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27 June2019

by Greg Cooke

How to plan your ultimate South African safari.

Planning a South African safari trip can be a daunting prospect for those unfamiliar with the country. The reality however is that getting around South Africa is extremely easy with excellent flight routes and good roads for easy transfers to the most luxurious safari lodges and hotels.

The Royal Portfolio properties are located in four iconic destinations in South Africa, with three in the Western Cape and one in the Greater Kruger National Park.

South Africa’s premier safari destination is the The Greater Kruger National Park. The Greater Kruger National Park is a vast area, roughly the same size as Wales or Israel. As such there are many entry points with numerous routes from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. A safari is an expensive investment and it’s important to maximise your time on safari – taking the wrong flight can mean missing precious hours that could be spent on a game drive.

The best route will depend on your safari destination. The private game reserves which are home to the best luxury lodges are located on the western border of the Greater Kruger National Park and are best accessed from the Nelspruit, Hoedspruit or Skukuza airports. The closest airport to Royal Malewane is Hoedspruit. The lodge is an easy 40 minute road transfer from the airport.

Many of the luxury lodges within the private game reserves have their own private airstrips so that guests can fly directly into the lodge – this is the ultimate arrival experience as you soar over the canopies of the bushveld coming in for landing, spotting wildlife from above. The Jackalberry Airstrip is situated within the Thornybush Private Game Reserve and is a short 10 minute drive on a safari vehicle from the lodge at Royal Malewane.

We’ve collated some of the recommended travel options below but our expert reservations team is on hand to help make your time in South Africa as seamless as possible and can help book commercial, scheduled charter, private charter flights and transfers to suit all travel itineraries.

The majority of journeys to the Kruger begin in either Johannesburg or Cape Town. While road transfers and self-drive options are available from Johannesburg, these take well over 4 hours just to get to the southern most entrance, and can take up to 7 hours to get to camps further north. Instead, we recommend flying from either Johannesburg or Cape Town.

Flight Options

While there are numerous airline options available, we recommend using Airlink. For scheduled as well as private charter flights, we recommend Fedair and Cesszani. For your convenience, we’ve broken down the best flight options by airport of departure.

Cape Town Airport (CPT)

  • CPT – Hoedspruit (HDS). This 2h30 direct flight happens twice a day and is available through South African Airways (SAA) or private charter. A 40 minute road transfer can be arranged from HDS to Royal Malewane.
  • CPT –  O.R. Tambo International (Johannesburg Airport/JHB) – HDS. Roughly the same flight time, but dependent on layover time in JHB.
  • CPT – Jackalberry Airstrip. This is a private charter option and takes approximately 3h30. Royal Malewane is a short 10 drive from Jackalberry Airstrip. The largest available aircraft for this flight is the King Air 200 which can carry a maximum of 12 people.
  • CPT – Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) (also known as Nelspruit Airport/MQP). This first leg can be arranged via daily scheduled flights through SAA, and takes approximately 2 hours. A 25 minute direct private charter flight can then be arranged to Jackalberry Airstrip which is a short 10 minute drive from Royal Malewane.

O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg Airport/JHB)

  • JHB – Hoedspruit (HDS). This direct scheduled flight takes approximately 50 minutes. A 40 minute road transfer can be arranged from HDS to Royal Malewane.
  • Johannesburg – Jackalberry Airstrip. This can be arranged via private charter or FedAir scheduled charter and takes approximately 1 hour.

Occasionally guests request flight options from other smaller airports:

King Shaka International Airport (Durban Airport/DUR)

  • DUR – Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) (Nelspruit Airport/MQP). This scheduled South African Airways (SAA) flight takes approximately 1 hour. KMIA/MQP is at least a 2h30 minute drive from Royal Malewane and not something we would recommend as the roads are very bad. Instead, we can organise a 25 minute direct private charter flight can then be arranged to Jackalberry Airstrip which is a short 10 minute drive from Royal Malewane.

For guests traveling from the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, we recommend the following routes from the Livingstone Airport.

Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (Livingstone Airport/LVI)

  • LVI – KMIA/MQP – Jackalberry Airstrip. This route is broken into two legs, the first a schedule flight via South African Airways (SAA), while the second leg is a 25 minute direct private charter flight to Jackalberry Airstrip which is a short 10 minute drive from Royal Malewane.
  • LVI – Johannesburg (JHB) – Hoedspruit (HDS). A scheduled flight via SAA that takes approximately 1h40, followed by an approximate 50 minute flight to HDS.
  • LVI – Johannesburg (JHB) – Jackalberry.  A scheduled flight via SAA that takes approximately 1h40, followed by a 1 hour minutes charter flight to Jackalberry Airstrip.
  • LVI – Polokwane Airport (PTG) – Jackalberry. This is a private charter flight and is broken up into two legs. The first flight to PTG takes approximately 2h40, while the flight from PTG to Jackalberry takes approximately 40 minutes. Additional time on the ground to clear customs needs to be taken into account.

Flights from the Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe are also available and can be arranged by our travel team.


South Africa has a myriad of travel experiences on offer, and a trip to South Africa would not be complete without visiting Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, and one of the many beautiful coastal towns. The Silo Hotel is situated in the heart of Cape Town in the V&A Waterfront, while La Residence offers the very best winelands experience in the epicurean capital of South Africa, Franschhoek. Franschhoek is just a short 50 minute drive from Cape Town, while Hermanus is a quaint coastal town just 90 minutes from Cape Town. Birkenhead House in Hermanus is a chic beach-house overlooking the dramatic coastline known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching.

Each of these destinations offers visitors a chance to experience a quintessentially South African travel experience and transfers from each can be arranged by our travel team. Various travel packages are also available which offer different combinations of these unique destinations together with Royal Malewane in the Greater Kruger National Park.

For reservations and travel enquiries, please contact our reservations team on

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