30 November 2015

Kruger National Park Calendar - January

  • peak of rainy season
  • frequent thunder storms
  • hot days
  • warm nights
  • high humidity levels

  • many veld flowers in bloom
  • colourful landscape
  • marula tree in fruit
Animal Activity:
  • animals spread over wider areas
  • a lot predator activity in the south-eastern and central Kruger grasslands
  • many nursery herds having youngsters
  • a lot of elephant activity around marula trees

27 November 2015

Travel Video: "for that moment in South Africa"

Marko Roth, a 21 year old freelance filmmaker, student and self-proclaimed media addict from Frankfurt in Germany, recently spend two weeks in South Africa. While travelling the country, he shot the outstanding travel video "for that moment in South Africa".

The short film is by far one of the best on its kind I've seen in a while. What I really dig about "for that moment in South Africa" is that it is not only a great piece of (travel)-filmmaking, but also an attempt to understand and explain why we all actually love to travel. Kudos Marko & team!

26 November 2015

Mozambique: Nacala Airport to receive international flights from March/April 2016!

According to the chairman of Mozambique's state airport management company (Aeroportos de Moçambique/ AdM), Emanuel Chaves, Nacala (International) Airport (MNC) in the country's north is expected to receive its certification to operate as an international airport in December 2015. International airlines operating to Mozambique are expected to start using the airport between March and April 2016. As of now, Mozambican airline LAM is the only airline operating flights to and from Nacala Airport.

Nacala International Airport (MNC), which is located near Nacala in the Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique, has capacity to serve 500,000 passengers and receive 5,000 tons of cargo per year, opened in December 2014. The facilities at the Airport cover an area of 30,000m², including a passenger terminal area of 15,000m² and a control tower. The 3,100-metre runway allows large aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, to use the facility.

24 November 2015

Turkish Airlines to temporarily increase flights between Istanbul <> Johannesburg!

Turkey's flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, has announced that it will temporarily (11 July - 28 October 2016) increase flights between Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) in Istanbul and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg from currently seven flights per week to ten flights per week. The three new flights (TK163) will depart Istanbul at 21:05 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and will arrive in Johannesburg at 05:55 the following morning. The return flights will depart Johannesburg at 07:25 and will arrive in Istanbul at 18:00. Turkish Airlines currently operates its daily flights between Istanbul and Johannesburg as follows:

23 November 2015

Namibia: 79 rhinos killed by poachers so far in 2015!

According to Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the country has lost 79 rhinos to poaching so far in 2015. Of the 79 rhinos, most rhinos were poached in Etosha National Park. Some of the carcasses found in the National Park may actually be old and could therefore be the remains of animals that were killed before the start of 2015. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism offers rewards of N$60 000 for information that lead to the arrest and prosecution of rhino poachers.

Namibia has experienced a sharp increase in cases of rhino poaching over the past five years. Namibia lost one rhino to poaching in 2009 and 2010 respectively, two rhinos were illegally killed in 2012, four in 2013 and 25 in 2014. 

19 November 2015

KLM set to increase Amsterdam <> Cape Town service to daily in 2016!

Europe's largest airline group, Air France–KLM, has announced that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) will increase its direct service between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) in Amsterdam and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town to daily in May 2016. The airline will operate the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to connect the two destinations.
Air France–KLM (Air France and KLM) carry more than 77 million passengers per year. They operate 573 aircraft enabling them to fly to 243 destinations in 103 countries.

Thomas Cook Airlines to launch direct flights London-Gatwick <> Cape Town!

British airline Thomas Cook Airlines has announced that it will launch direct flights between Gatwick Airport (LDW) in London and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town as part of its (Northern) winter schedule (15 December 2016 to 20 March 2017). The airline will operate three weekly flights on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays on board its refurbished Airbus A330 fleet between the two destinations. The flights will be the first direct flights to Cape Town from a UK airport other than Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London.

18 November 2015

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in October 2015

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has published the on-time performance results of domestic airlines’ flying out of OR Tambo in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport, and Durban's King Shaka International Airport in October 2015.
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, Johannesburg - 15 Min on Time Performance October 2015 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 93.77% (September 96.27%)
  2. South African Airways - 89.10% (September 88.77%)
  3. Airlink - 87.05% (September 89.47%) 
  4. Mango - 82.45% (September 85.22%)
  5. SA Express - 79.52% (September 76.14%) 
  6. Kulula.com - 79.10% (September 84.90%)
  7. British Airways Domestic - 77.99% (September 87.85%) 
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance October 2015 (airport target 90%)
  1. SA Express - 94.50% (September 94.00%) 
  2. FlySafair - 94.10% (September 95.41%)  
  3. Airlink - 93.06% (September 93.29%)
  4. South African Airways - 92.69% (September 90.44%)   
  5. Mango - 89.07% (September 90.88%)
  6. Kulula.com - 88.18% (September 88.37%)  
  7. British Airways Domestic - 79.91% (September 89.65%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance October 2015 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 98.00% (September --.--%) 
  2. Airlink - 92.91% (September 94.53%)  
  3. South African Airways - 92.83% (September 93.90%)  
  4. SA Express - 89.49% (September 87.63%) 
  5. Kulula.com - 86.07% (September 89.57%)
  6. Mango - 85.13% (September 88.48%)
  7. British Airways Domestic - 73.08% (September 83.17%)        

