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Flights

We're ATOL licensed to offer flights directly out of the UK and are contracted to provide flights into Africa for our European, North American, and Australasian clients.  Similarly we offer regional flights for our African clients.

International airfares to Africa 

  • Review our tips for obtaining cheap and discounted international airfares... 
  • or go directly to the online trip planner to get an airfare quote

Regional airfares in Africa 

  • Remember that wherever possible it's best to arrange both regional and international air tickets at the same time and from the same source for the cheapest total airfare - get a round trip airfare quote  
  • Orientate yourself in Africa by checking out our maps and guidelines for each of the major safari destinations. Where necessary we can supply information on alternate modes of travel in each major region as an alternative to air travel. 

International gateways and regional hubs

Here's an overview of the primary gateways into Africa plus the main regional gateways or go to the individual destinations.

South Africa: International and regional airline access

  • South Africais the main gateway into Southern Africa and acts as an important hub for safaris inZimbabwe,Zambia,BotswanaandNamibia
  • South Africa's primary international gateways are Johannesburg International (JNB), Cape Town International (CPT) and Durban International (DUR). Johannesburgis by far the most important. 
  • South African Airways and its partners usually offer the best direct international links intoSouth Africafrom theUSA,Europeand the  Asia/Pacific region 

Zimbabwe: International and regional airline access

  • Zimbabwe's primary international airports are Harare (HRE) and Victoria Falls (VFA).  
  • Best direct international links are via Gatwick orZurich.  
  • Best regional access is fromJohannesburg,Cape TownandLusaka.
  • Aside from AirZimbabwe, consider the following airlines:
    • FromUSA: Delta, Continental, VirginAtlantic, Northwest
    • FromCanada: AirCanada, Canadian Airlines
    • FromEurope: British Airways, Lufthansa

 Zimbabwe's main airports

  • HarareInternational (HRE)
  • Victoria Falls(VFA)
  • Kariba (KAB)
  • Hwange (HWN)
  • Bulawayo(BUQ)
  • BuffaloRange(BFO)
  • Charles Prince (CPA) -Harare

Domestic hubs in Zimbabwe

  • Victoria Falls (VFA) is the primary safari hub offering access to the greater Victoria Falls and Livingstone area plus Hwange and Chobe inBotswanavia the Kasangula/Kasane border post.
  • Kariba (KBA) is a secondary safari hub offering access into Matusadona and Mana Pools.  Kariba is accessible on AirZimbabwe's scheduled domestic route.  Kariba also serves as an important hub for private charters into outlying safari camps.
  • Harare (HRE) isZimbabwe's traditional domestic hub and whilst being off the main safari circuit is sometimes a necessary stopover
  • Hwange (HWN) is a very short flight fromVictoria Falls - often done by a simple road transfer instead

Zambia: International and regional airline access

  • Zambia's primary international airports are in Lusaka (LUN),  Livingstone (LVI) and Mfuwe (MFU).  
  • Best direct international links are via Gatwick intoLusaka.  Livingstone is likely to develop into a major international hub inZambiaover the next few years.  
  • Best regional access is fromJohannesburg,Harare,Lilongwe(Malawi),Nairobi(Kenya) andDar es Salaam(Tanzania).

Domestic hubs in Zambia

Note that private air charters cover the domestic routes inZambiaand it's often more sensible to leave charter planning in the country to the individual camps and safari operators.

  • Lusaka (LUN) itself is the primary safari hub offering access to Mfuwe and theLuangwaValleyplus Jeki and the lower Zambezi in the east plus theKafueand Livingstone in the west.  Charters are available betweenLusakaand Kariba inZimbabwe.
  • Mfuwe (MFU) is the secondary safari hub in the west and serves as both the North andSouth Luangwa.  Served from bothLusakaandLilongweon scheduled services, Mfuwe is an important hub for private charters into outlying safari camps and the strips at Lukusi (Nsefu Sector) and Mwaleshi (North Luangwa). Charters operate directly between Mfuwe and the Kafue and lowerZambezi.
  • Livingstone (LVI) is an important secondary safari hub serving the greater Victoria Falls area fromZambia.  Livingstone is an air charter hub serving the Kafue, Lower Zambezi and Kasane inBotswana.
  • Lunga is a secondary hub serving as theKafuegateway with access onward access to the strips at Lushimba and Moshi.
  • Jeki is the only regularly used strip serving theLowerZambeziNational Park.  Regular charter access is available fromLusaka, Mfuwe and Livingstone.
  • Victoria Falls (VFA) inZimbabweis currently a better option for both international and regional access and is very easily connected by road to Livingstone.  Development in Livingstone over the next few years may change this....

