10 things to know before you fly in a safari plane

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Flying in a 12-seater safari plane is nothing like kicking back on a Boeing 747 with a G&T in hand. But to experience some of the best African safari trips, a short flight in these dinky sized aircraft (that are sometimes known as ‘bush planes’) are part and parcel of your trip.

For you nervy lot, your first experience may send you a bit jittery as you soar in what might sound like a flying washing machine. For others, it’ll turn you into an excited child as you prepare for take-off in this tiny aircraft. Whichever camp you sit in, be sure to book your flights with Cheapflights.co.za to find the cheapest flights to your chosen safari destination.

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So, here’s everything you need to know to make your safari flight as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Safari planes are some of the safest planes in the world

Safari planes are arguably some of the safest planes in the world. Check out the company you are flying with and look at reviews to put your mind at ease. You’ll find that most bush plane companies have undergone strict safety audits, operate hundreds of flights a week and employ some of the most experienced pilots in the industry. So, be rest assured that you’ll be well looked after.

Be prepared before you fly

As with any flight, there’s always the possibility you’re going to encounter turbulence. You might just feel it a bit more on a smaller aircraft. The thing to remember is that it’s completely normal and the pilots who fly safari planes encounter it on a daily basis. Board your flight with the expectation that it might be a bit bumpy – especially if it’s windy or you’re flying during the hottest time of the day – and you won’t feel so panicked if things get a bit wobbly.

There’s less turbulence at the front of the plane

If you want your safari plane experience to be as smooth as possible, try and bag a seat at the front of aircraft. You won’t feel the turbulence so much if you sit directly behind the pilot and even better if you can take a seat in the middle, rather than at the window. You may even be able to sit next to the pilot in the cockpit if there’s no co-pilot. Remember though, seats are rarely allocated on a safari plane so get to the front of the queue when you board. If that’s not possible, let someone know you’re a nervous flyer and you’d like first dibs.

Take anti-sickness tablets

If you do suffer from motion sickness, it might be worth taking anti-sickness tablets before you board the safari plane. Failing that, take some mints to settle the stomach or chew a piece of chewing gum to distract you if your tummy feels like it’s doing somersaults.

It’s worth downloading a meditation app

There are some great meditation and self-hypnosis apps out there that can work wonders in settling your nerves during a flight. Most “fear of flying” apps require you to practice a series of mindfulness exercises several weeks in the lead up to your journey and they’ll arm you with all sorts of relaxation tips for when you fly. Mindfulness apps like Headspace and Buddhify are also great if you want to practice meditation while you’re in the air.

You’ll have to find your own in-flight entertainment

Unless you’re in a swanky private jet, don’t expect an interactive menu of in-flight movies when you step on the aircraft. At most, you’ll have an in-flight magazine to read. But saying that, on a safari plane, the scenery is your personal in-flight entertainment. So switch off, relax and enjoy the experience. Or failing that, take a good book.

Photo credit: gultarfish via Flickr

You’ll be able to get some amazing photography

When you fly in a small aircraft, you won’t be reaching the high altitudes that larger planes do, so chances are, you’re going to get some great bird’s eye views of the land. If you’re going on an African safari, it’s a great opportunity to take in some of the most beautiful scenery from above – you may even spot some game. So get your camera out and start snapping!

You may have more than one touchdown

Some safari lodges and camps are so remote that your safari flight may have to touch down onto the tarmac (or more likely, rough ground) more than once. Yep, that’s two takeoffs and two landings. So be prepared!

A fear of flying course may help

If you’re already a nervous flyer and feel that a safari plane might turn you into a panic, it might be worth investing in a fear of flying course. BA run a Flying with Confidence course with trained pilots while other airlines offer helplines that allow you to speak to an expert about your phobia. It can help you rationalise your fears and feel calmer when you do travel.

It’s totally worth it

Just remember your end destination and that safari holidays are some of the greatest travel experiences you’ll ever have. So, if you’re a nervous flyer, just remind yourself that stepping onto a safari plane it totally worth it for the wildlife you’re about to see.
And if taking a tiny plane really is out of the question for you, rest assured, there are plenty of safari destinations that you can travel to overland.

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10 things to know before you fly in a safari plane was last modified: May 25th, 2017 by Lucy McGuire
Author: Lucy McGuire (5 posts)

Lucy is a London-living, Caribbean-loving travel writer who contributes to various travel magazines and websites, and runs the travel blog TheTravelJourno.com. One of her most adventurous trips was three months exploring South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.