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Aerial tours of Kruger

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abayat
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Aerial tours of Kruger

Unread postby abayat » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:14 pm

Hi there all! I will be visiting Kruger for the first week July. staying at protea Kruger Gate.I would like to hear from others who have done the same with any tips or suggestions. This will be my first time on that side of the park, stayed at malelane & crocodile area previous trips.
I would like to know about aerial trips over the park : firstly whether these are encouraged, then who when and where?

cant wait to kruger.

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DuQues
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Unread postby DuQues » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:19 pm

Easy answer, they are not allowed. KNP Spokesman told us somewhere long ago that even SANParks flights are tightly controlled, and only the ones really needed are going through.
So overflights will have to be done with Google Earth....
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

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Unread postby Snoobab » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:42 am

Just out of interest and without trying to start a heated debate, but wouldn't balloon safari's over Kruger be an option. They make almost zero noise and are not really an eyesore if it was controlled to one operator per area. There are large area's of Kruger with no road network and maybe these type of safari's could operate over these spots without even being seen by the everyday tourist. I for one would love to do a balloon safaris over Kruger.

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simonb6
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Unread postby simonb6 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:49 pm

Nice idea, but I don't think it would work in Kruger.

The big problem with hot-air balloons is that you can't steer them - your only options are up and down.

A balloon is normally followed by a retrieval vehicle which shadows it to its final landing point so that the envelope and basket can be loaded up and returned to the departure point. The pilot and passengers also have to be "retrieved" of course.

Obviously, if the balloon finally lands in open bush some distance from a road the retrieval vehicle(s) then have to drive off-road to the landing site and the ground crew have to tramp around deflating and folding up the envelope and loading the whole shooting match onto the retrieval vehicle.

Given the SANParks policy of minimising damage to the ecostructure in the parks, I think it unlikely that they would look favourably on this activity.
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Unread postby Snoobab » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:19 am

You have a point there simonb6 but although you can't steer them the pilots are very good at landing them at pre designated spots. They don't simply go where the wind takes them and land wherever. Trips are very well planned out according to wind direction. The take-off spot are carefully selected according to the wind direction in order to get the balloon back to it's planned landing spot where the recovery vehicle is waiting.
I don't see there being any problem with them in Kruger. There are a few other game reserves in SA that have them flying over and have had no problems there (the one is very large - think 3rd biggest in SA ?)

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Unread postby abayat » Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:45 pm

Hi all!

I think we should start with some clarity on the specific reasons for restricting flights over/within the park.

Flights dont need to originate or terminate within the boundaries of the park.

I dont think air pollution could be an issue, else motor vehicles, especially diesel 4x4's wouldn't have been allowed.

Maybe noise pollution. In this case, hot air balloons would be ideal. interesting if anyone with such experience could enlighten us regarding the pilots ability to or restrictions with steering the balloon.

If planes make too much noise, and balloons cant be steered and may thus need to land in the park, how about a microlight aircraft.?

Whatever is allowed should be restricted to a licensed operator, like we find with those who offer boat based whale watching.

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Unread postby arks » Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:52 am

I don't know about anyone else, but I personally would very much object to ANY sort of aircraft apart from official SANParks aircraft flying over any part of KNP. :roll: :twisted: :roll: If you want this sort of experience, go to those places that offer it. IMO such activities would be totally out of place (and out of keeping) in Kruger.
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Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:37 am

Hi "Winged" Forum Folks

I have read this thread with interest ... thank you for everyone's input.

I don't know whether any Forum members have been to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe lately? My SO and I went there last year for a bit of R&R and LUCKILY the lodge that we chose to stay at was relatively far from the actual Falls. That said however, you could still see the helicopters and microlights flying up and down the river (just visible to the left of the deck) and it looked a bit like Heathrow Airport (ie much busier than OR Tambo International!). My thoughts went to the people booked into hotels and lodges closer to the Falls themselves, the noise must have been horrible ...

Now that illustration is one of the main reasons why we restrict flights over the Park. I would definitely agree with Arks, imagine the situation where you are quietly enjoying a moment with a herd of Kudu on the S-"something" and a group of microlights roar over you!

The same can be said for balloons. When they open the taps, it is a roar as the gas burns into the canopy. Imagine the same setting as above?

There is also the safety issue. If the microlight declares an emergency, where does it land? If the balloon's flight plan doesn't go ... well ... according to plan (this happens often Snoobab! - I have been up twice in a balloon and only once did they land where they said they were going to land!!)? And how are the passengers and crew evacuated from the area?

And the simple fact that it is against the law and the Protected Areas Act. So you would need to change the law before allowing this sort of thing.

To wrap up, at this stage we will not allow this activity to take place in the Kruger National Park.

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Unread postby BIGBOB » Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:33 am

Do the field rangers report incidents of flying over the Park. Earlier this year I travelled from Malelane Gate to Lower Sabie following the river route. There were Micro lights flying overhead and I can only assume they came from one of the Luxury Lodges across the River.

