lychemsa
Topic Author
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:56 am

We flew from New York on Johannesburg. We only wanted to fly on South African because of:

1. Extraordinary 33" legroom in economy on their Airbus 330-600.
2. The only airline offering nonstop service between New York and Johannesburg. This saved us at least 10 hours of flying, versus changing in Europe, the Gulf or Addis Ababa.

Our flight arrived at 6 AM and left at 11 AM. Seeing the beautiful aircraft on the tarmac felt reassuring, that we would be leaving on time. When we boarded the Steward at the door was extremely friendly and warm; something I am not used to, flying on US and European carriers. My travelling companion lost her BOSE plug on boarding and went back to the door and told him. Ten minutes later he found it. When we jumped with joy he said ................. we are here to please." Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Beautiful tail markings.

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Glad they did not forget to board the food.

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The legroom was fabulously fabulous. Wow I could actually breath in economy. I try to avoid airlines that only offer 31" but it's sometimes hard to do.

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Me thinks the window screen needs a good cleaning.

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Our section in the back was pretty empty as most 2nd class passengers were seated in the front and middle. About 80% of my window was fogged in, but I was too lazy to move. This can be seen on the video.

We received a nice amenity kit with eye shades and toothpaste / brush. I fell in love with Grapetiser, a sparkling grape drink which I drank daily in South Africa. Weird that they don't make this in the US nor in Europe.

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The entertainment system did not work but the map did and I loved it.

After one hour we were served a superb lunch. Unlike pieces of lettuce on American, Swiss, Lufthansa and others we got a large pasta and mozzarella salad' Instead of a tiny chocolate brownie from a subway vending machine, you get on American, Swiss, Lufthansa and others, you get a large piece of tasty cheese cake. The beef Strogonoff was also tasty. The other choice was chicken curry, very popular in South Africa. This is what an airline meal should look like. Alas, many don't.

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Midway flying down the West African coast in lightning (see video clip below) we were served a delicious smoked chicken sandwich; never had it before. Must be a South African specialty.

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Four hours after take off around the Azores it got dark for 9 more hours. About 2 hours prior to landing it started getting light and we were served very tasty sweet cheese crepes or eggs. What I also liked is that they serve mango juice which I adore.

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As we landed on schedule we saw an unused gold mine with a mountain of gold dust. See video below.

https://youtu.be/p4RuhqtQg5A

The trees in mid October in Johannesburg were a beautiful velvet color. But one month later, when we returned they were no longer this beautiful color.

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After 2 days which we enjoyed, we flew on to Mauritius on an Air Mauritius Airbus. The flight took 4 hours.

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The legroom was extraordinarily fabulous in 2nd class.

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I loved the beachy atmosphere in the cabin.

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We were served a real meal. On flights on US carriers from the USA to the Caribbean you get nothing (if lucky pretzels), so it was quite shocking. I was not crazy about the lettuce, but the curry was nice. Can't complain.

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I did a short video of the flight. Beautiful view of Reunion island in the early evening. See below.

https://youtu.be/tAmRvPTT9YI

We spent 10 days in Mauritius.

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The ocean was somewhat cold in late October, We were saved by the heated pools. Would advise to go in November.

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Mauritian birds are very friendly. They like eating the jam / honey.

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Beware of sea urchins and wear plastic water shoes which you can buy there. I went with Speedo water shoes and they were not rubber. They stank and took forever to dry. They were useless.

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We then flew to Durban. Air Mauritius only offer 2 weekly nonstops on a small baby Airbus 319. Legroom in the first row is great where we sat with all the kids and a 4 month baby. But the legroom in the other seats is an atrociously tight 30". I saw tall men with their legs in the aisle.

Check in was great. We saw Banglashesh passengers with very strange suitcases travelling to Mumbai. I have never seen this.

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Breakfast was deliciously delicious. I love airline food when it's done properly. I was in heaven.

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I quite liked Air Mauritius. The crew were nice on both flights. However I am still pissed with them, that I never got credited the Flying Blue Air Miles for both flights. In addition Air France gave me the go around, promised to credit me and never did. I wasted a lot of time corresponding with both carriers. Clowns.

I liked Durban. However we stayed in Umhlanga Rocks outside the city at the Oyster Box Hotel. You have to watch the monkeys' here though. Enjoyed the views from the top of the football stadium.

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While I was waiting for my lunch, a monkey jumped on my table and grabbed the sugar. I freaked out. South Africans are used to them and are very calm when they attack.

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I should have read the sign.

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We were warned that monkeys come into the hotel rooms and attack the mini bar. So we had to keep the doors to the balcony tightly shut.

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We then drove to the Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Drakensberg Mountains, about 3 hours away. We enjoyed it here.

Stopped in Pietermaritzburg to see the railway station, where Gandhi was thrown off the train, for travelling in 1st class.

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Visited where Mandela was arrested. They built a fantastic monument where you can see Mandela's face from far. As you approach, the face gradually disappears. Quite extraordinary. The guy who designed this is a genius.

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Walked in the mountains.

