30 September 2010

Kruger National Park Calendar - November

Weather:
  • early summer
  • very hot days and warm evenings
  • rain - rainfall usually double that of October
Temperatures:
  • between 16°C - 32°C (Fahrenheit: e.g. 28°C = [(28x9)]/5 + 32 = 82.4°F)
  • visit travelcomments.com/webcams_sa.htm and follow daily game drives via webcam to check the weather & how the landscape is changing during the year

Landscape:
  • lush vegetation
  • many trees in flower
  • new pans appear in drier areas
  • river levels start rising
 Animal Activity:
  • breeding season underway for most animals
  • plains animals very aggressive in protecting their young as predator activity increases
  • explosion in insect activity after the first good rains

How to pack your backpack cleverly...

Packing your backpack is always kinda mission. What to take with, what to leave back home? 20kgs already reached? Well, the dude in the video does obviously travel with a lot of clothes, but at least he knows how to pack his backpack quite cleverly...



btw - we created a packing list to assist fellow travelers with getting organized before they start their journey. The list is definitely not exhaustive, but we tried our best. Have a look!

Mozambique: Mobile phone users must register by 15 Nov 2010

According to an article on allafrica.com all users of pre-paid mobile phone cards in Mozambique must register their phone numbers by 15 November 2010. The news source is referring to a government decree which was issued last week, but has not yet been published in any of the media.
According to the decree all new users of pre-paid mobile phone cards in Mozambique must be registered at the moment they buy it. People who already have numbers will have to register them by 15 Nov 2010 (similar to the Rica Act in South Africa). If they fail to do so, their access to the mobile phone networks will be blocked. Registration has not yet started. Sometime in the next few days the authorities and the two companies (Mcel & Vodacom MZ) will announce the registration procedures to be used.

29 September 2010

Did you know... why the white rhino is called "white rhino"?

There are some theories around, but the most obvious one is based on a mistranslation of the word "wijd" (referring to the width of the rhino's mouth) from Dutch to English. "Wijd" in Dutch, or "wyd" in Afrikaans, means "wide" in Englisch. So early English-speaking settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "wijd" or "wyd" for "white" and the rhino with the wide mouth ended up being called the white rhino. Other popular theories suggest the name comes from its wide appearance throughout Africa, its color due to wallowing in calcerous soil, because of the lighter colour of its horn or even because of the many bird droppings on their bodies. Black rhinos are actually not black at all. The species probably derives its name as a distinction from the white rhino and/or from the dark-colored local soil that often covers its skin after wallowing in mud.

28 September 2010

BBC's Walk on the Wild Side - Funny Talking Animals Season Two

Walk on the Wild Side is a comedy sketch show shown on BBC One. It involves the overdubbing of voiceovers to natural history footage. And it is simply one of the most hilarious tv shows ever...



The DVD of Walk on the Wild Side's Season One will be released on 04 October 2010. Click here for some previews from Season One.

27 September 2010

November to January is nesting season for sea turtles in South Africa

The coastline of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, known for Lake St. Lucia and the famous diving spot Kosi Bay, in South Africa's northern KwaZulu Natal province is the only remaining major nesting site where Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles still lay their eggs in Africa.



The critically endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles are coming to lay their eggs in the dunes there between November and January. It’s believed only 4 in every 1000 turtle hatchlings actually survives to maturity.
Leatherback turtles are the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth largest modern reptile. They can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Leatherbacks are usually 120-185cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. The largest ever found however was over 3 meters from head to tail and weighed 920kg. Loggerhead turtles are the world's largest hard-shelled turtles, measuring up to 213cm long when fully grown.

Survival International calls to boycott Botswana

Survival International, a non-governmental human rights organization working for tribal peoples, today (27 Sept 2010) called for tourists to boycott the Southern African country Botswana until the government ends a brutal campaign of persecution against Kalahari Bushmen. The call coincides with World Tourism Day (27 Sept 2010), so that SI is especially blaming Botswana for using describtions such as cultural diversity and welcoming people to promote tourism in the country.
What do you think about it? Should tourists boycott Botswana?

Kenya: Visa fee back to $50 per person from January 2011

Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala told the media that Kenya will revert to charging visitors $50 (about Sh4,000) for visas up from the reduced rate of $25 beginning January next year. The country halved the fees for visitors and scrapped the same for children under the age of 16 in April last year, as an incentive for more tourists to visit the country. [src.]

LAM: Johannesburg - Maputo flights for R10!

