When my grandfather first walked on a compass bearing in 1926, it took two lengthy train rides and a 12-hour trek through wild unchartered bush to bring him to the place where Londolozi stands today. This journey has over the past 89-years changed considerably. My father’s first visit to Londolozi was as a 14-year-old boy. He recalled the hazardous three-day journey by ox-wagon and the poignant moment where, in the fading light, he held up a hurricane lantern whilst his father shot the lion that has just killed the leading ox.

My own experience dates back to the first flights to Skukuza. The flight was in an ancient DC3 – a three-hour flight that left Johannesburg to Skukuza but routed via Phalaborwa. In the summer months the turbulence played havoc with this ancient flying machine and if you were unlucky and encountered a head wind that could easily mean four-hours of flying! The Skukuza airport at that time was a tin shed under a marula tree and from there it was still a one-hour Land Rover ride to Londolozi.

Dave Varty Aeroplane

Dave Varty next to one of the more iconic flying machines

How amazing, therefore, that today we can travel overnight from London to Londolozi arriving just in time for lunch on the seamless South African Airways and SA Airlink daily service.


From London to Londolozi, arriving in time for lunch. Photograph by Amanda Ritchie

Rodger Foster, CEO of SA Airlink, has shown tremendous vision and foresight in partnering with SANParks and local communities to reopen the Skukuza airport gateway – enabling unprecedented, seamless and safe access to one of the world’s premier wildlife destinations.

Airlink is now also becoming the safari airline of choice with services not only to Skukuza but also to many of the Southern wilderness masterpieces including the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, Mozambique’s Archipelago Islands via both Vilanculos and Pemba and the Cape’s Garden Route. We hope that in time Airlink will be able to reinstate and connect several other of the historic air routes. Imagine the possibilities of a safari airline using sophisticated jet services conveniently linking together Africa’s high spots– Cape to Kruger, Southern Archipelago Vilanculos to Eastern Zimbabwe, to Victoria Falls, to Gorongosa, to central Archipelago Pemba to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam (Selous) to Arusha and the amazing Tanzania’s northern circuit incorporating the Serengeti and Ngorongoro onward to Entebbe to the rare mountain and lowland gorillas.


The impressive Airlink aircraft touching down on the Londolozi airstrip. Photograph by Amanda Ritchie

This is an itinerary of natural wonderment unparalleled in the world today. London to Londolozi overnight is just the beginning of what Airlink may have planned in providing jet services able to reconnect Africa’s natural masterpieces. Congratulations to Rodger Foster and his Airlink team for their vision. We look forward to welcoming you for lunch at Londolozi!


The wild bush landscape compliments the modern machines that connect us to the rest of the world. Photograph by Amanda Ritchie

Written by Dave Varty, Owner and Co-founder of Londolozi

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Dave Varty


Dave's story is too full and rich to tell in a brief blog bio. Suffice it to say that it is due to his passion, hard work and lifelong dedication to conservation that Londolozi is what it is today. One of the co-founders ...

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on London to Londolozi for Lunch

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Kim Sams

Dave, this is very exciting! Will Airlink be a connection out of J’burg? My daughter and I are in the planning stages of a return trip to Londolozi next year and would love to take advantage of the quickest route! It is a long way from Atlanta, Ga….but well worth it for a few days at Londolozi!!

Amanda Ritchie

Hi Kim. Yes, absolutely, SA Airlink will connect from Jo’burg and Cape Town as well- a definite option to get you to the lodge swiftly!

Wendy Hawkins

Oh what a pleasure! Long may the Varty family be involved in Londolozi & Airlink get its guests there safely <3

Lewis Zwick

Dave; this has nothing to do with your post. Reading Cathedral of the Wild and look forward to visiting Londolozi in October.

Jill Grady

Very exciting news Dave! I will definitely look into flying Airlink from Jo’burg when I am able to return to Londolozi.

Irene Nathanson

Love the history. Glad to take the time to travel to Londolozi from Florida!!!

Trevor Patrick

Hi Dave I really enjoy the way you recount the amazing Londos history. We need more of those fireside tales. I would guess we shared a flight or two to Phalaborwa on my many trips to the mine there and, knowing what I know now, wish I had continued the journey with you to Londos in those days. It is so amusing when I think back to the fact that the airfare for the Rand Airport to Phalaborwa flight on that grand old Dakota DC 3 was a whole R15….. return.
Best wishes Trevor

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