I have to be honest -- I haven't ever faced flights this long. The severity of the flight pattern for this trip to Botswana is weighing on me. I have been a bit wedded to Latin America since first heading to Ecuador in 2002. Apart from a foray to Finland, I haven't taken a trans-Atlantic flight since 2000. Central and South America take much less in the way of long haul flights than Botswana. No leg is much longer than 9 hours -- a good solid night of sleep.
But I'm headed to Kasane for the Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo that occurs every November. To the front and back end of this, I've tacked on what most would consider a dream itinerary consisting of various locations in the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Chobe National Park.
This is my first trip away from my family since having my daughter almost two years ago and I've decided to make it a good one: a little over two weeks. On the other side of this flight itinerary is two weeks of rest and freedom. But to get there .....
1) Missoula to Denver (2 hours flying) with a 3 hour layover
2) Denver to New York (5 hours) with a 14 hour layover
3) New York to Johannesburg (14.5 hours) with a 4 hour layover
4) Johannesburg to Maun (2 hours)
Fortunately, I'm in luck. South African Airways from New York to Johannesburg is about half full and I get a whole row of seats to myself, allowing for lying-flat and getting a bit of rest.
I've also allowed myself a full day of recovery, which is crucial when planning a safari. What people don't always explain is that safari entails waking up every day at 5:00 AM, so build yourself a rest day upon arrival. You will thank yourself for doing so!