Mozambique's carrier LAM is offering flights between Johannesburg & Maputo for only R10 (plus air transport fees). This promotion is available on the airline's website and at LAM sales offices and subject to availability. For more info pls see www.flylamsouthafrica.com.

24 September 2010

"YES-JA!" - The EES Kwaito Documentary (Trailer)

I just stumbled over this trailer to a new documentary about Kwaito and the Southern African music industry. It also features Namibian Kwaito artist Ees, his life story and his journey to taking Kwaito outside the border!



Ees (or Eric Sell) was born and raised in Namibia. His music, a blend of Kwaito, Reggae & Hip Hop in Namibia made him an acclaimed star. Get his music on amazon.com | .co.uk | .de..

mp3 of the day: British Sea Power - Zeus

Brighton's indie rocker British Sea Power are about to release their new EP Zeus in October 2010. Listen to the track Zeus, and get the it in exchange for your email.

   

get British Sea Power's new EP "Zeus" in the
TravelComments.com eShop >>

23 September 2010

Very cool - mapping stereotypes

Yanko Tsvetkov is a Bulgarian graphic designer living and working in London. Beside his pro jobs, he is also working on concept art projects. One of them is his project mapping stereotypes. Check it out - the maps are funny and most defo very true ;-).


Examples?
Europe According to USA: Germany - dirty porn | France - smelly people | Italy  - godfathers etc.
Europe According to France: Poland - plumbers | UK - slayers of virgins | The Netherlands - weed etc.
You can also buy his maps on his website http://alphadesigner.com ! Check it out!

22 September 2010

South African B&Bs - Thatchfoord Lodge in Sandton, Johannesburg

If you want to spend some quality time (and bucks) on accommodation after a long and stunning holiday in South Africa, Thatchfoord Lodge will be one of the  lodges of your choice. The lodge is situated in Morningside Manor, one of Sandton's secure and tranquil suburbs, overlooking the willowed banks of the Sand River with an abundance of bird life.



Book your room at Thatchfoord Lodge via safarinow.com (a South African booking website) or via Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.

Qantas: 7 weekly flights to South Africa (Sydney <> Johannesburg) from 21 Sept 2010

Good news for Johannesburg - Australia's carrier Qantas introduced its seventh weekly service between Sydney and Johannesburg on Tuesdays from 21 September 2010. South African Airways will codeshare on each daily service.

KNP gate quotas in force during SA Heritage Day long weekend

Kruger National Park officials are expecting a high volume of visitors to enter the park during this coming Heritage Day long weekend from Friday, 24 to Sunday, 26 September 2010. Day visitors to the Park are advised to book their visit in advance in order to secure their entry and reminded that gate daily quotas will strictly be enforced during this period.
Each Kruger National Park gate has its limited number of day visitors that can be allowed per day e.g. in gates such as Malelane it is 550 and in small ones like Pafuri it is 385. Day visitors are therefore urged to either arrive at the gate very early in the morning as the service is on first come first served basis or to pre-book their entrance via central reservations (012 428 9111). [src. sanparks.org]

20 September 2010

Backpackers in South Africa - Tekweni Backpackers Hostel in Durban

Durban's Tekweni Backpackers Hostel was established back in 1992 making it one of the first five hostels in South Africa. The backpackers is located in a large colonial home (built in 1896) in the heart of the vibrant suburb of Morningside (famous Florida Rd is literally just around the corner!)


Hermanus Whale Festival 2010, 24 - 28 September 2010

Sleepy little Hermanus goes BIG! Grab your family, friends or travel mates and venture to this arty and fun festival which claims to be the only Enviro-Arts Festival in South Africa.



Hermanus Whale Festival 2010
Where: Hermanus (Western Cape) - directions to Hermanus
Start: 24 September 2010 09:00 AM
End: 28 September 2010 11:00 PM

mp3 of the day: Trent Reznor's "The Social Network" five track EP

The Social Network is a 2010 drama film directed by David Fincher about the founding of the social networking website Facebook.



Trent Reznor (the man behind Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross co-scored the upcoming movie about Mark Zuckerberg and his "The Social Network". Now you can pre-order the score, and even download a free five track sampler. See below:

17 September 2010

Randburg & surrounding areas to be without power on Sunday

South Africa's timeslive.co.za is reporting that Randburg surrounding areas in Gauteng will be without power on Sunday, 19 September 2010, between 5AM and 7PM.

