New Planes, Trains, and Safari-mobiles

By Shona 20 March 2018

New direct flights, intrepid train journeys that blow the mind, vehicle initiatives that are geared towards changing the future of safaris forever… there seems to be a lot happening this March and this year in the world of epic African wildlife. Whether you are interested in getting to your safari destination in half the usual time, or looking for the latest train journeys completely unexplored by anyone else, here we bring you the most recent announcements for new planes, trains, and safari-mobiles:

A weekend in Kenya, or how about Heathrow to private island archipelago in just 10 hours?

New flights to the Seychelles: This week sees the launch of British Airways’ new non-stop flight to the Seychelles, making travel to this Indian Ocean paradise pretty much stress free. There have been no direct flights from the UK for 15 years, so the twice-weekly service, using new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, has us over the moon and back in love with ‘bush-and-beach’ safaris. Start your trip with a few days on safari in Kenya’s famous national parks before heading for the warm waters of the Seychelles archipelago, or begin with a heavy dose of sun tanning then trail along South Africa’s Western Cape to explore Cape Town, go whale watching, and tuck into some of the world’s best seafood and wines.

New flights to Nairobi: You might think us crazy to suggest a long weekend in Kenya! However, with the launch of Kenya Airways’ daily direct flights from New York to Nairobi, this will certainly be possible. Commencing in October, there will be a daily non-stop flight in the carrier’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which will take approximately 15 hours between destinations. Once in Nairobi, you’ll only be a few hours away from the birthplace of the safari and the seasonal home of the Great Migration, the famous Maasai Mara, as well as close to the stunning Laikipia Plateau and the long stretch of cotton-soft sand that hugs the Indian Ocean of Kenya’s coast. What’s more, Nairobi is a phenomenal hub for connecting on to more than 40 African destinations, so why not consider a twin-destination safari to Tanzania or South Africa, or a bush-and-beach holiday to Kenya and Mauritius?

More flights to Johannesburg: Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will double its current daily service between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and London Heathrow. The double-daily service will start from 28th October. The outbound flight will depart London at 16:45 and arrive into Johannesburg at 05:40, and the inbound flight will depart Johannesburg at 22:20 and arrive in London at 07:30. These routes have been timed to enable easy connections to flights with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines to hundreds of US destinations. Tickets will start to go on sale on 24th March.

Africa’s Orient Express equivalents

New Rovos Rail route: Setting itself apart as the ‘most luxurious train in the world’, Rovos Rail has been operating for 29 years across Southern Africa and is a vintage train that transports guests in style to some of Africa’s most dramatic and beautiful places. So cosseting and scenic is Rovos Rail that our sales expert Kirsten even went on it for her honeymoon from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. Rovos Rail is certainly regarded as a well-established purveyor of comfort and leisure, but its new endeavour is a trial in adventure. At the beginning of 2018, Rovos Rail announced a 15-day tour to operate in 2019 – the Trail of Two Oceans. Starting in Dar es Salaam, guests on board for this ultra-luxe sojourn will be guided through Tanzania, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola, ending the trip along Angola’s western coast at Benguela. There will be off-train excursions including a game visit to Selous Reserve, a two-night fly-in safari to the South Luangwa, and a city tour of Lubumbashi.

Introducing the Stimela Star: Behind the scenes of the travel industry, Zimbabwe is simmering away, soon to become Africa’s hottest destination. Over the past few years it has been on-again off-again as a ‘must-see’, but with recent governmental changes confidence is rapidly increasing. To help make the safari areas most enticing, companies like Imvelo Safari Lodges have been thinking outside the box to set its experience apart from other heavyweight national parks. As well as introducing horseriding activities in Hwange National Park this month, which is really a sensational experience as you can get closer to the wildlife than ever before, Imvelo has announced the addition of a private overnight sleeper train that hooks onto the regular Victoria Falls to Bulawayo passenger train. Comfortably accommodated amidst old-fashioned style interiors, guests on board the Stimela Star will enjoy drinks and dinner in the lounge car before retiring to the private sleeping cabins to wake up to the thrill of Hwange National Park. Imvelo has scheduled 10 departures for 2018, which begin in May, so do contact our experts if you’d like more information on the overnight sleeper from Victoria Falls to Hwange.

Vehicle initiatives that are changing the future of safaris

State-of-the-art electric safaris: Investing in what promises to be the future of African safaris, Chobe Game Lodge is one of the first properties to have a fleet made up of electric-powered safari boats and game-drive vehicles. In November 2014, ministers, press, and industry colleagues congregated along the banks of the Chobe River for the launch of the first electric vehicle and safari boat in Africa – fast forward to last year, and the lodge had four electric boats and four electric vehicles. A safari in one of these petrol-saving/CO2 emission-free safari mobiles ensures that you hear nothing but the breeze and the sound of the sensitive Chobe bush – total bliss when you know your safari is eco-friendly!

All about the photographs: In recent years, we’ve seen a serious increase in enquiries for photography safaris. With demand increasing for photographic-focused adventures, in which clients take professional-like collections of images, many luxury lodges have decided to offer this activity. Lodges have specially curated their open-sided vehicles with bean bag arches, dustproof storage compartments, attachable door mounts, and more. For hardcore photographers, lodges like Londolozi are perfect for this as they have workshops, private vehicles, and photographic studios for editing. If are you looking for a photographic safari but don’t have space for all your gear, we have just partnered with Africa Photographic Services so that you can rent photography equipment stress free in destinations like South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana! So even if your lodge doesn’t have specially tailored photographic vehicles, you can rent your own support systems and create your own DIY professional memories.