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Getting To Africa’s Most Popular Safari Destinations

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Niarra Travel

Nothing can compare to the unforgettable experience that is an African safari. Where the rhythm of the wild transposes your mind and soul as nature awaits and adventure beckons. From the vast plains of the Serengeti to the lush wetlands that encompass the Okavango Delta, each safari destination provides a truly unique experience.

However, in order to experience the rugged beauty of Africa, you must first brave a slightly different type of adventure. Given the remote nature of safari destinations, it can be difficult to know exactly how to plot your course, namely flights and airports in Africa best suit your safari adventure.

When travelling with Niarra Travel, our Travel Specialists can help inform you on the best route from your home to your destination. However, for those interested in the route itself, in this thorough article we have broken down everything there is to know about getting to Africa’s most popular safari destinations.

From the closest airports to the airlines that serve them, we’ve put our flight hats on to provide you with an all-encompassing guide. Discover the full repertoire of travel options, from bustling airports and modern airliners to remote landing strips in the heart of the wilderness.

Botswana Okavango Delta 14

Serengeti National Park

Though nestled in a delicately remote corner of the world, captivating even the most seasoned travellers, Serengeti National Park boasts excellent connection options. Its expansive plains and remarkable wildlife beckon from the heart of Tanzania’s wilderness, promising an unforgettable adventure.

Closest Airport: Seronera Airstrip, Tanzania (SEU)

Seronera Airstrip located in Tanzania serves as the main airstrip in Serengeti National Park. It’s located within a small settlement and serves a surprisingly large number of flights on a daily basis by small propeller aircraft. The most popular route for the airstrip connects it with Lake Manyara Airport (also in Tanzania) that is around 150 km to the southeast of the airport.

The second most popular route connects Seronera with Arusha Airport, located in the North of Tanzania. This is a slightly larger airport that does also serve international flights to Mombasa, Kenya, but is still considered a very small airport by international standards.

International Access: Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania (JRO)

Kilimanjaro International Airport serves as the primary gateway for those heading to Serengeti National Park from abroad. From London or Manchester you can fly one stop to Kilimanjaro with stops usually occurring at Doha, Hamad International Airport (DOH) with Qatar Airlines or British Airways. Alternatively you can fly via Nairobi International Airport using Air Kenya.

By road, it’s around a seven-to-eight hour picturesque drive from the airport into the park. Local airlines such as Auric Air do provide daily flights into Seronera Airstrip which takes around two hours, but we recommend checking these schedules, as they can change at short notice.

Private Airstrips:

If you are seeking a swifter and more convenient route to the Serengeti you can opt for a private charter flight, the epitome of ease and efficiency. Some of the most prestigious and luxury lodges boast their own private airstrips which can facilitate private charter flights from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport, allowing you to arrive right at their doorstep.

Walking safari by the ocean

Kruger National Park

From the UK to the heart of the bushveld. If you are looking to embark on a luxury adventure to the heart of South Africa’s wilderness, here is how you can reach this iconic safari destination.

Closest Airport: Skukuza Airport, South Africa (SZK)

Nestled within the heart of Kruger National Park, Skukuza Airport is the only commercial airport in Kruger National Park and is by far the most convenient way to arrive at this awe-inspiring wilderness reserve.

The airport serves a small number of flights with a daily connection by Airlink to Cape Town, as well as another daily flight to Johannesburg-OR Tambo International. The airport is renowned for being supremely intimate, unique and is highly rated by travellers. It was also recently reviewed by Forbes as ‘the prettiest airport in the world’!

International Access: OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), Johannesburg, South Africa

O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is the closest international airport to the park and can be reached easily from both the UK and the US, with the former offering daily direct flights from London, served by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and the latter on Delta Airlines.

Other Options: Hoedspruit Airport (HDS)

An alternative option to reach the park is to use Hoedspruit, especially for the adjoined reserves such as the Timbavati and Thornybush.

Leopards spotted on a game drive at Kruger National Park

Maasai Mara National Reserve

Where the savannah beckons and wildlife thrives. Located in the south-west of Kenya, the Masai Mara is known for its dramatic landscapes, rich biodiversity and the world renowned annual Great Migration. Here’s your guide for reaching this awe-inspiring destination.

Closest Airport: Mara Serena Airstrip (MRE) + others

Mara Serena Airstrip is the most direct route to the heart of the reserve. It’s a very small airstrip and located around 225 km southwest of Nairobi International Airport.

There are a number of other airstrips located in the region that can be used for direct transfers to your resort, but will be used depending on the location of your lodge. Mara Serena Airstrip has a small number of direct routes to Nairobi Wilson Airport that are served by Air Kenya and Safarilink Aviation.

International Access: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) Nairobi, Kenya

Connections to Nairobi International Airport are abundant from the UK and US, with direct flights from London and New York that operate on a daily basis.

Bird perched on a tree in the Maasai Mara

Okavango Delta

Prepare yourself for an immersive journey into the heart of the Okavango Delta. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and truly one of Africa’s most undisturbed areas of natural beauty. Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango Delta is an oasis teeming with wildlife and breath-taking natural landscapes. Below is your guide of how to reach this natural phenomenon.

Closest Airport: Maun International Airport, Botswana (MUB)

International Access: Also, Maun Airport!

Maun International Airport serves as the main gateway for travellers that are seeking out the Okavango Delta.

The most popular routes to reach the airport are from South Africa, with daily connections from Johannesburg and Cape Town. There is also a connection option from Addis Ababa International Airport in Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, however flights are not daily and layover times may be longer than transiting via South Africa.

Other Options:

For a more adventurous journey, you could consider flying into Kasane Airport, Botswana (BBK) and explore the northern reaches of Okavango Delta via scenic road transfers or light aircraft flights.

Elephant spraying water in the Okavango Delta

Etosha National Park

Raw beauty and untamed wilderness; that is how many describe Etosha National Park. A true jewel of Namibia's conservation efforts and home to some of the continent’s most spectacular wildlife, sure to inspire emotion from even the most hardened adventurer. Set across vast plains and salt pans, Etosha’s diverse landscapes and wonderful wildlife make for an unforgettable safari experience.

International Access: Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) Windhoek, Namibia

Hosea Kutako International Airport serves as the main destination for those arriving into Etosha National Park.

From the UK there are a number of one stop options with popular stop off destinations including Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Frankfurt (Lufthansa) or Johannesburg (British Airways). Upon arrival at Windhoek, travellers have the option of a short 45-minute flight into the heart of the park or a six- or seven-hour scenic drive. The drive is smooth on roads that tend to be well maintained and provide an opportunity to see spectacular views of Namibia along the way.

Elephants in Etosha National Park

Five Spectacular Safari Destinations - Countless Arrival Options

Nothing quite mesmerises the mind and soul as an African Safari. Let yourself get lost in the rhythm of nature and unwind as the wild captivates you at every turn. But before you undertake this once in a lifetime experience, there is the journey to navigate with air travel serving as your way to unlock these precious lands while providing a gateway to Africa’s most wonderful safari destinations.

While flying for some can be the tedious part of an adventure, it can also be an enchanting and engaging experience. From the wonderfully unique Skukuza Airport in South Africa to experiencing a thrilling landing into the heart of Serengeti National Park at Seronera Airstrip, let your mind be open to the experience and see it as an opportunity to enhance your overall journey.

If you would like to learn more about some of the spectacular safari experiences we provide at Niarra travel then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts. You can contact our travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com.

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