I've passed through a few interesting southern African airports this year on my way to and from safaris and adventures. I'm left with a sense that we are at the end of an epoch. In June of this year I landed at the refreshingly small Francist
own international airport which hadn't changed in decades and where your luggage was dumped behind you to identify and collect after immigration formalities. Less than three months later I passed through Francistown again, but this time the modern new chrome-and-glass airport had been opened complete with conveyor belts, buses, downlighting and staff trying to adjust to the changes.
I hear rumours that the Maun Airport is to be upgraded and enlarged. Some of my guests in Cape Town told me how happy they were to have recently been to Maun, before the new airport was built and before Maun became too commercial! It's all perspective, because it doesn't seem that long ago when the Maun “airport” was a dirt strip and the pilots agreed over a few beers, to avoid the Crowned Lapwing nest at the end of the runway. In fact it doesn't seem that long ago that Crowned Lapwings were called Crowned Plovers.
However I recently passed through the new-but-not-that-new Maun airport and was shocked to discover just how inconsiderate the airport manager is and wondered why he would want to cause such “inconvinience” to those passing through his/her airport.
But that wasn't all. Apparently at the Maun airport it is fine to throw your bath towels & pool towels into the toilets but not your hand towels. Once again – I wonder why.
But the best was Bulawayo International Airport. For as long as I can remember the Bulawayo airport has been an incredibly charming small place, perfectly appropriate for the two flights per day that sometimes get there (one international and one domestic). Here are my boys walking out onto the main access road and into the traffic frenzy just after the arrival of an international flight.