"South African Odyssey" Self Fly Safari Itinerary

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Guided & escorted – an African self-pilot safari in light airplanes taking in:
Special highlights and features, staying at luxury game lodges, safari camps and hotels throughout South Africa.

A focus on what the most powerful nation in Africa has to offer: We have our first taste of the wilderness and the diverse wildlife naturally occurring along our route; interfaces with the “Rainbow Nation” of the 21st Century lend us insight into the indigenous cultures, traditions, epic battle sites, history and art.

We take a look at animal rehabilitation into their original habitats before the first settlers eradicated them for sport shooting. Poignant moments of pioneering history – savage Zulu and Xhosa tribal conflict, British and Boer occupation, transformation from backwater colony to culturally integrated boom country of gold, diamonds and untold mineral wealth.

The flying involves no border crossings, in a circumnavigation of South Africa's best flying terrain and ground activities. We start on the high plateaux of South Africa, then gradually descend to the coastal belt, visiting attractions along the way. After rounding the southern tip of Africa we spend time taking in the spectacular Cape experiences. Continuing inland over the arid “Karoo” interior semi-desert, we cross the largest river in South Africa – the Orange. Finally we arrive at "big five" private game reserves in desert and mountainous terrain.

All this interlaced with the hospitality and friendliness and that is the hall mark of all South Africans

 

Months of Operation

October through May

Statistics

Safari    
On safari for 12 - 14 days  
Flying (approx) 21+ hours  
Distance (approx) 2150 NM  
     

Pilots need to arrive 3 days prior to safari launch, for pilot’s validations

 

   
There are some options worth considering when visiting this region: You may elect to arrive in Cape Town or Johannesburg prior to the start of the safari. Although our safari self fly launches near Johannesburg, there are distinct advantages of commencing in Cape Town. Click here for more.

Both Cape Town and Johannesburg offer interesting side trips to fill in between pilot’s validation procedures.

 
Note: Accommodations and routing details as listed in this itinerary are a sampling only of the many options that may form your final itinerary; the essential ingredients all remain at a high level of flying, accommodations, sightseeing and experience.
   
  IF YOU ELECT TO ARRIVE IN  IN JOHANNESBURG:
Day 1-3 Orientation, validation procedures and optional local excursions in and around the 'New York' of Africa.

FOURWAYS - SOUTH AFRICA.
3 nights, breakfasts, transfers, validation activities

 

DAY 1
Meet and greet
at Johannesburg International Airport and transfer to a delux Hotel or Country lodge, on the outskirts of Johannesburg -- your home for the next three days. Close to shopping centres and other areas of interest, convenient also from which to do short day tours. A good place to relax and focus on the safari ahead.

Late afternoon group meeting, introduction and orientation with African Aero Safaris who will be hosting your program and self fly safari and other tours over the next weeks. Schedule will be handed out with details on pilot’s license validation procedure that will be staggered over the following days. Airlaw test paper and reference material handed out. Briefing on African Flying conditions, checkride procedures, flight planning, met, reporting procedures. Overnight BB.

DAY 2-3
Pilot Validations and local activities - Review of pilot’s license validation procedure over the following days. Airlaw test paper and reference material handed out. Briefing on African Flying conditions, checkride procedures, flight planning, met, reporting procedures. checkride planning with flight instructor. Completion of checkride as required. Deductible insurance and documentation arranged for rental airplane. Focus and planning for the trip ahead. Processing by African Aero Safaris of the validation documentation at the SA CAA.

Balance of days at leisure doing optional half and full-day tours. Click here for some examples. 

Note: Time is built in here for completion of any additional flying required or overflow validation procedures.

   
  IF YOU ELECT TO ARRIVE IN  IN CAPE TOWN:
Day 1-3 Orientation, validation procedures and optional local excursions in the beautiful Cape.

STELLENBOSCH – SOUTH AFRICA
3 nights, breakfasts, transfers, validation activities

 

DAY 1
Meet and greet at Cape Town International Airport and transfer to delux lodge in the second-oldest town in South Africa. Nestling on the banks of the “first” river, it’s ancient oak-lined streets boast 17th century restored “Cape Dutch” style buildings, olde worlde charm and no heavy industry: Stellenbosch is a stone’s throw from Cape Town but offers presence, ambiance and style – an excellent choice to get orientated whilst you wear off jetlag. Easy walking distance of the central village area.
 

