Continued trip report:
On March 30, we left Botswana talking about how much we wanted to return (I couldn't believe my husband was even thinking about this -- it took months of negotiations to get him to travel outside of the US/Western Europe -- so now he is FINALLY bitten with the travel bug -- YIPPEE!).
The flight from Maun to Johannesburg was very easy. The Air Botswana flight was on a jet that seemed quite new.
One of the frustrations of combining Botswana with Kruger/Sabi Sands is that you have to overnight in Johannesburg unless you book a charter flight. Due to flight times, there is no way to get from Maun to Singita (or the reverse) in one day.
As it turned out, we had a wonderful overnight in the MOST charming inn. It's called A Room With A View, located in Melville. See aroomwithaview.co.za. It's like a tuscan villa/tower. Decorated wonderfully. Country, yet also funky. For R1000, we stayed in one of their best rooms -- with a sitting area, amazing views, comfortable bed with great linens, and an exceptional bathroom. In fact, it had the best shower I've ever seen in a hotel. A two-person Italian-tiled shower, with 2 separate shower heads, both with PERFECT water pressure. Not having had the pleasure of long hot showers with this kind of pressure for three days, we stayed in there until we almost passed out. Although we were there for just an overnight, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
I think most people with an overnight in Jo'berg either stay at the airport or in Sandton. Consider Melville! The Airport Sun, although convenient, is very expensive. You'll pay less (even with transfers) by staying in Melville (and the ride was just 30-40 minutes). And although I've never been to Sandton, it sounds like it has an upscale shopping mall ambience. Yes? No? Melville, by contrast, is hip and funky. It's similar to Greenwich Village in NY or Berkeley in California. The main strip is full of bookstores, neighborhood restaurants, and young couples. We enjoyed an excellent meal at Sam's Cafe. We were told to take a cab from the hotel to the restaurant (a 3 minute ride) because it is not safe to walk at night. We did, but quite honestly, it seemed perfectly safe. There were lots of residents walking around. The nighborhood is quite nice. But I guess it never hurts to be cautious.
The next morning, we were off to Singita on Federal Air. Federal Air is a very well-run professional organization. We were promptly met at the airport by a Federal Air representative and driven to Federal Air's own departure lounge to await the flight. They show wildlife videos in the lounge and provide food/beverages. The plane itself was a Cessna Caravan, seating 12 people. The ride was perfect. I really preferred the comfortable ride of the Caravan over the Cessna 206's of Botswana.
There had been some talk on the boards recently about the quality of the flight to Singita (Roccco, STD, I think you had a bad experience?) Neither going there nor coming back did we experience any turbulence to speak of. However, our guide at Singita said he won't do the flight because the 2 times he did it the turbulence was so bad it took him days to recover. So you have to cross your fingers. Our guide said the risk of turbulence is higher in the hot summer. Someone with more knowledge of flying than myself could undoubtedly explain why. But suffice it to say: our flights were great -- thankfully! The pilots were much older than the Botswana pilots, and were very nice and friendly.
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Continued trip report: