Private Airstrip in the Timbavati

One of my favorite places in South Africa is a small family-owned private lodge in the Timbavati. The Timbavati is situated just to the west of Kruger National Park. The Kruger National Park, the Timbavati and Umbabat Game Reserve have dropped fences in between them in 1988.

Almost right next to the camp is the family bush landing strip. The airfield is situated along the riverbed of the Nhlaralumi river, which river also holds some dams such as the Peru and Argyle dam.

The unpaved runway is 750 meter long and 20 meter wide.

Branches were cut just recently along the east side of the runway, so your right wing has more room on the right-hand side than on the left when landing from the south side on runway 36. At the southeastern side of the runway, a green water tower was built quite close to the edge of the runway. On the southwestern side, there is a small hangar with its hangar doors situated quite close to the runway edge. At the far north end of the runway, several trees have been growing quite well over the last few year on the left, west side of the runway and the crown of some of these trees now reaches over the runway. On the northern side, the ground is loose sand for the first 150 meter, which leaves about 500 to 600 meters to land your aircraft when coming in from the north.

Africa Trip 2016

The best approach for landing is generally towards runway 36 approaching the airfield from the south as on the image just above. Note the green water tower on the right-hand side abeam the threshold and the hangar building on the left side at the beginning of the runway. Be aware of bringing your aircraft to a full stop before the big trees start at the left end due to the loose sand on the runway at the north side.

It is always wise to do a low pass over the runway with some engine noise. This way you scare away any wild animals on or near the runway and it gives you a way to inspect the runway quickly before you commence your landing.

If you need to approach the airfield from the north, then it is best to follow the right side of the riverbed as you fly from the northeast towards the airstrip to approach runway 18. Approach the runway from the riverbed and avoid the trees on the beginning right-hand side of the runway. That beginning part also has the loose sand. The riverside, left, or eastern side of the runway was recently cleaned of branches so keep the middle of the runway or divert to the left side if you have to. You have about 600 meters of runway available after missing the trees on the approach side.

Flying in from the north, you have to avoid some trees and the loose sand of the first 150 meter of the runway. After that, the runway is all flat, unpaved but rather smooth.

The best place to park your aircraft is at the south righthand side next to the hangar. Turn your aircraft with the propeller away from the hangar as there is a lodge entrance on the opposite side of the runway and they don’t like the dust to go their direction 🙂

Africa Trip 2016

In the bush behind the parking place, you will find some stones that you can use to protect the tires of your aircraft from hyenas eating them. Push the aircraft back as far as possible towards the trees to clear the runway as much as possible.

Radio Calls

When on final, make sure you inform the Eastgate/Hoedspruit Military Airport on 126.400 or Lowveld Info on 119.000 on the radio that you have the Peru Private Airfield runway in sight, so they can close your flight plan for you. 

Flightplan Filing

When filing your flight plan towards a private airstrip, note the name of your airfield as your ZZZZ destination and don’t forget to mention “No SAR” in the Other Information section and to mention your alternate. With “No SAR” ATC will know not to send a firetruck from the Hoedspruit Military Airbase to the bush strip to standby for search and rescue at a premium price charged to you.

The Toyota Game Vehicle driving on the runway to pick us up.

The airfield is also available at night. Below some pictures of a Cirrus SR22 G2 aircraft taking off just before dark from runway 18 and just in time to join IFR en route to Lanseria Airport (FALA) in the Johannesburg region.

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Night landings

In the evening the runway can be lighted with paraffin lighted lanterns or if it is not fully dark yet with the headlights of the Toyota jeep. It is exciting to land on the airstrip in the dark and you need to know the runway quite well with the trees, the potential animals on the runway and the water tower on the southern side.

Make sure you first contact the owner/operator of the airstrip before landing there to get his permission and to announce your arrival.

Hoedspruit CTR and Kruger Park

The Hoedspruit Civil airfield lies within the Hoedspruit CTR controlled by the military. When you can’t get the airforce on the radio early morning or late in the evening, thus outside their operating hours, you are free to fly through their CTR to Hoedspruit Civil or to cross their CTR. Be aware of the restricted area over Kruger National Park just east of the Peru and Motswari airfields. Don’t fly into that area without permission from Lowveld Info.

If you are interested in guided self-fly adventures in Africa: