5 exciting African destinations you can get to using Avios with Royal Air Maroc

May 24, 2020

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Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc recently joined the Oneworld alliance, alongside the likes of British Airways, American Airlines, JAL and others. The addition of Royal Air Maroc expands the global reach of the alliance — its only member in Africa — and opens many new routes for Oneworld frequent flyers in the continent.

Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld availability

Until Royal Air Maroc joined the alliance, for Brits, the best way to get to off-the-beaten-track destinations in Africa was with Air France thanks to its strong connections with large swathes of francophone West Africa. This ultimately means that for redemptions, Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue programme would be the best way to get there on points and miles. Finally, there’s a way for U.K. travellers with a stash of Avios to get to remote and less-travelled destinations in Africa.

Destinations

There was already a handful of West African destinations that Oneworld had some established connections to in West Africa. For example, with Iberia via Madrid (MAD) and also with Qatar Airways via Doha (DOH).

In total, Royal Air Maroc adds these 21 destinations to the Oneworld network: Bamako, Mali (BKO); Bangui, Central African Republic (BGF); Banjul, The Gambia (BJL); Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (OXB); Brazzaville, The Republic of Congo (BZV); Conakry, Guinea (CKY); Cotonou, Benin (COO); Douala, Cameroon (DLA); Freetown, Sierra Leone (FNA); Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (KIH); Libreville, Gabon (LBV); Lomé, Togo (LFW); Malabo, Cameroon (SSG); Monrovia, Liberia (ROB); N’djamena, Chad (NDJ); Niamey, Niger (NIM); Nouakchott, Mauritania (NKC); Praia, The Azores (RAI); and Yaoundé, Cameroon (NSI).

Because government safety guidelines recommend not visiting many of these destinations, we’ve filtered the selection down to five solid choices that you might want to consider for a future trip.

Casablanca, Morocco

British Airways has been operating flights from London to Marrakesh (RAK) for a while. Royal Air Maroc now brings a second Moroccan destination for using Avios, as the airline operates from both London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN) to Casablanca (CMN).

The city is on the country’s Atlantic coast, around 54 miles south of the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Casablanca - Morocco. Panoramic view of Casablanca waterfront area with Hassan II Mosque in the background (Photo by Piero Damiani/Getty Images)
Casablanca – Morocco. Panoramic view of Casablanca waterfront area with Hassan II Mosque in the background (Photo by Piero Damiani/Getty Images)

Head to the coast to check out the beautiful Hassan II Mosque. There’s also a typical Moroccan Old Medina, which is easy to find in the heart of the city. Finding your way out might not be as easy though as you wander around the maze of narrow streets.

On an evening, the coast to the northeast of the city is the place to be — The Corniche. It’s a restaurant-, ice cream parlour- and shisha bar-lined promenade that is sure to keep you entertained well into the night.

Cost in Avios: In economy, one-way flights from London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN) cost 11,000 Avios. Fees and taxes vary depending on the airport: The cheapest is at £66 from Gatwick (LGW), £67 from Manchester (MAN) and £101 from Heathrow (LHR) from London, as of time of writing. In business, the Avios amount doubles to 22,000 from both U.K. cities with taxes and fees also rising from each airport: Gatwick £101, Manchester £103 and Heathrow £135.

Related reading: 10 things to know before you go to Morocco

Praia, Cape Verde

For many, even if you’ve heard of Cape Verde, you might not be able to point it out on a map. It’s a country made up of an archipelago of 10 volcanic Portuguese-speaking islands just over 400 miles off the coast of Senegal on Africa’s West Coast.

The landscape is striking, with many active volcanos in all directions. The tallest of which is Pico do Fogo, which stands at a staggering 9,281 feet (2,829 metres) — more than twice the height of the U.K.’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis.

Volcano "Pico do Fogo" stands freely above the burned Lava fields and growing vegetation on the island of Fogo, Cabo Verde (Photo by Raularosa/Getty Images)
Volcano “Pico do Fogo” stands freely above the burned Lava fields and growing vegetation on the island of Fogo, Cabo Verde (Photo by Raularosa/Getty Images)

It’s the perfect destination for some winter sun — or sun at any time of the year. Day temperatures average around 25-30 degrees Celcius — a great alternative to the often-crowded Canary Islands.

Cost in Avios: In economy, one-way flights from London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN), you’re looking at 22,000 Avios. Fees and taxes vary depending on the airport: The cheapest is at £213 from Gatwick (LGW), £215 from Manchester (MAN) and £247 from Heathrow (LHR) from London, as of time of writing. In business, the Avios amount doubles to 44,000 from both U.K. cities with taxes and fees also rising from each airport: Gatwick £309, Manchester £311 and Heathrow £343.