17 November 2015

South Africa: CemAir to launch flights Bloemfontein <> George!

South African privately owned domestic airline CemAir is set to launch scheduled flights between Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein and George Airport in George on 10 December 2015. The airline will operate daily flights between the two destinations from Sundays to Fridays. Flights will depart Bloemfontein at 09:30 and arrive in George at 10:20; return flights will depart George at 12:00 and arrive in Bloemfontein at 12:50. CemAir currently owns and operates a fleet of twelve CRJ 100/200 LR Airliners, nine Beech 1900D aircraft, and one Dash8 100.

16 November 2015

Eat Out names South Africa's best restaurants 2015!

South Africa's leading restaurant guide, Eat Out, has named the winners of the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. For the fourth year in a row, the country's Restaurant of the Year is The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. According to this year's awards, the Western Cape is again the country's foodie paradise with eigh out of the top ten restaurants being based in Cape Town (4), Stellenbosch (2) Franschhoek (1) and Somerset West (1). Congrats! 

The Top 10 restaurants 2015 are:
  1. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)
  2. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)
  3. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français (Franschhoek)
  4. Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel (Constantia, Cape Town)
  5. Five Hundred at The Saxon Hotel (Sandton, Johannesburg)
  6. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)
  7. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein, Pretoria)
  8. Terroir Restaurant (Stellenbosch)
  9. The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock, Cape Town)
  10. Jordan Restaurant (Stellenbosch)
S.Pellegrino Chef of the Year: Scot Kirton of La Colombe
Service Excellence Award: The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français (Franschhoek)
Nederburg Rising Star: Carmen Muller of The Tasting Centre at Rupert & Rothschild (Franschhoek)
Wine Service Award: Lloyd Jusa at Five Hundred at The Saxon Hotel (Sandton, Johannesburg)
Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award (in association with Novus Holdings): Liz McGrath
Boschendal Style Award: Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel (Constantia, Cape Town)

13 November 2015

South Africa: No unabridged birth certificate for visa exempt countries!

update (08 Feb 2016): According to a statement by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni, the unabridged birth certificate (UBC) requirement for travelling minors is still being "strongly advised".

 South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed at the National Assembly on Thursday (12 Nov 2015) that "minors travelling from visa-exempt countries will no longer need to produce an unabridged birth certificate and parental consent at South Africa's ports of entry. However, they will be required to provide documentation proving the relationship between them and the parent or guardian that they will be travelling with when entering South Africa. He further said it is strongly advised that minors should always travel with a proof of relationship and consent from absent parents or guardians in case they are asked to produce them at random.
No unabridged certificate for visa exempt countries
South Africam Tourism
has released an infographic summarising the amendments made to South Africa's visa rules.

12 November 2015

Cape Town: Castle of Good Hope gets an extensive makeover!

South Africa's oldest existing colonial building, the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, is receiving an R84-million makeover. The Castle was build between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company and served as a replenishment station for ships passing the coast around the Cape on long voyages between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). It now houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town. The restoration, which is expected to take 21 month, will include the refurbishment of the five bastions (Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje) as well as the repainting and recarpeting of Castle's seven buildings. The murals will also be refurbished and the Dolphin Pool will be re-plastered and renovated.

Due to the restoration and renovation at the Castle of Good Hope, the following Iziko Museum spaces at the Castle will be closed until further notice:
  • The Secunde's House
  • The Granary which houses the exhibition Fired: an exhibition of South African Ceramics
  • The Good Hope Gallery
The Castle of Good Hope will remain open to the public during this period. The William Fehr collection at the Castle is also currently open to the public.

The Castle of Good Hope is open seven days a week, except on Christmas Day & New Year's Day. The castle gates open at 9am and close at 4pm, with the last visitors admitted at 3.30pm. The entry fee is R30 (R25 on Sundays) for adults and R15 (R10) for children/students.

11 November 2015

Namibia: Hardap Recreation Resort expected to reopen in December 2015!

update (10 Dec 2015): Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) has obviously reopened Hardap Recreation Resort!

