Planning The “Mother Of All African Adventures” With Miles

In my five year plan, I had Africa penciled in for 2017.  Two shorter trips to India & Sri Lanka in Feb and the Marquesas in Oct-ish were penciled in for 2015.  I decided to swap them around because the trip to Africa is far more vulnerable to the frequent flier mile game than the others are, also because the Africa trip is best done with United miles ex-Australia.  With United, you can have both a stop-over and an open jaw and I will probably need to make use of at least one of these.  This is my tentative award itinerary, not the actual dates but I just experimented with what was available.  I have a stop-over in Accra and an open jaw between Kilimanjaro and Johannesburg.


This is what it will cost for 2 tickets in Y with the taxes.  I don’t think I can get the extra 100k for business class without considerable extra expense.


I will still need some other airline tickets.  From Kilimanjaro, we need to get to Madagascar.  The easiest way to do this is with Kenya Airways.  Depending on schedules and layover rules we could either fly from Kilimanjaro-Nairobi-Antananarivo or take the bus to Dar Es Salam and then to Nairobi-Antananarivo.  Theoretically, we should also be able to use a combination of Ethiopian and South African Airways to go Kilimanjaro-Addis Ababa-Johannesburg-Antananarivo but South African Airways doesn’t seem to release ANY awards at all on this segment.

Flying Blue (Air France & KLM’s program) would require 17,500 miles each for the one way award that would otherwise cost $1400 for both of us.  Hopefully I can get an Amex with enough MR (Membership Rewards) points to transfer to Flying Blue.

Next we need a flight from Antananarivo to Mauritius.  This will have to be a cash ticket as only Air Madagascar and Air Mauritius fly this route.  I can use IHG points for a free room here.

From Mauritius, we will go to Port Elizabeth via Johannesburg because there is an amazing bird park there I would like to revisit called Birds of Eden.  I can use the BOGO award from my Club Carlson Visa to get 2 nights at the Radisson Blu for 38,000 points.  Flights on South African Airways are 12,500 United miles each Y class or we might have to buy up to J class if Y is not available.  Current research shows J is easier to get than Y on this route.

Domestic flights within South Africa are cheap enough so we will fly back to Johannesburg, pick up a rental car and revisit the wonderful northern Kruger Park I have been blogging about and Magoebaskloof which is next on the blogging list.  If I need hotels in Johannesburg due to flight schedules both IHG and Club Carlson have properties.


BNE-ACC-JRO/-JNB-BNE 200,000 United miles.  I have the miles already.

JRO/DAR-NBO-TNR 35,000 Flying Blue miles.  I need an Amex with Membership Rewards in my next churn.

TNR-MRU have to pay cash.

MRU-JNB-PLZ 25,000 or 50,000 United Miles depending on class of service.  Planning to add an Ink Plus in my next churn to cover this.

PLZ-JNB cash tickets are cheap.

Can use hotel points in Mauritius, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.  Otherwise will be eco-lodges in parks or whatever else I can find at a good price.