There is no question that I fell in love with Africa, perhaps more specifically with flying in Africa. During our first trip in 2017, we flew a Cessna 182 from South Africa to Zimbabwe and Botswana back to Johannesburg. We wanted to continue to Namibia, but originally it was supposed to be in a 172 and the limited range made it too sketchy, so we decided to hop over to Windhoek commercial, rent a car there, and drive. I of course managed to find an outfit offering scenic overflights of incredible dunes in Sossusvlei, and the views we’ve seen made me promise myself we would return.
We flew again in 2019 from South Africa, through Mozambique and Tanzania to Kenya, which was truly a trip of a lifetime and that just reinforced the idea that we have to come back.
So here we are again, impatient to fly back. Johannesburg is at UTC+2, in other words, 10 hours ahead of us in San Francisco, I thought it would be prudent to arrive a few days early to acclimate and we wanted to see Cape Town again, so we are flying there from the US and staying 3 days in a wonderful Cellars-Hohenort hotel in the Cape Town wine country, before taking commercial flight to Johannesburg. Together with 2 nights in Opikopi Guest Lodge in Pretoria, we will have a full five days to adapt. Click on the map below to see more details.
Our itinerary will take us from Johannesburg, Wonderboom airport to Mashatu game reserve in Botswana. We have to stop in Polokwane to exit South Africa, luckily Limpopo Valley airport in Botswana is an Airport of Entry. Our plan is to fly for half day, and spend 1.5 days, 2 nights in each lodge. The first stop is Mashatu Euphoria lodge. After that, we are flying to Okawango delta, with a fuel stop at Matante airport. We stay two nights in Shindi camp. The next flying day has us exiting Botswana, so we have to stop in Maun and enter Namibia in Rundu, before continuing to Etosha National Park, where we stay in Onguma Fort. Etosha is the end of the first half of the trip, where the focus is animals, we now be watching incredible views of Namib desert.
We will stop in Ondawanga, before continuing to Hartmann Valley airstrip and a short drive to Serra Cafema lodge, located on the Kunane river, which is the border between Namibia and Angola. From there, we will follow first the river and then Atlantic coast to Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp and then to Kulala Lodge in Sossusvlei. It will be now time to head back to South Africa, we will first stay at Dundi Lodge to see Augrabies Falls and then make a long flight back to Johannesburg.
In total, that will be close to 3,000 nm and probably around 30 hors of flight time. The itinerary is set up so that we spend one day flying and one day at the location, two nights at each lodge. We are flying in a small group of three airplanes, all Cessna 182, which is a perfect airplane for flying in Africa. We will be landing at many dirt strips and a Cirrus, while more comfortable, would be certainly less practical.
We are using the same company as before, Bushpilot Adventures to lease the airplane, arrange permits and make reservations. Experience has shown that it is very important to have somebody in the “back office” to follow the flight and be ready to help in case of any mechanical problems, which we had during our previous trip.
Cape Town culinary landscape rivals the best of them. Our first night, we were tired after 24 hours door-to-door trip and stayed in the Cellars-Hohenort hotel, un upscale lodging part of Small Luxury Hotels.
Beautifully appointed room with a terrace and views on the garden.
It was rainy and windy next day, we drove to the spectacular Cape of Good Hope, which was crowded and there was a line to take a picture in front of the panel with the name. We did that 4 years ago, so we skipped the line. In the evening we had reservation at the La Colombe restaurant. It wasn’t easy to get, because all online reservations required four people and nobody was picking up the phone. We finally left a message and the next morning at 2 am (that’s noon in Cape Town!) somebody called back. The reservation battle was definitely worth waging, the food was extraordinary.
Stellenbosch area is known for excellent wineries and we couldn’t skip a wine tasting drive the following morning.
We finished the day in the Potluck Club, remembering fantastic dinner we had at Test Kitchen 6 years ago. Test Kitchen doesn’t exist anymore, but the chef, Luke Dale Roberts opened other restaurants in Cape Town and Johannesburg, you should definitely visit them if you are there.
This was the end of lazy vacation time in Cape Town, the next day we are boarding a flight to Johannesburg, where our adventure begins.