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Contrary to what its decor might suggest, this beautiful spot is neither a spiritual sanctuary nor a high-end spa: It’s Skukuza Airport (SZK) in South Africa.
Skukuza serves as the gateway to a number of national parks and reserves, most notably Kruger National Park. With just a handful of direct flights connecting Skukuza to Johannesburg and Cape Town each day, this quiet airport offers tranquillity in lieu of the usual travel chaos. Most flights are on 12-seat Cessna Caravans, and none are on airplanes larger than 50 seats, so gate agents personally escort travelers to the tarmac. The airport offers free Wi-Fi across the grounds, and the non-traditional experience includes luxurious amenities in the bathrooms, as well as an open-air courtyard with a pond.
Skukuza is jointly owned by Lion Sands Game Reserve; Federal Airlines, a private charter carrier; and Airlink, a subsidiary of Star Alliance member South African Airways. The commercial flights connect passengers between seven cities including Johannesburg and Cape Town, while chartered shuttles ferry guests from the airport to private safari lodges with their own runways.
The airport was established in 1958, named James Stevenson – Hamilton after the first warden of Kruger National Park, and underwent a full revamp in 2014. The update seems to have been a success: Mkhuze Airport (MZQ), also located in South Africa, is about to follow suit with an upgrade of its own.
If you’d like to visit Skukuza, tickets begin at just $150 one-way from Johannesburg, but if you’re booking with miles, beware that Star Alliance travelers have reported a mixed-bag experience trying to book Airlink flights using partner miles.
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