30 December 2015

Kruger National Park Calendar - February

  • much the same as January
  • traditionally flood season
  • heavy rains can cause rivers to suddenly burst their banks

  • plants at their most nutrtious
  • large vleis (shallow seasonal or intermittent lakes) on the basalt plain
  • many aloes in flower
Animal Activity
  • large herds of grazers spread across the Eastern Grasslands
  • many nursery herds (protected by matriachs or alpha males)
  • breading season for Waterbucks
  • loads of bird activity around the flowering aloes

Brussels Airlines to increase flights to Entebbe & Kigali!

The flag carrier and largest airline of Belgium, Brussels Airlines, is set to launch a forth weekly flight on Mondays (SN471) between Brussels Airport (BRU) in Brussels and Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali, Rwanda, via Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Entebbe, Uganda, on 28 March 2015. With the addition of this flight, Brussels Airlines' overall service to Entebbe will increase from 3 to 4 weekly flights, while Kigali sees increase from 5 to 6 weekly flights.

Zimbabwe: Eight rhinos killed by poachers in 2015!

According to Oscar Nkala, a guest blogger on National Geographic's "A Voice for Elephants", Zimbabwe lost eight rhinos to poaching in 2015. During 2014, a total of six rhinos were killed by poachers, 20 rhinos in 2013 and 66 rhinos in 2012. Zimbabwe is home to Africa's fourth largest rhino population, estimated at 766 in 2014, after South Africa, Kenya and Namibia. 90% of the country’s rhinos have been removed from high-risk poaching areas to Intensive Conservation Zones (essentially protected breeding areas in selected game reserves). These protected breeding areas are in Matobo, Bubye Valley, Save Valley, Hwange (Sinamatella Camp), Sebakwe, Chivero, Malilangwe and Imire Conservancy.

23 December 2015

Mozambique: The Tunduru Botanical Gardens in Maputo has been re-opened to the public!

The Tunduru Botanical Gardens in Mozambique's capital Maputo has been re-opened after more than two years of rehabilitation. Work at the gardens included rehabilitation of the old greenhouse and the construction of a new one, improving the public benches, the paths and the fencing as well as installing a new sanitation and irrigation system. The rehabilitation work began in October 2013 and was scheduled to be finished in 2014. Various delays led to an overrun of 14 months. The total costs of the project is 170 million meticais (USD 3.7 million).

The Tunduru Botanical Gardens, which is located in downtown Maputo, is a public park and garden. It was designed in 1885 by Thomas Honney, who in his career also designed gardens for the King of Greece and the Sultan of Turkey.

22 December 2015

TAZARA FAQ - Tanzania to Zambia by train (video)

The four Vlogateers Tom, Will, Jack and Harvey recently took one of TAZARA's passenger trains to get from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia's Central Province*. While on the train, the four filmed a super handy FAQ video about the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA). Watch and get to know what the two to four day journey is like, how to book tickets for TAZARA, what to bring (toilet paper!), how you get your visa, where to change shilling into kwacha and many more useful information. Kudos Tom, Will, Jack & Harvey!

*There are various buses and taxis connecting New Kapiri Mposhi with Lusaka. The journey to Zambia's capital will take 3-5hrs (approx. 200km).

21 December 2015

South Africa: Extended border hours during the festive season 2015/16!

South Africa extends the working hours of some of its ports of entry during the festive season 2015/16 to avoid delays at border posts. During the festive season, high volumes of people are usually recorded at South Africa' borders with its neighbouring countries.

Groblesburg (South Africa - Botswana)
  • 24 Dec 2015, 3 & 10 Jan 2016 - 24 hours
Lebombo (South Africa - Mozambique)
  • 11 Dec 2015 to 10 Jan 2016 - 24 hours
Oshoek (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 18 Dec 2015 - 24 Dec 2015 - 24 hours
Mahamba (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 23 Dec 2015 to 24 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 00h00
Mananga (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 12 Dec 2015 to 24 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 20h00
Jeppe's Reef (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 18 Dec 2015 to 24 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 20h00
Qacha's Nek (South Africa - Lesotho)
  • 21 Dec 2015 to 24 Dec 2015 - 06h00 – 22h00
  • 25 Dec 2015 - 06h00 – 20h00
Telle Bridge (South Africa - Lesotho)
  • 16 Dec 2015 to 24 Dec 2015 - 05h00 – 23h00
Caledonspoort (South Africa - Lesotho)
  • 23 Dec 2015 - 06h00 – 00h00
  • 24 Dec 2015 - 24 hours
  • 03 Jan 2016 - 06h00 – 00h00
Van Rooyenshek (South Africa - Lesotho)
  • 11 Dec 2015 - 06h00 – 00h00
  • 23 Dec 2015 - 24 hours
  • 03 Jan 2016 - 06h00 – 00h00
Kosi Bay (South Africa - Mozambique)
  • 16 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 18h00
  • 17 Dec 2015 - 18 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 17h00
  • 23 Dec 2015 - 24 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 18h00
  • 27 Dec 2015 – 29 Dec 2015 - 07h00 – 17h00
  • 30 Dec 2015 – 31 Dec 2015 - 08h00 – 18h00
  • 01 Jan 2016 - 07h00 – 18h00
  • 04 Jan 2016  - 05 Jan 2016 - 07h00 – 17h00
Golela (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 15 Dec 2015 to 15 Jan 2016 - 06h00 – 22h00
Onverwacht (South Africa - Swaziland)
  • 15 Dec 2015 to 16 Dec 2015 - 08h00 – 19h00

17 December 2015

Table Mountain National Park: Tokai plantation section remains closed!

