Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Africa Adventure

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

Being a national park and also a popular tourist destination, there were no opportunities to land. Since we're not very far from the Rift Valley, we decided to join it just south of Lake Natron, a stunning area that Loni and I had visited in the past. So much geological activity taking place in the Rift Valley makes it a fascinating area with a lot of diversity. Lake Natron can become blood red in the dry season, with a thick layer of salt crystallized on its surface. The volcano Ol Donyio Lengai, which means "Mountain of the Gods" in the Maasai language, towers at the south end of the lake. This active volcano last erupted in 2007.

When we got to the Rift Valley, we were ready for a stop and looked for a place to land. We found a hill to land on; it was steep and on the edge of an escarpment, so the winds weren't the most favorable. It turned out to be an exciting landing, to say the least. We then met up with Loni, who had landed further north of us. While circling over the volcano's crater, we tried to avoid flying through the toxic fumes that emanate from it.

The hour was getting late and our fuel supply was getting low, so we headed back to the camp for our last evening around the fire. Sadly, our trip was coming to an end. The following day, we'd be back home. We wished we could just keep going and going, as far as the little Cubs would take us!

On the following morning, we flew to Kilimanjaro International Airport, cleared customs and got enough fuel to make it back to Nairobi. We used up our last cash, and had just enough to purchase the fuel and pay the remaining fees. We made it to Nairobi's Wilson Airport right at lunchtime and grabbed a bite to eat at the Aero Club.

In a way, we were glad to have made it back home, everyone safe. On the other hand, there was a feeling of sadness that this great adventure had come to an end.

This kind of trip is the most fulfilling expression of freedom that I've discovered in life. The scenery, the wildlife, the people, the friendships and adventures along the way are what it's all about. The beauty of a Super Cub is to be able to see all this from the air while retaining the freedom to land and discover some of the finer elements you might have missed by just flying over.

Alec Wildenstein is a conservationist living in northern Kenya. He has been flying for 15 years and has logged more than 3,000 hours flying Super Cubs in Africa and Alaska.


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