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As we were walking we saw 2 monkeys' blocking our path. We both freaked out. We later were told that monkeys' are afraid of men. If they see one, they get out of the way. However if they see a woman / women they stay on the path. They can tell which is extraordinary. Sure enough when they saw us, they hid.

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A French lady had kept her window slightly opened. Monkeys entered her room and destroyed it. They even left poop everywhere. The hotel never warned people of the risks. But we knew from our experience with monkeys' in Durban.

We visited old caves with drawings.

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Wanted to take a helicopter ride but it was too windy.

We then flew on South African Air Link to George near Plettenberg Bay. Flight took 1 hour 45 minutes on an Embraer. They served a nice wrap. Quite extraordinary when one is used to flying around the US. They treat you like human beings.

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We liked Plettenberg Bay. We stayed at the Plettenberg Bay Hotel.

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Walked in the Tsitsikama National Park which was nice.

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Then we flew to Cape Town; 45 minutes. Were charged Excess luggage fees as weight cannot exceed 20 Kg compared to 23 kg on South African.

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Got a nice sandwich. Nice mountain views.

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Loved Cape Town. One of the nicest cities / areas I have visited.

We stayed at the Mount Nelson Hotel; over 100 years old.

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The wine country is gorgeous. Regretted not staying a few days there. Only spent 1 day. Also Hermanus is beautiful. Had lunch by the ocean. Would have liked to spend 1 night here.

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When we saw this, we decided not to go for a swim, though it was quite hot at times.

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After a week in Cape Town, we took the Rovos Train to Pretoria. The trip takes 49 hours. We were told it was nicer than the Blue Train.

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We had champagne in the lounge. They played music. I was in heaven. First time I go to a departure lounge as I only fly on 2nd, 3rd and 4th class. Not used to the pampering.

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The cabin was nice and comfortable.

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There was a toilet and shower in the room.

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I loved sitting outside.

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Especially at night.

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Dining car was nice.

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Lounge where they served tea.

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Bar car. I never went as I don't drink alcohol very often. I do other bad things instead.

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Food was great.

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Except for the ostrich.

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The train rocked and I dropped the wine. Train turbulence. They immediately cleaned my Tee shirt.

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We stopped at the Kimberly diamond mine.

Regular trains are not in great condition.

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Took a video of the train trip. Somewhat long though; 30 minutes. See below.

https://youtu.be/pQrKfzOrEo4

We returned to Johannesburg. It was sad that the beautiful violet trees were no longer violet. We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel where we rested for 24 hours straight.

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We did not not go on safari, as my travelling companion (TC) is terrified of lions. The monkeys' were enough adventure for us. However my TC did buy a baboon.

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I had no idea that their behinds looked like mine.

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We flew back on South African. The Agent told me I was 2 kilos over the acceptable weight. She asked me why? I told her to charge me Excess luggage. She replied that she could not charge me, because she did not know how to do it. She then told me not to do this again and be more careful when I pack.

The crew were wonderful. As we boarded the Purser at the door called me by my name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Little me travelling 2nd class. I was impressed. The food was fabulous. The leg room in 2nd class was out of this world. We were in heaven. The entertainment did not work (audio was off) but I did not care. Loved watching the map. Left at 9 PM and arrived at 6 AM; 15 hours in the dark is somewhat depressing though.

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We were served a sandwich half way flying past Sierra Leone.

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That is when there was again lightning. The video shows the lightning clearly. Luckily no turbulence.

Flat beds for small people in 2nd class. Impressive. Unlike on the Swiss Airbus, you can lift up the aisle barrier between seats.

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Nice breakfast.

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Here is the short video.

https://youtu.be/Tv1lPnlxxH8

Loved South Africa and South African Airways. Why can't US and some European Airlines offer similar service in 2nd, 3rd and 4th class? They make it enjoyable to fly. People were also very friendly. Love Grapetiser and Bakers biscuits. Beautiful country. Cape Town and the surrounding area is one of the nicest places I have visited. Would like to return. Maybe a safari as it is embarrassing to say we went there and never went.
 
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hirofumi
Posts: 205
Joined: Tue May 03, 2011 4:21 am

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:01 am

Thoroughly enjoyed your review! South Africa is a beautiful country and I miss it very much. The food both on SAA and Air Mauritius looks pretty good with proper desserts. Great leg space on SAA too.
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:52 am

hirofumi wrote:
Thoroughly enjoyed your review! South Africa is a beautiful country and I miss it very much. The food both on SAA and Air Mauritius looks pretty good with proper desserts. Great leg space on SAA too.


Thanks. So much to see there.
 
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RoySFlying
Posts: 180
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:20 am

It looks as if you had a wonderful time in South Africa and Mauritius. The scenery is quite stunning in places and during my travels there, I found the staff very friendly and welcoming. Your stories about the monkey's bring back memories. I recall them swooping down at breakfast to grab packets of sugar and fruit. Even some of the birds had learnt how to open packets of honey!

The SA A340s are good to travel in, as you say. Plenty of legroom and the 2-4-2 configuration in economy is more comfortable than some other carriers. Meals look OK too. In the past, the cabin service has been variable, though. On one flight they brought out the meal but forgot to bring cutlery but cheerfully corrected that.

