Where’s best for a stopover on our way to South Africa?
Q We’re planning on a three-week trip to South Africa. Given it’s such a long flight, we were thinking of a suitable stopover for a couple of days on the way there or back from London. Where do you recommend?
A Breaking your journey to and/or from South Africa is an excellent idea: partly because the non-stop journey between London Heathrow and Cape Town covers 6,000 miles and
typically takes 12 hours, but also due to the fact that you will be flying past some compelling locations. I am not counting the big Gulf hubs of Doha and Dubai, because travelling via either involves a long dogleg adding over 2,000 miles to the journey. Even Istanbul – a wonderful stopover city, and the best range of African flights of any airport – is off my list as a journey-easing choice: I calculate that after a four-hour flight you are only 700 miles (roughly 80 minutes) closer to Cape Town than when you left London. So the choice will be solely in Africa.
My list of big African aviation hubs where I can enthusiastically recommend a 48-hour stopover is short. It comprises Casablanca, Cairo and Addis Ababa. Unfortunately the first is not in the running for you because Royal Air Maroc does not currently fly to South Africa. Egyptair connects Cairo with Johannesburg but not Cape Town. Ethiopian Airlines is way ahead of the pack, offering links from its Addis Ababa hub to both Cape Town and Johannesburg (and using Africa’s youngest and best airline fleet into the bargain). The option to make an “open jaw” trip between the two main South African gateways means you can avoid doubling back on a trip taking in, say, the Garden Route, the multicultural joys of Durban and a game reserve in northeastern South Africa.
Addis Ababa will add a rewarding extra dimension to your trip. It is a beautiful and friendly city. The high altitude (almost 8,000 feet) means the Ethiopian capital feels fresh despite its proximity to the equator (just nine degrees away). The cultural scene includes an excellent National Museum and two impressive cathedrals. You are also guaranteed to eat extremely well: Ethiopian cuisine is my favourite in sub-Saharan Africa. Email your question to email@example.com or tweet @simoncalder Want your views to be included in The Independent Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your address BACKTOTOP