21 July 2017

Tanzania: TANAPA introduced fixed rate concession fees for its 16 National Parks

Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA), a public organization with the mandate of managing all areas designated as National Parks in Tanzania, has introduced new fixed rate concession fees (pdf) applicable to all permanent facilities (lodge or permanent tented camp) within its 16 National Parks on 01 July 2017.
  • Ruaha National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Serengeti National Park - 50USD/Person
  • Katavi National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Mkomazi National Park - 25USD/Person
  • Mikumi National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Tarangire National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park- 25USD/Person
  • Kilimanjaro National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Mahale Mountains National Park- 30USD/Person
  • Saadane National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Arusha National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Rubondo Island National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Kitulo National Park- 25USD/Person
  • Lake Manyara National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Gombe National Park- 30USD/Person
  • Saanane National Park- 30USD/Person
Concession fees are payable to TANAPA by hoteliers maintaining Lodges and permanent camps within Tanzania's National Parks. The new fixed rate concession fee (pdf) is higher than the previous concession fee (10% of half board), so that travellers can eventually expect increased accommodation rates in TANAPA's National Parks in Tanzania.

Protected areas that are not managed by TANAPA, such as Ngorongoro Conservation Area or Selous Game Reserve, are currently not affected at the moment.

Johannesburg: Vilakazi Street gets CCTV cameras!

The City of Johannesburg has installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras along the popular Vilakazi Street in Orlando West in Soweto, the only street in the world where two Nobel Laureates - former South African President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - once lived. The new CCTV system was unveiled by Johannesburg's mayor Herman Mashaba on 19 July 2017. The cameras are installed to  ensure the safety of tourists and locals in Sowetos most popular street. The footage of the 25 hi-tech surveillance cameras in Vilakzi Street is monitored around the clock by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD). Over and above the installation of the CCTV cameras, the Vilakazi precinct is also getting patrolled by JMPD officers.

"Increasing security along Vilakazi Street, foreign and local tourists will enjoy their stay knowing that someone is guarding them. We need to invest in fighting crime as it has a negative impact on business and investment." Herman Masashaba during the launch of the new CCTV system in Vilakazi Street

20 July 2017

Malawi declares the "Elephant Marsh" its second Ramsar site!

Malawi has declared the Elephant Marsh, situated in the lower Shire valley in the south of the country, its second Wetland of International Importance*. The marsh, which forms part of the flood plain of the River Shire, is a mosaic of rooted swamp vegetation, floating flora and open water with grassy margins and reed beds, interspersed with islands containing reeds, shrubs and palm trees. In some places, floating mats of vegetation are so thick boat travel is nearly impossible. The size of the Elephant Marsh is depending on the flow of the Shire river and the Ruo river and varies from season to season and year to year - it ranges usually between 400km² to 1200km². 

Malawi's second Ramsar site* was named "Elephant Marsh" by the explorer David Livingstone in 1859, who counted as many as 800 elephants in one sighting. Nowadays the elephants are largely gone, but the marsh supports over 20,000 waterbirds. Around 26 waterbird species have been found breeding in the Elephant Marsh, including fish eagles, storks, kingfishers, herons, as well as the threatened Madagascar squacco heron, wattled crane and grey crowned crane.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands by providing a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of these fragile ecosystems and their resources. 

*Lake Chilwa, second-largest lake in Malawi, was declared a Ramsar site in 1996.

19 July 2017

South Africa: SANParks strike update!

update (19 July 2017): South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) have agreed to suspend the strike until 24 July 2017.

South African National Parks (SANParks) is currently experiencing service delays due to industrial action by employees who are members of the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA). SANParks has activated its contingency plans in all National Parks and will be monitoring the situation closely. The South African Police Services (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and volunteers from Working for Water have been posted at entrance gates to ensure safe passage to all those entering the 19 National Parks managed by SANParks.

elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari

HOSPERSA is demanding a 9% increase for their members while SANParks is offering 6.01% salary adjustment and a 1% pay progression with a total offer of 7%. Though the strike is protected, the "no work no pay" rule will apply to those who take part in the industrial action. We'll keep you posted!

Johannesburg: No City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off tours on 23 July 2017!

Due to the 2017 edition of "WalktheTalk" in Johannesburg on 23 July 2017, the City Sightseeing open-top bus hop-on hop-off tours will not be running on that day. "WalktheTalk" is a popular walking event in Johannesburg that many walkers use as a platform to raise awareness for great causes and come together in vibrant costumes or matching outfits. It caters to walkers of all fitness levels and abilities – there's a 15km walk which winds through some of Johannesburg's iconic landmarks, an 8km walk which goes through the leafy suburbs around Emmerentia, and a 5km walk which attracts a lot of families walking with kids, prams, gran and gramps, and even the family dog.

The City Sightseeing open-top bus hop-on hop-off tour in Johannesburg covers 12 stops around the city, including Constitution Hill, Ghandi Square and the Gold Reef City Theme Park. Travellers can remain on the bus and listen to the informative audio commentary during the entire 1.5-hour loop, or hop on and off and explore independently. 1-day or 2-day tickets for unlimited travel from the time of first use are available.

18 July 2017

SANParks announced the dates for the SA National Parks Week 2017!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced the dates of the South African National Parks Week 2017. The 12th annual SA National Parks Week will take place from 18 to 22 September 2017. During the week, (South African) day visitors will have free access to most of the 21 National Parks in the country. Only the Namaqua National Park (annual natural flower show will be in full bloom in September) and the Boulders Penguin Colony area in the Table Mountain National Park will be excluded from this year's SANParks' National Parks Week.

Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari vehicle, rhinos

It should be noted that free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities. Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the weekend. Individual park dates to be announced soon. The excluded Parks will apply normal entry tariffs.

17 July 2017

South Africa: Intended strike by SANParks' HOSPERSA staff might cause some service delays!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has confirmed that it received a notice to strike by workers affiliated to the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA). All outsourced services in SANParks' National Parks in South Africa, such as restaurants and retail stores, will continue operations as normal while SANParks managed operations including hospitality and gates are likely to experience some service delays. SANParks will activate contingency plans in all National Parks to ensure that guests enjoy their holidays with minimal interruption. We'll keep you posted!

Rhino in Kruger National Park, South Africa