28 February 2017

Kruger National Park Calendar - April

Weather:
  • seasonal shift towards autumn
  • drop in daytime temperatures with cool evenings
  • occasional late summer rains
Temperatures:

Landscape:
  • Vegetation dense > thick tree canopies
  • many trees are bearing seeds/fruits
  • pods are out on mopaneveld
Animal Activity:
  • Game dispersed throughout the park
  • game spotting generally difficult
  • Warthog, Impala & Wildebeest rutting season
  • most migrant birds depart

27 February 2017

South Africa: Two new certifications for Fair Trade Tourism!

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT), a South African NGO that encourages and monitors fair and responsible practises in tourism establishments and activities, has added the Parker Cottage B&B and the Oyster Bay Lodge establishments to its portfolio of tourism businesses in South Africa.Parker Cottage B&B, the fifth establishment in Cape Town to become Fair Trade Tourism certified, is located in Tamboerskloof. The bed & breakfast offers co-finance for the education of staff members, provides hands-on support to social upliftment and educational programmes, sources products and services from local entrepreneurs, and runs its business to ensure minimal impact on the environment.
The
Oyster Bay Lodge is located in 235ha coastal reserve close to St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape. Spanning a range of different biomes from beaches and sand dunes to forests, wetlands and lagoons, the reserve boasts extensive birdlife and is home to 20 free-roaming horses. The four-star Oyster Bay Lodge not only maintains this biodiverse environment, but also has invested in energy saving initiatives and provides financial, infrastructural and practical support to projects in the local township of Umzamowethu.

South Africa finally released rhino poaching statistics for 2016!

South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has finally released the rhino poaching numbers for 2016. According to the DEA, a total of (at least) 1054 rhino were poached in South Africa in 2016 (2015: 1175). Out of the 1054 rhinos poached, 662 rhinos (2015: 826) got illegally killed by poachers in Kruger National Park.
For 2016 there were a staggering 2883 instances of poaching-related activities (such as poaching camps, contacts, crossings, sightings, tracks and shots fired) in Kruger National Park, compared to 2466 recorded in the same period in 2015. This is an increase of 16.9%.
46 elephants were poached in the Kruger National Park in 2016.
During 2016, the South African Police Service (SAPS) reported that a total of 680 poachers and traffickers were arrested for rhino-related poaching offences nationally. This is a marked increase in arrests from 317 in 2015. From the total number of arrests made, 417 were both within and outside the Kruger National Park. A total of 148 firearms were seized inside the park in 2016, and six just outside the Park.



During September 2016, a rhino survey using the scientifically accepted block count method recorded that a total of 6 649 - 7 830 white rhino lived in Kruger National Park. This is lower than the 8 365 - 9 337 that lived in Kruger National Park during 2015. It must be noted that the natural deaths of white rhino increased due to the unprecedented drought conditions.
A total of 349 – 465 black rhino lived in Kruger National Park in 2016 compared to 313 – 453 in 2015. The drought effect was not as noticeable on the black rhinos.

24 February 2017

Namibia Wildlife Resorts to slash rates by 75% in March 2017!

Travellers planning to visit Namibia's protected areas during March 2017 should be aware of the discount Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), the state-owned enterprise mandated to run the tourism facilities within the protected areas of Namibia, will be offering to its customers. Between 01 March - 31 March 2017, the rates for accommodation (excl. camp sites) at /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings, Duwisib Castle, Gross Barmen, Halali Resort, Hardap Resort, Khorixas Camp, Naukluft Camp, Onkoshi Resort, Popa Falls and Waterberg Resort will be slashed by 75%. It seems, these ten facilities in Namibia will get crowded (!) throughout March 2017.


CemAir to launch flights between Margate and Cape Town via Plettenberg Bay!

South African carrier CemAir will intoduce scheduled flights between Margate Airport (MGH) in Margate and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town via Plettenberg Bay Airport (PBZ) in Plettenberg Bay on 15 March 2017. According to our information, flights will be operated on Wednesdays (CPT > MGH > PBZ) and on Thursdays (MGH > PBZ > CPT). We'll keep you posted!



23 February 2017

Air Botswana to resume flights between Gaborone <> Kasane!