The Tokai plantation section of the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town remains closed due to extensive damage from the devastating fire in March 2015. South African National Parks (SANParks) names the following reasons for the continued closure:
  • Standing trees that have been burnt or damaged by the fire are extremely dangerous continue to come down without warning in the area.
  • Unstable fire damage slopes  result in rock falls
  • Winds and rain exacerbate the danger with respect to falling trees, branches, rock falls and mudslides
  • Hazardous clear-felling operations of the burnt plantation trees are still underway with intensive harvesting of a number of compartments simultaneously.
  • Many of the trails are severely damaged and in some places would need to be rebuilt post clear-felling operations
  • Disturbance to surviving animals
  • Burnt areas are sensitive as windblown seeds can be damaged and the first emerging plants can be killed by accidental trampling
  • Disturbance to sensitive erodible soils
  • Rehabilitation of affected areas
The burnt areas in Tokai are continually under assessment by SANParks. Once the area is considered safe and all environmental issues have been addressed, the Tokai plantation section of the Table Mountain National Park will be reopened.

16 December 2015

Air Botswana to re-introduce flights between Maun <> Cape Town!

Botswana's state-owned national flag carrier, Air Botswana, will re-introduce its direct service between Maun Airport (MUB) in Maun and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town on 25 March 2016. The airline will operate three flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reservations are already open.

New Tourism Route Information
Posted by Air Botswana on Wednesday, 16 December 2015

14 December 2015

Iberia to resume flights to South Africa!

The flag carrier and largest airline of Spain, Iberia, returns to South Africa. The airline will resume its service between Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) in Madrid and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg on 01 02 August 2016. Iberia will operate three weekly flights between the two destinations on board an Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

Madrid 23:45 (Mon, Thu, Fri) > 09:05 Johannesburg (Tue, Fri, Sat)
Johannesburg 20:15 (Tue, Fri, Sat) > 06:35 Madrid (Wed, Sat, Sun)

11 December 2015

Cape Town: Chapman's Peak Drive remains closed to cyclists and pedestrians!

Cape Town's famous Chapman's Peak Drive remains closed to cyclists and pedestrians. According to the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, the road is not yet safe for cyclists & pedestrians. Although repair work on the catch fences above Chapman's Peak Drive that were severely damaged during the fires of March 2015 has been completed, significant numbers of rocks about the size of a human fist continue to roll down onto the road. These pose a serious hazard to cyclists and pedestrians because of the height from which these projectiles fall off the mountain. Once the normal vegetation cover, which holds the soil together and reduces the risk of smaller rocks rolling down the slope, is fully recovered from the fire, cyclists or pedestrians will be permitted on Chapman's Peak Drive again. The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works will review the situation again in 2016. On the good side, Chapman's Peak Drive will be open to two-way motor vehicle traffic during the December holiday period.

Ein von Aldus Smith Photography (@aldussmithphotography) gepostetes Foto am

Chapman's Peak Drive is a scenic 9 kilometres 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.

08 December 2015

Kruger National Park introduces new day-visitor entry system!

The management of the Kruger National Park has introduced a new system to streamline day visitor arrivals at the gates during busy periods.
  • Day visitors will now be able to choose and book a time slot prior to their arrival from one of the following three time slots:
    • Time slot 1: Arrive 0 to 2 hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 05:30 to 07:30)
    • Time slot 2: Arrive 2 to 4 hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 07:30 to 09:30)
    • Time slot 3: Arrive 4+ hours after gate opening time. (Summer months 09:30 onwards).
  • The Day Visitor Quota for Kruger National Park is a management tool to maintain the carrying capacity of the park. Visitors will be able to book up to 80% of Day Visitor Quota per gate, via South African National Parks (SANParks) Reservations offices.
  • Pre-booked visitors will have preference over non-booked day visitors at the gate
Pre-booked day visitors must ensure that they arrive within the time slots, as per their reservation. Arriving outside the booked time slot, will be regarded as non-booked and therefore not preferential. Visitors who made reservations prior to this new system have been allocated to Time slot 1. These bookings can be changed through SANParks Reservations offices.

