As an avid safari goer, I know what it’s like to be both exhilarated by the adventure of experiencing different national parks and types of wildlife, and exhausted by the travel involved with visiting multiple camps. So it was a pleasure, then, after a recent week of camp-hopping in Tanzania, to feel well-rested and like I maximized my time. And it was all thanks to SkySafari.
First introduced in 2016, Elewana SkySafari itineraries allow guests to lodge-hop in a private plane, flying them directly between camps on their own schedule so there’s no need to adhere to set charter flight times or transfer through regional airport hubs. Elewana operates two eight-night, all-inclusive SkySafari itineraries in Kenya (Classic and Connoisseur) and one in Tanzania; the former include time in spots like Loisaba and the Masai Mara, while the latter will whisk you to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and more. Planes are shared by other guests on the same itinerary, or can be bought out for a more exclusive experience.
In addition to allowing guests to stay in the wild for as long as possible, there are several other advantages to a SkySafari experience. Here are four to consider when deciding if a SkySafari is for you.
On SkySafaris, everything is direct, so there’s no need to fly back to Wilson airport in Nairobi to catch a transfer, for example, or have to take a multi-hour car ride from a regional airport to your camp. In Kenya, this can save you around 16 hours compared to taking scheduled flights, and nearly 11 hours in Tanzania, while driving between camps could add anywhere from 24 to 37 hours to your itinerary.
Additionally, because the plane and the lodges are operated by the same company, everything on a SkySafari is seamless—no missed flights, no luggage concerns, no worries. Pilots, drivers, guides and camp managers are always in contact with each other, making coordination a snap. If the safari guide is running late to the airport—say, because you’ve spotted some lions while out on a drive—he can easily get in touch with the pilot to let him know the situation, and flight changes can be made to best suit the traveler and the safari experience (even more so when travelers buy out the plane.) And because it’s all the same company, there’s no need to check in at each property or for each flight, either; instead, travelers check in at their first destination (in Aruba or Nairobi) and then check out at their last.
Ease of Travel for Solo Guests
Often, solo travelers are stuck with a large single supplement fee when they travel, but during green season (April/May) there’s no single supplement cost for solo SkySafari guests, which can mean a savings of around $4,000. Additionally, the SkySafari experience is safe and comfortable, making it an ideal option for solo female travelers in particular. Guests are met by an Elewana representative the moment they arrive in Arusha or Nairobi, and are escorted to each bush airport or landing strip by an Elewana driver or guide. During the trip, solo travelers can eat their meals at the lodge with other guests or alone (whichever they prefer), and will go on game drives with other SkySafari guests—so they can enjoy the camaraderie of being in a group, as well as the luxury of being on a flexible itinerary.
Fun for Families
Game drives are always a hit with kids and adults alike, but SkySafari goes even further for families, as spacious accommodations, flexible meal times and kid-friendly activities are offered on both the Kenya and Tanzania itineraries. Plus, the option to buy out the plane is perfect for multi-generational trips, a growing sector on safaris.
Family tents (including adjoining tents for younger kids or two tents connected by a walkway for older ones) are the norm at the camps, allowing for more room to spread out. Kids’ programming is also available, including activities like learning traditional Masai ways to start a fire, use a bow and arrow, and throw the Masai rungu (spear.) Depending on the camp and location, guests of all ages can also enjoy things like horseback riding, mountain biking, visits to farms or coffee estates, vegetable picking and cooking with the chefs, cultural experiences, river fishing, and lessons in anti-poaching policies—complete with seeing with anti-poaching sniffer dogs in action.
Sustainability and Ecotourism
Since the SkySafari flights are direct, the program helps cuts down on fuel consumption and emissions, as there’s no need to take multiple flights to get from lodge to lodge—an eco-conscious plus that’s important to Elewana, which as a brand has made sustainability a key focus. In addition to implementing such initiatives as going straw-free, using solar and power-storage technology, minimizing the camps’ footprints, and supporting local communities and wildlife protection programs, Elewana donates one dollar from every room night to the Land & Life Foundation, which over the past 5 years has provided free healthcare to over 1,200 patients, trained staff for five clinics across Kenya, and provided supplies and equipment to primary schools in Kenya and Tanzania.
Elewana also works with the Shanga project, a successful social enterprise that employs people with disabilities to create handmade jewelry, glassware, woven items, homewares and more, which are sold around the world. Guests staying at Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge can tour the Shanga workshop, meet the staff, and learn about the creative process behind crafting the products.