30 December 2017

Kruger National Park Calendar - February

Weather:
  • much the same as January
  • traditionally flood season
  • heavy rains can cause rivers to suddenly burst their banks
Temperatures:
male impala, impala, Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari

Landscape: 
  • 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

22 December 2017

Singapore Airlines to launch daily services to Cape Town!

The flag carrier of Singapore, Singapore Airlines, will be increasing flight frequency to Cape Town to meet growing travel demand. Effective 26 March 2018, the airline will operate daily flights instead of four weekly flights between Shangi Airport (SIN) in Singapore and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town via OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. The additional flights will complement Singapore Airline's current daily service to Johannesburg. Singapore Airlines will operate flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg using its Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The aircraft seats 253 customers in three classes, with 42 in Business Class, 24 in Premium Economy Class and 187 in Economy Class.
The new flights are subject to regulatory approvals.

21 December 2017

Botswana: BR Express now stops at eight stations between Lobatse <> Francistown!

Botswana Railways (BR) not only extended its passenger train service (BR Express) to Bulawayo, it also increased the stopping places of the BR Express from six to eight with effect from 15 December 2017.  The two additional stops are Pilane and Tonota Halt. The north bound train will arrive in Pilane at 22:00 and depart at 22:02. At Tonota Halt, the north bound passenger train will arrive at 05:22 and depart at 05:24. The south bound train will arrive at Tonota Halt at 21:53 and depart at 21:56. This train will arrive at Pilane at 05:06 and depart at 0508.
Botswana Railways also changed the departure time for the passenger train at Lobatse from 18:00 to 18:45, effective 15 December 2017.




Botswana Railways re-introduced a passenger train service in Botswana on 22 March 2016. The train consist of 3 classes being Standard and Business Class as well as Sleeper Coaches. This service currently connects Lobatse with Francistown via Gaborone, Pilane (new) Mahalapye, Palapye, Serule and Tonota Halt (new).

20 December 2017

Botswana: Botswana Railways to launch a passenger train service between Francistown <> Bulawayo!

Botswana Railways (BR) just announced that with effect from 20 December 2017 its passenger train service, the BR Express, will connect Francistown in Botswana with Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. The BR Express will depart Francistown at 07:00 and arrive in Bulawayo at 12:30. Upon return, the train will depart Bulawayo at 14:15 and arrive in Francistown at 19:45. Botswana Railways stopped services to Zimbabwe in the early 2000s.



Botswana Railways re-introduced a passenger train service in Botswana on 22 March 2016. The train consist of 3 classes being Standard and Business Class as well as Sleeper Coaches. This service currently operates between Lobatse and Francistown.

Cape Town: Lion's Head hiking tips! (video)

Hiking up Lion's Head is one of the MUST-DO's when visiting Cape Town. There is probably no better way to see the city from above, with epic views of Table Mountain and the ocean. Cape Town Tourism has put together some very helpful hiking tips for a safe trip up. Check out the video below.



Lion's Head is a mountain in
Cape Town located between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. It peaks at 669 metres above sea level.

Uganda: Etihad Airways to suspend flights between Abu Dhabi <> Entebbe!

The second largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, will suspend its operations between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in Abu Dhabi and Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Entebbe from 25 March 2018 "following a commercial assessment of the route's performance". According to the airline ticket holders who have purchased tickets on/before 18 December 2017 for travel on/after 25 March 2018 will be provided with alternative travel options. Etihad Airways introduced flights to Entebbe in May 2015.

Kruger National Park: Unleaded fuel & Diesel available again at Shingwedzi Rest Camp!

The filling station at the Shingwedzi Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park is in full operation again, so that unleaded fuel and diesel are now available. Due to underground tank maintenance fuel was not available at the Rest Camp since 06 November 2017.


19 December 2017

Zambia & Zimbabwe to introduce toll fees for the Victoria Falls Bridge!

Zambia and Zimbabwe are set to introduce toll fees for the Victoria Falls Bridge on the border between the two countries from 01 January 2018. The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RATSA), an indipendent agent, has been contracted to collect the toll fees by Emerged Railways Properties (ERP), a company jointly owned by Zambia Railway Limited (ZRL) and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). The fees will be used for the refurbishment and maintenance of the Victoria Falls Bridge, which was constructed by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company in 1905. The toll fee will be payable at the two border posts or at bridge entry points.

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls Bridge

Victoria Falls Bridge toll fees:

  • Haulage trucks: USD30
  • Buses: USD7
  • Commercial mini buses: USD5
  • Taxis and small vehicles with a gross weight less than two tonnes will be exempt

Western Cape: The Whale Trail will be closed from January to April 2019!

The famous Whale Trail, a 5-day hiking trail that stretches over 55km from Potberg to Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, will be closed from January 2019 to April 2019 for maintenance. CapeNature, the public institution with the statutory responsibility for biodiversity conservation in South Africa's Western Cape, will therefor not be taking advance bookings for the Whale Trail as of January 2018. Bookings for 2019 will resume on 01 May 2018. 

