Air Travel in Africa: the advantage of fly-in, fly-out safaris
Once your feet hit the ground after your international arrival, you may wonder how you’ll get around – from Cape Town to your safari destination, or from one safari camp to the next.
Due to Africa’s vast size and road conditions, vehicle travel is often our least-preferred option. While road travel in Africa can be interesting and quite the adventure due to the sights that you pass while getting from one place to the next, more often than not, it is a long and bumpy ride.
A vehicle pontoon river crossing in Equatorial West Africa.
Within a given African country, there are many private providers of air services and a well-established route network. Many lodges in southern Africa will have their own dedicated airstrips. In some cases, this is simply a necessity due to the remoteness of the camps, or the challenging accessibility during the wet season. Flying into a game reserve and being picked up by your own guide and your own Land Rover or Land Cruiser is one of the particular joys of safari-going.
A private charter company operating out of the Republic of the Congo.
International air travel between African countries can be quite a bit more onerous than hopping around within one country. Apart from chartering a private airplane (something that often does make sense for a group traveling together), getting from South Africa to Zambia, or Tanzania to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe can sometimes require a lengthy journey with connections, due to needing to first land at the country’s main international airport. For example, in South Africa, there are a handful of international flights into and out of Cape Town, but the vast majority of routes are to and from Johannesburg International Airport. Travel between Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda can require routes through Nairobi International Airport, for instance. When you plan your safari with us, it’s important to take these travel days into account when “switching countries”.
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space on an infinite highway of air.” -Wilbur Wrigh
Returning to the pleasanter theme of intra-country travel, the only thing that one needs to take into account on these trips is one’s personal comfort with smaller aircraft. In most countries, flights will be on an aircraft that will accommodate around 10 – 14 people, although smaller 4 – 6 seater planes are often used in areas such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Charter flight over the Okavango Delta.
The “bush pilots” are some of the most interesting people on the continent and are part of the glue that makes a “fly-in, fly-out” safari so seamless. When flying with a private provider, guests do not need to fret about checking-in, seat assignments, or even having a boarding pass in hand: all of these details are taken care of for you in advance.
“Any pilot can describe the mechanics of flying. What it can be done for the spirit of man is beyond description.” – Barry Goldwater.