31 January 2017

Kruger National Park Calendar - March

  • end of summer...
  • still hot and humid during the day, but nights begin to get colder
  • last major rainfalls of the season

  • Water availability at its peak
  • river levels high
  • dense vegetation
  • grasslands in full seed
Animal Activity
  • animal dispersal at its widest
  • animals rather relaxed - least competition for resources
  • water sources throughout the park are usually full
  • buffalo & kudu breeding peak
  • many migrant birds leaving 

30 January 2017

Kenya: KWS makes all entry fees to National Parks "non cash"!

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) changed their payment policy on 27 January 2017 by making all entry fees to all KWS Parks, Reserves and Sanctuaries in Kenya to be paid with Visa Card, MPesa (a popular mobile money service in Kenya), by direct bank deposit (Kenya Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered Bank only) or with corporate cheques. Payments in cash are not accepted anymore!

27 January 2017

TAZARA: Passenger train operations in Zambia to resume with immediate effect!

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) just announced the resumption of passenger train operations in Zambia that were suspended on 20 January 2017 following a work stoppage declared by unionized employees demanding the immediate adjustment of the salary dollar-exchange (parity) rate. The train operations will resume with immediate effect.
The TAZARA Railway, operated by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), is a railroad in East Africa linking the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the town of New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia's Central Province.

WESSA's virtual roadtrip to Bue Flag sites in South Africa! (videos)

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) kicked off a virtual roadtrip in December 2016, which will last about 10 month and will cover each of South Africa's Blue Flag beaches, boats and marinas. During the #MyBlueFlagSummer Virtual Roadtrip for 2016/2017, WESSA will share interesting insights about the Blue Flag sites en route, with fun "virtual pocket guides", videos, photos and much more, to help us plan our year-round #BlueFlagSA summer! Enjoy!

26 January 2017

Johannesburg: Braamfontein's vibrant and thriving art scene!

Braamfontein is currently one of the must-see places you shouldn't miss when visiting Johannesburg. The district, also known as Brammies, is home to loads of the city's most popular and hip theatres, clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, museums and, of course, art galleries. Braamies [braamies.co.za], an online portal focussed on Braamfontein [also see: Johannesburg: The coffee spots of Braamfontein!], recently produced a video portraying the vibrant and thriving art scene in Braamfontein. Kudos Brammies; enjoy the video!

Stevenson Gallery
62 Juta Street
Braamfontein 2001

Wits Art Museum
1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Braamfontein 2000

The Kalashnikovv Gallery

153 Smit Service Street

25 January 2017

Hoscars 2017: The best hostels in Southern & East Africa!

Hostelworld.com, the world's leading hostel-focused online booking platform, has announced the winners of the 2017 HOSCARS (Hostelworld.com Customer Annual Ratings). Now in their 15th year, the HOSCARS are known to be the world's most prestigious hostel awards, recognizing the top hostels around the globe as voted for by the Hostelworld.com users. Congrats!

Hoscars 2017 - Best Hostels by Continent - Africa
[The top three hostels in Africa, based on your reviews in 2016.]
  1. The B.I.G, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. The Lunar Surf House, Agadir, Morocco
  3. Atlantic Point Backpackers, Cape Town, South Africa
Hoscars 2017 - Best Hostels by Country 
[The top hostel in countries in Southern & East Africa, based on your reviews in 2016]


South Africa

24 January 2017

Eastern Cape: N2 between Grahamstown <> Peddie temporarily closed!

Due to the widening of the Great Fish River Bridge in the Eastern Cape, travellers are advised not to use the N2 between Grahamstown and Peddie, but the alternative route of the R72 via Port Alfred. The N2 will be closed for long periods from today (24 January 2017) until 27 January 2017.  The road will be open to two-way traffic between sunset and sunrise daily.

  • 24 January 2017 - The N2 will be closed from 08:00 - 09:00, 10:00 - 11:00, 12:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 15:00 (expected delay: 1hrs per occurence)
  • 25 January 2017 - The N2 will be closed from 08:00 - 09:00 (expected delay: 1hrs) , 11:00 - 13:00, 14:00 - 16:00 (expected delay: 2hrs per occurence)
  • 26 Janaury 2017 - The N2 will be closed from 08:00 - 10:00, 11:00 - 13:00, 14:00 - 16:00 (expected delay: 2hrs per occurence)
  • 27 January 2017 - The N2 will be closed from 08:00 - 10:00 (expected delay: 2hrs)

23 January 2017

TAZARA: Suspension of all train operations in Zambia until further notice!

