Scenic Air Safaris

Scenic Air Safaris

14 August 2018
Scenic Air Safaris

Fly high over the extraordinary landscapes of Africa's most wild and remote regions on a private luxury air safari. From a privileged vantage point that few ever experience, take in stunning, ever-changing scenery and reach pristine environments, rarely explored.

There are a number of sensational voyages to choose from, spanning east and southern Africa. Air safaris range from enjoying a privately chartered plane with an experienced bush pilot and guide for an overnight trip, to staying in different stylish safari retreats each night on an exclusive, tailor-made itinerary up to two weeks long, crossing borders to explore multiple countries in the dark continent. Alternatively, you can take a set departure on a small-group air safari, sharing the exciting adventure with like-minded people.

A fleet of executively configured VIP Cessna Grand Caravans (4-10 pax) are custom-designed to offer comfort and a 360’ safari experience. This feels like travelling in a private jet, with leather armchairs that swivel so you can look out in any direction through panoramic windows, with Champagne served on board. The joy of air safaris is avoiding wasting time at international airports or travelling along bone-rattling back roads, allowing travellers to experience more extraordinary places in the far reaches of the continent in less travel time (a 10-hour drive in the wildest regions can be covered in an hour and a half’s scenic air ride) and with no compromise on comfort.

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Low-level flying provides an incredible birds eye view over sensational scenery, and flexible schedules allow guides to track and follow wildlife, working around guests’ preferred timings each day. Wearing head-phones, the pilot (also a KWS bush guide) keeps in constant communication with guests onboard, so the safari is both interactive and informative. Along with unforgettable sightings from the air, the pilot will land on remote airstrips, where you’ll feel part of the wild landscape and experience nature at its most pure. On arrival at a new location each day, guests will be taken on explorations by an expert local guide, with different adventure opportunities including 4x4 game drives, bush walks and horse riding (to name a few). Expect spectacular sundowner spots, atmospheric bush dinners, comfortable lodges, luxury tented camps, and memorable glamping opportunities in ‘star-beds’ (four-poster beds on raised platforms).

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For a first-time safari I’d recommend combining Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda for incredible game viewing, soaring over the wildlife-rich Masai Mara and Serengeti, and trekking with wild gorillas or chimpanzees in Rwanda or the Mahale Mountains National Park.

Another great option (for the big-spenders) is the 10-day Ultimate Across Africa Safari, an epic journey that takes in the most iconic sites of the entire continent. This safari is particularly ideal for US clients who might not return to Africa so frequently due to the international travel time. Travelling either north from Victoria Falls to the Serengeti, or south (in reverse), the itinerary includes Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Chobe and Lake Malawi via the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, or the greatest National Parks in East Africa (Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ruaha and the Mahale Mountains), flying close to Mt. Kilimanjaro, with incredible, varied wildlife and landscape sightings along the way (including the great migration), and sleeping in top safari lodges each night. 

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For those who are well-travelled in Africa and less concerned about ticking off the Big 5, venture further off-track to some of the continent’s most scenic locations on a brand-new itinerary. I would recommend 'Tribes of the Omo Valley and Lake Turkana' - soar over the volcanic calderas of Kenya's Lake Turkana, fish for Giant Nile Perch, participate in ancient ceremonies with traditional tribes and track rare wolves in Ethiopia's Bale Mountains. There’s lots of moving around to cover different regions, so this is more tailored to seasoned safari-goers who already have lots of up-close game-viewing under their belts.

The Endangered Species safari is our favourite; a spectacular 9-day itinerary in Kenya, which focuses on conservation and introduces guests to some of the rarest creatures left in the wild. In each location guests enjoy special access to some of the continent’s most knowledgeable scientists, conservationists and zoologist guides, including David Maskell (Big Cat Diaries & the orphaned Lion rehabilitation program) to discover lion and cheetah in the Masai Mara, Saba Douglas Hamilton (Save the Elephants foundation) at Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu National Park, an eco-lodge pioneering the concept of conservation tourism, and Simon Kenyon in Laikipia, to track the elusive African wild dog, as well as spotting the rare Grevy’s zebra and Reticulated giraffe that roam the plains of Kenya’s high-country. A highlight of the safari is visiting Lewa Conservancy to walk with the endangered black rhino. Discovering these extraordinary regions with the experts, you’ll track and spot wildlife, learn about local conservation issues and endangered ecosystems, and assist in research and breeding programs as well as wildlife protection projects. This safari offers a fascinating insight into the human-wildlife conflict and is an amazing opportunity to not only witness rare wildlife in its natural habitat, but also contribute to the important conservation activities of the places you are experiencing along the way.

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Sarah Mason

Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.

Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...

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