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Experience the best of Africa in just 17 days - the ultimate flying safari

Nicola Shepherd By Nicola Shepherd
12 Oct 2021
Scenic Air - Flying over Mt Kilimanjaro Tanz.jpg

The exhilaration of flying over Africa’s most unique and untouched landscapes to take in iconic safari destinations is something not to be missed! Embark upon a private luxury safari, travelling by fixed-wing Cessna Grand Caravan, to create memories to last a lifetime.

As somebody that has been travelling in Africa for my entire life, I am often asked to suggest a safari that encompasses the vital experiences one must enjoy in Africa; The Ultimate Safari! I have therefore compiled the below itinerary suggestion in the hope of inspiring those wishing to see all the best of Africa in a relatively brief vacation.

This amazing flying safari is conducted in a Cessna Caravan, which is considered the finest, most versatile and rugged aircraft for a safari. It is for a period of 17 days, but of course anything can be tailored to your own specific requirements and interests, whether that is the destinations, accommodation, duration or time or year. It could even be upgraded to a private jet!


  • Start in Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Nairobi in Kenya.
  • Spend three nights either in the Masai Mara in Kenya or the Serengeti in Tanzania.
  • Head to the Mahale Mountains on the edge of Lake Tanganyika in southern Tanzania to spend time with habituated chimpanzees.
  • Fly to Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park to spend three nights in a luxury tented camp or lodge overlooking the Luangwa River.
  • Venture further south to Malawi and stay at Likoma Island on Lake Malawi for two nights.
  • Spend three nights in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
  • A further two nights in the Linyanti region of Botswana
  • Finally fly to Victoria Falls in Zambia, spending a night near the Falls before returning home.
  • This entire safari is enriched by having a private photographic guide throughout who travels with you, shows you how to take the best photographs, and records your journey for you to remember forever.


Why is this particular flying safari so unique and special?

This flying safari is entirely private in terms of the flying – it is just for you and your party. Should you wish, the accommodation can be entirely exclusive to you as well, from a private, mobile luxury tented camp erected just for you and your party, to a small, luxury private camp or lodge taken out like a villa, on a private basis. Then of course, there are private villas as well!

You will have a private guide accompanying you and who is not only an amazing safari guide but also a professional wildlife photographer as well!


Finally, where possible you will also have the opportunity to see various philanthropic projects that you can visit on this safari. You will be able to witness first-hand the work that The Explorations Company’s charitable partners do whether it be conservation projects, community support or environmental work. This gives you an insight that the regular tourist simply would not have.

Philanthropy experiences again should match your own interests but some of my favourite options include: spending time with lion researchers; visiting art galleries where the art is made by disabled people; supporting elephant conservation projects; visiting women’s empowerment projects; or lending a hand at a centre for injured wildlife that rehabilitates them and releases them back to the wild.


Which top safari destinations are included in this luxury flying safari?

Start your safari at either Nairobi, Kenya or Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, depending on the time of year if you are optimizing the Migration viewing.

The day after arrival, take your private Cessna Caravan to the Serengeti or the Masai Mara to witness the Great Migration (if the time of year allows). The wildebeest migration is Africa’s greatest wildlife phenomenon, where 2 million animals move in unison in search of new grazing and water, with a plethora of predators following in their wake.


Spend three nights witnessing the Migration. There is a wide range of accommodation choices, from luxury, private tented camps and luxury lodges to private villas. The days will be spent game viewing by open vehicle in this, the greatest wildlife ecosystem in Africa where one observes the circle of life in motion.

You will then be flown to south-western Tanzania, to an incredible area called the Mahale Mountains situated on Lake Tanganyika. This is the deepest and longest lake in Africa, resembling the Mediterranean. Here, you stay at your Bohemian styled Robinson Crusoe-esque camp, Greystoke.


The real reason for visiting here, is to see the greatest concentration of habituated wild chimpanzees in their natural territory. Spending time observing them, watching them feed and groom and interact on the forest floor is mesmerizing. Wild chimpanzees are our closest relative with the closest DNA to Homo sapiens.

The chimpanzees are incredibly intelligent and it is a privilege to be amongst them, learning about their behaviour as a group and as a species. The camp itself is impossibly romantic and you can spend time out on the lake itself, too.


From the Mahale Mountains, you will be flown to Zambia and the South Luangwa National Park. Renowned for its fabulous wildlife, you will stay at a wonderful lodge or fabulous luxury camp which looks out across the Luangwa River. I recommend spending three nights there, and you can game view both by private vehicle and on foot.

