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Take a GA vacation overseasTake a GA vacation overseas

These companies go the extra mileThese companies go the extra mile

Fly around New Zealand, take an aerial safari in southern Africa, fly your own high-performance aircraft to other continents, or explore Mexico and the Caribbean on the vacation of a lifetime.

New Zealand

FlyInn New Zealand allows visiting pilots to explore the beaches, mountains, and fjords of that wondrous country by air—and every bit of it is remarkable. (See “Magic in the Air,” from the May 2010 AOPA Pilot.) Starting at a nontowered airport in Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, you get in the left seat of a 180-horsepower Cessna 172 Skyhawk with a highly experienced local pilot and set your own itinerary. If the mountains and rivers in the area look like they formed the backdrop to the Lord of the Rings movies, it’s because they did. You’ll take off and land on beaches, at sheep ranches, and drop in on Milford Sound—a spectacular airport with approaches lined by vertical cliffs. Hosts Matt and Jo McCaughan are warm and welcoming, and they will make sure you have the flying trip of a lifetime.—Dave Hirschman

Land of the long white cloud

  • Land of the long white cloud
    The landscape of New Zealand is incredibly diverse. From snow-capped mountains....
  • Land of the long white cloud
    to glacier carved lakes,
  • Land of the long white cloud
    steaming volcanoes,
  • Land of the long white cloud
    rolling pasture lands for merino sheep,
  • Land of the long white cloud
    and long white clouds the that inspired the Maori name for the country, ‘Aoteroa.’

Self-Fly Safari

As they say in southern Africa, put some dust on your tires. In other words, go explore some of the most fascinating landscapes and game preserves in the world via general aviation airplanes. My wife and I experienced such a journey several years go using the services of Nick and Christina Hanks and their Self-Fly Safari program. (See “Flying in the Land of Elephants,” in the August issue of AOPA Pilot.) The experienced travelers and their company provide everything you need to explore exotic locations in southern Africa, including South Africa and the famed Kruger National Park, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia—among others. They can provide a GA airplane for rent that fits your needs based on the itinerary you choose and the number of passengers. The airplane checkout also serves as your ticket to a temporary  South African pilot certificate, and off you go on the adventure of a lifetime. The carefully chosen luxurious lodges are in the heart of prime animal viewing locations—to the point that animals wander through the camps. Daily game viewing safaris bring you within feet of some of the most amazing creatures on earth, from lions, leopards, and elephants to zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and buffalo. Every flight is carefully planned for you, and each flying day you’re provided with what you need for that day—all packaged and ready to go. The flying is amazing. The animal viewing is life-changing. A bucket-list trip for sure.—Tom Haines

In the African bush

  • In the African bush
    Victoria Falls from above.
  • In the African bush
    On the ground, exotic animals pay little head to visitors.
  • In the African bush
    Photo by Tom Haines.

Air Journey

If you want to expand—really expand—your vacation horizons, check out the tours offered by Florida-based Air Journey. These are escorted tours, meaning that Air Journey sets the itinerary and covers lodging, most meals, transfers from airport to hotel and back, sightseeing side trips, and other expenses. And because these trips are designed for those flying their own airplanes, Air Journey also takes care of the pilot-related grunt work once the trip begins. Almost all the trips involve international flying, so there’s a lot of it, like obtaining overflight and landing permits, flight planning in foreign countries, and arranging for customs. Oh, and making sure that fuel is available at each stop. By the way, you’re on your own when it comes to buying that fuel.

There are many different escorted trips each year, some to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and others that range far from home. Like the trips to the Galapagos, Europe, and Africa. But for the most ambitious, there’s the annual around-the-world trip that starts every May and winds up in July. This trip isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. First of all, owing to the long legs, you’ll need to fly a turboprop or jet, and be ready to ante up the trip charge, which amounts to about $1,400 per day, per person. Do the math and you’ll see that it could run just under $100,000. Per person. Then again, this covers 70 days’ worth of top-notch travel. So, if you want the flight of a lifetime, complete with a mixture of upscale hotels (think Paris’ Plaza Athénée, Bhutan’s Amankora Paro Lodge, or Singapore’s Raffles Hotel) and adventures to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taipei, maybe you should go for it.  (See “Wings over Asia,” in the October 2014 issue of AOPA Pilot.)

Many have. The 2020 Around the World trip will have six airplanes and is sold out. Ditto some other trips. But it’s never too soon to start planning for next year!—Tom Horne

Flying over Asia

  • Flying over Asia
    Departing Hong Kong for Taipei.
  • Flying over Asia
    View of Victoria Harbour from Victoria Peak.
  • Flying over Asia
    The Man Mo temple in Hong Kong.
  • Flying over Asia
    Incense rings hang from the ceiling.
  • Flying over Asia
    A chaotic Hong Kong street where you can buy anything at a discount.
  • Flying over Asia
    The Peninsula’s private rooftop helipad.
  • Flying over Asia
    The route map shows all 36 stops on Air Journey's 2014 Around-the-World voyage (by Baker Vail).

Caribbean Sky Tours

If the Caribbean is on your mind, AOPA has a good working relationship with Caribbean Sky Tours. The company provides premium, turn-key services for flights to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America with Caribbean Sky Tours Flight Services. Caribbean Sky Tours is led by Rick Gardner, AOPA’s representative for the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Gardner provides reliable aviation information on country-specific regulations, permits, documents, and procedures, so that you can enjoy flying knowing that you have all your paperwork in order. –Alyssa Cobb

Sandy beaches

  • Sandy beaches
    Who could say no to island hopping over turquoise waters in the Bahamas?
  • Sandy beaches
    The mild weather allows for open-air options like Aircams.
  • Sandy beaches
    Shallow waters make floatplanes a good choice as well.
  • Sandy beaches
    The views from the ground are just as picturesque as from the air. Photos by Chris Rose.

AOPA ePublishing staff

AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: Travel, Bahamas, Caribbean

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