Airlines and Charters inZambia

  • The national airline, Zambia Airways went bankrupt several years back and its routes are now covered by private charter companies providing reliable scheduled services betweenLusaka, Livingstone and Mfuwe.  
  • These flights are not integrated into Global Distribution Systems for reservations so it's best to arrange your flights into the country and then leave the rest with the local tour operators.
  • Any unscheduled flights are arranged on either a seat rate or charter rate (whereby you hire the entire aircraft for a specific leg).  

The main air charter bases are in Lusaka, Mfuwe, Lunga and Livingstone.  

Botswana: International and regional airline access

  • Botswana's primary international airports are in Maun (MUB),  Kasane (BBK) and Gabarone (GBE).  
  • Best access is from the regional hubs inJohannesburg,Harare,VictoriaFalls,Lusaka,WindhoekandNairobi.
  • Victoria Falls is the primary safari hub into Botswanaso it's often best to base access decisions into Botswanaon the best means of getting in and out of Victoria Falls.  

Domestic hubs in Botswana

Most safaris inBotswanaare done on a mobile basis or alternatively on packaged fly-in trips.  So other than planning your safari, it's usually unnecessary to have to deal with domestic flights.

  • Maun (MUB) itself is the primary safari hub offering access to theOkavango, Moremi, Kalahari and Chobe.  
  • Kasane (BBK) is the main gateway fromVictoria Fallsinto Chobe and serves as important base for charter operations into the safari regions.  
  • Gabarone (GBE) whilst having international status is remote from the safari spots and is therefore inconsequential.
  • Over two dozen airstrips throughout theOkavango, Moremi, Kalahari and Chobe areas are utilized by safari operators for accessing individual camps.

Airlines and Charters inBotswana

  • Private charter companies provide reliable services between Maun and Kasane and the outlying safari camps.  
  • Any unscheduled flights are arranged on either a seat rate or charter rate (whereby you hire the entire aircraft for a specific leg)

Namibia

International and regional airline access

  • Namibia's primary international airport is Windhoek International Airport (WDH).  
  • Best direct international links are viaLondonand Frankfurt intoWindhoek.  
  • Best regional access is fromJohannesburgandCape Town.  Alternatively viaHarare,VictoriaFalls,Lusakaand Maun.

Domestic hubs in Namibia

Namibiais generally tackled on a mobile basis over several weeks or on a week long fly-in safari.  In the case of the fly-in safaris, all local charter flights are normally included in the safari packages so no special arrangements are usually necessary once you get into the country.

  • Windhoek (WDH) isNamibia's main international gateway.
  • Eros (ERS), just south ofWindhoekisNamibia's main hub for all domestic charters and scheduled flights.
  • Namibiahas over 30 well constructed airports and aerodromes (mostly a legacy ofSouth Africa's military involvement in the 70's and 80's) in addition to numerous strips in less traveled spots. 

Airlines and Charters inNamibia

  • AirNamibiais widely regarded as a reliable domestic and regional carrier.  
  • The fly-in safaris are generally inclusive of all charters and use Eros as the hub.

Any unscheduled flights are arranged on either a seat rate or charter rate (whereby you hire the entire aircraft for a specific leg).


Tips for discounted airfares 

Your airfares are likely to make up a large portion of the total cost of your safari but ironically they're usually easier to organize!  Consider it time well spent finding the cheapest airfares for your trip toAfrica- a few days' worth of planning could result in a significantly cheaper total safari package..... 


