Friday, March 2, 2012

Not a Pilot?

Lost your medical? We can send you out with an instructor who’ll sit “right seat”. You can use a C-182, a C-210, a PC-12 – whatever suits the size of your party. You’ll have the plane at your disposal. You can go to any of the same places. You’ll have the same comfortable lodges and the same encounter in the African wilds. The instructor won’t carry your bags but there are plenty of staff around to do that.
Piloting a plane over the wilds of Africa is a great experience! Christina and I flew from the USA to Europe and south through Africa 15 years ago. Along the way it became clear that pilots of all nationalities would love this sort of flying. Getting dust on your wheels and landing on bush airstrips was rewarding enough. But the icing on the cake were the lodges we found! These places can be hundreds of miles from the nearest town. Yet when you land you are escorted into stunningly attractive African-style camps. There are dozens of staff to pour you drinks and cook up meals that you’d expect only from the fine restaurants. The accommodations are roomy and comfortable with hot running water, flush toilets fresh linen and comfortable beds. The game rangers know the area and track even the most elusive of Africa’s great game. If you tire of the game drives, just stay at the lodge for a morning. At some places you can get a massage! Most lodges have swimming pools and a few have private plunge pools at each chalet.

Last year’s Botswana tour was documented by German TV (ARD). Watch it online at On the right is a small box labeled “Mediathek”. Click on that to play the video. Another box, just below, will take you to the websites of the lodges where the group stayed. The sound track is in German with voiceovers of the American pilots. If you don't speak German the visuals tell you all you need to know. The photography is beautiful and the production gives a flavor of the animals, the flying, the comfort and luxury of the lodges - and the fun! The crew put cameras on the wings, under the belly, in the cockpit and at the lodges. One of the ladies was in tears over the sight of Victoria Falls. “It was on my bucket list”, she said. Other great moments captured on this self-fly safari are close encounters with elephants and lions. They can’t be planned, but they happen!