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) just informed us that all passenger train operations in Zambia have been suspended until further notice. The move has been necessitated by an illegal work stoppage, which has been declared by unionized employees who are demanding for the immediate adjustment of the salary dollar-exchange (parity) rate.
The strike and the suspension of operations is on the Zambian side only and does not affect TAZARA's operations in
Tanzania where passenger trains are running normally between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya.

The TAZARA Railway, operated by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), is a railroad in East Africa linking the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the town of New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia's Central Province.

Video: Experience the beauty of Cape Town & the Western Cape!

Discover Cape Town & Western Cape (Discoverctwc), which forms part of Wesgro, the official Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town & Western Cape, has released a new promotional video showcasing the beauty and diversity of Cape Town and the Western Cape! Enjoy!

20 January 2017

Rwandair to introduce direct flights between Kigali <> Mumbai!

The flag carrier airline of Rwanda, Rwandair, is set to introduce direct flights between Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, India, on 17 April 2017. The airline will operate flights from Kigali to Mumbai every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and from Mumbai to Kigali every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

19 January 2017

Emirates to introduce a third daily flight between Dubai <> Nairobi!

update (30 Jan 2017):  Kenyan authorities have withdrawn their approval for Emirates to operate a third daily flight from Dubai to Nairobi. According to the airline, no reason was given for the withdrawal. 

The largest international airline in the world, Dubai-based Emirates, is set to introduce a third daily flight between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi from 01 June 2017. The additional flight will increase the number of scheduled Emirates flights between the two cities to 21 a week. As with its other two daily flights to Nairobi, Emirates will also operate its popular Boeing 777-300ER in a three class configuration. The aircraft will have eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 304 spacious seats in Economy Class.

Air Tanzania launched flights to Dodoma!

The flag carrier airline of Tanzania, Air Tanzania, has introduced scheduled flights between Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma Airport (DOD) in Dodoma. The airline will operate two weekly flights using one of its new Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 carriers in an all economy 78 seat configuration. Air Tanzania's new service then continues to Kigoma Airport (TKQ) in Kigoma in western Tanzania.

Fastjet has suspended two routes between Johannesburg and Tanzania!

According to tourism specialists eTNW, Fastjet has suspended its flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam as well as its flights between Johannesburg and Zanzibar's Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ). The airline did not provide details as to if and when the flights will be re-introduced to its network.

17 January 2017

Zambia: Proflight Zambia launched a new direct service between Ndola <> Kasama!

Proflight Zambia, the operator of the largest fleet of aircraft in Zambia, launched a new direct service between Ndola and Kasama today (17 January 2017). The new direct flight avoids travellers have to stay overnight in Lusaka when flying between the two locations. Instead, the airline has introduced a four-times-a-week circuit on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, alternating between Lusaka > Ndola > Kasama > Lusaka and Lusaka > Kasama > Ndola > Lusaka . The direct flight will depart Ndola at 12:45 on Tuesdays and Fridays, arriving in Kasama at 14:25. The flight will depart Kasama on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:35, arriving in Ndola at 12:15.

Ndola is the third largest city in Zambia and the industrial and commercial center of the Copperbelt, the country's copper-mining region. Kasama is the capital of the Northern Province of Zambia, situated on the central-southern African plateau at an elevation of about 1400 m.

Thomas Cook Airlines plans to launch flights between Manchester <> Cape Town!

British airline Thomas Cook Airlines plans to introduce nonstop flights between Manchester Airport (MAN) in Manchester and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town in early 2018. The airline is set to operate a bi-weekly service on Wednesdays from Manchester and on Thursdays from Cape Town on board an Airbus A330-200.

Kruger National Park: Road condition update!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has released an update on the road conditions (as of 16 Jan 2016) in Kruger National Park's northern Nxanasteni region, which is currently experiencing heavy rains.

Balule Rest Camp

  • The water level on the S89 is high and guests are therefore advised to make use of the S91 and S92 as well as the causeway to access Balule.
  • Due to overflowing the H1-9 is closed. Mopani Rest Camp is accessible via the Letaba high water bridge.
Shimuwini Bushveld Camp
  • The camp is inaccessible.