DAY 2-3
Pilot Validations and local activities - Review of pilot’s license validation procedure over the following days. Airlaw test paper and reference material handed out. Briefing on African Flying conditions, checkride procedures, flight planning, met, reporting procedures. checkride planning with flight instructor. Completion of checkride as required. Deductible insurance and documentation arranged for rental airplane. Focus and planning for the trip ahead. Processing by African Aero Safaris of the validation documentation at the SA CAA.

Balance of days at leisure doing optional half and full-day tours. Click here an itinerary example. Transfer to Johannesburg by scheduled flight or classic rail.

Note: Time is built in here for completion of any additional flying required or overflow validation procedures.

 
FLY THE AFRICAN BUSH - Your Safari!!
Day 1 - 2 THE LAUNCH! Historic experience; spectacular mountain escarpments. 19th Century British vs Zulu: Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s drift; local village and cultural visits
ISANDLWANA BATTLEFIELDS, ZULULAND - SOUTH AFRICA
2 nights, all meals, excursions, transfers.
 
 

Their last stand...

It's an exciting day. This is the highlight of your journey to Africa, and what it's all about - an aircraft and the African bush! After final preparations, you've departed homebase airfield and route south over the central metropolitan area of Johannesburg, crossing the 'white-waters ridge' transverse rock formation fault that formed the backbone of the great gold rush of the 19th century. Following a bearing and co-ordinates we fly over these vast gold mining activities (great aerial views of the mining headgear and communities) the land gives way to open farmlands interspersed with low hills and local "koppies" (hills). Although not a private reserve or national park area, you may have already spotted wildebeest and zebra below. We continue on over the impressive Drakensberg escarpment, dropping down into the “Valley of 1000 hills” for Dundee airstrip.

Upon landing we are met by the lodge-owners who transfer us to their incredible battlefields lodge, nestling on the elevated rocks where the great Zulu chief Cetswayo, directed his impi (army) to victory in the greatest ever battle of the Zulus against the British.
 
 

Zulu battle memorial

We are introduced to the spellbinding and colourful history of the area by the resident historian. Scenes of conflict and politics of yesteryear are the preserve of this unique place. We are given an in depth overview of the various tours planned for tomorrow. We have the option this afternoon of relaxing, doing an optional local village visit or the “Fugitives Trail” walk.
Tonight we are hosted to a superb dinner and look forward to the day of discovery ahead. Individually decorated ensuite bedrooms dream us away after stories and coffee.

After breakfast our historian prepares us on the day’s activities and we depart for the Isandlwana battlefield. Enthralled by dramatic enactment by our guide, we relive the history of this classic 1879 conflict and gain insight into the Zulu heritage that unfolds before us. A proud nation, these fierce warriors had good reason to be feared by all that lived at this time.

This afternoon we head off to the Buffalo River scene of Rorke’s drift where this time a tiny British garrison held off thousands of fierce Zulus; our knowledgeable guides take us back in time whilst we walk upon ground once covered with the blood and bones of desperate and anguished combat.

For more information on Rorke's Drift please click here.

   
Day 3 Wild Coast, wildlife reserves, farming communities
WILD COAST, TRANSKEI - SOUTH AFRICA
1 night, transfers, breakfast & dinner

 

After a leisurely breakfast, we road transfer for Dundee airstrip. We take off for our scenic flight past the Drakensbeg massiv, landing at Margate airfield for lunch and fuelling. We continue down the spectacular "Wild Coast" - aptly named for its rolling hills and cliffs and waterfalls plunging to the ocean. The flight is breathtaking and you wonder and marvel at the tiny resorts and villages along the precipitous coastline. There are many private game reserves here and we are likely to glimpse wildebeest, zebra, antelope and Rhino from the air… .one of the few places on the globe where we have observed “surfing” Rhino!

We land on a grass airstrip close to the Indian Ocean. Tie down and transfer down the hill to our accommodations. Time off to relax, take a swim in the surf or go beach-combing.

   
Day 4- 5 Big Game up close and personal – animal rehabilitation into the wilderness
PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, EASTERN CAPE - SOUTH AFRICA
2 nights, all transfers, meals, game activities
 

This morning we get airborne and soon call up East London Approach, the only ATC whose controlled area we will be flying through, on our route. We visit Port Alfred airfield, home to South Africa's most unique flying training college, "43 Airschool" and our next refuelling stop. Named after the WWII reconnaissance air squadrons based there, it is still very active in civilian guise. We continue onward, landing at the private airstrip of our gamelodge in the Eastern Cape wilderness area.

