Johannesburg (South Africa) - Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) on the wings of South African Airways, October 2023
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HOME ⇒ Flight reports ⇒ Johannesburg (South Africa) - Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) on the wings of South African Airways, October 2023


Johannesburg (South Africa) - Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) on the wings of South African Airways, October 2023

Which of us hasn’t dreamed of visiting three famous waterfalls since childhood? Niagara, Iguazu, Victoria. The latter was discovered by the English traveler David Livingston in 1855. While making his way through the savannah with his expedition, he heard a great rumble. Coming closer, he saw a grandiose waterfall up to 1800 m wide and up to 120 m high, which the Africans called “Mosi wa Tunya” (rumbling water). Livingston, who was the first European to see it, named it after the English Queen Victoria. Located between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the waterfall is currently accessible to anyone who wants to see it. This truly wonder of the world now attracts millions of travelers from all over the world. On the Zimbabwe side there is Victoria Falls International Airport, on the Zambian side there is Livingston International Airport. While on vacation in South Africa, it would be a sin not to fly in and see the great waterfall. No sooner said than done. There are many airlines flying from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls and Livingstone. But a higher priority flight, both in terms of money and availability of flights, is to Victoria Falls.

An air ticket was purchased from Johannesburg (JNB - O.R. Tambo airport) to Victoria Falls (VFA) on the website of one of our marketplaces ending with “…zones” for rubles and to our cards. The cost was the equivalent of $250 roundtrip. The national carrier of South Africa, South African Airways, was deliberately chosen. Other airlines also fly in that direction, incl. low-cost airlines, and prices are lower, but I wanted to fly on a plane of the national carrier.

Early in the morning I arrived at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. The airport is spacious
There are self-check-in kiosks immediately after the entrance. There you need to scan your passport, enter the reservation code, select a seat - and that’s it: boarding pass in hand.

I had a cabin-size suitcase of 10 kg and a backpack. The carry-on baggage allowance for this airline is 7 kg. In fact, no one monitored compliance with this during landing. (Our low-cost airline with the letter P has already begun to cry quietly in the corner...) Check-in for the flight itself took place in terminal B, and pre-flight inspection and boarding took place in terminal A. Between the departure floor (3rd floor)

and the arrivals floor (1st floor)

there is an intermediate floor where the places necessary for travelers are located. For Russians, these are Standarn bank ATMs. Accepts our cards Union Pay system (BRS, Gazprombank and our Rosselkhozbank) and does not charge a commission for this.

Russian Standard still worked with us and did not was under sanctions. Insert the card, enter the PIN code, then click “credit card” (this is necessary!), then “start the process”, then if you need a check - “yes”. After a few seconds, the ATM dispenses you Rand cash. The rate is approximately 5.5 rubles for 1 rand.

This is much more profitable than changing cash dollars at an exchanger: it is long, tedious, and there is a large commission.
On the same note on the floor opposite the ATMs there is a Vodafone office, where you can buy a local SIM card, albeit a little more expensive than in the city.

But you instantly have the Internet and you can immediately make calls, including .h. to Russia (My network operator with three capital letters with its exorbitant roaming also began to cry on the sidelines...). From the airport you can safely go to the city by taxi by calling Bolt and Uber through applications (which can be immediately installed on your smartphone). Prices are comparable to ours, and sometimes even cheaper.

Let me remind you once again that this airport is not only spacious - it is very large, about 15-20 of our Koltsovo airports, but it is not Frankfurt either. Pre-flight inspection is quick and the employees do it professionally. Next comes passport control. Here you can feel the local relaxation and even a certain indifference.
Nobody is in a hurry. Having scanned the passport, they immediately put a stamp - and go ahead.
Shops in the “clean zone” deserve special attention. Immediately after passport control, a shopping gallery begins, the crown jewel of which is the huge “From Africa” souvenir shop.

Everything is there. Prices are the same as in the city.

Further along the course there is a large Big Fife Duty Free store.

There is real freedom there: prices for local and imported alcohol are lower than in Domodedovo (divide the price tag by 18.2 - the rand to dollar exchange rate). The counters are overflowing with local wine products. The famous red wine “Tiara” is also sold there. Lots of local tea, coffee and sweets.

Perfumes and cosmetics are presented well, there were big discounts on a number of products.
My path lies to gate 25 of terminal A.
Boarding will be via bus. Many of my compatriots checked in for our flight SA 040 and flew to see the famous waterfall for 2-3 days. Boarding began early, about 50 minutes before departure.

We were brought to an A-320 parked “under steam.”

His registration number is ZS-SZI. The plane is 8.5 years old, as they say, not damaged. Since production, he has flown only with South African Airways.