Thanks for sharing.
Roy
When I was a boy the world was flat and now, some people still strive to keep it that way.
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:30 am

Yes I have read complaints; ie hard seats etc. It's only on the A300-600 that you get so much space. In Austria it's the bees who attack the jam; in South Africa, it's the monkeys and in Mauritius, the birds who swoop in. The monkeys like the sugar. They run off with the packets. They are very smart; like humans. They even open up the mini bars.
 
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Aviaphile
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:03 pm

The violet or lilac trees you refer to are Jacarandas and bloom in October usually. The flowers don't last very long which is why they were there when you arrived and were gone by the time you returned. They are actually native to Brazil but are very much a feature of the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria where many line the streets. Glad you enjoyed South Africa. Domestic air services in South Africa are pretty good catering-wise compared to American and European carriers. The company that produces the Grapetiser that you enjoyed also produces another popular drink called Appletiser.
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lychemsa
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:23 pm

>>Grapetiser that you enjoyed also produces another popular drink called Appletiser.>>

LOL I forgot about the Appletiser. I did not like it as much as the Grapetiser.
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:45 pm

Fantastic trip report! Wow, impressive catering onboard SAA and MK!
I sure hope more and more airlines look at this, but even that's unlikely....
Lovely pictures from South Africa and Mauritius :)
 
globalflyer
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Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:15 am

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:51 pm

What an amazing TR! Brilliant in every way. I too love CPT and the entire Cape region. Had such a blast there. Baboons jumped on my car and tried to open the door. HAHAHA.
Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
 
jetwet1
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Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:42 am

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:36 pm

What a fantastic report and what a great vacation it must have been, I am praying the wife doesn't stumble across this as I know what her reaction would be.
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:51 pm

jetwet1 wrote:
What a fantastic report and what a great vacation it must have been, I am praying the wife doesn't stumble across this as I know what her reaction would be.


LOL. Thanks.
 
345tas
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:23 pm

It is so refreshing reading reports where people are happy-go-lucky, unlike the frequent 'I was flying in Singapore Suites and the Moet was 1.2 degrees above optimal temperature so I sent it back immediately and afterward wrote a long complaint letter'

The mountains around Durban look stunning.
 
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eastafspot
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:11 pm

Hi Lychemsa,

Excellent report, from the writing style to the content on both pictures and infos provided!
Always nice to start a trip with a combo of quads even better on 2 different carriers! Not than often we read a TR about MK, so thanks for the update!
Looks like, along the way you've met many friends at breakfast time, some nicer than other :lol:
I think Grapetizer is sold in the UK (along with Appletizer and Peartizer).
Impressive monument of Mandela in Durban.
Your train ride must have been an epic journey, how long does it take to cover CP to Kimberley?

Many thanks for taking time to put this together!
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:18 pm

1. CollegeAviator: Thanks.

2. GlobalFlyer: Thanks.

3. 345tas: Thanks. The Drakensberg Mountain range covers a large area. We only saw a tiny part but it gave us an idea.

4. Eastafspot: Thanks. we left Cape Town at 11 AM and arrived in Kimberly the following day at 1 PM. So 26 hours.
We left Kimberly at about 5 PM and arrived in Pretoria the following day at 12 Noon; so 19 hours.

However the train stops in the evenings apparently. The Blue Train is much faster as they don't stop in the evening. It's also modern. No visits on the northbound; only southbound.
 
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eastafspot
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:08 pm

lychemsa wrote:
4. Eastafspot: Thanks. we left Cape Town at 11 AM and arrived in Kimberly the following day at 1 PM. So 26 hours.
We left Kimberly at about 5 PM and arrived in Pretoria the following day at 12 Noon; so 19 hours.

However the train stops in the evenings apparently. The Blue Train is much faster as they don't stop in the evening. It's also modern. No visits on the northbound; only southbound.


Many thanks for the infos, Never thought it would be that long! Is the blue train comfort equilavent to the Rovos one?
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:31 pm

>>Many thanks for the infos, Never thought it would be that long! Is the blue train comfort equilavent to the Rovos one?>>

The Blue Train is very modern (TV in room plus modern, new carriages); somewhat cheaper than the Rovos Rail (1920s style). Much faster and only visits Kimberly and a small town on the southbound. I believe the Northbound route is nonstop.

A neighbor who is train buff and has traveled on both trains recommended Rovos. Also on Rovos we sat outside a lot which I loved. Can't do that on the Blue Train. Here are both websites.

http://www.bluetrain.co.za/

https://www.rovos.com/
 
The777Man
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:52 am

Wow! Very nice trip report with great pictures !

I visited Southern Africa including Johannesburg, Victoria Falls and Durban a few years ago. I was in Mauritius about then years ago. Your pics brings back some nice memories.

Food and legroom looks great !

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
lychemsa
Topic Author
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Re: New York to Mauritius / South Africa on South African, Air Mauritius, AirLink, Rovos Rail

Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:01 am

The777Man: Thank you. I would have liked to visit Victoria Falls. However we were told that when we were there there was not too much water. I think it's also better to go there in our summer as it get's hot in November.

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