Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Africa Adventure

A journey of two Super Cubs through Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi

We spent four hours on the ground dealing with paperwork and angry officials. Daylight was running out, and our frustration levels were getting high. We finally managed to get out of there, with just enough daylight left to make it to our next destination.

We flew past Lake Rukwa, and then popped over the hills to join up with Lake Tanganyika. This was now a familiar site to us, as Loni and I had flown in the area two years prior. Lake Tanganyika is gorgeous! One of my favorite places in Africa. The lake is situated in the Great Rift Valley and is divided among four countries—Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, with Congo and Tanzania possessing the majority of the lake. Its waters feed the Congo River and ultimately end up in the Atlantic Ocean.

Being 420 miles long and almost 5,000 feet deep, it's the longest lake in the world and the second deepest. In some ways, it looked similar to Lake Malawi, but the vegetation was even more dense and tropical.

We flew up the lake to Kipili, where we'd spend the night at Lakeshore Lodge, located on a stretch of white sandy beach. Arriving at sunset, we were greeted by the friendly owners, who made us feel very comfortable and treated us to a delicious dinner on the beach, under the starlight. I wish we could have spent more time here. We dreamt of having floats on our Cubs and imagined all the possibilities it could bring about. We only spent the night there and left the following day, but this was another place we knew we'd return to, in the not-too-distant future.

Leaving Lake Tanganyika, we were headed to Serengeti National Park, to an airport called Makau. That day, we covered about 470 miles and stopped at Tabora airport to refuel. Most of the terrain we flew over was quite deserted and bare, with not much wildlife except for Ugalla River, which was about halfway through the leg. As we flew over this game reserve, the scenery and vegetation changed drastically. We followed the riverbed, which was covered with invasive hyacinth plants that gave it a distinct bright-green look. We found some areas along the river that were densely populated with wildlife, and especially large herds of hippos bathing in the river. A quick stop in the middle of nowhere to have a bite to eat, and we arrived in late afternoon in Serengeti.

We had planned to stay in Serengeti for two days, as the great wildebeest migration was taking place. As we flew over the park, we witnessed tens of thousands of wildebeest on the march, accompanied by many zebras and antelopes tagging along. The migration was just starting, and not yet gathering the numbers that are possible when it's in full motion, but it was nonetheless a spectacular site. It's remarkable to still be able to see so much free-ranging wildlife.


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