Weather – what happens if weather interferes with our safari?
Weather: Seasonal weather patterns in southern Africa are such that the region’s best flying weather – May through mid-October – coincides with the best game viewing. That’s when we operate, it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, and that’s when you should fly your Self-Fly Safari.
Daytime temperatures are pleasant (Low 60’s°F/16°C); there are no bugs, few clouds and, typically, VFR conditions. Nonetheless, weather can intervene.
“Season is what you expect,” the pilot said, “Weather is what you actually get!” By rule of the South African CAA, Self-Fly Safaris may only be flown during daylight hours in Visual conditions. We watch the forecasts along your route.
If we see something likely to affect your itinerary we’ll let you know and offer guidance on how to deal with it.
- Stormy weather threatened to scuttle the client’s initial launch from base. We saw this coming two days in advance. We changed the initial leg to another lodge where weather along the route was VMC. They visited the lodge they had missed at the tail end of their safari. On another similar situation we launched the party one day early, before the adverse weather set in.
- Low clouds on a flying day prevented the client from taking off as scheduled. The forecast predicted that the clouds would be lifting later in the day. We advised the client to wait a few hours for clearing. The client waited and took off later. We updated the lodge with the clients’ new ETA.
- Low clouds along South Africa’s escarpment prevented the client from returning to base on the last day of his safari. He flew to an intermediate airstrip and we sent a taxi to drive him back to Johannesburg.
METARs and TAFs may be difficult to get at a lodge deep in the bush due to poor cellphone signal coverage. No formal PIREP system exists in southern Africa. Your first clue of the day’s weather at camp is to look to the sky when you wake up. Chances are it’ll be clear, blue sky!
Beyond that …
1) Hanks Aero can send you a TAF for the day’s flight on your cell phone or via satellite on your Delorme tracking device.
2) Ask enroute ATC for weather at your destination.
3) Speak to pilots aloft coming from the opposite direction.
4) Get a forecast at major airports along your route.
In any case, if you can’t fly there are worse places to be stuck than at a private game lodge in southern Africa! If that happens we’ll be working at Base to make any needed adjustments to your itinerary – while you’re lounging comfortably at an amazing lodge.
Hanks Aero Adventures Inc: Full Service!