An itinerary designed to provide discerning travellers with the most outstanding and complete experience in Southern Africa. A journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean provides an incredible variety of experiences - in terms of itinerary, activities and accommodation.
Our flying safari adds the unique privileged aerial view, a must to fully enjoy the beauties of the region’s spectacular and most diverse sceneries.
Guiding principle: Great experience combined with the choice of the best accommodation.
We like to call this itinerary “The four colours route”: “yellow” for the deserts of Namibia - the ultimate destination for any traveller looking for amazing landscapes, endless horizons and untouched nature, “green” for the Okavango Delta in Botswana – a unique ecosystem allowing some of the best wilderness safari experiences in Africa, “brown” for the savannah and bush in Zambia – home of the “Smoke that thunders” and prime location for walking safaris and “turquoise” for the water of Lake Malawi and around Mozambique coral islands – one of the most exclusive locations to unwind and relax.
The combination of these five different countries creates a round and comprehensive journey, ideal for travellers seeking distinctive experiences, optimization of travelling times and “ever-changing” vistas.
FLYING DETAILS DURING THE AIR-TOUR:
Min. nr of passengers: 1
Max nr of passengers: 9 (all window seats)
DAYS 1 & 2: From Windhoek to the Namib Desert – NAMIBIA
Arrival in Windhoek (Namibia) and immediately meet your experienced pilot/guide at the airport, to review the itinerary and start the air-tour. The first flight will be over central Namibia to reach the eastern outreaches of the Namib Desert, then continuation to the Namib Rand Nature Reserve - situated on the edge of the Namib Desert it is one of Southern Africa’s largest private conservation areas and is close to Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon. Transfer by 4WD to our lodge atop a sand dune, our home-base for the next 2 nights.
Activities: A full day dedicated to exploring what is arguably the most scenic corner of the Namib Desert by means of spectacular nature drives in 4WD and/or on foot; encounters with wildlife are also possible - mainly Oryx, ostriches and springboks - however the highlight is the sheer beauty of the landscapes.
Overnight: Lodge, with commanding views of the desert and the nearby mountains (all rooms ensuite)
DAY 3: From the Namib to Swakopmund – NAMIBIA
As the sun rises, we take off from Wolwedans for a low level flight over red dunes which become higher and higher as we approach the famous Sossousvlei. We fly scenic over Sossousvlei and Deadvlei before landing at Sesriem to board our vehicles so as to explore from the ground what we just admired from the sky. - One might argue that Wolwedans does not offer the Sossousvlei experience, being too far away to drive, but by having our private aircraft we can really choose the best and make it exclusive and unique.
In the afternoon when the sun lowers a bit (for the best light!) departure by our private aircraft for the most incredible flight possible in Namibia. We head west, first over the red dunes of Sossousvlei then across the entire Namib Desert till we reach the coast… and we enjoy the great show of dunes plunging directly into the ocean. From the air we can spot various seal colonies, as well as the Edward Bholen shipwreck.
The view from the air is incredible, an endless sea of sand dunes, forming the most fascinating patterns with their winding contours highlighted by the late afternoon light. We are able to appreciate how the sand, as it moves towards the sea, changes colour: from intense red-orange at Sossousvlei - on the eastern edge, where it is stopped by the Naukulft Mountains - to pale cream along the coast. Eventually we reach Swakopmund, a typical German seaside town on the Atlantic coast of Africa… quite surreal! Transfer to the hotel and free time.
Activities: Morning excursion in 4WD to discover the famous dunes of Sossousvlei and the less famous but more picturesque Deadvlei where its dry white lake and the black silhouettes of dead acacias stand in sharp contrast with the surrounding orange high dunes. Fascinating diverse landscapes, interesting flora and fauna (gemsboks, mountain and Burchell’s zebras, springboks, bat-eared foxes etc.). Approx 120 km on tar road, along a dry river bed cutting its way through high dunes, and 10 km of dirt sand track. In the afternoon a most amazing scenic flight over the coast and the desert.
