Flying or driving safari: which is right for your trip?
When planning your safari to Kenya or Tanzania one of the very first things you will need to decide is how to move around the region. We're taking a closer look at both fly-in and drive-in options and will consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Simply means being flown to each destination by light aircraft. There are several small airstrips within each national park that service different camps and lodges in that area. Often a flight will stop at many airstrips on route in order to take guests to where they need to be. Kenya and Tanzania have numerous aviation companies to choose from with excellent scheduled routes linking almost all the national parks you may want to visit. If you choose this option, you will be on a game package basis at the camp, meaning activities are included within the rate and the camp will organise their activities and use their own guides and vehicles. These activities will be shared with other guests, unless they pre-book and pay for a private vehicle.
Many of the best wildlife areas in Kenya and Tanzania happen to be relatively close to each other, making it possible to drive from one park to another in just a few hours. Driving allows you to see and experience more of the country, while offering time to develop a deeper connection with your guide, often resulting in a more tailored safari. If you choose to travel overland, you will arrive at each destination with your own private vehicle and guide and will be on full board basis at the camps, as all game drives will be done with your driver guide. Additional activities such as game walks, fly-camping, night drives, community visits and boating will be at an extra cost and usually need to be pre-booked.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING BETWEEN A FLYING OR DRIVING SAFARI:
Is there a cost differential between the two options?
This will depend on the number of people travelling. The cost of the vehicle and guide is the same for one person as it is for seven people. Therefore, the more people you have in the car, the better value for money it becomes. Here at Asilia, we have both five-seater and seven-seater vehicles available and generally find that for groups of four to seven people it is more cost effective to drive rather than fly. Conversely, for smaller groups of one to three people it is usually cheaper to fly, even if the distances that need to be traveled are relatively short.
How many days do you have on safari?
If time is limited, then it is often best to fly to maximise your time on safari. On the other hand, if you have a couple of weeks to spend on safari, then you may choose to go at a slower pace by driving, making stops along the way and seeing more of the country outside the parks.
How much luggage can you bring?
Light aircrafts have a maximum baggage allowance of 15kgs (33lbs) per person – including hand luggage. Solid sided cases are also not permitted as bags need to be soft sided to fit into the hold. With your own vehicle you do not have the same strict limitations, of course depending on how many people are travelling with you.
Are you scared of flying?
If you are travelling to Africa, there is no escaping the fact that you are going to have to catch a plane to get there, however some people are more comfortable on international aircrafts than light aircrafts. The small aircrafts used in East Africa usually only sit between six to 12 passengers. Their size means that the slightest movement or bump can be felt, and the pilot and cockpit can easily be seen. All this, coupled with the remote — and often bumpy — bush airstrips can be enough to dissuade someone with a fear of flying, so it’s always worth letting your agent or safari consultant know if you're afraid of flying before you book. For most people though, the experience of flying in a tiny plane is exhilarating and can really add to their overall experience.
Open- vs close-sided vehicles – do you have a strong preference?
If you choose a drive-in safari, all of your game viewing will be done from a closed vehicle. If your clients choose a fly-in safari, it is likely their game viewing will be done from an open vehicle based at your accommodation (the exception is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where all vehicles must be closed). The safari experience does differ slightly between open- and close-sided vehicles.
Consider a combination
As with many aspects for a safari, it’s worth mixing it up and offering a combination of flying and driving so you can experience the best of both. For example, in northern Tanzania, a great compromise is to drive between Arusha, Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater with a private guide and vehicle, before flying into the Serengeti to continue your safari. This is essential if guests are travelling to the northern Serengeti because it is too far to drive from the Crater in a single day. You can also choose to drive one way and then fly back to save time, but please bear in mind that it's not always the most cost-effective option because there is the cost of an ‘empty leg’, as the driver and vehicle will still need to return to Arusha, even if you don’t join them.
If this sounds confusing, don't worry, our experienced team of sales consultants are always on hand to advise you about logistics. Enquire today!
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