Visitors should also take note of the following important information:
  • Day visitor bookings are subject to a non-refundable booking fee of R36 per adult and R18 per child.
  • Day visitors who have booked will still be required to pay Conservation Fees or use a valid Wild Card to enter Kruger National Park.
  • In order to expedite the admission process, on busy days in particular, day visitors are requested to pay for Conservation Fees in advance or ensure that they have valid Wild Card membership.
  • Guests planning to use Wild Card are requested to ensure membership is valid before arrival and this can best be done online.
  • The number and profile of persons (adults and children) on the reservation and actual persons arriving should correspond.
  • (All) guests may be required to identify themselves upon admission (SA driver’s license, identity document or passport).
  • Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they are regarded as booked for all day visitor admissions. OSVs entering Phabeni Gate will be allowed entry 30 minutes before external gate opening time during the summer.
  • Gate quotas will be applied and un-booked guests could be refused admission.
  • In order to make the wait in the queue at gates a bit more pleasurable, South African National Parks (SANParks) will be providing serviced toilets at strategic points on the side of the road during peak times. Further to this a community initiative has been set up that will see hot and cold beverages being available for sale to visitors who will be waiting for entry.
  • Guests are kindly requested to be patient and understanding of this new change. SANParks will be learning from this so please feel free to provide feedback through the customer feedback system.

04 December 2015

Namibia: The long-awaited Oshakati Open Market in Oshakati to open soon!

The long-awaited Oshakati Open Market in Oshakati, which was initially planned to open in June 2014, will soon be inaugurated. According to media reports in Namibia, the Oshakati's town council plans open the new venue "shortly after the elections" (27 Nov 2015). The new Oshakati Open Market will house retail stalls, a public meeting hall, an administrative office, an information kiosk, public toilets, a children's playground, a seasonal food market, cold storage facilities, a craft market, a braai and raw meat market, a 37 metre (12 floor) high observation tower and a bus terminal. A total of 600 vendors can be accommodated in the market. The new bus terminal will be the only official bus stop in Oshakati; buses will not be allowed to operate from other places in town.

Oshakati Open Market: opening soon
Posted by Oshakati Town Council on Saturday, 13 June 2015

03 December 2015

Tanzania: Fastjet to launch flights between Dar es Salaam <> Zanzibar!

Tanzania-based low cost-airline Fastjet is set to become the operator of the world's shortest (in terms of flying distance) scheduled service with an aircraft of the Airbus A320 family. The airline will launch flights between Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) on Zanzibar on 11 January 2016. Both airports are located only 74.2km from each other. Fastjet will initially be operating 12 weekly flights between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and plans to increase the service to 14 flights per week from 21 March 2016.
Previously the world's shortest (in terms of flying distance) scheduled service by the A320 family was TAM Airlines’ service between São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport and Viracopos/Campinas International Airport. The distance between the two airports in Brasil is 80.6km.

02 December 2015

Fastjet to launch daily direct flights between Johannesburg <> Zanzibar!

Tanzania-based low cost-airline Fastjet has announced that it will introduce daily direct flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) on Zanzibar on 11 January 2016. Flights will depart Johannesburg at 14:10 and will arrive on Zanzibar at 19:40, while the return flights will depart Zanzibar at 09:30 and will arrive in Johannesburg at 13:20. Tickets are on sale now.

01 December 2015

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in November 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 November 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 November 2015 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 88.89% (October 93.77%)
  2. Airlink - 86.13% (October 87.05%)
  3. Mango - 85.59% (October 82.45%)
  4. Kulula.com - 82.63% (October 79.10%) 
  5. South African Airways - 82.43% (October 89.10%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 80.45% (October 77.99%) 
  7. SA Express - 79.83% (October 79.52%)  
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2015 (airport target 90%)
  1. Airlink - 96.23% (October 93.06%)
  2. SA Express - 94.68% (October 94.50%) 
  3. FlySafair - 93.23% (October 94.10%)  
  4. Kulula.com - 90.00% (October 88.18%)  
  5. Mango - 88.24% (October 89.07%) 
  6. South African Airways - 83.88% (October 92.69%)   
  7. British Airways Domestic - 83.15% (October 79.91%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2015 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 95.33% (October 98.00%) 
  2. South African Airways - 91.66% (October 92.83%) 
  3. Airlink - 91.04% (October 92.91%)
  4. Mango - 90.60% (October 85.13%)
  5. SA Express - 89.14% (October 89.49%) 
  6. Kulula.com - 86.43% (October 86.07%)
  7. British Airways Domestic - 79.03% (October 73.08%)        

Fair Trade Tourism certifies the Montagu Country Hotel in Montagu!

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT), a South African NGO that encourages and monitors fair and responsible practises in tourism establishments and activities, has added the Montagu Country Hotel in Montagu to the family of FTT-certified businesses.
The hotel has been investing in energy saving initiatives like solar, low-energy lighting, compost-making with biodegradable waste and water-saving initiatives. It is also active in the local community, providing soup for the village soup kitchen, working closely with a hospice and the local Rotary branch which both use the hotel for meetings. The Montagu Country Hotel also supports various schools, charities and churches in the area and ensures that its procurement is kept local, as far as possible, especially where meat and fresh produce is concerned. Most of the hotel's staff come from Montagu and the various villages and communities which surround it.
The town of Montagu is located near the picturesque Robertson Wine Valley on the famed Route 62 about 180km from Cape Town in the western Little Karoo.