Overnight: Hotel (all rooms ensuite)
DAYS 4 & 5: From Swakopmund to Kaokoland – NAMIBIA
After breakfast transfer by private minivan to the harbour in Walvis Bay to embark on a cruise which offers the opportunity to encounter playful dolphins (bottle nose and Benguela subspecies), to receive the visit of one of the habituated seals jumping onboard to get some free food, to admire the numerous pelicans, seagulls, cormorants and other seabirds.
If time allows free time for a stroll in Swakopmund and when the sun lowers a bit (for the best light!) continuation of the journey with good afternoon lights. We head north with a long flight (almost three hours) which once again will offer us some unique views, this time more focused on mountains. We in fact fly over the rugged regions of Damaraland and Kaokoland.
Extensive volcanic plains with their really interesting shapes and natural patterns, sometimes carved out by winding seasonal rivers. Some of the most amazing geological formations, only appreciable from up above. We are witnessing the result of the crash between the South American and the African continents some hundreds millions years ago, before they split again.
From the air it looks unreal, like distorted metal after a car crash. Further ahead we can admire the Etendeka Mountains with their flat tops and mesas which appear similar to the Colorado Plateau in the USA. We then proceed towards the world known Skeleton Coast with its fascinating landscapes, long lines of barchan dunes chasing each other along the shoreline, the rough Atlantic Ocean breaking along the coast… until we arrive in Kaokoland, a spectacular remote region in the north-west corner of Namibia.
After landing on the sandy airstrip just before sunset, a transfer by 4WD takes us to our lodge/camp. Here we spend two days enjoying very scenic drives across pristine landscapes, visiting a Himba settlement, and searching for local wildlife such as Oryx (when staying at Serra Cafema) and desert adapted elephants (when staying at Okahirongo Elephant Lodge). Himbas are one of the few ethnic groups still trying to live according to their traditional ways, however it is a transition period: while they do live very differently from us, their life style is slowly changing and slowly being permeated by western habits.
Activities: One morning sea-cruise in Walvis Bay Harbour; a full day dedicated to exploring the area by means of spectacular nature drives in Kaokoland by 4WD (and quad-bikes at Serra Cafema only). Boat cruise on the Kunene River (water level allowing) only at Serra Cafema.
Overnight: Elephant Lodge (all rooms ensuite)
DAYS 6 & 7: From the Kunene to the Okavango Delta – BOTSWANA
After another early morning activity we are ready for a great “jump”. Today is the day with the most striking contrast of sceneries, so take a good look at where you wake up because you will be amazed by the huge change around you by sunset.
First we fly scenic along the Kunene River following it as it beautifully winds through uneven mountains, acting as border between Namibia and Angola. From the air we can appreciate how the river and its green vegetated banks cut their way across this harsh land. Then we gain altitude and make it as fast as possible (not much to see below) to Ondangwa where we clear immigration out of Namibia and refuel. The next flight is long and not really interesting and to make it as comfortable and as fast as possible we fly relatively high.
In three hours we reach Maun (Botswana), gate-away to the Delta. After again clearing immigration and refueling, we take off for today last 30 minute flight over the simply magnificent Okavango Delta, one of the most spectacular natural phenomena of Southern Africa. We land near our “home” for the next two days, our base for discovering this unique eco-system. Simply amazing to leave the dunes of the desert behind and experience the green lush floodplains of the Okavango.
Activities: One morning activity at the lodge in Namibia, possibly the visit of a Himba village if they are around (it is a nomadic tribe); in the Delta game drives in 4WD through unique habitats to encounter the wildlife and varied flora - one scenic safari in mokoro (local pirogues), mostly to discover the micro-fauna such as frogs, birds and insects if possible.
Overnight: Deluxe permanent tented camp in the Delta (all rooms ensuite)
DAY 8: From the Delta to Victoria Falls – ZAMBIA
After a morning activity in the Delta and brunch, we are ready to continue our journey across Southern Africa to some of its other icons. Having our own private plane we can fully enjoy a spectacular flight: first we indulge over the Delta, then over the Chobe Channel where we try to spot its hippos and the occasional large animals coming to drink (elephants and hippos).
