"Zambezi" Self Fly Safari Itinerary

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Guided & escorted – an African self-pilot safari in light airplanes; Featuring the best on offer in wildlife, game reserves, African cultures, flying scenery; Through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana (including Victoria Falls)

11 – 13 days featuring selected highlights in the northern parts of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Plateaux and river systems, gorges and waterfalls. Prolific wildlife viewing in private game reserves and national parks. Mountain ranges and semi desert, waterways and lakes, visiting the mysterious Matobos hills, the Zambezi River, Lake Kariba, Victoria Falls and the Tuli Block. Satisfy your quest for discovery of wild animals, reptiles and birds endemic to the region, visit local tribes, see their cultures and traditions.

We visit three sovereign countries, overflowing with sights and sounds for a lifetime experience. Flying legs are comfortably short; with varied flying scenery at low level across the hinterland.

 

Months of Operation

Year round except for October

Statistics

On safari for 11 - 13 days
Flying (approx) 18+ hours
Distance (approx) 1850 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.
 

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 Gigantic rock outcrops – mysterious tribal folklore
MATOBOS NATIONAL PARK – ZIMBABWE
2 nights, all meals, activities, transfers.
 

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: continuing over this dry land, we route over the Shashe river into Zimbabwe and land at Bulawayo in Southern Zim. Here we board vehicles and transfer through the old town to the southern Matobos National Park, where we check into unbelievable “rooms” located between giant boulders, perched precariously atop one another. The vista is awe-inspiring as we head off for a local walk on the boulder tops.

Here we spend time walking with Rhino, observing these great beasts at close quarters; are spellbound by hidden caves of ancient rock engravings and paintings; visit key historic resting places of great African pioneer explorers…….we have the bonus of superb guides and the telling of stories of yore, myths and fact.

   
Day 4 - 5 Lake Kariba, islands, the lower Zambezi 
MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK – ZIMBABWE
2 nights, dinners & breakfasts, all activities, transfers
 

We have a varied and scenic routing today; after take off we follow roads and rivers to the north-east, finally flying the Senqu river greenbelt. We glimpse Kariba lake and join the lakeshore, turning east for the huge dam wall and gorge beyond. We circle over spectacular spray from the plunging waters and we follow the twisting river to the lower Zambezi floodplain – a vast area of wildlife, natural vegetation and conservancies. The area is remote, the only habitation observed is that along the banks of this great river. Following the curve of the river we land at a private airstrip adjoining the Mana Pools National Park.

A short drive through the dense bush brings us to a magnificent lodge perched on the edge of the Zambezi River. A floodplain on one side is studded with elephants grazing. To the other a hundred Cape Buffalo wade waste-deep in the wetland. Storks, herons and myriad waterbirds make up an ensemble. The area is rife with game and from our open cruiser, we get close and personal with elephant, giraffe, lion, buffalo, leopard, kudu, wildebeest and much more. This is a truly amazing place and we are hosted lavishly, taken on game drives, walks in the forest, riverboats meters from basking crocodiles, feisty hippo, trumpeting ellies.

Tiger and bream fishing is also on the activities menu, we sample it all. The water in the narrow channels and open floodplain on the river edges 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. Each chalet has a veranda overlooking the flood plain, where between activities you sit back and just feast your eyes on the ever-changing wildlife palette.

   
Day 6 - 7 Zambezi, Lake Kariba, the gorge, Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS – ZIMBABWE
2 nights, optional activities, breakfasts and dinners, transfers.


 

The flying is again a highlight, retracing some of our previous routing for a short spell before continuing up the Zambezi gorge, its precipitous walls winding through the rugged terrain. We inch higher for a while, soon to view a pall of “smoke”, the mighty plume of spray over the falls themselves. We overfly the falls, adding Zambia to our list of countries overflown, circle for pix and land at the nearby Vic Falls Airport.

The next two days are filled with optional adventure, cultural and wildlife activties as we visit the tiny town, experience the tropical and overgrown (from the spray), lush Vic Falls National Park, view the stupendous water cascading over the mile-wide edge; encounter ellies and lions, bungee jump, white water raft, river cruise…the list is endless.

There is a variety of superb lodgings on offer, and all deliver on atmosphere, service, meals and ambience. As a true colonial outpost, enjoy high tea or a gin and tonic on the verandah. Be pampered. Reminisce about a bygone era.

   
Day 8 - 9 Arid sand veldt and dry waterways - a hard-bitten land
NORTH TULI GAME RESERVE - BOTSWANA 
2 nights, all meals, all activities, transfers.
 

We are now flying south again, generally home-bound. We check through immigration and launch out over the main road and railway line. Passing our erstwhile stopping point at Bulawayo on our left, we continue over sporadic farmlands, descending over the Shashe river and historic Tuli Circle. After a mind blowing super low level flight in the Sashe river gorge 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 the lodge 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 10 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 11 - 12 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 13 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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