African Tour Reviews
Toni - African Tour - October 2006
I can't believe I am back at home in my old routine!!! The trip went too fast! I just want to thank you so much for letting me participate in the "trip of a lifetime". It truly was for me. What fun we had!
I still can't get over the beauty of the countries we were in, and the magnificence of the animals.
I'll get to my pictures this week-end. If I have any that I think you might not have gotten, I'll send them along to you.
I miss you all
Phyllis - African Tour - April 2006
My South African Experience
From the moment I lifted my head from the inside of a 777 which had transported me for the last 11 hours from Zurich, I felt a sense of coming home. I can’t explain it, it was just something felt. The breeze was faint, like the breath of some spiritual idol. It was neither hot nor cool, sort of lukewarm. It was a very safe and comfortable feeling. I felt back in another time, yet all was modern. Workers in the airport, while working on the torn-up tarmac, had smiles and spoke English.
We arrived a day early and had the treat of a South African Hanger BBQ Party given by Estelle and Lorrie Raath. We had lots to eat, drink and cheer about. We had an Air show with a T6 and a 1943 Stearman. The best part? We were in the show. They give rides while flying in formation and doing 8 point barrel roll. How could this trip top that? It did… I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable vacations I have ever been on. Flying in the DC-3, ZS-Golf Pappa Lima, was the wonderful unexpected joy of the journey. Piloted and owned by Flippie Vermulen and Lorrie Raath and later Johann Vandenberg, I felt extremely safe and they were most professional as you would see on any airline. And why not? Because they each have an average of 35 years flying for South African Airways.
We stayed in 3 reserves. Khawi River Lodge in the Okawanga Delta. Northwest of Johannesburg about 3 hours, plus a puddle jumper ride to the Lodge air strip. Mfwue in the Luangwa Valley Park. This was northeast of Livingstone, the home of Victoria Falls-which in a couple of words – wet, and awesome. The last, and best for viewing lots of animals, was Phinda. This was located just southeast of Johannesburg just off of Santa Lucia.
Every place we stayed was so top notch I felt spoiled and pampered. With the exceptions of The Farm Inn and Royal Livingstone. I could have skipped these two places and stayed one more day at Matemo Island Resort on the Indian Ocean. I could have opted for another day at Mfwue and gaze again on the Boabob tree, catch another glimpse of the leopard and porcupine.
After I got home I felt very lonely. For the last 18 days I have been on a dream vacation with 19 new friends. I had new friends with all the same love and passion for nature, flying of old planes and most of all, a desire to visit Africa.
Liz - African Tour - March 2006
It is so hard to get back in the groove again. We had such a wonderful time and can't thank you enough for the careful planning and execution of this holiday. Leaving you all after two weeks but like parting with my best friends.
Review - African Big Five and Ocean Safari 2004
(Article by Karl Jenssen - From African Pilot June 2004)
Springbok flying safaris invited me to fly with Flippie Vermeulen in their classic round-engine DC 3 ZS-GPL on an amazing seventeen day exclusive flying safari at the beginning of March 2004.
Our cabin attendant was Estelle Raath who comes from a true aviation family. She served as a senior cabin attendant at SAA, is a Springbok Classic Air’s Chief Cabin Attendant, and adds a touch of real class to any flight. Married to Lorrie, an A340 Training Captain at SAA and a highly experienced DC 3/4/6 pilot. Their daughter too, is an Air Hostess at Emirates. The passengers were a group of American aviation enthusiasts and their wives who, between them, own a lot of airplanes, including no less than five Grumman Mallards, seven Grumman Albatross’, many Stearmans, two Super Stearman Speedmails, a Beech Bonanza, a Piper Pawnee (for glider towing only!), a Beech T-34, a Beech 18, several T-6s, a Ted Smith Aerostar, Cessna 182s, several gliders, four Citations, a Lockheed DGA, a Ryan PT-22 and an Excel.
The owners of this formidable fleet of airplanes are a wonderful bunch of unassuming folk who are obviously big time achievers and thoroughly enjoy classic airplanes. The flight planning for the safari was a daunting task with five countries to be over flown commercially. The fuel requirements had to be carefully planned as the Dakota was at most times operating at near maximum weight and fuel had to be positioned in some remote places.
The safari was the second time 6 of the group of eighteen had come to South Africa to gain a deeper insight into Southern Africa.
The flying time totalled 33 hours and ZS-GPL performed flawlessly. I have about 400 hours on DC 3s and learnt a lot from Flippie Vermeulen who treats his airplane so gently. We flew leg for leg and were able to give our friends on board a bit of stick time too! It is physically hard, but most enjoyable work flying a DC3 sans autopilot. My happy and fulfilling career in SAA ended last May when I reached the compulsory retirement age of 60 while I was a Captain on B747-400s. Our DC 3 flying safari was a wonderful, challenging experience that required all my mental resources and acquired flying skill, which I hope I will be able to repeat in the future.
The flying safari once again reinforced how proud we, as South Africans, should be of our breathtakingly beautiful country.