We check into our luxury accommodations, anticipating activities centred around guided walks and a visit to the local African Village. We meet with the resident naturalists and they prepare us for our forthcoming game experiences from open 4 x 4 vehicles.

Over the next days our game rangers impart their extensive knowledge and we seek out the elusive "Big Five", plus a plethora of other animals and birdlife naturally occurring in the region.
Superb meals are complemented by private accommodations with magnificent views over the varied topography.

   
Day 6 - 8 The garden route, Little Karoo, Overberg region, Whale-spotting, Southern Tip of Africa. Cape of Storms. Winelands, Table mountain, Cape Town, Robben Island, Cape point and Peninsula…..
STELLENBOSCH WINELANDS, CAPE PROVINCE - SOUTH AFRICA
3 nights, breakfasts, transfers, tours, excursions
 

We head back to the lodge after our morning game drive for a scrumptious brunch. Takeoff from the grass airstrip heading past low coastal hills for the pristine coastline west of Port Elizabeth. Our low level flight takes us along the coastal boundary of the Tsitsikamma National Park with its precipitous cliffs plunging 250 feet into the sea; then the Storms River mouth and indigenous forests. We descend into the Plettenberg Bay area, mecca for surfers the world over.

Upon landing at Plett airfield, we refuel and continue along the world renowned “Garden Route” coastline as far as the Wilderness resort. Should time allow, we turn inland for Oudtshoorn for a light lunch and look at the intensive Ostrich farming activities, here and also the famous Cango Caves. Continuing, we head southwest toward Cape Infanta and the mouth of the Breede River. We continue along this coastal stretch, and if fortunate may spot pods of whales close inshore. Next up is Cape Aghulas and the lighthouse signalling the southern tip of the African Continent. Make a wish and we soon pass by the coastal holiday town of Hermanus; keeping a lookout for hangliders launched from the backdrop mountain. Then we slip between the peaks of Sir Lowry's pass for a descent into Stellenbosch airfield, glimpsing the expansive vineyards from the air.

 

Home for the next days, we check into our manor hotel on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, second oldest town in South Africa and undisputed capital of the wine region. Our lodgings are within easy walking distance of the centre and action of the village. As a university town, Stellenbosch offers oak-lined streets, friendly faces and with every second building a national monument from the 17th Century, this is a great experience and tribute to the founding fathers.

Next morning we head off on our local winelands tour of this famous region, sampling some of the magnificent wines that are grown in the region. Tonight we may dine at a local restaurant that also serves traditional foods. A huge variety competes for your choice in a casual alfresco atmosphere.

On our last full day here, if the weather is kind, we can do a quick one hour circuit of the famous Cape of Good Hope; Our routing is first to over- fly False Bay, looking for the many Great White Sharks easily visible from the air, then continue an aerial tour of the Peninsula we recently land-toured, fly over Table Mountain and Cape Town waterfront and harbour, before turning to the north and heading over Robben island in Table Bay. Here we overfly the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.

 

Afterward we board our private mini-coach for a full day tour of Cape Town, the "Cape of Storms" peninsula and Cape Point. Seal colony, Danger point coastal reserve, Baboon colony, Cape Point lighthouse. Finally we stop in at the Waterfront for an early dinner or casual walk around in the buzzy harbour environment. We transfer back to the manor lodge for overnight.

   
Day 9 - 10 Kalahari Desert – dunes, sunsets, endangered Desert Black Rhino…
KALAHARI  DESERT, NORTHERN CAPE - SOUTH AFRICA
2 nights, all meals, all activities, all beverages, transfers
 

An early start and departure for the airfield, with a long flying day ahead. We take off and soon the vineyards give way to 6000’ mountains and passes. We fly through the pass, above the road [weather permitting], into the Worcester Valley, then into the Tanqua Karoo, a remote valley that has avoided the passage of time. Now a national park you wonder at how any living creatures can live in the stark, stony, desert soil.