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15 December 2017

Rough Guides names Malawi & South Africa among the top countries to travel to in 2018

Rough Guides, a British travel guidebook and reference publisher, has named Malawi and South Africa among the 18 places that should be on a traveller's radar in 2018. While Malawi came in at number three in Rough Guides' "The Rough Guide to 2018", South Africa was ranked 14th. 

Rough Guides describes Malawi as follows:

Long known as "the warm heart of Africa" because of its friendly, welcoming people, Malawi is fast gaining a reputation as a fabulous safari destination too. Three of its reserves – Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota – are now run by conservation organisation African Parks which has been busy regenerating them and reintroducing wildlife.
Today, Majete is home to all of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard), which roam its lush rolling hills and riverine landscapes.
In 2017, Liwonde also welcomed cheetah as new residents to its game-rich plains dominated by the beautiful Shire River snaking its way through the park. Lions will be joining them in 2018. And following the world's biggest ever translocation of elephants, wonderfully wild and rugged Nkhotakota became home to 500 elephants from Majete and Liwonde.
In each reserve, places to stay range from luxury lodges to community campsites: check in now before the crowds do. [src.]
Cape Town, South Africa, Table Mountain

Rough Guides describes South Africa as follows:
2018 marks the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth – and though it’ll be marked with events around the world, nothing compares to celebrating Mandela's legacy in his beloved South Africa.
You can explore the landscape and culture of the Eastern Cape, which shaped Madiba’s childhood and later years; experience the vibrancy and political activism which drew him to Johannesburg throughout his adult life; and marvel at the contrast between Cape Town's desolate Robben Island, where he spent most of his 27-year incarceration, and the imposing Parliament building, where he spoke as President.
There will be events, tours and openings throughout South Africa to mark the centenary, plus all of the country’s usual jaw-dropping attractions. Go on safari in Kruger National Park, listen to jazz in Joburg, wander the wine routes of the Cape – and savour the diversity and freedom Mandela fought so hard to protect. [src.]
Rough Guides' The Rough Guide to 2018:
  1. Newcastle, England
  2. Civil Rights Trail, USA
  3. Malawi
  4. Valette, Malta
  5. Wales
  6. Cuba
  7. Russia
  8. New Orleans, USA
  9. Chile
  10. Sierra Leone
  11. South Korea
  12. Jordan
  13. Tbilisi, Georgia
  14. South Africa
  15. Palermo, Italy
  16. Togian Islands, Indonesia
  17. Tunesia
  18. Belize

South Africa: South African Airways & Mango to rationalise their domestic route network!

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways, and its low-cost subsidiary Mango are set to rationalise their route network for improved efficiencies and optimal aircraft utilisation through a revised airline brand schedule. This will see additional Mango operated flights for the domestic market.
Both South African Airways and Mango currently offer 200 return flights per week between Johannesburg and Durban and 278 return flights per week between
Johannesburg and Cape Town.
To enhance efficiencies and to provide more diverse offering to customers, whilst responding to demand, the two airline brands will ensure seamless implementation of the revised schedule with effect from 15 January 2018. Once fully implemented Mango will operate 132 return flights on the
Johannesburg <> Durban route and 116 return flights on the Johannesburg <> Cape Town route per week. South African Airways will operate 68 return flights between Johannesburg and Durban, and 162 return flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Whilst a seamless booking change is anticipated, assistance will be provided to all ticketed passengers holding South African Airways' Tickets (only) via any of South African Airways' call centres, city travel offices or dedicated travel agent with the following conditions.

The following rebooking conditions apply:

  • Rebook onto another South African Airways (SA code) flight for a later date at no extra charge and subject to availability of the same booking class.
  • Change of cabin will not be permitted
  • This policy is applicable to South African Airways flights only, issued on SA (083) ticket stock on or before 12 December and not on separate tickets of other airlines
  • Tickets must be re-issued on or before 31 December 2017
Mango flights will operate on Boeing 737-800s and South African Airways will discontinue operating Airbus A340-600s on the Johannesburg <> Cape Town route.
Members of Voyager, South African Airways' frequent flyer programme, will continue to earn Miles on Mango operated flights if booked on South African Airways' SA code and will continue to enjoy South African Airways' baggage allowance, lounge access and a seamless transfer on to the regional and international network services of South African Airways. Voyager members can also spend their Miles on Mango operated flights, by utilising Miles or a combination of Miles and a range of payment options.

14 December 2017

Mpumalanga: The Graskop Gorge Lift set to open to the public!

update (30 December 2017): The Graskop Gorge Lift is finally operational. Multi-entry tickets cost R175 for adults, R120 for children (4 - 16 years; under 4 years are free) and R120 for pensioners!

