| Doing a safari by air doesn't mean that you watch the wildlife from an airplane,
but that transports to and between the parks
are done by air. The game viewing in the parks is then done by traditional game
drives in vehicles, or by walks, boat rides etc, depending on the options available.
A common form of airborne safari is that you fly to a park, where the lodge
camp where you are to stay handles the rest; transfers from and to the airstrip,
bed and board, game viewing activities etc. You may stay for a number of days in one
single park, or stay fewer nights in a couple of different parks, flying between them.
Most major parks in Kenya
are serviced by scheduled flights, and can easily be included in an airborne safari.
To go to other parks, you may have to charter a light aircraft, which costs considerably
Fast and comfortable transports
The main advantage of travelling by air is that you travel fast and don't have to spend
long hours on dusty and bumpy roads. You may, for example, fly from Arusha
airport (ARK/HTAR) to Seronera airstrip (SEU/HTSN) in Serengeti
in Tanzania in less than one hour. Travelling the same route by road would take a full
day, and some of the roads are quite poor and uncomfortable.
You can't avoid poor roads altogether, as you will be using them for game driving once
you're in the parks. Game driving is done at slow speed, though, and is not as rough
or tiring as travelling the roads for getting to the parks.
A disadvantage of flying is that you get to see little of the East African countryside,
villages and rural life.
One or two engine propeller planes, such as Cessna Caravan and Beechcraft, are used
for most flights into the bush. These are fairly small planes, rarely carrying more
than 20 passengers, and are well suited for bush use. They are generally flown by a
crew of two.
The airstrips are basic, usually with a grass, gravel or dirt runway, a toilet and a
parking space for vehicles picking up or leaving passengers. A few well-frequented airstrips
The airstrips don't have customs or immigrations offices. This means you can't travel
by air directly between Kenyan and Tanzanian parks, but have to detour via an airport
that has customs and immigrations.
Where to fly from
Wilson Airport in Nairobi
(WIL/HKNW) and Moi International Airport (MBA/HKMO) in Mombasa
are the hubs for airborne safaris in Kenya. In Tanzania, it's Arusha Airport (ARK/HTAR),
Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR/HTDA) in Dar
es Salaam and Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ/HTZA) in Zanzibar.
Some Tanzanian safaris may also start from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO/HTKJ).
A number of parks may be visited by scheduled flights from these airports.
Many safari flights have a 15 kg/33 lb main luggage limit.
There are probably travel
companies in your country that offer safaris by air as packaged tours. Typically,
such safaris go to either Masai Mara in Kenya or Serengeti
in Tanzania, and include three to six nights in lodges or camps of good to luxury standard.
Airborne safaris are easy to tailor, to include specific parks you want to visit and
specific camps or lodges you want to stay in. Any travel company specialized in safaris
should be able to help you.
Safaris by air aren't necessarily very expensive. The flights do cost, of course, but
you also save expenses by not travelling by road; you don't need a safari vehicle. Instead,
you do game drives in vehicles provided by the camps or lodges, which costs less. You
may also reduce the number of days on safari. Compared to a seven-day safari by road,
you may get the same amount of game driving on a five-day safari by air.
Planning and booking yourself
Local flight schedules may change at short notice. Remember this, if you intend to plan
your own safari and to book safari flights, camps, lodges etc yourself directly from
Allow for such changes in your itinerary. Don't be too clever and figure out neat ways
to combine parks, transfers, international flights etc, so that there will be a minimal
loss of time waiting. Also make sure to have departure times confirmed, preferably the
same day or the day before.
By chartering a plane, you may go to parks and other places that are not serviced by
scheduled flights. Aircraft of different sizes may be chartered, starting from three
passenger seats. Charter fees start at around USD 500 per hour for the smallest planes.
This page in Swedish
Go to www.savannen.com for this page in Swedish.