"Rhino" Self Fly Safari Itinerary

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Guided & escorted – an African self-pilot safari in light airplanes taking in:
Features, highlights & luxury game lodges throughout South Africa and Botswana! (including Victoria Falls)

Right from the start, this self-fly safari is big on wildlife. 12 focused days showcasing Southern Africa’s diverse ecological regions and their prolific natural wildlife; sand veldt, bush and savannah, prehistoric lakes and pans, the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls and the Chobe floodplain. We visit many game parks and the Okavango Delta in our quest of discovery of all the creatures, large and small, local tribes, their cultures and traditions.

We visit three sovereign countries, overflying two more. Legs are comfortably short with only one close to three hours; whilst the inland plateau is generally flat, the magnificent Drakensberg massif, lakes and forests lend a different slant to the Africa you envisage.
 

Months of Operation

April through September

Statistics

On safari for 12 days
Flying (approx) 18+ hours
Distance (approx) 1800 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 THE LAUNCH! An ancient Volcanic land – rich in wildlife
PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK - SOUTH AFRICA
1 night, dinner & breakfast, transfers.
 
 

Zebra and Warthog

It's been an exciting day. This is the highlight of your journey to Africa, and what it's all about: An aircraft and the African bush! We transfer to homebase airport, just north of Pretoria. After a final checkout and briefing we load our airplanes and check with the tower controller for if he will accommodate a streaming take-off.

Following a bearing and co-ordinates we head northwest for a short journey to alight on the tar runway at this thatched and picturesque airfield. The lodge staff welcomes us and we check in, eager to see the offerings of this first stop in the wilderness. Should time allow, optional activities include a professionally guided open-jeep game drive – or unwind on the deck observing the animals coming to drink at the floodlit waterhole a few meters from your feet.

Domain of all the major game species, this area is well known for delivering more than expected.

   
Day 2 - 3 Arid sand veldt and dry waterways - a hard-bitten land
NORTH TULI GAME RESERVE - BOTSWANA 
2 nights, all meals, all activities, transfers.

 

 

Tracking on foot...

After our immigration checkout, we launch again for an interesting flight leg; we head over vast iron ore mining operations and continue along the western edge of a hilly region to our east. The land slowly drops in altitude as we continue over large game farms – there’s a fair chance that here you may glimpse buffalo or giraffe from the air. We intersect with the Limpopo River from our left and jump the international border to Botswana: We land on a ribbon of tar in a dry and bushy landscape just north of the Limpopo River. The Tuli Block is a 175,000-acre private game reserve that came to being through convoluted history and colonization orchestrated by diamond mining magnate Cecil Rhodes.

The immigration officers emerge from their thatched airport bungalow to greet you and you experience the first real taste of hinterland Africa.

Desolate to the casual glance, Tuli’s burned sand and scrub is the domain of elephant, lion, leopard, hyena, eland, and other antelope. Drive the expanse in an open land rover. Pause to gaze upon a herd of browsing elephant. Relax at Mashatu Lodge’s bar overlooking the waterhole, floodlit at night whilst we pique your interest in the natural indigenous flora and fauna. Dine at set tables around a warm fire in the boma. Finally, comfortable and asleep in your luxury chalet.

This area really delivers in terms of superb game viewing opportunities, knowledgeable rangers, trackers and superlative accommodations. Take a leisurely hike, mountain bike ride or horseride with your rangers and some time off in the “discovery room” to observe wildlife research projects first hand.

   
Day 4- 5 Lush vegetation, swamp antelope, dugout mokoros
OKAVANGO DELTA - BOTSWANA
2 nights, all meals, activities, transfers.
 
 

Wildlife-viewing from dugouts

It’s going to be an extended day in the air with an intermediate fuel stop. Turn around time is on African time. We start early with a game drive ending at the airfield. Our first leg takes us up the wide Shashe River where we have the opportunity to fly at low level along its course. Zimbabwe is under our right wing and we land at Francistown for fuelling.

Continuing we arrive at the eastern edge of the vast Makgadigadi pans – prehistoric lakes that are now filled only in the wet season. We may be rewarded with huge flocks of flamingos and pink-backed pelicans that will flush at our passing overhead. After the pans, the bush below is featureless for a short period, then turns in an instant to something completely different. After a taste of Tuli’s desert-like surroundings, we are rewarded by the vast, fertile, wetland wilds of one of Africa’s prime wilderness areas. Life here depends on rains that fall a thousand miles away in Angola and flow towards the shallow depression that forms the Okavango Delta. In northwestern Botswana the water branches, slows, and spreads over tens-of-thousands of square miles bringing life to the desert. Then it evaporates -- a river with no mouth.

