One of the top questions I got during our trips to Kenya both last year and this year was — HOW DID YOU HANDLE THAT TINY PLANE? Known as bush planes, the small airplanes we used to travel between safari camps in Kenya don’t always have the best reputation. In fact, the headline of the paper the day we arrived in Nairobi read “Flying Death Traps”. That said, I think it’s important to put some positivity out into the universe for Kenya, especially on this topic, because we’ve only ever had wonderful experiences with Safarilink.
Kenya Bush Plane Review: Safarilink
Safarilink has a network of domestic flights within Kenya to nearly all popular safari destinations and some to northern Tanzania. Safarilink is based at Wilson Airport (a smaller airport just outside Nairobi’s city center) and operates 14 different types of aircraft.
A question I got before our trip was – why am I packing in a backpack? Bush planes typically can only accommodate so much luggage and weight requirements are firm. Plus, the area to store bags cannot always fit a roller bag. The opening for luggage is TINY! This is important to point out, because we’ve seen more than one person having to re-pack their bags and store certain types of luggage at the Wilson Airport.
Baggage allowance on Safarilink is STRICTLY limited to 15 kgs, or around 33 pounds, per person. There are a handful of destinations that allow 20kgs per person, but it’s not worth risking it, because it’s ultimately up to the pilot for weight restrictions. We’ve always packed our Northface Banchee packs and never had an issue.
I will be the first to admit that I was incredibly nervous about our bush plane flights initially. I really don’t enjoy flying all that much to begin with, so the tiny plane factor just compounded my nerves. As it turns out, the flights were all wonderful. The Safarilink staff is exceptional and gets you in the plane, off the ground and to your final destination in no time. Plus, you can often see animals running on the ground.
On our fights to Tsavo, we had the most incredible view of Kilimanjaro from the sky — something I’ll never forget!
We arrived at Wilson airport around an hour prior to departure and went through security (very quick and easy). The staff checked us in and put the appropriate tag on our bag. It’s kind of neat, because depending on which airstrip you are going to (based on your camp), it’s a different animal print or colorful pattern.
When it’s time for take-off, you’re personally lined up and then escorted out the door. Our flights have never had more than 8 people on them! The pilots quickly go over safety instructions, you’re given a bottle of water and it’s go time. You can watch the pilots navigate the whole time, which I always think is kind of neat.
Overall, I cannot recommend Safarilink enough for safety and ease in Kenya.