The new Graskop Gorge Adventure Centre, located on the famous Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, is set to open on 18 December 2017. The main attraction of the new project is a viewing lift ("Graskop Gorge Lift"), which will transport 26 visitors at a time to the bottom of the Graskop Gorge. The glass elevator has a sheer drop equivalent to about 16 storeys or 51 meters and offers 360 degree views of the gorge, waterfall, trees, birds and sky. The Graskop Adventure Centre also includes a restaurant, bar and shops on the plateau as well as an extensive network of elevated walkways, suspension bridges and interactive exhibits at the bottom of the Graskop Gorge.



The Graskop Gorge Adventure Centre is situated 1 km out of Graskop, at the Graskop Gorge, on the R533 towards Hazyview.

South Africa: Malaria risk in South Africa 2017 (infographic)!

South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has released a new updated advisory on the Malaria risk in South Africa 2017. According to the NICD, the seasonal risk to catch Malaria in Malaria-infected regions in South Africa usually peaks between September and May. Due to more mosquito breeding in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern KwaZulu Natal and other high risk areas in in the country, the seasonal risk has now been significantly extended. This increased breeding activity is most likely related to climate change and heavier rainfall. See the infographic below for more information.

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13 December 2017

Namibia: Three heritage sites in Northwestern Namibia to operate half day only on 19 December 2017!

The National Heritage Council of Namibia just informed the public that three heritage sites in Northwestern Namibia, namely the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, the Petrified Forest Heritage Site and the Brandberg Heritage Site, will only be open half day on 19 December 2017 due to an official function. Normal business hours will resume as from 20 December 2017.

Namibia, Twyfelfontein, Khorixas, rock engravings

The Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site is located 20 km south of the C39 major road from Sesfontein to Khorixas. From there it is connected by the district road D3214. The Petrified Forest lies some 40 km west of
Khorixas, also on the C39 road. The Brandberg Mountain is located about 30 km from Uis.

Botswana: Rain season (January - March 2018) outlook!

Botswana's Department of Meteorological Services (BDMS) has released a statement regarding the seasonal rainfall outlook update for January to March 2018. According to the statement the eastern parts of Botswana (Southern-Central and Northeast District) are expected to receive largely normal rainfall. Normal rainfall is about 180mm for this area. The remaining parts of the country which include Gantsi, Ngamiland, Chobe, Northern-Central, Kgalagadi, Southern, Southeast, Kgatleng and Kweneng are expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall. Normal rainfall during January to March in these parts of Botswana usually ranges from 100mm over Kgalagadi to 320mm over the Chobe District. Overall, a moderately wet season is expected. This is mainly due to the present weak La NiƱa conditions.

Kruger National Park: Restaurant facilities in three rest camps set to reopen!

update (15 December 2017): The restaurant facilities at Letaba Rest Camp, Olifants Rest Camp and Satara Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park are now operational.

South African National Parks (SANParks) is set to reopen the restaurants facilities at Letaba Rest Camp, Olifants Rest Camp and Satara Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park. The three restaurants will be managed on temporary basis for the next six months by one of the companies that is currently managing other restaurants in Kruger National Park. In the meantime, SANParks is looking for new operators for the three restaurants.


The restaurant facilities at Letaba Rest Camp, Olifants Rest Camp and Satara Rest Camp will be operational as follows: 
  • Letaba operational by 13 December 2017
  • Satara operational by 14 December 2017
  • Olifants operational by 15 December 2017

TAZARA: Resumption of passenger train services in Zambia!

We got information from the the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) that passenger train services between New Kapiri Mposhi and Nakonde in Zambia resumed on 12 December 2017. The Mukuba Express Train has, therefore, resumed its normal schedule, running from New Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam on 12 December 2017 and is due to return from Dar es Salaam on 15 December 2017. Similarly, the Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train that had been operating in Tanzania only in the past one week, has resumed its normal operations in Zambia on 12 December 2017. The train will, accordingly, return from New Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam on 15 December 2017.

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.

12 December 2017

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in November 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 November 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 November 2017 (airport target 87%)
  1. CemAir - 89.41% (October 84.72%)
  2. FlySafair - 89.16% (October 89.71%)
  3. South African Airways - 86.51% (October 83.41%)
  4. Airlink - 79.67% (October 82.84%)
  5. Kulula.com - 78.82% (October 80.41%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 73.84% (October 82.18%)
  7. Mango - 72.16% (October 74.95%)
  8. SA Express - 63.63% (October 64.77%)
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (October --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2017 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 89.68% (October 92.48%)
  2. Airlink - 89.18% (October 89.45%)
  3. South African Airways - 86.13% (October 83.37%)
  4. Kulula.com - 84.78% (October 85.92%)
  5. Mango - 83.87% (October 77.88%)
  6. CemAir - 80.47% (October 76.19%) 
  7. British Airways Domestic - 75.61% (October 84.00%)
  8. SA Express - 69.17% (October 77.39%) 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (October --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2017 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 94.33% (October 92.73%)
  2. Airlink - 93.75% (October 91.58%)
  3. South African Airways - 87.54% (October 84.35%)
  4. Kulula.com - 82.08% (October 85.55%)
  5. Mango - 80.00% (October 80.35%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 73.08% (October 80.67%)
  7. SA Express - 62.23% (October 71.47%)