 

“The Delta is not known for being a Big Five area (Rhino are only found in limited areas) but there is game, predators, and the birding is spectacular. In the deepwater channels, a local boatsman poles us through a parting in the reeds made by a grazing hippo -- a path so narrow as to scrape the sides of the dugout. The horizon is blocked by the 10-foot tall papyrus grass. Another push and we slide into an opening, bathed in sunshine, gliding on a carpet of pastel lilies. It is silent -- except for the ensemble of birds. The water is pure enough to drink. It is timeless and heavenly. We beach the mokoro and set across a flood plain on foot…….”. The water in the narrow channels and open floodplain isn't deep but it's alive with creatures of all sizes. Some benign, some not. Our ranger, ever watchful for predators, leads us close past herds of red lechwe and waterbuck. The area is rife with game and from our open land rover, we cross paths with lion, leopard, kudu, wildebeest, buffalo and elephant. The wild dog are the ones we are after. After a scrumptious meal, we’re off to bed under classic African canvas or thatch with en suite bathroom and shower. Each chalet has a veranda overlooking the flood plain.”

   
Day 6 - 7 The Zambezi & Chobe Rivers - Victoria Falls & the Gorge: Colonial Africa  
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK - KASANE - BOTSWANA
2 nights, dinners & breakfasts, Victoria Falls and
selected activities, transfers
 

This morning we depart and fly up the Selinda spillway, so called as it is the overflow from the Linyanti river delta ahead of us. We soon are flying over this spectacular greenbelt with the vast Chobe National Park under our right wing. Expect to see lots of Hippo, Elephant and herds of Buffalo from the air. Upon landing at Kasane where the four countries Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia meet at one point, we tie down and head for our river-bank lodge on the great Chobe River floodplain.

Activities here centre on the floodplain and wetlands, the Chobe National Park and the excellent sightings whilst cruising the huge river: Families of Elephant on the banks, wading and swimming; Buffalo, Hippo, Crocs, Red Lechwe (antelope), and a myriad waterbirds. A river cruise is an included activity either in the morning or afternoon.

 

Next day we head out early for a day-trip to visit the famous Victoria Falls. Optional activities here are  riding elephants in the Zambezi National Park, bungi jumping off the 350 foot high bridge, white water rafting the Zambezi, micro lighting or a helicopter ride over the Falls, visiting Impalila island cultural village and school in Namibia, more game activities in the Chobe National Park.

From our lodgings we may be treated to elephants swimming the wide expanse of the river - a few feet from the water’s edge. Enjoy high tea or a gin and tonic on the verandah. Be pampered. Reminisce about a bygone era.

   
Day 8 Magadigadi Pans - timeless moonscape in the desert.  
KALAHARI SAND VELD - BOTSWANA
1 night, breakfast & dinner, activities, transfers
 

After breakfast and a morning’s activities, we take off to fly down the main arterial road – a ribbon through the thick bush on either side. Expect lots of Elephant herds crossing our path – in this area roam the 120 000 beasts between the Chobe park on the west and Hwange park to our east. We fly on to the timeless Magadigadi Pans – the vast prehistoric salt pans with vistas as far as the eye can see that we crossed over some days back. Should the pans’ surface be deemed fit for landing by our escort aircrew, we enjoy a picnic lunch in the pans, under the wings of our airplanes – alternatively we will continue on to our evening destination.

Land and secure the aircraft on the private airstrip and a short game drive to Grundy’s lodge. Operated by the resident family, this private lodge must be arranged and booked long in advance. Dave and company will spoil us with a wonderful meal and stories of the bush. En suite chalets are our accommodations tonight, with dinner under the stars, after a visit to the river bank hide where we might be lucky with sightings of antelope, hyena and jackal.

   
Day 9 Drakensburg Mountains  and escarpment. Misty mountain retreats
TZANEEN - SOUTH AFRICA
1 night, breakfast, transfers.
 

We've departed for Limpopo Valley for our outbound immigration checkout.  Then onwards over the Limpopo river southeast into South Africa.  We descend into Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg) followed by a short hop into the magnificent Drakensburg Mountains area to Tzaneen. 

Spectacular flying over forests and lakes and after landing a short transfer up to the 5 star Coach House country hotel in the misty highlands.  Relax in an opulent atmosphere, or sample their magnificent spa and wellness centre for a massage and treatment.  Sample the superb service and meals, even better wine!!

   
Day 10 - 11 Varying ecologies of riverine and mountainside, "Big Five" country
WATERBERG - SOUTH AFRICA
2 nights, all meals, all activities, transfers.
 

We awake to take a leisurely breakfast, catch a last spa treatment.

After takeoff from Tzaneen we climb out over the high ground, mountains and valleys. It is an easy hop 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. The thatched lodge straddles a steep ravine and features swinging wooden bridges to your private accommodations, each with expansive views down over the 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 game ranger and lodge hosts……

   
Day 12 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 last (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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