Sunday, March 30, 2008

‘On Assignment in Africa’ – an update from the original 2AFRIKA, INC.’s Director of Operations, Dominik M. Zakrzewski

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My 'travel' nerves have subsided and now I’m left with an overwhelming emotion of excitement and the anticipation of landing on African soil. Tomorrow (Sunday), I’ll be boarding a South African Airways flight bound for Johannesburg (via Dakar - Senegal). For the next two weeks I will be in paradise.

Everyone is familiar with stories of people coming back changed from Africa. I don’t want to write poetic verse about the beauty & mystery of Africa but I’m sure that throughout my Blog for the next two weeks I’ll record a few epiphanies and spiritual awakenings. After all, the human species did originate in Africa; yet again, it is almost like a home coming to where we begun.

Packing: the only issue I’m fretting over. Aboard South African Airways flights between the United States and Johannesburg we’re allowed two pieces of luggage totaling up to 50 lbs. per piece. (This is known in airline terms as the Piece Concent). I’ll also be flying internally on Nationwide Airlines and British Airways/Comair internally and regionally within Southern Africa. These flights will only allow me one piece of checked luggage and one carry-on item. Nationwide’s weight limit is 44 lbs, while British Airways will allow up to 50 lbs. Needless to say this can get confusing for any passenger traveling on multiple carriers.

I weighed my baggage and decided, for ease and comfort, to take one piece totaling 41lbs. And a carry-on totaling around 14.5 lbs. I scraped most of my travel size toiletries because after all, I’ll be staying in modern hotels. There’s no need to pack for two weeks. I can get my laundry done. I’m set to go. I know what to anticipate upon check-in at JFK now so there’ll be no surprises.

My trip will take me through Johannesburg where I‘ll spend my first night at The Safari Club S.A. (a prominent property throughout our Safari Collections. The following day I’ll fly to the Kruger National Park and settle into Perry’s Bridge Hollow in Hazyview. The next day I’ll take a 3-hour Nationwide Airlines flight to Cape Town where I’ll spend four nights. I’ll call The Table Bay on the V&A Waterfront and the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice home for the remainder of the week. I need to see the Peninsula again and am dying to visit the townships on the outskirts of Cape Town.

On April 6th I’ll probably be up by 3:30am, awake with anticipation. My driver will collect me at 5:30am from my hotel (I will be getting detailed vouchers for all activities with detailed times of pick-up and directions upon my first contact with our friends and representatives in Johannesburg) and drop me off at Cape Town International Airport in time for my 7:30am British Airways/Comair flight bound for Johannesburg. It’s Sunday, so there will be no 'peak-hour' traffic and I anticipate the mornings transfer to all operate smoothly.

Upon arrival back in Johannesburg I’ll transfer to a Nationwide Airlines flight bound for Livingstone, Zambia. It’s NOT unusual to use multiple airline carriers to get to certain destinations in Southern Africa. My journey will take me into Zambia where I’ll pass through a very simple immigration process, get my Zambian visa stamped, and then I will be met by my driver who will take me into Botswana. Two nights at (the newly refurbished) Chobe Safari Lodge (a long time preferred property of the Original 2AFRIKA) where I’ll reconnect with friends and then I return back to Zambia for a night at the incredible Sun International property - The Royal Livingstone.

In southern Africa it’s not strange to fly into one country when you’re actually bound for another but don’t let that fool you into believing that you're merely crossing state lines. You’re still going through the immigration process multiple times so if it seems like you may hop back and forth between countries, you may, but the process will take all day and you won’t actually enjoy your time in your final destination.

For U.S. passport holders, all visas may be obtained upon entry into each respective Republic. I, as a Polish passport holder, had to only get my Botswana visa ahead of time. This process was last minute and with the help of the kind people at the Embassy of Botswana in Washington D.C. I was able to send in my passport and get it back in time for my departure.

Now I’m flying back to the Republic of South Africa via Victoria Falls International in Zimbabwe. Another visa that needs to be purchased. I arrive in Johannesburg around 3:00pm and head straight into the modern northern suburb of Sandton. Being a New Yorker I need to get my dose of staying in a modern city. I need to experience some traffic and noise. I’ll be staying at the Garden Court Sandton City but to think of it now, I wish I stayed at the Protea Hotel Balalaika - don’t ask why.

The next morning my driver will transfer me to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International and in particular to the Federal Air Departure Terminal for my flight bound for Madiwke Game Reserve in the North-Western Province of South Africa. Take a look at THE LEGEND OF QUEEN MATEYA on our South African Collection page - there you will see what I am going to be up to!

The ultra-luxurious and private Mateya Safari Lodge will so kindly host me for two nights. This is where I’ll be reflecting about this experience and perhaps catch a glimpse of an ever elusive leopard. The privacy of Mateya allows us to take game drives whenever we want.

So that’s my journey in a nutshell.

I assigned myself a single seat towards the rear of the aircraft because I like my space. I asked for a diabetic meal as I tend to limit my carbohydrate intake. I’m going to Africa but that doesn’t mean that life stops and I have to stop doing what I normally do. Africa is modern, flows at its own pace, and to understand that, one opens oneself to a great experience.

PS: I’m taking my laptop with me so I can stay in touch with friends and family via Skype but am leaving my phone in NYC.

Once I land safely in Johannesburg and catch my breath after the 17 1/2 hour flight, I’ll write more.

Until then, as always, my warmest African wishes to you!

Dominik M. Zakrzewski
Director of Operations

For further information on this informational Blog post or any other Safari in the Original 2AFRIKA Collection, visit us on the web at

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