Purchase your international and regional airfares from one source 

  • You may gain some safari-planning flexibility by setting overall start and end dates and immediately purchasing your international tickets.  
  • If you then start arranging regional tickets separately they're likely to be "full-fare" and the result will be a more expensive total air package - even if you go back to your original supplier.  
  • Sensibly, you have more buying power and scope for discount airfares from a single airfare consolidator or travel agent.  The more complete the itinerary is for the agent, the more incentive they have to get your business at the best all round deal too.....

It's almost always cheaper to use only one airline or code-sharing airlines for a trip instead of two or more  

  • Often this isn't physically possible on some multi-stop routes where airlines aren't consolidating resources and pax, so   
  • leg-work done by a specialist who has access to the larger network of airlines and suppliers and also understands the relationships between different airlines is more likely to save you both time and money in arranging the lowest airfares.

Plan your full itinerary - international and regional legs

Constructing an itinerary for multi-continent destinations can be complex and frustrating.  If you're doing a round-trip (say, North America - Europe - Africa - Europe - North America) or straight multi-stop trip (Pacific - Africa -North America) understand that different international segments are priced for different markets.  So concentrate on finding airlines that are code-sharing to find the best international airfares.

Similarly, the best regional and domestic airfares inAfricaare obtained by local airlines and charter companies that collaborate on specific routes.  These relationships sometimes change annually, or even seasonally.  In some cases it makes sense to look at local travel alternatives or to look at a combination safari that incorporates different destinations rather than flying independently between regional or domestic hubs.

Get your timing right

  • Make your reservation early. Airlines sell only a limited number of seats at the lowest fares. When those seats sell out, the price goes up. 
  • Very importantly, avoid making changes once your tickets are purchased. 
  • To get the lowest round-trip fare, that fare must be available on both the departing and return flights you select. If the fare is sold out on either of these, the price you end up with will be much higher. So if you can't find the fare you want; try an earlier or later flight or consider flying on another day.

Go to the Trip Planner or consult the regional African maps....

 

Discounted airfare restrictions

Firstly, these are the main "types" of air tickets: 

  • Consolidator air tickets: The cheapest. These are "excess seats" or "promotional fares" sold under direct contract with the airlines outside of IATA published fares. In return for a cheap airfare you agree to travel on specific dates and times and have to accept the full set of restrictions including expensive cancellation and change penalties. 
  • APEX air tickets: You purchase these airfares well in advance at IATA published rates which are discounted from the full unrestricted fare price. Cancellation and change penalties still apply but are less onerous than consolidator fares. 
  • Full unrestricted tickets (Y class): The most expensive, sold at full published IATA rates. These tickets are refundable, re-routable and endorsable. 

Discounted tickets offer cost benefits in return for limitations on travel flexibility and service - they always have restrictions established by the airline at time of purchase.  These restrictions can be difficult and frustrating to interpret. If you're doing it yourself and looking for the cheapest airfare you need to understand some basic discounted fare restrictions:

  • Penalties for cancellation or change are generally expensive
  • Discounted tickets may not allow for re-routing
  • Tickets may not be endorsable - you can't exchange them with another airline 
  • Tickets may not be refundable even if you don't use the return portion of the ticket.
  • Many discounted air fares require that you make a reservation 7, 14 or 21 days before your flight date depending on the fare. The best international air fares usually require a reservation at least 30 days in advance. 
  • Flying on a weekday usually costs less. Flights on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday usually offer the lowest fares. Saturday flights occasionally have discount fares, but as a rule it's more expensive to fly on a weekend than a weekday. Most low fares require that you stay over at least one Saturday night before your return flight. So whilst some fares may only require you to stay a minimum of 3 or 4 days and Saturdays may be cheaper it generally works out planning mid-week departures and returns. 
  • Pre-assignment of seats: The airline always has the right to reassign seats, and a pre-assigned seat is a service, but not a right. 

Frequent flier miles - some airlines do not award frequent flier miles for consolidator tickets.