On Safari in a Flying Caravan

Safari is said to have entered the English language in the late 19th century. It’s a Swahili word meaning long journey, thought to have taken its origin from the Arabic safarīyah or journey. Our members often take long journeys, but you only take real safaris when in Africa. This week, we look at a safari with a bit of difference.

Flying really is the way to go in East Africa. From what all the travellers I have met along the way tell me, the roads are rough (the ‘African massage’) and travel times are very long. Pay the money and go by air!

Starting at Arusha, the halfway point between Cape Town and Cairo, the journey will follow the popular northern safari route by air to the Zambian side of the Victorian Falls. It’s a journey that would be difficult to do using scheduled flights, with 14 flights totalling 2443 miles. Fortunately for our traveller, it’s a journey being done in the comfort of a chartered aircraft, a Cessna Grand Caravan.

The Cessna Caravan has become a popular choice for passenger charters throughout the world. Designed originally from scratch for the cargo operator federal express, it soon proved to be popular for carrying passengers as well. Although variants can take up to 14 passengers, this trip will be in an aircraft with a maximum of 8 passengers. With two abreast seating, there is even room in the back for a lavatory if needed.

One of the benefits of having your own private aircraft and going on an organised safari is the opportunity to get off the beaten track. This soon became evident on the first day of the tour.

On the way out to the first stop in the North Serengeti, we flew well off the beeline to go low over Lake Natron, a large shallow soda lake that was amazingly red from the algae (from which flamingos get their colour).

After a scenic flight, camp that first night proved to be something of a standard for the rest of the trip. Located close the border with Kenya, the Masai Mara could be seen in the distance. With the view the main attraction, walls seem superfluous, so your front door consists of just netting between you and the outside world. Fortunately that view does not come at the expense of privacy, with each room located well away from your neighbour, handy later in the trip where some rooms feature open bathrooms.

While camping may not be on everybody’s wish list, sometimes a caravan trip can be better than a 5 star hotel. If you have ever wondered what it would be like, what you might see, and if it’s worth doing a private tour, why not head over to a trip report with a difference HERE.


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