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Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:44 am

Hi BigBob

Our field rangers certainly do try and get the registration number of the aircraft. Our feeling on this is if the aircraft is low enough to read the registration, it must be illegal. These aircraft are reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

By the way, this is where we and some of the lodges outside the park disagree. The river is still in KNP as the boundary is on the southern bank so therefore they might be "only" overflying the river, but we still regard this as illegal.

So I hope this is a warning to those unscrupulous microlight operaters out there. We know who you are, your aircrafts' registration numbers and where you are based ...

Hi Simonb6

You must have gone to the Salon then? Aviation photography is where I learnt many of my tricks too. I have unfortunately never been to Paris (for the air show) but I have been to a number of shows in the UK. My favourite - to this day - was a "flying day" at the Shuttleworth Collection. Saw and took ground-to-air photographs of the DH88 flypast - FANTASTIC! (I have a military aviation background ...).

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Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:52 am

cptphotographer wrote:There is definitely a landing strip VERY near Satara, we spent 12 odd days there in June and I found the sound of aircraft coming in and taking off VERY annoying, could anybody elaborate please????? This incidentally happened virtually everyday and was not an isolated incident. We spent more time in camp than usual since we have a baby boy and he doesn't take to being on the road all day too well.


Hi cptphotographer

The Singita Lebombo Concession had a definite need for an airstrip and submitted this need with its original proposal. The original idea was to build a new landing strip in the concession area but this was refused by our Conservationists as the environmental impact was too high. The alternative was to let them use the airstrip near Satara which was built for SANParks and military operations and this was approved, with conditionally approved.

One of the major conditions was that aircraft had to maintain a certain altitude before landing and the other condition was that they weren't allowed to overfly the camp. It sounds to me that they are doing this so thank you for reporting it. I will pass the message onto the officials concerned.

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Unread postby johanrebel » Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:48 pm

Federal Air operates commercial flights to Skukuza for passengers staying at Rhino Post and Plains Camp (and possibly also the other private concession in southern Kruger).

Guests staying at The Outpost and Pafuri Camp can fly to the airstrip just north of the Levuvhu River and just west of the tar road.

Flights to Pafuri approach from the west, crossing the park boundary in the vicinity of Pafuri gate, then continue past Banyini and Makwadzi before turning south towards the airstrip. Departing flights head north and then turn west. Passengers enjoy spectacular views of the Limpopo and Levuvhu as well as their gorges and floodplains.

I've also enjoyed a long flight over Kruger once, but I shall refrain from posting details as I do not wish to get the pilot into trouble.

Johan

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Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:05 am

Mgoddard wrote:I returned from the park a month ago and just after leaving Satara first saw the small SANPARKS plane, with only the pilot inside.. and about half hour later a small commercial plane flying very low between Orpen and Satara....not sure where he was from or where he was going...still wondered about it as I read this thread before I left and was under the impression that no commercial flights are allowed...


Hi Mgoddard

The SANParks aircraft might have been our Bantam ultralight aircraft which the rangers use for aerial surveillance and other tasks. It was instrumental in the recent recovery of Duke's left tusk. Check out the story here:
http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/2007/august/duke.php

The small commercial aircraft was either the aircraft used to ferry passengers to the concession lodge or it could have been the aircraft used for various census operations.

Our aircraft, a Cessna, has recently been involved with a comprehensive animal census. Read story here:
http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/2007 ... census.php

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) also did a black rhino census using small civilian registered aircraft (for my fellow aviation enthusiasts like Simonb6, a Piper Super Cub and a Christen Huskey). I know there was a story on this somewhere on this website but I can't seem to find it now ...

Just so that you know, no unauthorised civilian aircraft are allowed over the KNP. The charters that fly into the lodges are authorised but have to stick to certain "channels" or "corridors" and altitudes. Procedures for these are laid down in what are called NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) and are issued by South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). CAA and SANParks share the responsibility of policing these regulations so if you did see an aircraft and managed to catch the registration, please let us know.

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110 Years of Conservation Success - Now isn't that worthy of a Celebration!

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Unread postby madach » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:55 pm

Although flying over the real KNP isn't allowed the latest version of Google Earth makes it possible in the virtual world. The latest version includes a flight simulator which allowes you to fly where ever you want. The flight simulator option is a hidden feature, here's an explanation of how to access it.

There's nothing like flying an F16 jet over the virtual KNP at Mach 1 :wink:
Last edited by madach on Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:57 pm

Our aircraft can be hired by - for example - our neighbouring game reserves for game counts etc, but sightseeing flights are a strict no-no.

There are strict regulations for overflying national parks in South Africa too, so there are no private operators doing this. We also received a resolute NO from our stakeholders in this regard during the recent KNP Management Plan public process, so I can say with some authority that we aren't even planning to bring in things like this in the future.

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110 Years of Conservation Success - Now isn't that worthy of a Celebration!


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