): US $425.09, ZAR 6258.06

Food: US $339.00, ZAR 4992.29

Visa Fee (entry to Zambia):  US $100.00, ZAR 1472.65

Tips: US $125.0, ZAR 1470,80

Total:  US $2323.90, ZAR 32204.32

We were pleased with this total. The high cost of the airfare was over half of the total expenses. Flights through Airlink have increased during times of Covid, but the convenience of avoiding the five-hour drive to Joburg is worth it to us. Plus, we could get a direct flight from Nelspruit to Livingstone, saving another half day of travel time.

If we have no issues with re-entry, the expense will have been well worth the time and cost. We have documents with our negative Covid-19 PCR test results, our flight information out of South Africa in January, a rental letter from Louise stating we have a place to live, and all should be in order. The question is: “Will they (immigration) accept the fact we only left SA for six days?” If so, all will be good. The laws are vague on this topic, so we hold our breath when we check-in.

That’s it for now, folks. In a few minutes, we’ll zip up our duffle bags, call for help with our bags, pay the balance of our hotel bill at reception and wait for Chris to arrive to take us to the airport.

Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be writing from Marloth Park with the good news that all went well. Thanks for “traveling” with us!

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #217. Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall in Fiji. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening overlooking the Zambezi River…The longest river in Africa…More photos tomorrow…

As soon as we were situated on the veranda, we were excited to see the spray from Victoria Falls at a distance.

Note to our readers: Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

Last evening, the taxi driver picked us up for the short drive to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for game viewing and the sunset over the water on the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Upon arrival, we walked through the five-star hotel’s lobby and then proceeded to the perfectly groomed grounds toward the veranda closest to the Zambezi River.

As we entered the grounds to the five-star Royal Livingstone Hotel.

It was early enough. We managed to get front row seats at the railing and settled in, ordering a beer for Tom and a glass of wine for me. The wine list on the veranda was marginal at best, so I had no choice but to select their “house red,” which I sent back after a few sips. It came from an open bottle, and I think it had gone bad.

We took this photo on the long drive into the hotel. I wish we’d had a better shot, but other vehicles were also trying to enter the hotel grounds. This giraffe looked different than those we see in South Africa, “The South African giraffe or Cape giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis Giraffa) is a subspecies of giraffe ranging from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. It has rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to the hooves. The Rhodesian  (or Zambian giraffe, more commonly known as Thornicroft’s giraffe, is a subspecies. It is sometimes deemed synonymous with the Luangwa giraffe. It is geographically isolated, occurring only in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley. An estimated 550 live in the wild, with no captive populations.”

Instead, I ordered a sauvignon blanc, not my favorite, but found it acceptable. With that settled, we began searching for wildlife sightings on the river. It didn’t take long when we spotted a “bloat” of hippos halfway across the river. Tom perused the river banks using his binoculars and spotted some elephants at quite a distance, resulting in our less than ideal photos. We were happy to see them.

The pool looked refreshing on a scorching day.

The sunset wasn’t perfect. It was shrouded by clouds at its final descent, but we managed to take a few decent shots before that. We couldn’t have been more relaxed and comfortable, chatting endlessly about our lives, past and future travels, and upcoming cruises. Of course, no sundowner time would be complete without mention of our wildlife friends back in Marloth Park, wondering how they’re doing with us away.

At dark, we wandered to the Old Drift outdoor restaurant on yet another veranda while we watched zebras munching on the dense grass, drinking from a fountain, and walking the grounds as if they owned the place. We doubted they’d ever wander away far from the hotel when everything they needed was right there.

Later in the evening, we dined at this end table for two.

We sat at a white linen-covered table for two, ordered one more drink, and relaxed a while before ordering our food. The menu was typical African/Continental cuisine with the popular local fish, bream, pork chops, steaks, half chicken, and so forth. I ordered salmon for the first time since we left India and a plate of steamed vegetables, and Tom ordered the sirloin steak with mashed potatoes. Of course, he was thrilled to eat the breadsticks with soft garlic butter before the meal was served.

The food was good, fresh, hot, and pleasingly served. It wasn’t quite the gourmet meal we expected, but both of us were content and will give it four stars on our upcoming review at TripAdvisor. Our food and drinks totals were US $89, ZAR 1322. We were back at our hotel before 8:30 pm, streamed a show, and dosed off by 11:00 pm.

As we made our way to the veranda overlooking the Zambezi River.

Today, at 10:00 am, a doctor from the local clinic arrived to do our PCR tests for our return to South Africa in a mere 48 hours. The time has flown by so quickly. Other than a few WiFi issues at the hotel, we’ve been delighted with the room, the food, the service, and the ambiance. Oddly, it feels somewhat like a mini-vacation. We’re having an excellent time, even more than we’d hoped for this short visa stamp trip.

We paid US $172, ZAR 2554, for the two tests, and the email results will arrive sometime tomorrow. In the interim, we’re looking at possible options if we aren’t allowed another 90 days in South Africa solely to give us peace of mind. But we aren’t apprehensive. We are proactive, just in case.

It was hot, but I often wear long sleeves (plus repellent) to keep from getting bitten by the mozzies, who are fierce in Zambia.

Today, we’re hanging out at the hotel again. Zambia’s Independence Day weekend is in full force, with the holiday extended through Monday. The number of guests at the hotel has thinned out today, and we love having the quiet solitude as we spend all day and evening outdoors.

