I re-visit Skukuza airport, Kruger National Park


This is the recently re-opened, re-built Skukuza Airport,
the aerial gateway to the Kruger National Park.
In Shangaan, a local vernacular language, Skukuza means
he who sweeps clean
he who turns everything upside down“.
This name was given to Col. Stevenson-Hamilton,
the first warden of the park.
And with the completed renovations, both of the descriptions apply.

I chatted to Lyn Maggs, Skukuza Airport Manager
This is what she had to say…

There are scheduled Airlink flights on a daily basis.
Charter airlines that have non-scheduled flights,
are able to utilize the airport and its facilities

The arrivals “hall”.
This is one of the best airports I have visited.

Airlink fights from both Johannesburg ( about 45 minutes)
and Cape Town( about 2 hours) are available
Compared to driving from either city,
the option of a flight is a no brainer!

The building was designer by Oliver Wills.
And he has done a splendid job of almost turning the building “inside out”.
I will explain in due course…
This is where arriving passengers get their first taste of this modern airport
One of the most passenger friendly check-in counters I have ever used.
And what makes it special?

The staff…
I last visited in October, 2014 shortly after the airport was re-opened.
The staff have maintained their sense of pride in their work
and the interaction with passengers,
both local and International.
Well done to all concerned.

This life size White Rhino has settled into his new “home”.
The plants are starting to look like they “belong”.
Almost every new arrival wanted to have a picture taken with it.
The wall colour as well as the woodwork and thatch have mellowed,
and now look like they have been here for years.

What would an airport be without a retail gift shop.
The goods on offer are quality merchandise
and well worth purchasing as presents or mementos of your visit

You have to look up…
These light fittings in the arrivals hall caught my attention.

Another view of the very welcoming arrivals node.
This area is also used for check-in before going through security
to the departure lounge
From left to right:
Arrival gate, retail shop, management and KNP permit offices.
Two car rental companies share an office just to the right of the giraffe statues.
And I have to say that the airport boasts the cleanest toilets…

One of the easiest (and quickest) baggage claim areas.
You don’t have to wait for the ubiquitous carousel to drop off you luggage
In fact, I actually saw my suitcase leave the aircraft
and it was waiting for me when I arrived here.

The baggage claim area is adjacent to the car park…
A gaggle of game drive vehicles waiting to take guests to their lodges.
This is the Lion Sands fleet…
Hire cars can be picked up or dropped off here.

Once departing passengers clear security,
they are able to purchase a variety goods to snack on
or to keep them occupied on their return flights.
This coffee shop serves a great cappuccino.
THIS is what I meant by turning the building inside out.
The exterior becomes part of the interior space
and vice versa…
The plants in this pond have taken root
and soon there will be indigenous fish added

And this is the view from the departure lounge,
looking into the main arrival node
There are several water features that surround the public areas.
In the hustle and bustle of a large urban airport,
music and announcements seem to drive travelers crazy.
At Skukuza Airport, the opposite applies.
No PA announcements to disturb the peace and quiet.
The sound of the water features is calming,
preparing departing guests for their return to civilization.

The departure lounge…
Unlike any other I have ever utilized.
The metal birds expand on the idea of flight.
On a personal note, I would have liked them to be on sale in the gift shop.

Looking from the departure lounge,
across one of the water features and into the arrivals area.
The use of glass, open spaces and living trees as part of this building,
is the differential that makes arriving passengers go “WOW”.
I spoke to local and international travelers who were “blown away”
by this bush airport.
The gardens in all areas around the airport are water-wise
and utilize indigenous plants.

Time to head home.
To find out more about the Airlink flight schedules.
visit: www.flyairlink.com
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