Convenient and comfortable, light aircraft connects the remote wildernesses of Africa. But it isn’t just an expedited way to travel. Every journey is a beautiful aerial safari, a chance to explore the grandeur of Africa’s landscapes, with world wonders discovered from above and wildlife roaming beneath the wings.
A brilliant wildlife spotting opportunity
We’ve found that the journey by light aircraft is as much a highlight as the actual safari. Sometimes you’re low enough to pick out migrating herds or hippos congregating around a river bend. And then you descend onto airstrips that have to be cleared of mischievous wildlife. Instead of an airport building and luggage carousel, you’ll be greeted by buffalo and elephant!
We love how the views from a plane window complement what you see on the ground. Most of your safari is about the exquisite details; like emotion in a zebra’s eye, communication between monkeys, or lion cubs pawing at their mother. A light aircraft engrosses you in the astonishing scale. We can’t get enough of how this ignites the imagination. By flying across the national parks you can appreciate the true abundance of animals that roam free in Africa.
National Park airstrips
Almost all national parks and reserves have their own airstrip, with some large parks like the Serengeti having half a dozen. They’re certainly not airports, just runways in the middle of nowhere that can only be used by light aircraft. And you certainly won’t be the first to touch down and find a lot of wildlife less than a mile away.
The benefits of light aircraft
Travelling by light aircraft is understandably more expensive than travelling by road. However, we think it’s worth the expense for the views alone: with every flight, an aerial safari comes as standard.
But landing inside the park or reserve has many extra benefits. It means the safari starts immediately, increasing your time in the wild and maximising the wildlife encounters. Where else can you transfer from plane to accommodation and see lion prides?
You obviously save many hours of travel time versus road transport. Calculate the price of park fees and accommodation versus the time saved, and spending that bit more on light aircraft can work out to be good value.
Discover untouched lands
More than just saving time, light aircraft can access distant corners of popular destinations. So rather than enter through the main gate and be amongst the main tourist traffic, you can immediately explore the most untouched and untamed areas of the park. We really enjoy how a multi-park safari connected by light aircraft helps you see the places most untouched by tourism. For example, in parts of Zambia’s South Luangwa or Tanzania’s Ruaha you might never see another vehicle.
Light aircraft has been a mainstay of the luxury safari industry since its inception and it comes with a certain exclusivity. The planes are small, usually single or twin-engine aircraft that seat anything from 4 to 20 passengers, meaning almost everyone ends up with a window seat. The co-pilot seat is usually free and you only need to ask if you’d like to sit in the cockpit; even better, your guide can phone ahead and try to reserve this prime position.