We continue northeast over the great Karoo semi-desert and if time allows, may stop for tea at the home of the locally built “Bushbaby” VLA, at an unlikely tiny desert village. Passing forgotten settlements of yesteryear we suddenly spot a green band of lush vegetation - the Orange River valley. Crossing this large waterway, there is evidence of intensive agriculture and we descend to land at Upington airport for fuelling. Soon we’re off on our last short hop and upon landing at Tswalu, we’re are whisked off to our lodgings for the next two days.

A primary focus of the Kalahari is to expose the wonders of the sensitive desert ecosystem. Tswalu private reserve is enormous (over 220 000 acres) and the arid nature of the sandveld savannah means that game, although plentiful, is scattered across a wide area. While the reserve is home to most of the "charismatic" African big game species such as lion, cheetah, wild dog, desert black rhino and buffalo, the arid habitat also supports a surprising array of smaller animals, birds and plants.
 

All activities are led by a guide and a tracker working as a close-knit team. Guides are chosen primarily for their enthusiasm in imparting their knowledge and trackers typically have grown up in the area and have a long standing traditional ken of the region and its history. The environment is thus "explored" with the guide team rather than simply "explained".

Walks to areas of San (bushman) or Khoi Rock Art sites are a highlight and you will be enthralled at the many uses of the shrubs, succulents and trees which have sustained "traditional man" through the ages, many of which are still used today.

   
Day 11 Discovery of diamonds and gold, Boer and British battlefields; birth of South African aviation in 1912
KIMBERLEY, NORTHERN CAPE - SOUTH AFRICA
1 night. Local excursions, all transfers, breakfast
 
 

After breakfast, we head off on a last game excursion, ending at the airfield. It is not a long flight today, and we are soon landing at Kimberley for our historical interlude there.

Our local guide takes us on an excursion to see an operating alluvial diamond mine and the Air Force memorial and museum, scene of the actual flying school in 1912 and the replica Patterson “sticks-and-string” biplane that those stalwart aviators flew. We visit the “Big Hole” – a volcanic pipe that was dug out by hand by those frantic diggers of the late 19th Century. Many desperate men seeked their fortune here – very few came away with anything. This is where Cecil John Rhodes came to start de Beers, the worlds largest diamond producer and international controller for all todays gems.

We return to check into our guesthouse and take dinner at a nearby well-recommended eatery.

   
Day 12 - 13 Varying ecologies of riverine and mountainside, "Big Five" country
WATERBERG - SOUTH AFRICA
2 nights, all meals, all activities, transfers 
 

After takeoff from Kimberley we climb out over the flat land and set our course along the great Vaal river, a compelling navigational “aid”. The river is bordered by large game farms, diamond mines, and some of the farming heartland of South Africa. Finally we descend into the richest Platinum mining area in the world at Rustenberg. Here we refuel and continue on to the Waterberg, a hilly area aptly named for its prolific river systems and waterways. We land at Welgevonden, a premier private game reserve covering some 120 000 acres, host to 8 difference ecological regions. On our approach, we look out for game on the dirt strip, scooting the animals off with a low pass if necessary. Upon landing, we secure the aircraft and board our open landcruiser – in the middle of plains teeming with game; the topographical variety in this area of crags, rivers, open savannah grassland, bush, and lush riverine is extraordinary. The game is prolific.

 

 

Luxury accommodations in unique African-style thatched chalets are our outstanding accommodations for these 2 nights in the wilderness. Each private chalet features its own view over the water hole or escarpment. The rocky kranzes nearby are the domain of the ever-elusive leopard which could be only meters away!

As a private lodge and our last stop in Africa, the atmosphere is informal and we discuss our forthcoming game viewing activities – riverine walks, sightings of the large animals, magnificent vistas over game-filled plains. Here our African Aero Safaris escort pilot and aircraft leave you for your own private time in the capable hands of your gameranger and lodge hosts……

   
Day 14 Back to "civilisation" and Homeward Bound
HOMEWARD BOUND OR TOUR EXTENSION
 

Today you take breakfast at leisure and complete a last game activity. Afterward load your airplane for the short (under one hour) leg to home base. No requirements any longer now for an escort airplane, you are a seasoned African Bush pilot!!

On arrival homebase airfield your African Aero Safaris pilot meets you and assists with completion of your airplane paperwork.

Your self-fly safari ends with a transfer to Johannesburg’s international airport. Optional activities are a transfer to your next activity or an overnight hotel for a last night on the highveldt. If the latter, a possibility is a group dinner - let the stories be told!

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