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South Africa Highlights Self-Fly Air Safari

Tour Overview: Anti-Clockwise circumnavigation of South Africa taking in the desert and semi desert of the interior, the Cape and Stellenbosch winelands, Garden Route, the Wild Coast, Drankensberg Mountains, Wildlife, History, Culture and Art.

Duration: 15 days inclusive of SA Licence Validation and Arrival / Departure days

Dates: Friday 08/10/2010 to Friday 22/10/2010

Approx Distance Flown: 2000nm

Number of Flying Days on Tour: 7 days

The focus of the tour is on what the most developed nation in Africa has to offer: Along with some amazing flying that takes in some of the best scenery in the country, you will have your first taste of the wilderness and the diverse wildlife naturally occurring along your route, along with an insight into the indigenous cultures, traditions, epic battle sites, history and art.

The flying itself involves no border crossings, in a circumnavigation of South Africa's best flying terrain and ground attractions.

We start on the high plateau of South Africa and then gradually make our way across the interior to the coastal belt and the Cape, with our first two night stop at a ‘big five’ private game reserve in desert and mountain terrain. Continuing on, we fly over the arid Karoo interior semi-desert, visiting attractions along the way and cross South Africa’s largest river, the Orange. After arriving at Stellenbosch in the winelands, we spend time taking in the wonderful Cape experiences. We then round the southern tip of Africa and head along the spectacular Wild Coast, stopping off at Addo Elephant National Park close to the Indian Ocean. Finally, we head back northward, taking time at the Isandlwana Zulu Battlegrounds, before returning to Johannesburg.

All this is with the hospitality and friendliness that is the hall mark of South Africa and accommodation in luxury game reserve lodges and hotels, under the guiding hand of experienced bush pilots.

A more detailed itinerary can be found below:


Days 1: Meet and Greet

1 night, transfers, bed and breakfast

Meet and greet at Johannesburg International Airport and transfer to a deluxe Hotel or Country lodge, on the outskirts of Johannesburg -- your home for the next three days. Close to shopping centres and other areas of interest, convenient also from which to do short day tours. This is a good place to relax and focus on the safari ahead.

Late afternoon group meeting consisting of introduction and orientation with African Aero Safaris who will be hosting your program, the self fly safari and other tours over the next 12 days. The schedule will be handed out with details on the pilot’s license validation procedure that will be staggered over the following couple of days. Air law test paper and reference material handed out. Briefing on African Flying conditions, check-ride procedures, flight planning, met, reporting procedures. Overnight BB.

Dat 2-3: Validation

2 nights,transfers, accommodation, breakfast

Pilot Validations and local activities - Review of pilot’s license validation procedure, check-ride procedures, flight planning, met, reporting procedures. Check-ride planning with flight instructor. Completion of check-ride as required. Deductible insurance and documentation arranged for rental airplane. Focus and planning for the trip ahead. Processing by the tour operator, African Aero Safaris, of the validation documentation at the SA CAA.

For the non - pilot’s, these days are spent at leisure doing optional half and full-day tours.

Day 4 : The Launch!

2 nights, all meals, Wildlife excursions, transfers.

Flying Leg: 115nm.

It's an exciting day. This is the highlight of your journey to Africa, and what it's all about - an aircraft and the African bush!

After final preparations, we depart the home base airfield outside Johannesburg and route northwest, out across the open Bushvelt and grass lands interspersed with low hills and local "koppies" (hills). We fly past Pilanesberg National Park and the famous resort of Sun City, across a landscape dotted with lakes and ancient craters. You may have already spotted wildebeest and zebra below.

Day 4 - 5: Madikwe Big 5 Game Reserve

We land at Madikwe, a premier private game reserve and host to 165,000 acres covering a diverse habitat of acacia, savannah and riverine environments that ensures a unique combination of species. On our approach, we look out for game on the dirt strip, scooting the animals off with a low pass if necessary. Upon landing, we secure the aircraft and board our open land cruiser – in bush teeming with game; the topographical variety in this area of scubland, rivers, open savanah, grassland and bush is extraordinary. The game is prolific.

Luxury accommodation is in unique African-style thatched chalets at our bush lodge for these 2 nights in the wilderness. Each private chalet features its own game viewing deck and a view over the water hole and African bush. As a private lodge and our first stop in Africa, the atmosphere is informal and we can look forward to our forthcoming game viewing activities – riverside walks, sightings of the large animals, magnificent vistas over game-filled plains.

Day 6: Kimberley

1 night, transfers, excursion, dinner, bed and breakfast
Flying leg: 300nm

After a leisurely breakfast, we transfer to the airstrip and depart for our next leg of the Tour.