Botswana's flag carrier, Air Botswana, is set to resume its service between Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE) in Gaborone and Kasane Airport (BBK) in Kasane. The airline will operate flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. 

Air Botswana to resume flights between Gaborone <> Cape Town!

Botswana's flag carrier, Air Botswana, is set to resume its service between Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE) in Gaborone and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town on 26 February 2017. Flights will be operated through an existing agreement with South African carrier CemAir on the same current flight schedule. Days of operation between Gaborone and Cape Town in either direction remain as Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Mozambique now issues visas on arrival to all travellers!

The government of Mozambique has approved new visa regulations on 21 February 2017, so that travellers from countries where Mozambique has an embassy or consulate are now eligible to get their entry visa at the port of entry. The new visa is valid for 30 days and allows travellers to leave and re-enter the country within the 30 day time frame. Until now - at least according to the official visa regulations - only travellers from countries where Mozambique has no diplomatic representation could obtain their visas at Mozambique's border stations. 


22 February 2017

Zimbabwe: Rainbow Airlines to launch flights Harare <> Johannesburg in March 2017!

update (29 March 2017): Rainbow Airlines did not launch fligths between Harare  and Johannesburg on 26 March 2017. According to an aviation expert from Zimbabwe, the launch date keeps changing.

update (10 March 2017): Rainbow Airlines has postponed the launch of its Harare <> Johannesburg flights to 26 March 2017.  

Rainbow Airlines, a new carrier based in Zimbabwe, is set to introduce three weekly flights between Harare International Airport (HRE) in Harare and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg on 05 March 2017. The airline will initially operate three weekly flights on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays on board a CRJ 100 Bombadier 50-seater aircraft between the two destinations. Depending on the demand, Rainbow Airlines plans to increase the service to 14 flights per week.




Rainbow Airlines currently operates one weekly flight between Harare International Airport (HRE) in Harare and Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls. The service was launched on 25 January 2017.


21 February 2017

Kruger National Park roads reopen for tourists!

Most of the gravel roads in the Kruger National Park (KNP), which were closed by South African National Parks (SANParks) as a precautionary measure due to heavy rain on 16 February 2017 [more info], have been reopened. A few roads mainly in the Marula (Southern) Region of the Park remain closed until further notice. These include:
  • S110, S112 and S113
  • S118 and S119
  • S120, S121, S122 and S129
  • S22, S23 and S30
  • S79 and S82
  • H2-2 is closed between H3 and S114 roads due to maintenance and will re-open by 31 March 2017
The bush and wilderness trails in Kruger National Park (KNP), which were temporarily closed, are now also operational again.

17 February 2017

TAAG Angola to increase flights between Luanda <> Cape Town!

The state-owned national airline of Angola, TAAG Angola Airlines, is set to increase flights between Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport (LAD) in Luanda and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. The airline currently operates three weekly flights on the route and will increase the frequency to daily from 30 October 2017.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Road works and closures!

update (27 Feb 2017): Eastern Shores - Cape Vidal
  • The re-tarring of Cape Vidal Pass (the last narrow section down to the resort) in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park will commence on Tuesday 28 February 2017, weather permitting. The Cape Vidal Pass will be closed between 10h30 to around 14h30 each day. Visitors should please plan to arrive before or after these times to avoid inconvenience. The re-tarring is expected to take no longer than three weeks (weather dependant).
  • The surfacing and rehabilitation of the entrances and exits to the roads intersecting with the main Cape Vidal Road has been planned to commence on 28 February 2017. This work will be done in half widths under flagmen to maintain access for tourist traffic.
  • Mission Rocks road will be open from 01 March 2017.
  • Vlei Loop will be closed on Wednesday (01 March 2017) and Thursday (02 March 2017) for remedial work.
  • Pan Loop will be closed on Friday (03 March 2017) for final remedial work.
  • Dune Loop will be closed for one week form 28 February 2017 for remedial work on concrete panels.
  • kuMfazana Hide will be closed for the week to provide access to Forest Loop.
update (22 Feb 2017): The re-tarring of Cape Vidal Pass in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park has been delayed due to weather conditions until further notice. The surfacing and rehabilitation of the entrances and exits to the roads intersecting with the main Cape Vidal Road has been planned to commence. This work will be done in half widths under flagmen to maintain access for tourist traffic.

