The Best Routes to Get to Africa

How to Get to Africa

Read our guide to the best ways to travel to Africa.

Today it is easier than ever before to travel the world. With thousands of planes taking off from every corner of the earth every day, you have almost endless options of how to reach your destination. But this poses a challenge. What is the best route to take? We get asked this question a lot, so in this blog, we’ll be breaking down the best travel routes to get from the United States of America and Mexico to Africa.

To simplify an incredibly complicated subject, we’ll be guiding you through the best way to get to Southern Africa (where most people fly into Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa) and East Africa, where most flights enter Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania or Nairobi Airport, Kenya

Getting to Southern Africa

Most people choose a direct flight over one with layovers. Although these tend to be a bit more expensive, the extra cash is usually well worth the ease of getting on and off just one plane!

 Currently, the only airlines flying directly from the USA to Johannesburg are Delta and United. Both Airlines have daily flights. Delta departs from Atlanta, Georgia and United leaves from JFK in New York.

Direct flights into Cape Town are also operated by Delta and United. The United flight departs from Newark while the Delta flight leaves from Atlanta.

Unfortunately there are no direct flight to Southern Africa from Mexico. It is best to travel via the United States of America, Europe or the Middle East when getting from Mexico to Southern Africa.

Getting to southern Africa via Europe

There are multiple European airlines we would recommend when travelling from the United States and Mexico into Southern Africa. Here’s just a few of our favourite options.

British Airways has hundreds of flights from across the United States into London every day. Flights depart from New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC to name a few. In Mexico, British Airways flights depart from Mexico City and Cancún.

There are also daily flights into Johannesburg and Cape Town, making this an easy one-stop-shop option.

Air France also has daily flights into Paris from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. There is also a daily flight from Mexico City. Air France flies daily from Paris to Johannesburg too.

Unfortunately there is no direct flight from Paris to Cape Town, so you’ll need to select a different route or add in an additional stop if travelling to Cape Town via Paris.

KLM is another excellent option when choosing the best way to get from the United States to Southern Africa. The Dutch airline has daily flights into Amsterdam from New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Atlanta, among others. In Mexico, KLM flies to Amsterdam from the capital of Mexico City.

The airline also offers a daily flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg and Cape Town.

For those wishing to travel via Germany, Lufthansa is a good choice. This airline has direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C into Munich and Frankfurt. In Mexico, there is a direct Lufthansa flight into both Munich and Frankfurt from Mexico City.

There is a direct flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, but not from Munich. This makes Frankfurt the better choice. Neither airport has a direct flight into Cape Town though, so you’ll need to fly via Amsterdam or select a different route if this is your destination.

Turkish Airlines is one of the biggest international airlines and offers some great affordable options to get from the United States to Africa. There are daily flights into Istanbul from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. From Mexico, there is a direct flight daily from Mexico City.

There is also a daily flight from Istanbul to Johannesburg and to Cape Town.

Getting to Southern Africa via The Middle East

Qatar has hundreds of flights into Doha from multiple US cities every day. The airline flies from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. There are also multiple daily flights into Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Qatar does not offer direct flights from Mexico to Doha because of how far away it is. We recommend either flying into the United States first, or travelling via Europe when going from Mexico to Southern Africa.

Emirates is also a good option when travelling to Africa. Emirates flies from Dubai to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. And it has daily flights into Johannesburg and Cape Town.  

Like Qatar, Emirates does not offer a direct flight from Mexico to Dubai.

Getting Home from Southern Africa

Depending on the final destination in your Southern African safari, we will advise you on the best airport to depart from when journeying home.

Getting to East Africa

When travelling to East Africa, most tourists fly into Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania or Nairobi in Kenya.

There is no direct flight into Kilimanjaro Airport, but Kenya Airways does operate a direct flight from JFK in New York to Nairobi a few days a week.

Alternatively, there are some great options for flying into East Africa via Europe.

Getting to East Africa Via Europe

As with getting to Southern Africa, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, KLM and Turkish Airlines are all good European options when travelling to East Africa.

British Airways has a daily direct flight into Nairobi from London, Air France flies into Nairobi from Paris, and Lufthansa flies from Frankfurt into Nairobi every day. Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and KLM via Amsterdam also have daily flights into Nairobi.

 Most European airlines, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines all have a connection with Ethiopian Airlines rather than flying directly into Kilimanjaro Airport.

When travelling on any one of these airlines, visitors to East Africa will first need to get a connecting flight to Addis Ababa and then travel on to Tanzania.

While most other European airlines do not have a direct flight to Kilimanjaro Airport, KLM is an exception. The Dutch airline has a direct flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport every day except Sunday, making KLM a great option when travelling to East Africa.

Getting to East Africa via The Middle East

Both Quatar and Emirates have direct flights into Nairobi. Qatar also has a direct flight from Doha to Kilimanjaro Airport. Emirates however, does not, meaning those travelling via Dubai will need to first fly into Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines.

Getting Home from East Africa

Depending on your last safari location, it is best to fly home either from Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar. If you are ending your trip on Zanzibar island, its simple enough to catch a connecting flight to most European countries as well as the Middle East. However, if your last location is more remote like Pemba Island for example, it is best to fly out of Dar Es Salaam. We will advise you when planning your East African safari.

As we mentioned earlier, there are thousands of options to choose from when planning how to get to Africa for your luxury safari. The connections and airlines we have mentioned are just a few of the ones our clients have had success with in the past. If you’d like more information, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll help you select the perfect option for your trip.