Flying across Kenya’s national parks, the way to travel

OUT WITH THE (NOT SO) OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW

(Posted 04th May 2016)

(Seen here a Safarilink Dash 8-100 regularly deployed on flights to Ukunda / Vipingo and Lamu)

Visits to Kenya always allow to catch up with developments first hand and this trip to Nairobi, Naivasha and Diani was no different. It permitted to source up to date information and a meeting with Safarilink’s CEO John Buckley yielded exactly that.

John confirmed that the airline, in an exercise of fleet rationalisation, has acquired a brand new Cessna C208EX Grand Caravan, which is expected to arrive in Nairobi in late May and is due to be put into service in June. This aircraft, equipped with a state of the art avionics suite and a stronger engine than the Cessna C208B Grand Caravan, will replace Safarilink’s faithful Twin Otter, an aircraft many times flown on by this correspondent over the past eight years since this aircraft had joined Safarlink in 2008. The Viking Twin Otter was according to John Buckley sold to an operator in the Turks and Caicos Island of the Caribbean and it took the plane a full 8 days flying from East Africa across the continent to West Africa, then over the Atlantic to Brazil before eventually reaching its new home. The Twin Otter, a 19 seater two engine STOL – abbreviated for Short Take Off / Landing – aircraft operated by two pilots was the single such aircraft on the Safarilink fleet and the addition of another Cessna will bring the present fleet of this 12 seater, single engine workhorse aircraft to 9, when the new bird has arrived.

Safarilink remains a carbon neutral airline thanks to the continued cooperation with an NGO planting trees on Mt. Kenya and a faithful supporter of the Diani based Colobus Trust, which carries out important work in preserving the remaining patches of rain forest along this part of the Kenya coast where the remaining Colobus population has its main habitat.

Safaris by air to the national parks have become increasingly popular in not just Kenya but across the region and tourists with limited time can fast track their arrival time in the parks where they are met by custom build 4×4 vehicles which take them to the safari lodge or camp of their choice. The same vehicles, with guides who know their park like the back of their hand, are then used for game drives before dropping the guests off for their flight on to the next national park or back to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport.

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