16 January 2017

Cape Town Tourism continues "The Love Cape Town Neighbourhood series"! (video)

Cape Town Tourism has released a new episode of the "The Love Cape Town Neighbourhood series" featuring Khayelitsha, the largest and fastet growing township in South Africa. Previous episodes include Kalk Bay, Cape Town CBD, Woodstock, Constantia, Somerset West and Langa

"The Love Cape Town Neighbourhood series" was launched by Cape Town Tourism in 2015 to promote and highlight Cape Town's diverse suburbs. The first three episodes were released in September 2015, another three in March 2016 and the seventh episode on 15 January 2017.

13 January 2017

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Road works and closures!

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

  • Dune Loop is closed since 11 January 2017
  • KuMfazana Hide access road remains closed
  • Mission Rocks Road is closed since 11 January 2017
Western Shores
  • All roads are now open on the Western Shores

St Lucia Estuary and Beaches
  • Repairs to the St Lucia and the Eastern Shores surfaced roads are done under traffic control from since 11 January 2017 
  • Since 13 January 2017, vehicular access will be restricted to iSimangaliso's Estuary Beach car park due to the number of heavy vehicles and plant using it. A control boom has been erected south of Ingwe Beach and only contractor vehicles, vehicles towing boats, and persons with permits from DEA Oceans and Coasts in respect of access for disabled permits, will be granted access. The access rules and protocols will be the same as those for Bhangazi Gate. Boat users must complete the launch site register on entry and exit at the boom. All other beach users should make use of the upgraded parking and turning circle at Ingwe Beach.
  • eMshophi Gate: Construction of the new eMshophi Gate House has commenced. The new gate house is situated approximately 1km before the existing boom gate into iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Traffic control in the form of stop and go's as well as diversions around the construction works are in place.
  • KuMalibala Hide: kuMalibala Hide is currently closed to the public

12 January 2017

Rwandair to introduce flights between Kigali <> Harare!

update (13 Jan 2017): Rwandair will operate four flights per week between Kigali > Lusaka > Harare > Kigali on board a Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft.

The flag carrier airline of Rwanda, Rwandair, is set to introduce direct flights between Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali and Harare International Airport (HRE) in Harare in April 2017. According to a tweet by the airline, the exact launch date (as well as frequencies etc.?) will be communicated very soon. We'll keep you posted!

11 January 2017

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in December 2016!

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 December 2016.
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 December 2016 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 94.05% (November 90.61%) 
  2. Airlink - 85.23% (November 82.32%) 
  3. Mango - 81.88% (November 80.39%)
  4. British Airways Domestic - 76.58% (November 73.06%)  
  5. Kulula.com - 76.00% (November 66.47%)
  6. South African Airways - 75.54% (November 81.17%)
  7. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 71.88% (November 65.08%)
  8. SA Express - 67.27% (November 70.06%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance December 2016 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.28% (November 93.45%) 
  2. Airlink - 89.10% (November 92.86%) 
  3. CemAir - 88.60% (November 88.33%)
  4. Mango - 86.23% (November 90.25%)  
  5. South African Airways - 81.00% (November 84.27%)
  6. Kulula.com - 79.37% (November 78.54%)
  7. SA Express - 78.64% (November 86.80%)  
  8. British Airways Domestic - 78.05% (November 77.26%) 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 54.00% (November 37.50%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance December 2016 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 92.34% (November 90.67%) 
  2. Mango - 90.05% (November 88.01%) 
  3. South African Airways - 86.66% (November 82.15%)  
  4. SA Express - 82.62% (November 79.56%)
  5. Airlink - 81.31% (November 81.27%) 
  6. Kulula.com - 76.63% (November 76.07%) 
  7. British Airways Domestic - 73.93% (November 69.46%)

10 January 2017

Supermarket prices in South Africa!

To give you an idea on the supermarket prices in South Africa, we have set up a list of what we think are the most typical items travellers usually buy. It hopefully helps planning your holidays in South Africa. Safe travels! [exchange rates in the daily news update]