South Africa's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu Natal, is continuing with routine road maintenance and repairs throughout the Park.



Eastern Shores - Cape Vidal:
  • The Cape Vidal "pass" from the north side of the fishing cabins to the Cape Vidal resort camp is being re-tarred. The road will be closed for four hours per day, from 10h30 to 14h30, commencing on Thursday 16 February 2017 for a period of no more than three weeks, weather permitting. During this daily four hour period no vehicles will be allowed to use this section on the road. Overnight and day visitors should plan their arrival and departure from the resort and beach accordingly.
  • The upgrade of the tar road from north of St Lucia town to Cape Vidal (32km) has commenced and will continue for a period of three months. Work is being done in 2 km sections in half-widths and traffic controlled through a ‘Stop/Go’ system.
The following roads remain closed:
  • kuMfazana
  • Mission Rocks
  • Dunes loop

16 February 2017

Kenya Airways to introduce direct flights between Nairobi <> Victoria Falls!

Kenya's flag carrier, Kenya Airways, is set to introduce direct flights between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi and Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls on 18 May 2017. The new route will be operated three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays on board an Embraer E190 with a configuration of 12 business class seats and 84 economy class seats. Kenya Airways' Victoria Falls operation will be linked to Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town, South Africa. This will see the airline increase its operations to Cape Town from the current four, which are served via Livingstone, Zambia, to six.
btw - Kenya Airways will be the only carrier offering direct services between Victoria Falls and Cape Town! > Airlink to launch direct flights between Cape Town <> Victoria Falls!

South Africa: Kruger National Park temporarily closes its gravel roads & some facilities as Dineo arrives!

update (17 Feb 2017): South African National Parks (SANParks) has issued an update on the temporary closure of gravel roads and some facilities in the Kruger National Park (KNP) as a result from the rainfall associated with cyclone Dineo.
Please note that all gravel roads are closed until further notice. All the
Park gates and main tar roads are open.

Marula Region - roads and facilities closed:

  • All gravel roads with the exception of access gravel roads to Biyamiti and Talamati
  • Muzandzeni Picnic Site
  • Sweni Wilderness Trail
Nxanatseni Region - roads and facilities closed:
-----
According to reports from the South African Weather Services, various parts of the Kruger National Park (KNP) - in particular the far north of the Park - are expected to receive heavy rains (16 - 17 February 2017). South African National Parks (SANParks) has set up a disaster management team and will release periodical updates until the situation in Kruger National Park improves.


As a precautionary measure, SANParks has temporarily closed gravel roads and remote camps mostly in the north of Kruger National Park. Visitors are advised to avoid all roads with "No Entry" signs or blocked with other objects.

The remote camps and gravel roads which will temporarily close are as follows:

As of now, all SA Airlink flights to Skukuza in the Kruger National Park are still operating as normal as no risk has been identified.

15 February 2017

Johannesburg: The Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto has been temporarily closed!

update (10 April 2017): The Hector Pieterson Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, has been reopened!

The roof and the ceiling of the Hector Pieterson Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, got damaged during the heavy rains in December 2016. To repair the roof and to carry out other maintenance work, the Museum has been temporarily closed to the public. According to Nthatisi Modingoane, Spokesperson for the City of Johannesburg, it is planned to reopen the Museum in the last week of March 2016. Although the Hector Pieterson Museum is closed, the outdoor Memorial Site remains open to the public and Museum guides are available to give visitors more information about the museum and the history of Soweto.


The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum commemorates the role of South Africa's students in the struggle against apartheid and in particular the role played by the school children who took part in the Soweto protests of 1976.
The
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum is situated is open daily from 10:00 - 17:00 (Mon - Sat) and from 10:00 - 16:00 (Sun). The admission fee is R30 for adults, R10 for pensioners and students and R5 for children (ages six to 12).

Hector Pieterson Museum
8287 Khumalo Rd
Johannesburg
1804
South Africa

14 February 2017

South Africa: Eastern Cape game reserve joins Fair Trade Tourism's portfolio!

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT), a South African NGO that encourages and monitors fair and responsible practises in tourism establishments and activities, has added the Shamwari Game Reserve to its portfolio of South African tourism businesses. The Reserve, which is located 75 km outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, has marked its 25th anniversary this year by achieving Fair Trade Tourism certification for all eight of its tourism products. 



