Is it a Bird? Or a Plane? Aerial Africa!

May 28th 2015  |  Kenya, Namibia, Travel, Unique Experiences, Zambia  |  by  Richard Smith
Govenor's Camp hot air balloon over the Masai Mara Kenya

Viewing wildlife from an open 4wd vehicle on an African safari is great, but getting up in the air increases the thrill and there are many ways to do it throughout Africa.

Light aircraft safari The quickest, most comfortable, and arguably the most exciting, way to get between safari camps is using a light aircraft. These can take off from remote airstrips and whisk you to another area of the country while enjoying a great view on the way.

Wilderness light aircraft, Okavango Delta, Botswana –

Okavango Delta, Botswana – Wilderness photos

To experience Namibia’s remotest regions the Schoeman family run a four day safari where the guide is the pilot of the light aircraft. If this sounds like your kind of thing, take a look flying safaris: Schoeman’s Skeleton Coast Safaris, Namibia

Schoeman's flying safari over the Namibian desert

Schoeman’s Skeleton Coast Flying Safaris

Microlight safari I felt somewhere between a pillion passenger on a motorbike and a hang glider pilot when I took to the air with John Coppinger at Tafika Camp in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. We flew over the river spotting pods of hippos and then headed inland over a region without roads. Flights of the Angels (tourist flights named after Livingstone’s exclamation on seeing the falls) over Victoria Falls can be enjoyed in many ways, including by microlight.

Tafika microlight taking off

Tafika microlight

Balloon safari The peace of an African dawn is somewhat broken by the roar of a gas burner filling a balloon with the hot air required to lift off the ground with up to twelve passengers. But once aloft peace descends again and the balloons float quietly over herds of grazing animals in the Masai Mara and Serengeti, or the dunes of the Namib Rand in Namibia

people on a balloon flight

A bird’s eye view in Masai Mara, Kenya – Governors Camp

Colourful balloon floating over a river

Masai Mara, Kenya – Governors Camp

Helicopter safari Where a plane needs forwards movement to stay in the air, the joy of a helicopter is its ability to hover which makes a helicopter one of the best ways to enjoy aerial views of Victoria Falls.

Helicopter flying over the spray

Spray from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Shearwater Adventures

A rainbow over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

A rainbow over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Shearwater Adventures

Other camps and lodges use helicopters for access, either because the landing area is restricted, so no long runway, or simply because it’s more fun! • Azura Benguerra, Mozambique • Leobo, South Africa • Okavango Horse Safaris, Botswana

Biplane safari For the ultimate ‘Out of Africa’ safari thrills, there’s little that can beat taking off from a dirt airstrip in a bright yellow biplane with a leather flying cap and goggles. Aardvark Safaris’ co-founder John Spence was bought a flight from Lewa Wilderness as a birthday present and rated it afterwards as “Right up there with the best things I’ve done. As passenger you sit at the front so I could live out my Biggles fantasies while flying over rhinos and elephants”

Yellow biplane on a runway

Biplane, Lewa Conservancy, Kenya – Lewa Wilderness photos

Want even more? Campi ya Kanzi’s huge pan-Africa flying odyssey is in its second year in 2015 and plans are for it to be repeated in 2016. The month long trip takes in almost every sub-Saharan safari country, visiting the majority of the key African safari areas and staying in many of Africa’s top safari lodges. For more information on the 2016 flying safari, drop me an email or give me a call.

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