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Getting to Zimbabwe

My 14+ hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg
My 14+ hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg
Let’s face it, Zimbabwe is probably a long way from where you live. If you live in Europe, there are a good number of long-haul flights to get you to Zimbabwe. If you are in North America, you’ll face far fewer options. Almost certainly, your best bet is to fly through South Africa.

Johannesburg, South Africa is a major airline hub for all of Southern Africa. From Europe, most major airports will have direct flights south to Johannesburg (JNB). In North America, you are limited (due to the length of the flight). As of this writing, United has a direct flight from Newark to JNB. They also offer a Washington Dulles flight to Cape Town, South Africa. Delta has a direct flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg, which I took for my trip to Zimbabwe.

These are not short flights by any means. You will have double the number of flight attendants (and flight crew) to staff the flight, as they cannot be allowed to work the entirety of the flight; it is that long. But on a positive note, my Atlanta to Johannesburg flight was the best long-haul flight I’ve ever experienced. Granted, I had an empty middle seat and a nice aisle seat partner, but it still is an economy seat on a 14+ hour flight.

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, I recommend taking a night off. Yes, I know you’ve got limited time to be gone, but trust me on this one. Most flights arrive in the afternoon anyway, so go through customs and immigration at JNB and then walk to a comfortable hotel. You can eat a decent meal and take a shower or bath and sleep in a real bed. Both the InterContinental and a local chain called City Lodge are attached to Johannesburg airport. I like the City Lodge both for its value and its great buffet (both breakfast and dinner).

Since you will spend many mornings getting up quite early for morning safari outings, taking this day to rest up and be ready for your Southern African adventure is time well spent. There will be a few options in the morning after breakfast where you can fly to Victoria Falls, or another great destination in Southern Africa. As of this writing, FastJet and Airlink are both great options for flights into Zimbabwe.

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