‘I”m a grandmother, can I get to a safari lodge directly and quickly from my international flight?
Is there a safari lodge close to the airport in Africa?’
Now in her seventies this grandmother plans to continue her safaris in Africa, all over and as often as possible. The one thing that has become increasingly important for me at my age, is starting off on the right foot, in other words as fresh as a daisy. You get off the long haul flight to be enveloped by the familiar heat, the seductive and indefinable African mix of smells, but let’s be honest, you’re definitely jaded – especially if you’re travelling with grandchildren.
It’s of paramount importance that I set off on my planned safari with the senses sharp and a spring in the step; this calls for a long hot soak in a bath, a relaxed dinner (or breakfast) followed by however long a kip stretched out in a welcome and comfortable bed. Importantly this overnight recuperating and acclimatising exercise has to be an easy journey from the airport and must satisfy one’s sense of being in the bush.
With that in mind, and with some help from the resident experts, I have come up with a list of safari accommodations, suitably wild, but within a convenient distance from an international airport.
The Best African Safari Lodges Near Airports
Find me a Safari Lodge Close to the Airport – Kenya
The feted Emakoko Boutique Lodge in Nairobi National Park is a 45 minute drive from Nairobi Airport meaning that you can start your safari without delay, passing lion and giraffe on the drive to the lodge. It has the advantage of being owner-run and has the feel of the ‘real’ bush, and the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is tantalisingly nearby.
Having made this trip recently, I feel obliged to warn fellow septuagenarians with bones that may rattle, that the 45 minute drive is somewhat bumpy, despite Madonna’s visit prompting the government to improvement the road.
Find me a Safari Lodge Close to the Airport – Tanzania
From Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Airport Gibb’s Farm can be reached in two hours, a distance within my designated tolerance zone. It is an old coffee estate and like it is another great favourite that continues to produce coffee, Arusha Coffee Lodge. It is just over an hour and a half from Kilimanjaro Airport. Alternatively only a fifteen minute hop from Arusha airport. These I deem just perfect for the purpose of pausing and taking stock.
Find me a Safari Lodge Close to the Airport – Zambia
There is no shortage of lodges obligingly on the doorstep of Zambia’s Livingstone Airport and I have made my selection of three. They are firmly on the safari circuit, near Victoria Falls, remote and pretty though could not be described as in the wildest setting.
There is the romantic Tongabezi a thirty minute drive from the airport and on the riverfront with a variety of options for your large or small group. Waterberry Zambezi Lodge is different in its being smaller and more intimate and relaxed, and with a wonderful private house offering. Then there’s Stanley’s by Robin Pope Safaris, away from the Zambezi and overlooking the bush it is probably the most peaceful.
Jumping straight into the real safari atmosphere in the company of elephants and buffalo is the pretty awesome Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi. It is family friendly and just within my 2 hour boundary. You would have to get to Lusaka (re-named Kenneth Kaunda) airport, but if only for its food this camp is worth that extra flight.
Find me a Safari Lodge Close to the Airport – Botswana
Botswana has no direct flights from the UK or America, however if you get yourself to Kasane International Airport in Northern Botswana, you’re only ten minutes away from the huge beds and vast sunken baths of Sanctuary’s Chobe Chilwero Lodge, or the family fun at Desert & Delta’s Chobe Game Lodge with its all-female guiding team, and a plethora of other options in Chobe.
Find me a Safari Lodge Close to the Airport – South Africa
Capetown is a hard one to resist with those alluring winelands on the doorstep and it was no contest when it came to the choice of the Auberge Clermont in the Franschhoek Valley. With its exceptional reputation for both wine and food a day or two of self-indulgence will mean complete recovery from jet lag, but not many animals!
There are some ‘safari’ options near Cape Town too, but most will find them somewhat tame compared to the ‘real’ bush. Have a look at Sanbona, Aquila Safari and Inverdoon. If you can cope with another little flight to Port Elizabeth then you’re on the doorstep of the Shamwari Reserve which is a great hidden wildlife gem in South Africa.
Johannesburg is different: I drew a bit of a blank where nearby lodges were concerned but found it reassuring that a quick flight on a chopper would get you to the Waterberg for example, or to Kruger National Park. At Kruger you are spoilt for self-indulgent luxurious choice and the big five waiting for you. I am a particular fan of the family run Notten’s in the Sabi Sand Private Reserve because owner Grant makes it feel like home, and because Sabi offers arguably the best wildlife viewing in the Kruger.
Visiting the Waterberg you may find yourself swiftly deposited in Leobo Private Reserve’s roof-top jacuzzi, complete with G&T in hand, before you can say ‘one has arrived’.
That’s it from me until my next post for grandparents – ‘What to avoid on safari!’.