A special flight experience with Fedair to Rhulani
One of the ways to travel to Rhulani is by taking the daily, scheduled flight from Federal Airlines (Fedair), departing from Johannesburg International Airport. An experience report from an exciting journey.
A smiling man is waiting with my name plate when I reach the arrival hall from OR Tambo Int'l Airport. I am tired after a long overnight flight. The "meet & greet" service is very welcome. Via the close Fedair reception desk and a short bus shuttle ride I arrive at the departure terminal. Well organized, I think.
An uncomplicated check-in awaits me at the entrance, under the open sky. I get a boarding card for flight number 8, with departure 1:00pm to Madikwe West. This is the airstrip close to Rhulani Safari Lodge. My bush experience is definitely coming closer.
I enter the luxurious lounge. There are only a few people. The calm is soothing. There are free drinks, a buffet with delicious food and a shop with local products. The cozy sofas call me immediately.
While I use the free internet access to download my emails, several flights are announced. Each time few guests rise from their sofas and head towards the door with the boarding sign. I go to the outside garden, grab fresh air and see a small plane rolling out of the parking lot.
Here in the lounge I could stay all day. But now flight number 8 is called. With me a four headed family walks to the boarding exit. An almost empty flight, I think. No, the flight is full, tells me a friendly lady who controls my boarding pass.
Outside, I see a small propeller plane and a smiling young man in a white shirt, who greets us. His name is Sean, our pilot. I stow my hand luggage somewhere, and I force myself through the narrow corridor. My place is at the front, right next to Sean. So, I am actually the copilot.
I am impressed by the many buttons, a steering wheel and foot pedals in front of me, which I am not allowed to touch. I would never have come to this idea anyway. However, I can close the side window myself, while Sean directs the small machine to the runway.
I get a headphone and can listen to the busy radio traffic. We wait a few minutes while a jumbo jet lands in front of us. Soon it is our turn. The runway is far too big for our little vehicle. The propellers start to turn faster, the engine noise gets louder. Ready for take-off.
The runway soon gets much smaller below us. Sean takes a few notes on a piece of paper, checks some measering devices on the dashboard. How can we find Madikwe? Sean shows me a GPS device and a small card, which is actually better to rely on. If you have flown two or three times, you will find the destination immediately, no problem.
I talk to Sean through the headphones with a microphone. We are high up, just blue sky around us. Sean often flies this route. His dream would be to live outside in the bush, in a safari lodge. Far from the city. I am impressed by this young man.
After 45 minutes the African bush appears below us. I see in the distance a brown line, and a patrolling vehicle. The rangers are responsible for clearing the airstrip. Sean checks with a sharp look out of the window whether there are any animals. It can happen that an impala jumps in front of the plane. That’s part of the risk when landing in the bush.
Sean starts the landing process and touches down easily on the earthy runway. Welcome to Madikwe West. Through the window I see the game drive vehicle of Rhulani. The propellers turn slower, cool down. The machine stands still. Sean opens the small exit door in the rear.
I grab my backpack and leave the plane. "Hello Rolf, how was your flight?" greets me a friendly voice. I'm glad someone out there is waiting for me. An excellent service. It is Sean, Rhulani's ranger. Funny, same name as our pilot.
My suitcase is loaded onto the rear seat of the safari vehicle. A warthog looks at us from a distance as we head over the airstrip towards Rhulani. The bushgrass has become very high after the summer. The sun is shining. It is hot. The animals are hiding in the shadow. The wind is pleasantly cool. I put on my sunglasses. My bush experience has started with a real “Wow”.
If you are interested in booking an air shuttle transfer to Rhulani, have a look at the terms and condistions here. Write us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we gladly assist you in the booking process.