If you’re visiting Kenya on safari, the best way to travel from Nairobi to the national parks is by flying with a local airline like Safarilink. With plenty of flight routes all over Kenya, Safarilink makes flying between safari destinations an absolute breeze. But what’s it really like to fly with them?
In this Safarilink review, I’ll take you through the whole process of flying with Safarilink, from the booking process to the flight itself.
Disclaimer: I have not been paid or asked to write a review of Safarilink. I just had a great time flying with them and want to share my experience! However, this post does contain affiliate links.
If you’re used to booking your own flights, the booking process with Safarilink is really no different to any other airline. The website makes it really easy to book by selecting your origin, destination and dates. However, most tour operators or travel agents will book the flights on your behalf and include them in the package price.
No matter how you book your Safarilink flight, your tickets will be sent to you in the form of an e-ticket, which you’ll need to print and take with you to the airport.
As most Safarilink flights are conducted on small Cessna Caravan C208B planes, you’ll need to follow strict rules on both the size and weight of your baggage.
Safarilink recommends you pack your luggage into soft hold-all bags rather than hard suitcases. This is because the baggage holds are small and irregularly shaped, making it difficult to fit a lot in.
Your luggage must also weigh under a total of 15kg (that’s your hand luggage and hold luggage combined).
Keeping your luggage under 15kg can be difficult if you’re travelling for a long time, or have lots of hefty camera equipment to carry, but it is worth trying to keep your luggage to a minimum. You don’t need to bring loads of clothes with you. Most safari lodges in Kenya provide you with detergent to wash your clothes and keep you fresh throughout your stay.
Your bags will be weighed at check-in and some staff will allow you to go slightly over the limit, but it’s best to assume the worst and keep your luggage under 15kg. If you absolutely must carry over this amount, you will need to pay for an excess baggage fee. Alternatively, there are lockers at Nairobi Wilson Airport for you to leave things behind if you need to.
If you’re travelling with others or in a group, the airport staff may weigh your luggage together so that it averages out at under 15kg per person.
Check-in at Nairobi Wilson Airport
When you arrive at Wilson Airport, you’ll go through security as you enter the Safarilink terminal building. This involves putting your luggage through an x-ray machine and walking through a security scanner.
I’ve read other Safarilink reviews that mention travelling to a separate room for a security screening, but for us, it only happened on the way into the building.
Once you are through security, you will need to check-in at the desk in front of you. As well as weighing your baggage, the staff will check your passport and tickets and give you a boarding pass for your flight.
They will also give you a luggage tag to attach to your hand baggage. Depending on your destination, each luggage tag has a different safari theme and will make a great little souvenir of your trip!
Waiting room in Nairobi
After check-in, you are free to enjoy the delights of Nairobi Wilson Airport.
There’s a small refreshments cafe and toilets, but not a lot else. If you enjoy watching planes take off and land, you’ll love the seats by the panoramic windows while you’re waiting. Otherwise, make sure you bring a book or something to keep you entertained, as there’s not much else to do other than watch the world go by.
When it’s time to board your flight, you’ll be called forward by a member of staff manning the ‘gate’, which is essentially just a door leading out to the planes. That same member of staff will then ask you to identify your bags in a luggage trolley as they’re taken over to the plane.
Then, one of the pilots will tick your names off the manifest as you board the plane. You can take your hand luggage into the cabin and either keep it with you, or put it in the nets at the back of the plane for safekeeping.
Most Safarilink flights are on a Cessna Caravan, with three seats in a row separated by a small aisle. If you’re lucky enough to be first on the plane, you can choose to sit at the front just behind the pilots. This gives you an excellent view out of the windscreen and also allows you to keep an eye on the instruments (which is great if you’re a nervous flier like me!)
Just before take-off, your pilots will give you a short safety briefing. They’ll point out the exits, tell you to put your seatbelts on and then give you an indication of how long the flight will take and whether there are any stops. Other than that, they’ll sit up front, manning the instruments and flying the plane.