My seat is 11 F, which is right next to business class, jokers call such seats “semi-business”.
Indeed, you can stretch your legs much more. The chair is comfortable, the upholstery material is leatherette in 2 colors. There is an emergency manual

and a passenger magazine
Monitors are lowered above several rows for you to watch flight route.
Boarding ended at 11.30 (departure was scheduled at 11.45).

There were approximately a little more than half the cabin passengers . There were 5 people in the business. They immediately closed the door and, without further ado, the plane took off. About 7 minutes ahead of us, an Airlink Embraer 195 plane took off for Victoria Falls. Ticket prices were approximately the same as those of South African Airways, but it was completely booked; as many as 2 busloads of passengers were transported to it. Our flight fit into one.
We took off from the runway smoothly and easily at 11.35 (10 minutes ahead of schedule) and the airbus headed north -west.

I must say that upon arrival we “overtook” Embraer by 10 minutes.

5 minutes after takeoff, the “Fasten seat belts” sign went out and service began. The flight is only 1 hour 20 minutes. Well, I think they will give you some water and some kind of candy bar like what they give on our “green” or Sverdlovsk airlines. My amazement knew no bounds! Each passenger was served a full lunch with a salad, a hot dish (chicken/beef to choose from), dessert, a bun with butter and processed cheese. The devices were made of stainless steel.
It was offered to wash down all this wealth with juices, water, Coca-Cola, Schweppes, tea, coffee and... (fanfare!) beer, red or white wine in 160 ml bottles. (The Big Five of our airlines are already roaring with all their might from their powerlessness to influence this...) There was no restriction. The black flight attendants were very tactful, knew their job, and worked quickly and smoothly. 20 minutes after serving, they had already rolled out the waste collection cart. Well done! We have to wait up to an hour for this “event.”

How can you not visit the sacred place of our reports after lunch - the toilet? It was tidy, the air was fresh, and the toilet was clean.
All napkins and toilet paper were in abundance, the water taps worked properly.
About five minutes later, everyone was given Zimbabwean immigration cards.

It was easy to fill out; in the “place of stay” column you could write anything - after all, it turned out later: the card was just a formality.

And yellow-red Africa floated under the wing. Its brown rivers stretched ornately towards the horizon and the crimson-colored sun-scorched earth created the impression (if not for the clouds) that we were already approaching Mars.
In fact, we were over Zimbabwe. The plane flew smoothly and there were no areas of turbulence.
Exactly an hour after takeoff, the commander announced that the plane had begun to descend and would soon land at Victoria Falls International Airport. The air temperature is 36 degrees Celsius. At 12.55 the plane landed (25 minutes ahead of schedule.)

They served a boarding bridge in which the air conditioning did not work , and we, the passengers, immediately felt the African heat.
The airport itself was fresh and cool. About 10 years ago (judging by the pictures on the Internet), the air terminal was a barn, where there were no crowds. Chinese investors found themselves and built a beautiful, spacious and clean airport. It serves 10 arrival and departure flights per day, and the average annual passenger traffic is approaching 1.5 million. The only runway with a length of 4000 m is adapted to receive all medium-haul and even wide-body (A 330 and B-787) airliners.

We walked along long corridors to the passport control hall. A single visa on arrival in Zimbabwe costs $30 (cash in dollars only!). A single-entry visa for Zambia also costs $30, and a re-entry visa to Zimbabwe also costs $30. But if you want to visit both sides of the waterfall in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and also go on a safari to neighboring Botswana for one day, then ask for a KAZA-VISA. It costs $50 and gives you the right to travel between these countries multiple times. Which significantly saves on the travel budget.

At passport control there was a sleepy kingdom. The border guards worked two per arrival, pasted in visas and accepted money for them very slowly and deliberately, apparently discussing their pressing problems along the way.
After passing through passport control, you find yourself in the baggage claim hall with one a long carousel.
Opposite there is an artificial waterfall made of stones, which, according to the designers, should symbolize the local wonder of the world.

As you exit, you are besieged by a crowd of taxi drivers. Choose only an authorized airport taxi (it is signed as such). First of all, it's safe; secondly, there is a clear tax to the city (about 18 km) of 30 US dollars, or 550 South African rand. You can also negotiate with other bombers for less, but that’s how it goes.

On the street in front of the airport you are greeted by a tribe of dancers in national costumes. If you pay 5 - 10 - 20 dollars, they will dance, sing and beat all their drums for you. If not, their hospitable ardor instantly cools down.

That’s how quickly and comfortably my flight from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls went. Ratings: airports O.R. Tambo and Victoria Falls are A's. South African Airways is an A with two pluses. I'll be flying back in a week. But that's another review.
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South African Airways

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