Set on 25,000ha of reclaimed farmland, the Shamwari Game Reserve is renowned for its wildlife conservation initiatives and commitment to surrounding communities. In addition to offering a classic wildlife experience, the reserve incorporates the Ian Player Rhino Centre, the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and its own Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre with a team of veterinarians on hand. Shamwari Game Reserve is home to the Big 5 and is malaria free. Luxury accommodation is offered in 7 different lodges, all of which are 5 Star graded.

13 February 2017

"Jozi Days" - An independent skateboarding film!

"Jozi Days" is an independent skateboarding film by Jono Kyriakou, a Cape Town-based photographer and cinematographer. The film, which features debut parts from T-Kay Modise, Taylor Sturgess and Trae Rice, seeks to paint a picture of the fluorescing skate scene in Johannesburg and gives us travellers the great opportunity to experience the city from a different "skateboarding" perspective! Rad! Kudos Jono, T-Kay, Taylor and Trae!


10 February 2017

Google Street View now covers seven National Parks in Uganda!

Google just announced that it has, in cooperation with the Uganda Wildlife Authoriry (UWA), added imagery of seven of Uganda's National Parks to Street View, including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Semuliki National Park and the Kidepo Valley National Park. Until now, Street View was only available for Uganda's capital Kampala and for Entebbe, the location the country's major international airport, Entebbe International Airport (EBB).


Fastjet has suspended its service between Victoria Falls <> Johannesburg!

According to the online edition of "The Zimbabwe Independent" (10 Feb 2017), pan-African carrier Fastjet has suspended its service between Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. The newspaper quotes Fastjet PLC CE Nico Bezuidenhout saying that the suspension of the Victoria Falls <> Johannesburg route "forms part of fastjet's stabilisation plan, which requires a narrowed commercial focus on network points that perform better commercially".


09 February 2017

Video: "Miniature Cape Town"!

You may have watched many videos of Cape Town, but how many miniature Cape Town videos did you ever come across? We just stumbled on this great tilt-shift/miniature faking video of Cape Town made by Alistair Van Wyk and thought you will like it! Kudos Al; enjoy the video!


MINIATURE CAPE TOWN from Alistair Van Wyk on Vimeo.

08 February 2017

Chapman's Peak Drive: Temporary road closure for alien vegetation clearing

South African National Parks (SANParks) started the annual alien vegetation clearing along the slopes above Cape Town's famous Chapman's Peak Drive on 01 Februray 2017. The clearing will take place every Wednesday from 09:30 - 15:30 until 31 March 2017 (weather permitting). During those times, Chapman's Peak Drive will be closed to the public.
  • 01 February 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 08 February 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 15 February 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 22 February 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 01 March 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 08 March 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 15 March 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 22 March 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
  • 29 March 2017 - closed from 09:30 - 15:30
Chapman's Peak Drive is a scenic 9km route between Noordhoek and Hout Bay along the western flank of the Chapman's Peak, a mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, located about 15 kilometres south of Cape Town.

07 February 2017

Air Namibia & Turkish Airlines signed a codeshare agreement!

update (24 April 2017): According to routesonline.com, reservation for most codeshare service is currently not available; codeshare service supposed to start in April 2017.

The flag carrier of Namibia, Air Namibia, and the flag carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines, have signed a codeshare agreement. Under the new agreement, which will come into effect on 01 March 2017, Turkish Airlines places its "TK" code on Air Namibia's flights between Windhoek (WDH) <> Johannesburg (JNB) and between Windhoek (WDH) <> Frankfurt (FRA) and Air Namibia places its "SW" code on Turkish Airlines' flights between Istanbul (IST) <> Johannesburg (JNB) and between Istanbul (IST) <> Frankfurt (FRA). Also it has been considered that, when Air Namibia introduces flights between Windhoek (WDH) <> Istanbul (IST) in future, this codeshare agreement will be expanded by placing the "SW" code to include beyond Istanbul flights.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve: Botswana issues travel warning due to heavy rains!

The Government of Botswana has issued a warning on its facebook page regarding the current weather conditions in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Due to heavy rains, driving in the Game Reserve is not advisable at the time. Those who choose to drive in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve are therefore advised to use no less than two vehicles. For more info, see the post below:



The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. It covers an area of 52,800km² making it the second largest game reserve in the world. The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending 900,000km², covering much of Botswana, parts of Namibia and regions of South Africa.