We fly south across the farming heartland of South Africa, over game reserves and open Veld to pick up the great Vaal River, a compelling navigational “aid” which we follow southwest, over the impressive Bloemhof Dam to Kimberley, the birth place of South African Aviation and home to the vast diamond mining region.

We check into our guesthouse before embarking on our excursions.

Historic Aviation and Diamonds

While at Kimberley we have the chance to see an operating alluvial diamond mine and the Air Force memorial and museum, scene of the actual flying school in 1912 where the replica Patterson “sticks-and-string” biplane that those early aviators flew. We visit the “Big Hole” – a volcanic pipe that was dug out by hand by those frantic ‘Diamond fever’ diggers of the late 19th Century.

That night we dine out at a nearby well-recommended eatery.

Day 7: Sutherland

1 night, transfers, visit to the Southern hemisphers largest telescope, dinner, bed and breakfast

Flying Leg: 340nm

Following breakfast, we have a longish leg today that crosses South Arica’s largest river, the Orange, and traverses the arid semi desert interior of the ‘Karoo’ with its ancient fossil lake beds and ragged valleys and peaks: an awe inspiring landscape of remote and lonely beauty.

The Southern Hemisphers Largest Telescope

Upon landing, we transfer to our local accommodation and after refreshments, take a fascinating tour of the South African Large Telescope, or SALT.

After Dinner that evening, our hosts introduce us to the clear and magical night skies of the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 8:Stellenbosch

3 nights, all transfers, breakfasts, excursions
Flying Leg: 170nm

Today we have a fantastic flight from the high ground and mountains of Sutherland via the Hex River Valley, where the arid landscape gives way to lush valleys covered in vineyards, orchards, lakes and forests. Truly, today’s flight is a wonderfully varied scenic feast.

Home for the next three days, we check into our manor hotel lodge in on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa and undisputed capital of the wine region. Our lodgings are within easy walking distance of the centre and action of the village. As a university town, Stellenbosch offers oak-lined streets, friendly faces and with every second building a national monument from the 17th Century.

Day 9: Cape Town and the 'Cape of Storms' Tour

Next morning we board our private mini-coach for a full day tour of Cape Town, the "Cape of Storms" peninsula and Cape Point. Seal colony, Danger point coastal reserve, Baboon colony and Cape Point lighthouse. Finally we stop in at the Waterfront for an early dinner or casual walk around the buzzy harbor environment. We transfer back to the manor lodge for overnight.


Day 10: Cape of Good Hope Circuit


On our second full day here, if the weather is kind, we can do a quick one hour circuit of the famous Cape of Good Hope; the routing is first to over- fly False Bay, looking for the many Great White Sharks easily visible from the air, then continue an aerial tour of the Peninsula we recently toured on the ground, fly over Table Mountain and Cape Town waterfront and the harbor, before turning to the north and heading over Robben island in Table Bay. Here we overfly the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.

Day 10: Winelands Tour

Continuing now by land, we embark on our local wine lands tour of this famous region, sampling some of the magnificent wines that are grown in the area. Tonight we may dine at a local restaurant that also serves traditional foods. A huge variety competes for your choice in a casual alfresco atmosphere.

Day 11: Southern Coast and Garden Route

2 nights, all meals, transfers, excursions
Total Leg: 390nm – 1 refuel stop

Today sees us flying low along South Africa’s southern coastline and the world renowned “Garden Route” as far as our Wilderness resort in Addo National Park.

After takeoff, we soon pass by the coastal holiday town of Hermanus; keeping a lookout for hangliders launched from the backdrop mountain. Next up is Cape Aghulas and the lighthouse signaling the southern tip of the African Continent. Make a wish and we continue on past the boundary of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean and here we may see Dolphin, Whales and Sharks in the clear waters below.

We descend into the Plettenberg Bay area, mecca for surfers the world over. If called for we land at Plett airfield for fuel and then continue a short distance to land on a grass airstrip close to the Indian Ocean. Tie down and transfer to our accommodation.

Day 11-12: Addo Elephant National Park

Once settled we have time off to relax and take in the luxury surroundings and peace of the viewing decks looking out across the waterhole and surrounding wilderness. We meet with the resident wild-life guides and they prepare us for our forthcoming game experiences from open 4 x 4 vehicles.

Day 13: The Wild Coast and the Drakensberg

2 nights. All meals, excursions, transfers,
Total Leg: 473nm – 2 refuel stops

An early start and departure for the airfield, with a long flying day ahead. Takeoff from the grass airstrip heading past low coastal hills for Port Alfred, home to 43 Airschool of WW11 military fame and the training ground for many British Pilots. Here we refuel and head for the pristine coastline east of Port Elizabeth and along the spectacular Wild Coast - yet another unforgettable flight.

