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