Safarilink flights are always an incredible experience. Where else can you enjoy unbelievable views of wild animals from above, or the peak of Kilimanjaro peering out above the clouds? Your Kenyan safari will start before you’ve even touched the ground!
As flights are conducted on light aircraft, they can be noisy and bumpy in the clouds but cruising is relatively smooth. That means you’re free to enjoy the magazines in the seat pockets or simply enjoy the view.
Even though there is no in-flight service or cabin crew, you can pick up bottled water from the back of the plane or suck on a mint passed around by the pilots before landing.
Most airstrips in Kenya are unpaved dirt roads. They are often uneven, so both take-off and landing can be bumpy as you hurtle along the runway but the planes are built to handle it.
In some cases, you may even spot animals on the runway as you come into land, which is all part of the experience! Your pilots are trained to handle this by coming in low above the runway and revving the engine in an attempt to scare them off, before going around and trying again.
An important point to consider when flying with Safarilink is that, along your route, you may need to stop at airstrips to either pick up or drop off passengers along the way. For example, on our flight to the Masai Mara we stopped off at an airstrip near Lake Naivasha, which is actually in a totally different direction. Still, it allowed us to see a beautiful part of Kenya that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Planning an African safari? Find out where to stay in Kenya for the safari of your dreams!
As much as you won’t want to (that’s a guarantee!) the time will come when you need to start your journey back home.
Check-in at the smaller airstrips is informal, to say the least. Despite giving you a recommended check-in time, as long as you’re there before the plane takes off, you can board.
At some of the larger airstrips, you may need to check-in at a small outbuilding at a specific time for your luggage to be weighed. But at most smaller airstrips, there are no weight checks. You simply collect your luggage from your safari jeep, carry it to the plane and tell the pilot your name and show your passport as you board.
Then all that’s left to do is sit back, relax and wave goodbye to your safari guides as your Safarilink plane safely flies you back to Nairobi.
Where to stay near Nairobi Wilson Airport
If you are flying into Nairobi International Airport, you’re likely to need to stay overnight in Nairobi before flying out of Nairobi Wilson Airport or vice versa. These Nairobi hotels are great choices for those who want to start their safari early in Nairobi National Park or are simply looking for a place to rest their head for the night.
- The Eka Hotel is a short drive away from Nairobi Wilson Airport. Even the most basic rooms are large and very comfortable, making it the ideal place to get over your jet lag at the start of your holiday or prepare for your journey back home. A double room starts at $170 per night. Book your room now!
- If you’re keen to start your safari straight away, choose to stay overnight at Ololo Safari Lodge. This exquisite lodge is set in the heart of Nairobi National Park, which you can get to in under an hour from Nairobi Wilson Airport. A double room costs $390 per night. Check out the latest prices at booking.com now.
- Ole Sereni Hotel is about as close as you can get to Nairobi National Park without actually being in it. Guests can relax in the hotel’s health centre or outdoor pool, all the while enjoying incredible views out over the national park. Each room is decorated with African-inspired decor, making it the perfect place to stay either before or after your Safarilink flight. Rooms start at $156 per night. Book your stay here!
- The Tamarind Tree Hotel is less than a mile away from Nairobi Wilson Airport, leaving you free to roll out of bed and onto your plane with hardly any effort at all! The hotel boasts a heated outdoor pool and fitness centre, as well as multiple dining options. Rooms are large and contain everything you need for a pleasant overnight stay, including a king-size bed, rain shower and flatscreen TV. From $125 per night when you book with booking.com.
In my opinion, a fly-in safari is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives, and when it’s time for yours, there’s no better airline to choose than Safarilink. Not only are the flights a safe, comfortable and rapid way of travelling between safari destinations, they can also give you a unique perspective on African wildlife that you just wouldn’t get anywhere but the air.
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