There’s my guy, content on the veranda at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

Life is good. No complaints here. More new photos will follow in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #215. Handmade raft for fishing, I Fiji, which our driver and guide explained is safer than a boat when there’s no chance of being stranded or sinking. For more photos, please click here.

Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River…A dream fulfilled…A romantic night we’ll always remember…

Of all the boats available for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, we chose the Lion King, which had the highest reviews of all the options. We thoroughly loved the experience.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We could heat the loud bellows from the hippos, but most of them were tucked away under the vegetation along the banks of the Zambezi River.

Today is our last full day in Zambia. Tomorrow at 11:00 am, Alec will pick us up for the ride to the airport for our return flight to Nelspruit, South Africa. Of course, we’re excited at the prospect of returning to Marloth Park, South Africa.

We boarded the Lion King by 4:00 pm and were back at the hotel by 6:30 pm.

Always a happy reality of our world travels…we never feel we have to end our holiday/vacation to go “home” to return to work, tend to piles of snail mail, or handle piles of dirty laundry. No doubt, Marta will insist on helping us get our clothes washed, on the clothesline, and neatly folded.

Bee Eaters make nests and burrow into holes they create in the river bank.

We’ll unpack, sort the dirty laundry for washing, put away the toiletries, and in no time at all; our stunning routine will be firmly back in place. A quick trip to Komatipoort for groceries sometime over the weekend, and we’ll be set. Most likely, tomorrow night, we’ll dine at Jabula or stop at Hamilton’s in Malelane on the way from Nelspruit to Marloth Park.

Somehow the bee-eaters know how high they should build their burrows above water level.

Last night’s sunset cruise on the Zambezi River was a perfect end to our amazing tours while staying in Zambia. We couldn’t have been more thrilled with the boat, the gorgeous weather, the staff, the included food and drinks, the views along the river, and the fabulous live music played on the “marimba,” a popular African instrument. See here for details.

The boat staff on another cruise, the African Queen, was relaxed with so few passengers on board their boat. The Lion King carries 105 passengers, but there were only 10 of us. Tom and I had the entire upper deck to ourselves during the two-hour cruise.

With the entire upper deck to ourselves, along with a few staff members, we were really able to freely enjoy ourselves, being silly and playful, moving around the deck as we pleased when taking photos without anyone’s heads in our way. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Last night, we spotted this resting crocodile on the banks of the Zambezi River.

The average cost for the Lion King, which includes basic appetizers, wine, beer, and cocktails were kwacha 702 (US $70) per person and was well worth it.  Overall, the cost of the tours was not cheap. 

Check out those teeth! Crocs can replace each of their 80 teeth up to 50 times in their 35 to 75-year lifespan.

One can plan to spend close to kwacha 10,030 (US $1,000) for quality tours in Zambia.  We write more on this in tomorrow’s post when we list our total final expenses, including tours, dining out, hotel bills, taxis, taxes, and tips. 

“Photo op over, humans! I’m outta here!” he said.

We paid a little less by booking through Chris Tours than we would have through the hotel, but when booking through the hotel, the traveler can put the cost of the tours on the hotel bill and subsequent credit card, whereby we had to pay in cash as mentioned in an earlier post. 

The friendly staff served us drinks and snacks included, most of which I couldn’t eat. As usual, Tom ate mine, and I had a bite back at the hotel later in the evening.

In the end, it all worked out well for us. Some travelers prefer to work through the hotel since they feel more comfortable knowing the hotel will stand behind the quality of the tour. But, if paying in cash is not an inconvenience, it may be worth saving about kwacha 1,003 (US $100). 

Enjoying the sunset over the Zambezi River was a special treat and a great end to our time in Zambia.

In our case, we lucked out in several ways; in finally getting the cash from an ATM, in getting the ATM card back from the bank where the machine “ate it” on Saturday morning, and in having great service from Chris Tours in coordinating all of our activities. Safari luck, again.

It was surprising how many boats were on the river for sunset.

Now, as we sit in the restaurant, preparing today’s post on another perfect weather day, we can’t stop smiling over the fabulous time we’ve had. Not only was last night’s sunset cruise a delightful experience, but we’re continuing to revel over the other tours we’ve done during our time in Zambia.

And soon, the sun started to wane.

We leave tomorrow with the utmost respect and admiration for the Zambian people, many of whom make a living in the tourist industry and handle their clientele with the utmost dignity and care. 

We moved about the upper deck we had to ourselves several times while taking photos.

Today, we’ll start working on tomorrow’s post’s final expenses and the review of the hotel. We still have many other reviews to complete at TripAdvisor for restaurants, tours, and venues we’ve experienced during our time in Zambia.  We hope to complete all of this in the next 24 hours.

Some cloud cover helps create a stunning sunset.

By the time we leave tomorrow, we’d like to have completed all of these necessary components, including updating our spreadsheets with the figures.  Thus, when we return to Marloth Park, we can focus on getting back into the groove of our wonderful life with the animals and humans living in the glorious bush!

And then, it was gone, and our boat, the Lion King, headed back to the starting point.

May your day bring a smile to your face to see you through the day and evening.

The evening ended too quickly. We had such a great time on the peaceful cruise but continued our good time at the hotel.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2017: 

As one might think, it wasn’t cold outside on the decks as we cruised to Alaska on the inside passage. We wandered outdoors without jackets, and it was cool but comfortable. For more photos, please click here.