Zambia: Welcome to Tongabezi

Saturday, December 15
Start: Cape Town, South Africa
Stop: Tongabezi near Livingstone, Zambia

I’m up way too early at 4am for my 5am Uber to the airport. I land in Johannesburg or Joburg by about 9am. Luckily my luggage will be put through to the next flight so I don’t have to retrieve it. I make my way to the next terminal but have to go through security all over again. I’m not sure if this is standard or just for international flights. My stuff goes through the scanner and then the lady wants to search my bag. I work on opening my bag as I watch her go through every item in the woman’s purse next to me. And I mean every single item was removed by hand. I’m getting a little worried as she starts in on my carry-on. First it’s my bag of jewelry and then the ziploc with some small lotions. For some reason she stops and decides to rescan the whole bag again. Meanwhile, I’ve put my small carry-on backpack on over my shoulders and I’m hoping she has forgotten about it. Apparently she’s satisfied with the rescan and I’m allowed to move along my way. Next, is the line to get your passport departure stamp.

Then I hike about 10 minutes to my terminal. Boarding starts and we load onto a very hot bus. We stand there in the killer heat for about 15 minutes before we get transported to our plane. My stomach has been unhappy all day so this bus sitch is no fun. When I checked in for my flight I placed a bid to get upgraded to business class. It said it had been accepted but I’m definitely not in business class. Something to deal with later as there are no flight personnel to help with the situation. At least though, I am in the row directly behind business and there is no one sitting next to me so I can stretch out and get comfortable. As we descend, the Zambezi River takes shape and I can see a tiny bit of spray or “smoke” off in the distance. That must be Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls but you wouldn’t know it from our view point.

I’m like the 7th person off the plane and I’m starting to see the possible value of my upgrade. Being one of the first off means I don’t have a wait at customs. After paying my $50 USD and getting my Visa, I look back and the line is long as the rest of the flight’s passengers have to wait their turn. I breath a sigh of relief when my luggage comes out and then I make my way to the entry where at least three different people try to sell me taxi rides. I’m beyond grateful when I see a Tongabezi sign with my name on it. I don’t why but I almost start crying. My driver Chris gets the truck and we’re off in no time. Chris tells me a bit about the area as we drive down the dirt road to Tongabezi.

The Tongabezi Welcome

When he pulls up at the entry I’m greeted by Conceptor who will be my valet during my stay. A valet takes care of your every need. At the front desk I’m given a cool washcloth with which to refresh. After I sign in, I meet Mike who gives me a bit of a tour. As we sit, and I look out at the Zambezi, I’m served a fresh hibiscus cooler. At which point Conceptor returns to escort me to my room, The Tree House. It’s stunning of course and there are quite a few rules because the velvet monkeys might stop by at any time.

The chef meets with me and we talk about my dietary restrictions before he fixes me a grilled cheese sandwich. Not sure if I feel like eating but I give it a try. Then I just spend the afternoon relaxing in my room trying to catch a bit of the AC. I relax in the “hangout” where there’s wifi and just watch the Zambezi float by before it’s dinner time.

The view from my toilet!

You gotta keep your luggage closed because the velvet monkeys would like to have a party with your belongings
Looking from the bathroom area towards the center of the treehouse
Looking out on the Zambezi River from my personal balcony porch