This article is part of a series; you will find the other episodes here:
Your Virtual Safari – Day 1 – Travelling to Africa
Your Virtual Safari – Day 3 – On the lookout for wildlife
Day 2 – Arriving in Africa and onward travel
Yesterday you left home and took a couple of flights to reach the world’s most exciting continent. Today you arrive, tired but fired up about getting to your destination and starting your safari adventure.
There are several ways this can pan out – you may land in one country but need to fly to another country and continue with a transfer from there, either by road or light aircraft. You may land in your destination country and stay the first night in a hotel or you may transfer by road from your arrival. You might evem reach your safari camp by helicopter or canoe!
We’ll look at a typical example the first of these in this post.
If you are travelling to southern Africa it is very likely that you will land in Johannesburg first as this is the area’s biggest hub; to east and central Africa flights there are a number of direct routes from Europe or you may connect via Nairobi. If flying with Ethiopian Airlines you will fly straight from Addis to your destination country in most cases.
Your route: Arrival in Johannesburg, onward flight to Maun, Botswana, onward transfer to safari camp
As you approach Johannesburg, you really get to appreciate the vast size of the city. You also notice that the contrast between rich and poor is easily visible from the sky, with huge townships close to swanky suburbs with pools and big gardens.
Safely landed, you leave the aircraft for the walk to immigration and baggage reclaim. With a new stamp in your passport (most tourists won’t need a visa) you proceed to pick up your luggage.
Follow the signs for the transfer desks to check your bag in for flight to Botswana or if necessary find the Air Botswana check-in desk in the departure hall and go through security and immigration to get your exit stamp just hourse after arriving…
Before you know it the time has come for boarding, and you join your fellow passenegers on the bus to the plane itself.
The Air Botswana jet is waiting for you.
After a short but comfortable flight with spectacular views all the way, you touch down at the tiny airport in Maun, informally known as the safari capital of the Okavango area.
After clearing immigration (again, most safari-goers won’t need a visa) and getting your bag, you emerge into the warm sunshine once more where a representative for the local operator is waiting to meet you.
Having soaked up some rays, you remember that you haven’t put on suncream and get back into the shade. There’s time for a cold drink at the airport bar and to get to know your fellow travellers; there are several of you going to the same place.
And then you follow your representative to the domestic section of the airport and after the usual formalities, the time has come for the most exciting part of the outbound journey – a light aircraft flight into the bush where your guide for the rest of your safari is waiting to meet you!
Boarding may be a little different than what you are used to. And you will realise why these airlines are strict about baggage allowances…
After clambering aboard, you are ready for the off.
The pilot and co-pilot go through their list of pre-flight procedures, start her up and you’re away.
It’s true you feel the bumps – or rather turbulence – more in a smaller plane, but it feels like a more genuine experience too.
The views are of course great given the low altitude at which you fly.
It’s a noisy experience, but not uncomfortably so. Your landing is smoother than you expected and the flight was shorter than you had hoped, but now you are deep in the bush and your safari adventure can begin.
Let’s have a look at that experience in video form, shall we?
Your plane continues on to its next destination as you greet your guide and load your bags onto his vehicle.
He will become a good friend over the coming days, and you will learn plenty from his expertise. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the open-vehicle drive to your camp with the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair.
Oh, and look out for animals!
As you reach camp you get quite the reception.
On Day 3 you’ll enjoy your first proper game drive…coming soon!