Thomas Cook Airlines to increase seasonal direct flights between London Gatwick <> Cape Town!

British airline Thomas Cook Airlines will increase its seasonal direct flights between Gatwick Airport (LDW) in London and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town from currently three weekly flights (15 December 2016 to 20 March 2017) to four weekly flights (15 December 2017 to 23 March 2018). Flights will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 with 49 seats in premium economy and 273 in economy.

New areas for day visitors in Wilderness section of Garden Route National Park

Due to the growing numbers of day visitors to the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park, South African National Parks (SANParks) has introduced officially designated areas for day visitors. These designated areas are all within existing footprint and include the following spots:
  • Tarentaal day visitor area (inside the Ebb & Flow Rest Camp)
  • Island Lake (in close proximity of the main rest camp)
  • Wilderness Lagoon (a picnic spot close to the Touw River Estuary) giving visitors easy access to the beach area which is just across the bridge
  • Woodville Big Tree (Forest area, a few kilometres from the main camp)
  • Goudveld: Jubilee Creek and Krisjan se Nek (Forest area, a few kilometres from the main camp)

According to SANParks, campers (multi-day visitors) mainly visit Garden Route National Park for the tranquillity and serenity of the riverside camping sites, whilst day visitors enter the Park for a variety of activities including nature walks/ hiking trails, water activities, segways, birding and a sense of place the open access Park offers.


Zimbabwe: Rainbow Airlines plans to launch flights to South Africa!

Rainbow Airlines, a new carrier based in Zimbabwe, is set to introduce three weekly flights between Harare International Airport (HRE) in Harare and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg in the last week of February 2017 as well as three weekly flights between Harare and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town in the following month. The airline, which started operating one weekly flight between Harare and Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls on 25 January 2017, intends to expand the service between Harare and Johannesburg to twice-daily in the near future.

06 February 2017

CNN's "In 24 hours" explores Cape Town! (video)

In the February 2017 edition of "In 24 hours", the monthly travel television program on CNN International follows host James Williams spending a full day and night in Cape Town. He goes shark cage diving around Dyer Island, explores the Val de Vie Estate in Paarl, has coffee at "Truth Coffee Roasting", visits "The Test Kitchen", goes on a drive along the Chapman's Peak Drive and listens to some Jazz at "The Crypt Jazz Restaurant" in Cape Town's CBD. Enjoy!







South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in January 2017!

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has published the on-time performance results of domestic airlines’ flying out of OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town and Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in January 2017.
On-Time Performance is measured by comparing the actual off-block time (when aircraft pushes back) against the airline schedule time for a departing flight. The measurement is done in accordance with the IATA (International Airlines Transport Association) universal standard benchmark with considers a 15 minute deviation from the scheduled time as an on-time departure.


OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), Johannesburg - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2017 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.13% (December 94.05%) 
  2. CemAir - 90.93% (December N.A)
  3. Airlink - 90.66% (December 85.23%)
  4. British Airways Domestic - 88.33% (December 76.58%)  
  5. Mango - 88.32% (December 81.88%) 
  6. South African Airways - 85.08% (December 75.54%)
  7. Kulula.com - 82.35% (December 76.00%)
  8. SA Express - 77.28% (December 67.27%)
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 50.00% (December 71.88%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2017 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 95.63% (December 96.28%) 
  2. Airlink - 92.98% (December 89.10%) 
  3. Mango - 91.47% (December 86.23%)
  4. CemAir - 91.46% (December 88.60%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 89.06% (December 78.05%)
  6. South African Airways - 88.74% (December 81.00%)
  7. Kulula.com - 86.81% (December 79.37%)
  8. SA Express - 85.24% (December 78.64%)  
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 37.50% (December 54.00%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2017 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.90% (December 92.34%) 
  2. South African Airways - 91.95% (December 86.66%)
  3. SA Express - 91.02% (December 82.62%)
  4. Mango - 91.01% (December 90.05%)  
  5. Airlink - 88.64% (December 81.31%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 85.47% (December 73.93%)
  7. Kulula.com - 82.31% (December 76.63%)