The "Wild Coast" is aptly named, with its rolling hills and cliffs and waterfalls plunging into the ocean. The flight is breathtaking and you will wonder and marvel at the tiny resorts and villages along the precipitous coastline. There are many private game reserves here and we are likely to glimpse wildebeest, zebra, antelope and Rhino from the air… .one of the few places on the globe where ‘surfing’ Rhino have been observed!

Enroute, we land at Margate airfield for lunch and fuel and then turn inland for a scenic flight past the majestic Drakensberg massif to the home of the Zulu and our final destination.

Upon landing we are met by the lodge-owners who transfer us to their incredible battlefields lodge, nestling on the elevated rocks where the great Zulu chief Cetswayo, directed his impi (army) to victory in the greatest ever battle of the Zulus against the British.

We have the choice this afternoon of relaxing, doing an optional local village visit or the “Fugitives Trail” walk. In the evening we are hosted to a superb dinner and look forward to the day of discovery ahead. Our accommodation is in individually decorated en-suite bedrooms overlooking the vast valleys, below.

Day 14: Isandlwana Battlefields

After breakfast our historian prepares us on the day’s activities and we depart for the Isandlwana battlefield. Here we learn about and relive the history of this classic 1879 conflict and gain insight into Zulu heritage. A proud nation, these fierce warriors had good reason to be feared by all that lived at this time.

In the afternoon we head off to the Buffalo River: scene of Rorke’s drift where this time a tiny British garrison held off thousands of fierce Zulus; made famous by the Michael Cain film, ‘Zulu’. Our knowledgeable guides take us back in time whilst we explore the scene of that infamous battle.

Day 15: Final Leg, Homeward Bound or Tour Extension

Breakfast, transfers

Total Leg: 202nm

After a leisurely breakfast we make preparations for our final leg home and transfer to the airstrip. Our guide pilot has left us alone to enjoy our last few days and there is no requirement any longer for an escort plane, You are, by now, a seasoned African Bush pilot!!

The final flight takes you through the “Valley of 1000 hills” on over the impressive Drakensberg escarpment, to huge maize open farm-land and wandering rivers and lakes. We approach the vast gold mining region and the ‘white waters ridge’ transverse rock formation fault that formed the site of the great gold rush of the 19th century, before crossing east of the city to the home-base airfield.

On arrival at home base airfield your guide pilot meets you and assists with completion of your aircraft paperwork. Your self-fly safari ends with a transfer to Johannesburg International airport.

Tour extensions can be arranged through Afrcan Aero Safari. Let us know if you wish to extend your stay in South Africa, with an excursion to Kruger National Park or an other destination.

Additional Information

How to Book

To make an initial enquiry or register your intention to book a place on this tour, please fill in the Contact Us form by clicking on the following link: contact_us.

You will receive a confirmation of your registered interest and we will be in touch by telephone or e-mail. You will also receive your South Africa Highlights Self Fly Safari Power Point Presentation or a DVD on flying in South Africa.

Deposit and Price Guide

A ZAR 14,000 Deposit per person, is required to secure your place on the tour. and will be done by bank transfer.

The cost for the tour is set in ZAR ( South African Rand ) and your deposit will be deducted from the final balance .

The cost of the Tour package will be  ZAR 79,000 per person ( ZAR 158,000 per couple ), which is approx £6,500 GBP and based on the Cessna 172 or Piper PA28 and 2 POB, which is inclusive of SA Licence validation, dry aircraft hire, all accommodation, meals as stated above and all tours and excursions, including the Cape experiences and Game Reserve Wildlife Viewing activities. Exact pricing may vary slightly due to aircraft upgrades or additional hours flown and until numbers etc are finalised.

The exact fit and model of the aircraft can not be confirmed until the day of departure.The above pricing is based on standard model aircraft - should the standard model availability be limited, or should pilots wish to upgrade to a newer generation model, there will be an additional charge ( maximum of £800 ) for this upgrade.

Tour Group Numbers

There is a maximum number of places for 12 people on this tour ( based around 6 pilots and partners, but pilots may buddy up if accompanied by another pilot or attending alone ). Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis with deposits paid.

Dependant on numbers, an alternate tour may be arranged once this tour is fully booked.

Licence and Visa Information

You will need to do a South African Licence Validation prior to commencing the tour and we advice gaining PIC on the PA 28 and Cessna 172 before traveling to SA in preperation for this.

For Licence information, please see the following link: licence-info

For general Visa and travel info, go to: visa-travel-info


For details and links to a selection of  the luxury Game Reserve Lodges used, please go to the relevant Operators section:


See you there!


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