Pictured here are our first guests at the Hardap Resort along with the Resort Manager Sunday Nelenge. We look forward to welcoming you there.
Posted by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (Pty) Ltd. on Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Namibia's widely known Hardap Recreation Resort, managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), is finally set to reopen on 01 December 2015. The Resort was closed in 2011 for some much needed repairs and upgrades to take place. The refurbished Hardap Recreation Resort now boasts 5 VIP bungalows, 45 chalets (30 self-catering family chalets & 15 bush chalets), many caravan spots and camping spots as well as 4 blocks with rooms, where 10 people can be accommodated per block. Hardap Recreation Resort's restaurant and the swimming pool also got upgraded. NWR started training staff members that will be assigned to Hardap in May 2015.

Hardap Recreation Resort (252km²) is situated at the Hardap Dam, which dams the Fish River, just out of Mariental in south-central Namibia. With many inlets and small islands Namibia's biggest reservoir (surface area of 25 km²) provides a safe breeding place for 284 bird species including the great white pelican, yellow-billed stork, osprey, Bradfield’s swift and Stark’s lark. The Hardap Recreation Resort is also home to Black rhino, kudu, gemsbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok and red hartebeest. 

10 November 2015

Tanzania & Zambia: TAZARA receives new locomotives & passenger coaches!

update (16 Dec 2015): A trial run for TAZARA's new coaches

Be the first to ride this train:Monday 7th Dec, Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri-Mposhi, Departing 3:50pmSaturday 12th Dec, New Kapiri-Mposhi to Dar es Salaam, Departing 4:00pm
Posted by TAZARA Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority on Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), which links Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania  with New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia's Central Province, has received four new diesel-electric mainline locomotives as well as 18 new passenger coaches valued at US$22.4 million. The new equipment was purchased through the 15th Protocol of Economic and Technical Cooperation, a trilateral loan agreement signed by the three Governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia. The four new mainline locomotives raise the current daily availability of TAZARA's mainline locomotives from 12 to 16. Aged between 25-30 years, most of the old mainline locomotives that are currently in operation have outlived their lifespans and are frequently breaking down. TAZARA expects that the new locomotives and passenger coaches will increase the availability and reliability of its struggeling passenger train service significantly.

TAZARA's new locomotives

TAZARA's new passenger coaches

Botswana: Botswana Railways (BR) set to reintroduce a passenger rail service!

update (22 Feb 2016): According to Botswana's transport and communications minister, Mr Tshenolo Mabeo, the new daily passenger train service will operational by the end of March 2016. Regarding the refurbishment of train stations, Mr Mabeo said they were focusing on six stations being Gaborone, Francistown, Palapye, Lobatse, Serule and Mahalapye.

The President of Botswana, Ian Khama, confirmed during a State of the Nation address on 09 November 2015 that Botswana Railways (BR) will reintroduce a passenger rail service in the country. The service will run between Lobatse, located 70 km south of the capital Gaborone in South-Eastern Botswana, and Francistown, located about 400 km north-northeast from Gaborone in eastern Botswana. The plan is to operate a daily scheduled night services from each end, with additional services during holidays. The passenger rail service in Botswana is expected to commence in March 2016.

09 November 2015

Lonely Planet ranked East Africa third in "Best Value Destination for 2016"!

Great news for East Africa. Lonely Planet has ranked the region third in the "Best Value Destination for 2016" category in the 2016 editon of Best in Travel. Congratulations! The travel guide book publisher names the following reasons for selecting Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of the region as the third best destination to stretch your travel budget in 2016:
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has, unfortunately for other areas of the continent, had a knock-on effect in terms of bookings for 2015. So listen up: London, Madrid and Paris are hundreds of miles closer to the outbreak in West Africa than East Africa's tourism heartland. Africa is a massive continent (the United States would fit in the Sahara Desert) so you’ll be doing yourself and tourism in East Africa a favour if you take advantage of the cracking deals on offer to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of the region. And in the process experience some of the world’s great wonders, from gorilla encounters to Rift Valley scenery to squeaky-sanded beaches. [src.]
Best in Travel is produced annually as a guide to the top destinations, trends and experiences for the upcoming year. Other countries on Lonely Planet's list of Best Value Destinations for 2016 include Estonia (#1), Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam (#2), New Mexico in USA (#4), Bosnia and Hercegovina (#5), Galicia in Spain (#6), Québec City in Canada (#7), Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast (#8), Timor-Leste (#9) and Western Australia (#10).

04 November 2015

Video: The stunning beauty of "Namibia"!

Matt Porteous, a professional photographer based in the UK, visited Namibia in 2014 and shot a stunning film simply named "Namibia" while travelling the country. Switch the settings of "Namibia" to fullscreen, put your headphones on, sit back and enjoy the beauty of Namibia. Kudos Matt, kudos!