Banjul, The Gambia

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t like to relax at a fancy five-star resort every now and again. If you want it, The Gambia has it plus so much more. From modern eco-retreats to floating lodges on the River Gambia, there’s something for everyone.

Beach in Banjul, Gambia (Photo by Zelg/Getty Images)
Beach in Banjul, Gambia (Photo by Zelg/Getty Images)

Like many countries in Africa, The Gambia is teeming with wildlife. This tiny oblong nation is most famous for its 600 species of birds, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Bush pigs are also very common.

(Photo by Animalist/Getty Images)
(Photo by Animalist/Getty Images)

Cost in Avios: In economy, one-way flights from London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN) you’re looking at 22,000 Avios. Fees and taxes vary depending on the airport: The cheapest is at £223 from Gatwick (LGW), £225 from Manchester (MAN) and £257 from Heathrow (LHR) from London, as of time of writing. In business, the Avios amount doubles to 44,000 from both U.K. cities with taxes and fees also rising from each airport: Gatwick £319, Manchester £321 and Heathrow £353.

Monrovia, Liberia

Liberia has a special place in the heart of everyone at TPG. For more than five years, we have been sponsoring PeaceJam, an organisation whose aim is to inspire young people to be the voice of change in their communities and countries through Nobel Peace Prize winner-lead “jams”. PeaceJam operates in countries all over the world including East Timor, Ghana, Guatemala, South Africa and Liberia.

Related reading: 12 takeaways from our visit to one of the world’s least-developed countries

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

One of the great things about Liberia is that the official language, along with 16 other indigenous languages, is English — making life as a tourist that little bit easier. Like in many African countries, there’s an array of incredible and unique wildlife a far cry from the foxes and badgers in the U.K.

Some even say that the coast of Liberia, in particular close to Robertsport, is one of the best-undiscovered surfing spots in the whole of Africa.

Cost in Avios: In economy, one-way flights from London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN) you’re looking at 22,000 Avios. Fees and taxes vary depending on the airport: The cheapest is at £213 from Gatwick (LGW), £225 from Manchester (MAN) and £247 from Heathrow (LHR) from London, as of time of writing. In business, the Avios amount doubles to 44,000 from both U.K. cities with taxes and fees also rising from each airport: Gatwick £309, Manchester £321 and Heathrow £343.

Related reading: 11 of the best far-flung dive and snorkel spots to add to your bucket

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Thanks to the civil unrest which ended in 2002, Sierra Leone might not automatically register as being one of the safest places to visit. However, many travellers say it’s quite the opposite. Peace has been restored and the country has been welcoming tourists since 2014.

Though it’s safe four tourists to visit, the country has very little in the way of tourism infrastructure. On the one hand, this can make navigating your way around a little trickier than in other places, but on the other hand, it means you’ll find miles and miles of beautiful beaches and practically deserted islands to yourself.

For the nature lovers, this tiny African nation boasts super dense jungles and some of the most diverse and rarest wildlife — including the chimpanzee.

West African Chimpanzee -Pan troglodytes verus-, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Province Western Area Tacugama, Sierra Leone
A chimpanzee doing its thing at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Province Western Area Tacugama, Sierra Leone (Photo by Fabian von Poser/Getty Images)

Cost in Avios: In economy, one-way flights from London (LGW/LHR) and Manchester (MAN) you’re looking at 22,000 Avios. Fees and taxes vary depending on the airport: The cheapest is at £213 from Gatwick (LGW), £215 from Manchester (MAN) and £247 from Heathrow (LHR) from London, as of time of writing. In business, the Avios amount doubles to 44,000 from both U.K. cities with taxes and fees also rising from each airport: Gatwick £309, Manchester £311 and Heathrow £343.

How to Book

Booking these Royal Air Maroc-operated flights with BA Avios couldn’t be easier. Head to the “book with Avios” section on the BA website as you normally would. Then, all you need to do is add in your departure and arrival airports and hit “Get flights”.

In terms of pricing, all routes are pretty much exactly the same. However, the cheapest taxes are from Gatwick, so if you’re in London, it might be worth considering flying from there rather than Heathrow.

In economy, one-way flights from London to Banjul (BJL), Casablanca (CMN), Freetown (FNA), Monrovia (ROB) and Praia (RAI) cost 22,000 Avios + fees ranging from £213 to £253 depending on the departure and arrival airport.

In business, the cost of Avios doubles to 44,000 for a one-way flight and taxes fees increase to around between £309 and £343 depending on the departure airport and destination.

Related reading: A review of Royal Air Maroc’s 787-9 in business from NYC to Casablanca

It’s worth noting that while these routes are operated by the airline’s Boeing 737 aircraft, the business class features 2-2 configuration with more space and comfort than in the likes of British Airways’ Club Europe cabin.

Featured image by Raularosa/Getty Images

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