5 Locations for Aerial Safaris in Africa

An aerial view is always a unique and special way to understand your surroundings. And when it comes to safari, the idea of getting an uninterrupted view of the vast plains and wilderness below as well as the chance to spot wildlife is exhilarating.

Here are a few places where you can experience safari life from the air.

The Busanga Plains in Zambia’s Kafue National Park

The Busanga Plains, a vast network of seasonal floodplains, teems with wildlife with huge herds of buffalo and their attendant predator, the lion.  Large herds of lechwe and puku are also often seen and birdlife flourishes here.

The camps in the Kafue only open in the winter months, from June to October. The early morning mist rising off the channels evoke an almost mystical feeling to the scene. You can float above the wildlife in almost total silence in a hot air balloon. And the great thing is that if you stay for three nights or more at either Busanga Bush Camp or Shumba Camp, your balloon flight is complimentary. The flights operate in August, September and October only.

The Okavango Delta in Botswana

Here is a spectacular way of enjoying a view of the Delta – a ‘doors off’ helicopter flight.

Helicopter Horizons operate trips, private or shared, in their Bell Jet Ranger helicopters. Your pilot will fly as low as he is able but without causing stress to the animals, allowing you a birds eye view. The stunning scenery is also breathtaking as you see the water channels winding through the Delta below.

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania 

The word ‘serengeti’ means endless plains and it couldn’t be more apt, as the area enclosed by the national park covers 5,700 sq miles of largely rolling savannah. And that’s just what’s inside the national park boundaries. In this environment wildlife viewing by 4×4 is the principal way to see the animals which, especially during the annual migration, cover huge distances.

But after many hours on a game viewing vehicle, excitement calls and a balloon safari drifting above the huge herds has to be the way to experience this special part of Africa and give your bottom a rest!

Leaving your lodge or camp before dawn you travel to the launch site to watch your balloon being inflated and receive a safety briefing. The launch is shortly after first light. Generally you fly quite low but occasionally drift up to 1,000 feet, so your pilot can scan the area for the wildlife. A bush landing followed by a superb breakfast finishes your experience before you re-join your safari guide and return to your base.

Victoria Falls, Zambia

So strictly speaking not a wildlife experience and your main focus is Victoria Falls not animals. But with so much wildlife nearby in BotswanaNamibiaZambia or Zimbabwe we will let it sneak in!

Victoria Falls is one of the wonders of the natural world with the widest unbroken curtain of water in the world. During its peak flow in late April, 700,000 cubic metres of water goes over the falls each minute – that’s about 2½ million gallons of water per second.

To see the falls from the ground is something special and you there’s a good chance  you will get wet. But to get an idea of the immensity of the falls, take to the air. There are regular ‘flight of angels’ trips in light aircraft and helicopters that take you over the falls but for something a little different why not take a microlight. That way you can really hear, see and feel the power of Victoria Falls.

Staying away from the falls is a more relaxing experience. And my favourite camps include  Toka Leya or Tongabezi

Sossusvlei in Namibia

Finally, a balloon safari that has to offer some of the most remarkable views anywhere in Africa.

Sossusvlei is located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which itself is part of the Namib Desert, the oldest in the world extending to some 13.3 million acres. The great sand sea that surrounds Sossusvlei for some 250 miles up to Walvis Bay on the Atlantic Coast and contains many dunes in excess of 1,000 feet on height. Big Daddy is the best known due to its accessibility at almost 1,250 feet high.

A balloon flight from one of the lodges in Sossusvlei is an incredible experience as the early morning timing of the flight means that the rising sun over the dunes cast ever changing shadows. In addition the sand reflects the colour of the sun, lightening from a deep red as the light increases. Offset that with the azure blue sky and the white of Deadvlei, if you are lucky enough to be flying in that direction, makes a balloon flight in Sossusvlei a photographers dream.

&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge has free balloon flights for guests staying 3 or more nights at certain times of year, contact us for more details.