TOUR 7: Malawi Wonders

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Duration 13 days
Total direct distance 2700 nm
Approx. flying hours 27 hrs

Difficulty level

Somewhat technical
Bush strips, long legs
Isolated weather
Understanding ATC

Experience required Minimal with safety pilot
Experienced if self-guided
Best time of year Possible year round
Best April - October (dry season) although during the wet season it's mainly isolated TS to contend with.
Level of accommodation Exclusive lodges 4 - 5 star
Suitability for partners Very scenic and lots of ground activities, but long legs and a fair amount of turbulence. Great for pilot friends, but only suitable for non-flying partners who also enjoy the flying.
Price On request

The best of all worlds - tropical beaches, impressive canyons and mountain ranges, Lake Malawi with it's East African flair and hospitable people, and of course unrivalled natural wildlife. Long (but interesting) flying days are rewarded with nights in exclusive lodges. This trip is geared towards those that enjoy flying long distances to reach numerous of the highlights of the region. 

Day 1:
Short leisurely flight through the Blyde River canyon and along the Escarpment to Chimp Eden. Relax for the afternoon and join a Chimpanzee Tour. If you have a safety pilot with you then there's also numerous interesting landing strips to fly into in this area.

Day 2 & 3:
It's a short hop to Kruger International Airport, for clearing customs and immigration. From here you fly low-level down the Crocodile River, following it's winding course in search of animals (elephant, hippo, crocs, buffalo, etc.). Once at the Mozambique border the radio goes very quiet as there's not much traffic in this area. You'll be lucky to get hold of Maputo to clear you inbound. The landscape changes drastically, becoming flat and dotted with palm trees, as you approach the Indian Ocean. Vilankulos is your entry point into Mozambique, after which it's a short hop over the ocean to the Bazaruto Islands.
Bazaruto is world renowned as a diving and snorkelling destination. Alternatively relax on the secluded beaches, or take a sailing trip on one of the local Dhows.

Day 4 & 5:
Routing back to the mainland, you fly North along the turquoise coast. Look out for whale sharks or other large sea life. Clearing customs and refuelling in Beira, the route takes you back over solid ground and deep bush. Crossing the mighty Zambezi River, there's just a few hills between the River and Blantyre, your entry into Malawi. From Blantyre it's a fascinating route along and over Lake Malawi to reach your destination, the secluded and beautiful Likoma Island.
One of our previous guests had this to say about Likoma and Lake Malawi, "It's like Thailand, yet it's African." This place is a true gem! Your morning shower consists of donning snorkels and swimming with the freshwater fish, the people are amazingly warm-hearted and hospitable, the local village (the only one on the island) makes for an interesting tour, and in the afternoons the isolated thunderstorms in the distance make for an impressive African scene.

Day 6 & 7:
Best gain some altitude before attempting the Lake crossing (remember the gliding distance from land rule?). After the crossing some dense jungle brings you into Lilongwe, your exit point. Over the mountains you then clear into Zambia at Mfuwe, before routing Soutwest for the Lower Zambezi. The last leg of this stretch will see you flying low level over the broad Zambezi River, admiring the scene and wildlife below.
The Royal Zambezi Lodge, perched beside the Zambezi River, is teaming with wildlife. Enjoy game drives, canoeing down the Zambezi, or simply relaxing at the River's edge.
OPTIONAL: Spend these two nights on the Zimbabwean side, either at Mana Pools or at Bumi Hills on Lake Kariba.

Day8:
Back along the Zambezi you finally reach Lake Kariba, one of the world's biggest man-made dams. Elephants and hippos line the shore in the thousands. Further up the River takes form once again, and slowly recedes further and further into it's own canyon. That is, until you reach the Vic Falls, with it's thundering water cascading down into the canyon below, an amazing sight from both the air and the ground. A single night's accommodation next to the Falls provides the opportunity to get up close to this natural spectacle.

Day 9 & 10:
After flying over the Falls once more, you route West to Kasane, your entry into Botswana. From here it's low-level down the Chobe River, over the Savuti and Linyanti areas finally arriving in the evergreen Okavango Delta. The Delta is a massive inland maze of waterways teaming with wildlife, world renowned as one of the best wildlife destinations.
Over two days and nights in the Okavango Camp you will get to learn a lot about the animals around you, as the knowledgeable guide tracks and finds the more impressive game. Game viewing is done by 4x4, Makoro (dug-out canoe), or if you wish then even on foot, a somewhat chilling experience when suddenly confronted by a lion. But no fear, the game ranger knows exactly what he's doing, and such encounters make for interesting stories around the campfire at night.

Day 11 & 12:
From the Delta it's a short hop to Maun, the capital of the district. This is probably one of the busiest bushplane airports on the continent. The apron is packed with C206's, Caravans (C208), Norman Islanders and Skyvans. These aircraft service the camps in the Okavango and surrounds, an area otherwise inaccessible without a boat. Once refuelled you set your course SE for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans - depending on the time of the year you may get to witness migrating Wildebeest and Zebra. Over the pans you can bring her right down to the deck, there's nothing for miles around, just watch out not to go too low due to the visual illusions created by the completely flat and dry (read hot) pans.
Once past Francistown you can drop down low level again to follow the dried up Shashe River, following it's windy bends lined with Baobab trees.
Mashatu is one of our own favourite wildlife destinations. The animals here are different to other areas, completely at ease and almost oblivious to humans and vehicles, hence the opportunity to get up really close without disturbing them. Lion, Leopard and Cheetah are the main priority, although while looking for these you'll also get to enjoy the variety of other game in the area. A mesmerizing landscape, and yet again the game rangers knowledge will truly keep you captivated.

Day 13:
Within a minute of taking off from Mashatu you'll be crossing the Limpopo River, the border to South Africa. After clearing immigration at Polokwane you'll have the option to detour to the Blyde River Canyon, after which it's a relatively short flight back to Pretoria.