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Finally, two years late due to the Covid epidemic, twenty-three enthusiastic aviators of various ages between two and seventy-two met on a beautiful but cold Sunday afternoon at Polokwane International Airport in ten mostly homebuilt aircraft for the start of the long-awaited Zimbabwe Air Safari.
It was a somewhat sombre occasion meeting up without our long-time organiser, leader and best friend Essie Esterhuysen, who we tragically lost last year. We all knew he expected us to honour his dreams and carry on as planned.
Hartog Blok ready for action.
Billy and Cecil Robertson all the way from Mossel Bay…. Pierre and Nola Dippenaar definitely the biggest smile.
Andy and Margie Lawrence in their beautiful RV10 …. Roy, you want to stay for a while?
Roy Miller with his Instructor Kayla …. Roy's crew Angelique and Joshua.
Pieter and Debbie Cilliers long standing tour members.
On the way to Bulawayo.
Monday morning dawned with perfect flying weather which would thankfully persists throughout our tour. Customs and Emigration at Polokwane was painless, handled by friendly and efficient staff and we were soon on our way to Bulawayo for a fuel stop and to clear customs for entry into Zimbabwe.
Arriving at Bulawayo.
Everyone wants to help.
Contrary to all the negativity expressed by the armchair pilots at home, in Bulawayo and everywhere else in Zimbabwe we only met helpful officials and people. The anticipated and predicted additional rip-off charges thankfully never happened. ATC was relaxed, with late flight plans easily sorted.
Fothergill Island Airfield.
Bar snacks are here.
We were now on our way to Fothergill Island Airfield along Lake Kariba where we would stay for a couple of unforgettable days at Spurwing Island Lodge, sightseeing, fishing and a walking safari made our stay unfortunately far too short, will definitely be back.
Passing Kariba Dam Wall.
Kariba Gorge…. Along the Zambesi River.
Arriving at Chewore.
Some nice Tigers caught and release.
Nettie and Pierre planting Essie's Memorial Palm.
Too soon we were on the way to Chewore Lodge on the Banks of the lower Zambezi River, where we would spend the majority of our time in Zim. No words will justify the beauty, accommodation, food and service we enjoyed there. At a very emotional ceremony a tree was planted for our missing leader, Essie. Some of us went fishing and caught a couple of trophy size Tiger fish. The days again just seem to short and flew past with all the activities and it was with heavy hearts that we left on the second but last leg of our adventure.
Arriving at Victoria falls.
Once more we were far too soon on our way to the last stop of this year's Air Safari, the incredible Victoria Falls. Seeing the majestic falls in full flow from the air and then on the ground is definitely a sight never to be forgotten.
It was the perfect Group.
Then, all too soon, another inspirational trip came to an end, new friends were made, new memories experienced. We all praise our creator for looking after us and letting us enjoy all his beauty.
The longest distance travelled by one of the team was 6,000 km, nearly 25 hours of flying!
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