Combining two regions in a single itinerary has become easier with the new regional flight services across the continent. Kim Emmanuel looks at some of the most convenient two-region holidays, thanks to these connections.
Three countries in a single trip
The new Kenya Airways flights connecting Nairobi and Cape Town via Livingstone (Zambia), as well as, most recently, Nairobi and Cape Town via Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), allow travellers to experience three countries on a single journey.
“This routing is perfect for an Africa getaway package, discovering South Africa’s vibrant Mother City with its iconic Table Mountain, viewing the majestic Victoria Falls, and exploring the wildlife wonders of the legendary Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya,” says Vikki Fourie, Assistant Product Manager at Springbok Atlas. The recently relaunched Kaza univisa also allows overseas guests to experience both the Zimbabwean and Zambian side of the Falls on a single visa.
Two-region holidays are particularly popular with the American market, for whom it’s a long-haul flight to get to Africa, and who want to include a variety of experiences in their trip, says Mariska Yntema, Product Manager of Jenman African Safaris. Kenya Airways’ routing allows for both a bush and beach experience.
The new Victoria Falls airport provides connections to other regions, such as Hwange, Matopos, Kariba and Mana Pools, adds Alessandra Azevedo van Dyk, Marketing Manager of Hideaways.
Airlink will also launch flights between Cape Town and Victoria Falls on July 2. The early arrival times in both Victoria Falls and Cape Town allow travellers to still enjoy an afternoon activity in either of the destinations.
Southern and East Africa combos
With the opening of Wilderness Safaris’ new Bisate Lodge in Rwanda this year, the operator is looking to encourage more travellers to combine Southern and East Africa. RwandAir connects easily with Nairobi and the airline is also launching flights to Harare from April, just in time for the seasonal opening of Mana Pools National Park, comments Roberto Viviani, Business Unit Manager for UK and Europe at Wilderness Safaris.
Viviani says they also encourage their guests to experience different eco-systems. Moving northwards towards the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park, the vegetation changes from forests to open Faidherbia albida woodlands. Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces while lions, leopards, spotted hyena and cheetah are some of the carnivores present in the area.
“Zimbabwe obviously then offers excellent connections to all the other Southern Africa regions,” adds Viviani.
Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge will comprise six forest villas with views across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke, each offering a bedroom, reception space and bathroom as well as a central fireplace. The camp will serve as a base for gorilla conservation experiences and explorations of the region.
The project includes a reforestation programme, which has already seen some 10 000 indigenous trees planted to date. Wilderness Safaris Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Roche, previously said he anticipated that the reforestation would attract birds and mammals to the area, allowing Bisate to offer guests forest walks and great bird-viewing opportunities.
Connections for a bush and beach experience
Bush and beach experiences have also become more varied with the introduction of regional flights, looking beyond the classic Cape Town and Kruger itinerary.
Viviani adds that combining Botswana with the Seychelles works well in this regard. South African Airways operates a flight from Gaborone to Mahé, Seychelles, via Johannesburg. In Mahé, a 15-minute helicopter transfer connects guests to Wilderness Safaris’ North Island. Should guests’ international flights arrive in the evenings then an overnight in Mahé is required.
High-end travellers will find the combination of these two destinations interesting. Botswana is home to elephant, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, and mokoro excursions provide the ideal setting from which to view these animals in the Okavango Delta. In Seychelles guests can enjoy activities such as snorkelling, walking along Grande Anse Beach, or kayaking.
While clients pay a lot for flights to Madagascar, Will Lane, Tailormade Team Leader, at Jenman African Safaris, says the destination is priced similarly to other Southern African countries. Airlink last year launched flights to Nosy Be.
Mareike Pietzsch, Content Developer at Hideaways, describes Madagascar as the ideal choice for travellers looking for unique experiences, with some of the world’s animal and plant species only being found on the island. “It’s perfect for adventure travellers who enjoy activities such as diving, hiking, exploring and canoeing but it’s also ideal for couples who are looking for an island paradise as Madagascar’s lodges range between three- and five-star accommodations,” she adds.
Pietzsch says Madagascar’s tribes and rich culture are fascinating for first-time travellers. “Learning about the Malagasy people and their customs – such as building houses as tombs – make many visitors return.” Most lodges offer charter flights between regions for shorter travel times.
Yntema adds that Johannesburg has its own charm, which makes it an ideal pit stop in a safari holiday. “Johannesburg offers guests insight into an important part of South African history, with interesting day trips available to visit the Apartheid Museum, Liliesleaf, Soweto and other historic sights.”
Multi-Southern African holidays
Last year Airlink announced a number of extra flights that were added in 2017 and which will make a two-region holiday in the southern parts of the continent more convenient.
The airline upped its frequencies between Nelspruit and Livingstone to a daily service and will also offer a daily flight between Johannesburg and Vilanculos from April 13. From June 6, the Cape Town-Maun service will increase to daily.
Frequencies from Nelspruit to Vilanculos will increase, up from the current flights, which operate on Thursdays and Sundays. The Nelspruit KMIA to Vilanculos routing provides tour operators and African safari specialists the opportunity to promote bush and beach combination packages. With the introduction of Airlink’s additional Lodge Link service connecting Phinda to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
Karin Murray, Marketing and Sales Manager at Airlink, says travellers will have the freedom to enjoy an early-morning game drive and breakfast before departing on Airlink’s Lodge Link service. “Guests can connect seamlessly within 30 minutes on to Airlink’s scheduled flight to Vilanculos, gateway to Bazaruto and Benguerra Island, to enjoy lunch and sundowners on the beach on the same day, or from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to Livingstone in Zambia, permitting travellers to combine the wonders of both the Kruger Park and the Victoria Falls,” adds Murray.
The connection between the Kruger and Vilanculos is also an easy routing to include in an itinerary, and avoids unnecessary changeovers, overnights at the airport, and long layovers, says Fourie.