  • bread - from R8.00/loaf (600g)
  • Rama Margarine - from R8.00/125g
  • eggs (large, free range) - from R17.60/6ea
  • mixed fruit jam - from R15.00/290g
  • peanut butter - from R20.00/250g
  • Nutella - from R30.00/180g
  • Bovril - from R25.00/125g
  • Marmite - from R25.00/125g
  • baked beans - from R7.00/can (400g)
  • bacon - from R28.00/200g
  • milk - from R10.50/1l
  • muesli - from R36.00/750g
  • porridge oats - from R16.00/500g
  • yoghurt (plain) - from R15.50/500g
  • cheese - from R18.00/125g (gouda/cheddar)
  • potatoes - from R11.00/kg
  • tomatoes - from R8.00/750g
  • onions - from R8.00/kg
  • mushrooms - from R23.00/250g (white mushrooms)
  • cucumber - from R10.00 (local english cucumber) 
  • lettuce - from R11.50 (crisp lettuce)
  • avocado - currently n/a
  • pasta - from R9.00/500g (macaroni)
  • pasta sauce - from R29.00/440g
  • instant soup - from R11.00 (Cup-A-Snack e.g. Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Soup)
  • biscuits - from R8.00/200g
  • rusks - from R33.00/500g
  • chewing gum - from 8.00/pack (Orbit)
  • boerewors - from R80.00/kg
  • steak - from R95.00/kg (T-bone)
  • chakalaka - from R13.00/can (410g)
  • chutney - from R26.00/bottle (Mrs H.S.Ball's Hot Chutney, 470g)
  • hot sauce - from R18.00/bottle (125g)
  • tomato sauce - from R14.00 (375ml)
  • potato chips - from R6.00/30g
  • bottled water (still) - from R4.50/500ml 
  • Coke - from R10.00/500ml
  • orange juice - from R10.00/350ml
  • beer - from R9.50/330ml (Hansa)
  • beer - from R10.00/330ml (Castle Lager) 
  • beer - from R11.00/330ml (Amstel Lager)
  • beer - from R12.00/330ml (Windhoek Lager)
  • cider - from R13.00/330ml (Hunters Dry)
  • cider - from R14.00/330ml (Savanna Dry)
  • wine - from R28.00/750ml (White)
The list above is probably missing some items. Let us know what you think is missing & we will add it! 

Western Cape: CapeNature closed two Nature Reserves due to ongoing fires!

The Western Cape in South Africa is currently in the middle of the annual fire season. Due to ongoing fires in the area (see map below), CapeNature, the public institution responsible for biodiversity conservation in the province, decided to close both the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve to the public until further notice. We'll keep you posted!

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve lies in the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains, about 90km south-east of Cape Town. The 70 000-hectare reserve stretches from Elgin in the south to beyond Villiersdorp in the north, and from the Stellenbosch Mountains in the west, eastwards to the Groenland Mountains, and is a World Heritage Site.

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is home to the majestic Jonkershoek Mountains and parts of the Jonkershoek valley. The reserve, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, lies near the town of Stellenbosch in the south-western Cape. Visitors may choose to explore one or both reserves, as they are in easy reach of each other. The reserves are about 9km from Stellenbosch, on the Jonkershoek valley road.

Victoria Falls: The Devil's Pool is closed!

The famous Devil's Pool, a rock pool right on the very edge of the mighty Victoria Falls on Livingstone Island (Livingstone side of the Falls in Zambia) has closed with immediate effect due to the high water levels. Also known as the "Armchair" or simply the "ultimate infinity pool", the pool is only accessible during the drier month of the year when the Zambezi River drops quite substantially (low water season). This usually takes place from mid-August to mid-January. Tours are/will be available.

09 January 2017

Kruger National Park: Letaba Elephant Hall to close temporarily!

The well-known Letaba Elephant Hall (Letaba Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre,) at Kruger National Park's Letaba Rest Camp will be temporarily closed on 12 January 2017 due to the installation of new information panels and maintenance upgrade. The facility will reopen on 21 March 2017.

The Letaba Elephant Hall boast an impressive information display on elephants and holds the ivory of the most famed Magnificent 7 and several other large tuskers roamed the
Kruger National Park. Also part of this display is a full skeleton of an African elephant as well as other unique tusk and skeleton displays.

Cape Town International Airport was South Africa's most punctual airport 2016!

Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town was South Africa's most punctual airport in 2016. According to the "Punctuality League 2016" by the travel analysts OAG from the UK, 86.06% of the flights arriving or departing at Cape Town International Airport (CPT) did so within 15 minutes of their scheduled time (6th on OAG's global medium airport punctuality list). Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DBN) came in second with 86.03% of all flights being on time (10th on OAG's global small airport punctuality list). Africa's busiest airport, OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, follows Cape Town and Durban with a 84.32% of all flights arriving or departing within 15 minutes of their scheduled time (8th on OAG's global large airport punctuality list).