I personally find that exploring the bush on foot with your expert guide and tracker is a far more immersive experience; Zambia is undoubtedly the home of the luxury walking safari! This region is renowned for its leopard, lion, buffalo, giraffe and elephant populations in particular.


From Zambia, venture further south to Lake Malawi and Likoma Island for two nights. Explore the cultural element here on foot or by bicycle; as the people are incredibly warm and vibrant!

When I visited, I had the privilege to meet Martin, who entertains his local village through his musical band. We also saw some fabulous artwork made from reclaimed materials by the resident artists.

You can snorkel or swim in the lake and enjoy time at the beautiful Kaya Mawa, either at the lodge or at their private villa, Ndomo. The properties overlook the vast lake, which resembles the ocean.


Continuing southwards, fly to Botswana where you will spend three nights in the Okavango Delta. Known as ‘the jewel in the crown’, this is also one of the finest wildlife areas in southern Africa. There are several camps you can stay at, or you can stay on an exclusive-use basis at the fabulous Little Mombo, known for its Big 5 (including rhino!). Little Mombo is situated in the finest wildlife area in Botswana, being on Chief’s Island in the Moremi wildlife reserve.

Next your Cessna Caravan will take you to Linyanti for two nights. Also based on water, this area gives you a completely different perspective! In particular it is well known for its lion and elephant populations. Here my top recommendation is the magnificent Zarafa Dhow Villa.


Finally fly to Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. Your last night will be spent relaxing and visiting local markets and a school project. Spend the last night at private villa Tangala House on the Zambezi River a short distance upstream, or for those wanting something a little larger and more westernized, The Royal Livingstone Hotel overlooking the Victoria Falls. There is also a beautiful tree house where you could stay.

Enjoy a last evening together, recounting your memories with your private photographic guide, who not only would have assisted you with your photographic skills, but also captured your own memories to treasure!


Why do I recommend a private flying safari?

Africa is a large continent with each country offering so many different highlights! For some travelers, they simply want to tick off the top bucket list safari experiences in one vacation to Africa.

For anyone short on time, a private flying safari is the perfect solution, allowing one to visit the very best wildlife regions on the continent in as efficient a manner as possible! It maximizes your time, ensuring that you spend most of the time in situ at the places you want to be, rather than spending so long travelling en route to each place!


Secondly, many clients who visit Africa for the first time are not sure of what to expect or what they will think about a safari or the countries they visit. Therefore this type of safari is the perfect answer as it allows the traveler to cherry pick, if you will, spending a short time in each country, but allowing a flavor of each place to develop.

This then truly benefits and assists the traveler as they may wish to return, armed with a sense of where they would like to return to, and which countries and experiences truly resonated with them!


Thirdly, ordinarily, so much time is wasted during travel when it comes to changing countries. It’s the queues, the immigration and customs, the checking in, the prescribed waiting for gates and flights, the waiting for bags and carousels to get moving, etc!

With your own private aircraft, it’s an immediate check in with no queues. With special assistance airside on departure and arrival, one is expedited from point to point, with your baggage immediately taken off or handed to you. Paperwork is undertaken efficiently in advance. The entire experience becomes entirely streamlined. And oh, so much time is saved!


Lastly, in a post-pandemic climate, many travellers are seeking exclusivity and privacy. They are wanting to keep as much in their own bubble as possible. A private flying vacation is the perfect way to achieve this. Coupled with small boutique hotels, private mobile tented camps or private villas, one then can have the most wonderful, all-round relaxing and exhilarating private safari in Africa!

When is the best time to take this flying safari to Africa?

This safari is fantastic in that there is something for any time of the year. However depending on what is most important to you, your travel could be timed to get the best out of specific experiences.


  • The Migration is good in July through to September in Kenya and from the end of December through to March in Tanzania. One can see the overspill of the migration from the Masai Mara to the Serengeti during the August/September period too and if one is lucky, one can capture the wildebeest crossing the river in the Grumeti region of the Serengeti in June.
  • The water in the Okavango Delta is highest from June to August with lots of migratory wildlife, but in hot September and October, though the wildlife becomes more concentrated on the fringes making for great game viewing.

If you would like more information about magical flying safaris to Africa or to start planning your own bespoke safari, I would be delighted to speak to you. Please do feel free to get in touch! Or, if you would just like to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.


Images and video by kind courtesy of:

Scenic Air Safaris, Legendary Expeditions and Scott Ramsay, Mara Elephant Project and Adam Bannister, Uncharted Expeditions, Green Safaris Kaya Mawa, Africa Unlocked and Albie Venter, Little Mombo, Luangwa Safari House,