In fact they’re mostly delightful places which always ensure we start our holiday with a smile.
Here are 10 of our favourite airports in Southern Africa
1. Phalaborwa (PHW)
This tiny little airport on the edge of the Kruger Park meets all our requirements. It's no more than 50 steps from plane to terminal and the tiny terminal looks like a safari lodge. Plus there’s art everywhere, from bronze giraffes drinking from a water feature to sculptures of leopards and baboons frolicking all around.
2. Skukuza (SZK)
Fly into Skukuza and land right in the heart of the bush as this airport is located right inside the Kruger National Park! One of the world's smallest airport hubs, here the planes line up to hop you to your lodge in the adjoining Sabi Sand game reserve. Flying into this airport means you might even spot an elephant or two from the air. But don't worry there's a fence around the runway to reduce the likelihood of being eaten on disembarking.
3. Ulusaba (ULX)
This airport will meet all your Karen Blixen fantasies. As you step off the plane in your wide-brimmed Chanel safari hat, a strapping game ranger will take your bags while another helps you onto the Land Rover to whisk you off to your gorgeous suite at Inyati, Ulusaba or Leopard Hills. Keep an eye out the window when descending as there’s often wildlife on the landing strip!
4. Vilankulo (VLX)
We love landing here because we can't quite believe the gorgeous colour of the sea when looking out the window of the Airlink jet (Yes, this pic is taken from the window) Once through the 5 minute customs process you can have a Mozambiquan beer in your hand and be on your way to swim in the warm waters off Dugong Lodge.
5. Upington (UTN)
Hot, very hot. But we recommend jetting in here for the spectacular views of the red Kalahari Desert below. And then head off to African Vineyard Guest House and jump in the pool!
6. George (GRJ)
Flying into the middle of the Garden Route is like looking down over a giant golf course - all rolling greenery and mountain backdrops. It'll take you a few minutes to the rental car and then you'll be on your way to the dozen great courses within easy range of George Airport.
7. Port Elizabeth (PLZ)
Why aren't all city airports like this? Located in the middle of town and staffed by the friendliest people this airport is just 10 minutes from everywhere due to the fact that Port Elizabeth isn't big and the road access is great. It's a big enough airport to have lounges and restaurants, but small enough to be a short stroll from your plane to your rental car and then out onto the Garden Route.
8. Cape Town (CPT)
Portfolio's regulars from London say their hearts leap when they look out the window on approach and see Table Mountain bathed in golden morning sun. If you have a window seat on the other side, it's thrilling to see the jagged peaks of the other Cape mountain ranges with the vineyards at their feet.
9. Durban (DUR)
While most city airports are surrounded by factories and dull sprawl, this one is carved out of sugar cane fields. So while enjoying a drink while waiting to head home after your weekend at chic Coco de Mer, you can gaze over greenery with the ocean in the distance.
10. Joburg (JNB)
OR Tambo International is too big for our liking, but it works well. We love that it’s only 11 minutes to Sandton via the sleek Gautrain. And then it's just 5 minutes by Uber to get to 33 Melville where you can enjoy your afternoon tea under a jacaranda tree. The good people there even keep small wardrobes for some of our regular clients, so they can travel even lighter!
Our favorite airline to fly us in and out of these beautiful airports is without a doubt Airlink. They have a great fleet of jets which add a touch of glamour to your trip - especially if you think of them as your own private plane! Airlink serve most of the smaller airports around Southern Africa which provide access to the gorgeous lodges and hotels in even the most remote corners of this beautiful part of the world.