African Safari - Rare, Wild And Accessible
Business Traveler|April 2019

For memorable incentives and meetings or a one-of-a-kind bleisure trip, African safaris make it real

Gretchen Kelly

Imagine capping off four days of meetings in Johannesburg or Nairobi with a heart-stopping flight across the African veldt, seeing wildebeest migrating and lions and hyenas tracking them. Then picture yourself after a dusty but invigorating game drive relaxing in your own plunge pool or having a massage in a tented spa, where you can watch an elephant family move before you as if in slow motion. Now imagine the gentle tinkle of ice in your gin and tonic as you watch the African sun go down.

Africa as a meeting point for global business travelers has a rare advantage: It's one of the world's most coveted leisure destinations. The World Travel and Tourism Council's 2018 Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Report states that a whopping 69.5 percent of Africa’s direct travel and tourism GDP in 2017 was leisure-oriented compared to 30.5 percent for business travel spend. But both are expected to grow in the coming years, and the "bleisure" traveler (the combination of business and leisure dollars) is going to be all the more important in 2019 and beyond.

Nowhere else in the world but Africa will a short flight or drive get you from the board room to the wildness of an animal-rich savannah in under an hour.

Business travelers flying South African Airways from JFK to Johannesburg, for instance, have access to the Kruger National Park, one of the world's best places to see the "Big Five" of game fame: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo.

Travelers flying new direct routes to East Africa on Kenya Airways’ recently debuted New York to Nairobi route can get to the Maasai Mara, that massive expanse of wild sanctuary in the direct path of the Great Migration.

Safaris and safari lodges are traditionally the best way both to see wildlife and to steal some well-deserved days for rest and relaxation after finishing up meetings and business travel and just before heading home on flights that can be over 15 hours long. Some lodges are also large enough to host buyouts of up to 50 people: perfect for intimate incentive groups, wildlife-inspired board meetings or small group team building.

Small aircraft safari operators like Scenic Air Safaris (scenicairsafaris.com), a Nairobi-based company, can get travelers to the lodges and Africa's wilderness in under an hour, with flights on small light aircraft that, are so thrilling they're often one of the best parts of an already peak experience. The agile airplanes can get down low, tracking migrations of wildebeest and coming amazingly close to large animals like elephants and giraffe. Other wildlife you can see near the Mara include over 500 species of birds like pink flamingos and more.

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