One hour and 15 minutes and we land in Kasane for immigration formalities out of Botswana, another 30 minutes and we land in Livingstone (Zambia)… of course not before having a scenic flight over the Zambezi River which widens about one mile before plunging into the “narrow” gorge creating the mythical Victoria Falls, the “Smoke that thunders” (we shall stay at the required altitude, all scenic flights are regulated by Air Traffic Control). Transfer by vehicle to the hotel.
Activities: One morning safari activity in the Delta; visit to the falls in the afternoon.
Overnight: Hotel ***** on theZambezi River, conveniently located within walking distance from the falls (all rooms ensuite)
DAYS 9 & 10: From Vic Falls to South Luangwa N.P. – ZAMBIA
Late in the morning transfer to the airport and departure by plane to the remote South Luangwa National Park (3 hours flight and since it is not particularly interesting we fly relatively high so as to make it as comfortable and as fast as possible). We land at Mfuwe and by vehicle we reach the park; along the route we pass through various villages, getting a glimpse of today’s rural life in Africa. One of the highlights of this park is walking safaris.
They were “invented” here a few decades ago to offer visitors the most intense close up experience of the bush. It is important to remember that whereas during a game drive the distance from animals can be very little, on a walking safari it generally is greater however the feeling experienced when we are on foot in the wild bush cannot be described, it can only be felt! Walking also allows us to notice all the small details that normally remain unnoticed. Another highlight of the Luangwa Valley is the Luangwa River itself: gently winding, large, muddy and home to an incredible number of hippo pods.
Activities: Walking safaris and 4WD game drives in the national park to discover its wilderness, variety of landscapes (from thick bush to open grass areas fringed by big indigenous trees) and wildlife; particular focus on the river and its thousands of hippos.
Overnight: Luxury Camp(all rooms ensuite)
DAY 11: From Luangwa to Lake Malawi - MALAWI
Early morning game drive and back to Mfuwe airport for a short hop to Lilongwe (Malawi) to clear immigration. We fly over Lake Malawi, a long narrow lake filling up the southern part of the Great African Rift Valley, till we reach the island of Likoma with its many baobabs and crystal clear waters, our home for the night.
Activities: Free time to relax, to enjoy the white beach, to do some high quality snorkeling, to visit the local village and get a feeling of rural Africa.
Overnight: Resort, with nice stone cottages facing the lake (all rooms ensuite)
DAYS 12 TO 14: From Lake Malawi to the Quirimbas Archipelago – MOZAMBIQUE
Late in the morning transfer to the airport and departure by our own plane, retracing our steps back to Lilongwe for immigration and customs formalities out of Malawi and then direct flight to Pemba. We finally reach the Indian Ocean, the “other” shoreline of Africa.
Here we clear immigration into Mozambique and take off for another very spectacular scenic flight, zig-zagging a bit at low altitude to enjoy the view of the many coral islands making up the Quirimbas Archipelago. An incredible variety of colors, all the shades of blue - from deep cobalt to aquamarine - arranged in unique geometrical patterns. And scattered around: long thin white sandbanks, small round islands with occasional palm trees, local fishing boats, and local beachcombers.
It is indeed on one of these small islands that we land and settle in a small exclusive resort to enjoy three days of pure relaxation far away from everything, surrounded only by white coral sand beaches and crystal clear waters. In this tropical paradise the memory of us driving over the desert in Namibia seems so far away… we have come such a long way, what a journey! Here in the Quirimbas our pilot and aircraft say goodbye and return home.
Overnight: Island Resort (all rooms ensuite)
DAY 15: From Quirimbas to Pemba – MOZAMBIQUE
After breakfast, transfer back to Pemba by regular small aircraft charter flight (not on private use) and end of services.
Pemba has regular connections to Maputo (Mozambique), Dar (Tanzania) and Johannesburg (RSA); if needed we can arrange a private charter to Dar El Salaam (Tanzania).
Pictures by courtesy of Andrea Guerra
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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