A candid look at regional politics, stability, personal safety, health requirements, safety precautions

Lets face it……

“The Dark Continent”, Africa is viewed by the uninformed as a confusing conglomeration of countries variously independent and interdependent; at times in the middle of a coup, at war or about to embark on hostilities; politically questionable and largely unstable; ruled by despots, warlords, tyrants, puppets, paper generals and self-styled revolutionaries. A terrorist breeding ground. Disrespectful of journalists and foreign nationals, unplayable, dangerous to visit etc., etc.

Reality…

Depending on your intimate knowledge of Africa, and point of view, there is some truth in the above. The reality of visiting the region is different. The reality is that the countries we fly around on safari are as far from this mess as Chigaco is from Jamaica: And about as closely related. The chances of us being compromised by a political “situation” are remote and should not be considered a factor in making a decision to visit our region. This is our take on the matter as aviators, foreign nationals, residents, citizens, taxpayers and folk living in one of the most bio-diverse, beautiful and unspoilt ecological regions in the world.

South Africa, as the wealthiest nation in Africa is host country and staging ground for our Flying Safaris. The routes we fly track through South Africa and its neighbouring independent and sovereign countries.

South Africa is a democracy under the rule of Roman Dutch and English law. Lingua Franca is English. In 1994 the country transitioned from a predominantly “white” government to that of the current ruling party, the ANC, led by the internationally recognised and respected leader Nelson Mandela. Peaceful transition followed by stability are hallmarks of a civilised, educated and progressive population. Past and current political leadership is entrenched, respected and aligned and supports the foreign and domestic policies of the USA and the western world. The region has a watertight constitution, human rights is entrenched and a strong stance against terrorism; sophisticated law enforcement with good networks and intelligence services supports this.

The USA travel watch has never issued advisories against visiting the region, with the exception of Zimbabwe which as of 2010 and it's adoption of the US dollar as official currency has made a remarkable turnaround, once again offering its friendly people, tourism opportunities, wildlife showcase and great flying conditions as calling cards that can hardly be ignored.

South Africa, more specifically Johannesburg, has been referred to as the “crime capital” of the world. If this is quantified in the number of incidents, such a statement may have been true in one moment of time, depending on who was counting. The fact is there is plenty of petty crime in the largely poorer urban black population. Violent crime is decreasing in the region with increased law enforcement and disincentives. Central city areas the world over are to be avoided at certain times – no different in Karachi, LA or Johannesburg.

Safety precautions

Living in Africa one tends to be aware and vigilant. If only to avoid the purse snatcher or an urchin whipping the dark glasses off your head at a traffic light. This is about as close as you will get to being compromised, if at all.

Clearly there is no set rule and with the best intentions, any area can become hazardous; like the 11Sep WTC horror the chances are there, albeit remote. We are highly aware of the concerns of visitors to the region. Therefore, with all our tours, we are continually plugged in to the local situations. Any feedback that remotely generates concern we use to avoid an area or move out - being aviators we are ultimately mobile and remain distant from such concerns. Such ground-based localised issues do not impact on flying; there are no military aircraft, ordnance or activities that could compromise flight. We always ensure that each aircraft carries at least an hours more fuel than needed for the leg - meaning an easy divert should we deem this necessary - and our safety limits are based on weather and other safety factors - not local politics!1

We do not advocate walking the downtown areas of any cities, day or night. Co-incidentally, none of our tours leave much time for wandering around. Day tours expose us to the areas but this is organised group activity - totally secure. Pavement life has never been so real and contrary to belief, stepping out to talk to the locals, you will find everyone friendly and helpful.

Health

Many parts of Africa are from time to time, considered hazardous from Yellow Fever, Bilharzia, Malaria and other tropical diseases. In the past decade, only Malaria remains an active problem in the areas we travel to and no inoculations are required at the time of writing this, for any diseases. Malaria itself takes on various forms; the strains continue mutating, requiring different prophylactics on an ongoing basis. Our best advice is to consult your doctor prior to visiting and then our local clinics here will give the latest advice on this. Generally speaking, the malaria mosquito is more prevalent in metropolitan areas that are in low-lying tropical regions - virtually none of our tours travel through this type of area.

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