Beginning tonight at midnight, South African Airways will be throwing a jaw-dropper of a sale with round-trip flights to a number of African gateways starting at just $550. Alas, you'll pay almost double that once fuel surcharges and taxes are factored in, but still its much less than you would have paid just a week ago. Here's how it breaks down:
- $1034--New York (JFK) to Johannesburg
- $1071--JFK to Cape Town
- $1111--JFK to Dakar (Senegal)
- $1151--JFK to Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth
- $1342--JFK to Nairobi (Kenya)
- $1376--JFK to Livingstone (Zambia)
- $1381--JFK to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
- $1396--JFK to Entebbe (Uganda)
- $1384--JFK to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania)
I was alerted to these flights by Ken Heiber of 2Afrika and he told me that travelers can book these fares through him, with no additional commission charged (or one can go directly to the airline).
Heiber is using the announcement of these flights to launch some new, and very well-priced, vacation packages to Africa. A South African expert, he has a deep knowledge of the market; over the years, I've only heard good reports of his programs. Among his many offerings, here are two that caught my eye:
- 6 Nights in Cape Town for $1799: This package includes flights, 6-nights at a nice waterfront hotel, daily breakfasts, transfers to and from the airport in Cape Town and all taxes and surcharges.
- 6 Night Kenyan Safari for $2999: Again, the flight from the US is included as well as all in-country transportation, all lodgings, eight safari game drives, and 18 meals. An additional tax of $195 is added to this one. Places visited include Mt. Kenya Forest, Shaba National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve
In just the past three months, the South African rand has fallen some 18% against the dollar, making costs on the ground significantly cheaper in that country. Even before that happened hotels were having trouble filling their rooms, thanks to the hotel building boom that preceded the World Cup last year. This is now a destination that is saturated with beds, so watch out for 3-for-the-price-of-2-night sales and other discount promotions whenever you're booking hotels.
Recent violence against European tourists is also scaring many visitors away from Kenya and depressing the prices there. It should be noted that the assaults occurred in resort areas nowhere near the Maasai Mara and the other safari parks mentioned in this piece (its a good half-day drive to get from the trouble areas to these wilderness areas). But, as always in these cases, do your own research before booking. I'd recommend looking at the consular travel advisory sites for the US State Department, as well as the travel warnings of the British Government.
The New York Times recently covered the topic of dropping prices in Africa, and while I was confused by their focus on only the most expensive of safaris (ones costing $400/day and up without airfare), there's still some valuable information in the piece. Click here to read it.