If the one thing stopping you from going on the safari of your dreams, or staying in some of the finest treehouse lodges in the world, is the pricey airfare to Africa, here are some tips that could finally get you on your way.
Book your travel at least two months in advance, particularly if you plan to travel around the holidays. There aren’t many airlines to choose from when flying to Africa, so flights book up fast. This becomes even truer for African countries that don’t cater to tourism—but that may be some most worthy of visiting. If you plan on using frequent-flyer miles, start looking at flights 330 days before your trip—that’s when FFM schedules are released.
Fly through Europe
There are more launching points to Africa from Europe than there are in the U.S., and if you fly during the off season, you could get an inexpensive ticket from the U.S. to Europe, and then just tack on that last flight to Africa. Turkish airlines flies to 17 African destinations including Nairobi, Cairo and Johannesburg, Kigali and Mogadishu. Flights through London can be pricey due to increased airport and security taxes, but online booking engines like Flight Centre U.K. can help you find reasonable prices.
Fly out of ex-colonies
If you do choose to fly from Europe, look into ex-colonies as these will have more flight options. Frankfurt, for example, has the most frequent flights to Namibia. If you’d like to fly to a West African country, look up flights out of Paris. As for East and Southern Africa, your best bet is to fly out of London.
Regional hubs: Southern Africa
For trips to Southern Africa, look into flights direct to South Africa. From here you’ll find several airlines that operate regionally to countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Madagascar.
Regional hubs: East Africa
For trips to East Africa look into flights to Ethiopia and Kenya. The national airlines of these two countries have several options for flying regionally. An extra tip: Package tours to Kenya are popular among Germans and Bris, so you could find the best deals by checking Frankfurt or Heathrow.
Regional hubs: West Africa
For trips to West Africa, your regional hub will be Dakar in Senegal. Both Delta and South African Airways offer direct flights here. You can also find reasonable prices by flying Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc, but they’re infamous for long layovers. The main benefit of flying into Dakar is that from there you can take a bus to several neighboring countries.
Regional hubs: North Africa
For trips to North Africa, you can find flights from the U.S. to Morocco and Egypt for around $1,000 (sometimes a little less).
Fly from Dubai
Emirates has plenty of options for flying into Africa and offers fair prices on flights to Seychelles, Nairobi, Mauritius, Uganda, Johannesburg, Tanzania and more. The airline is known for impeccable service and short layovers.
Use a knowledgeable travel agent
Even if you usually like to book your own travel, when flying to Africa it might be smart to use a travel agent as there will be much more research involved. That being said, use an agency that has a reputation for booking international flights or adventure travel. STA travel is a great resource; it’s a worldwide student travel agency available to anyone and it has extensive knowledge on travel all over the world.
This is a tremendous online travel resource with airline deals for destination cities in Africa. It also has first-hand, detailed articles on just about anywhere in the world, so you can know where to eat, where to stay and what to do as the locals would in Africa.