Wednesday, February 16, 2011

November safari?

I plan to be in South Africa on business in November. Can I fly a short safari then?

Validation: We give pilots a chance to recover from jetlag, which accounts for a delay in getting started. We can compress the program to a certain degree, particularly if you are rested. For example, the handling and cross-country check can be combined into a single flight. Remember also, the license you receive from the CAA is good for five years. If you managed to return within the validity period you would only have to fly three “circuits” with an instructor to get the plane signed out again. The validation exercises are private pilot standards. There are no trick questions or anything like that. It’s all pretty straight forward.

Scheduling: If you spent some of the time while in Johannesburg focused on the validation exercises then, when your condo sharing period finishes, you could take off immediately for a brief Self-Fly Safari. In this four or five-day period you could, conceivably, fly to two separate lodges. We think it is a good idea to spend at least two nights at each destination. Three nights is preferable as you get a chance to relax and enjoy the lodge itself as well as getting out for several more game drives.

If you are planning a November safari you do need to be mindful of possible weather issues. In designing a route I would keep the legs short – no more than two hours – so that you could get in and out with a relatively small window of opportunity. For example a flight from Lanseria (Johannesburg) to Limpopo Valley in Botswana is 240nm or about two hours flying. As well as it being a fairly short flight, November is not a high-occupancy period at some lodges. Hence, you could call the night before or that morning to determine if the lodge had space for you. In this way you could avoid losing your money on lost bookings. Lodges typically have a “use it or lose it” policy.