The affected areas are:
Blairgowrie, Boskop, Boskruin, Bromhof, Darrenwood, Ferndale, Fontuinbleau, Kalland, Klipfontein, Malanshof, Moret, President Ridge, Randpark Ridge, Randview, Robin Acres, Robin Hills, Robindale, Ruitershof, Strydom Park, Windsor, Windsor Hill, Windsor Ridge.

To all the travellers out there - make sure that you are not staying in one of the areas  without power on Sunday or doublecheck with the backpackers/hostel/hotel/B&B if they are having a generator or so to provide electricity.

16 September 2010

Intrepid Travel: Safe 15% on Kenya trips

From the snow-capped peak of mighty Mt Kenya and the Masai Mara's golden grassy plains, to the pink blush of Lake Nakuru and annual migration of millions of wildebeest, Kenya beckons with iconic sights, tribal cultures and extraordinary natural wonders.



Act now and you can get in early to SAVE 15% on Kenya trips that are departing between 6 and 12 months in advance. Plus check out Intrepid's fantastic slideshow of feel-good photos and discover all about this amazing region on the new Kenya Destination web page!

HostelBookers Travel Survey 2010 – Win a Round-the-World Trip worth £3000!

Fancy winning a round-the-world trip for two? Well, by answering a few simple questions, this £3000 prize (plus a bonus £1000 spending money) could be yours!
In 2009, an amazing 10,000 people took part in the HostelBookers Travel Survey. This year, HostelBookers want those numbers to increase even more!
Taking part is easy – all you have to do is complete a short survey about your personal travel experiences. We want to know where you’ve been, where you want to go, how many countries you’ve visited, who you’ve gone with, your best budget travel tips…and if you’ve ever gotten frisky in a hostel dorm room.
Click here to take part in the survey. The Promotional Period is 15/09/2010 to 31/10/2010. Prize draw entry will close at midnight on 31/10/2010. Pls also see the T&C.

15 September 2010

Stop the Serengeti Highway! Pls spread the word!

It's the greatest threat in the Serengeti's history — the government of Tanzania has approved a major commercial highway across the Serengeti National Park, in the direct path of ancient wildlife migration routes. Such a highway would be devastating.



Please visit www.savetheserengeti.org, sign the petition and spread the word to stop the Tanzanian government from building the highway! Thx a ton!

Pls also watch this - Tony Sinclair and Kristine Metzger (Biodiversity Research Centre - University of British Columbia, Canada) have put together a short presentation regarding the challenges of constructing a major highway through the northern part of the Serengeti National Park. Thank you to them both. It is an imperative to watch, due to the sensitivity surrounding this prestigious World Heritage Site.



mp3 of the day: Smashing Pumpkins - Spangled

 

This new Smashing Pumpkins track, "Spangled", is the sixth (previous tracks) of 44 that will be rolled out, one at a time, as part of their new album "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope". Eventually, all 44 of the new tracks will be available for free at the band's website (or on our blog, of course) They'll also be splintered and bundled in 11 four-song EPs with elaborate packaging and the works.

Air Zimbabwe canceled all international flights

UPDATE (28 Sept 2010): Air Zimbabwe's pilots have returned to work after a two-week strike!

Zimbabwe's national carrier Air Zimbabwe has suspended continental flights to:
  • Lusaka
  • Lubumbashi 
and all intercontinental flights to:
  • London
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Beijing
until further notice as a result of the the ongoing dispute between the airline and its pilots.
The regional services between:
  • Harare <> Johannesburg
  • Harare <> Bulawayo
  • Harare <> Victoria Falls 
are currently rescheduled. Pls contact Air Zimbabwe for more info and updates.

UPDATE (17 Sept 2010): Air Zim's pilots are still on strike...

13 September 2010

The tongue of a chameleon is as long as its own body length and sometimes even longer...

The Chameleon is a generally slow-moving animal. Therefore, it has adapted an extremely long tongue to make hunting easier. The tongue extends out faster than human eyes can follow, at around 26 body lengths per second and hits the prey in about 30 thousandths of a second. The tongue itself is quite a complex arrangement of bone, muscle and sinew. At the base of the tongue of a Chameleon there is a bone and this is shot forward giving the tongue the initial momentum it needs to reach the prey quickly.



The creature can unfurl a tongue twice its body length in 0.07 second. At the tip of the elastic tongue there is a muscular, club-like structure covered in thick mucus that forms a suction cup. Once the tip sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the mouth, where the chameleon's strong jaws crush it and it is consumed.

awesome backpackers in South Africa - Backpackers Paradise & Joyrides in Oudtshoorn



If you are going to visit Oudtshoorn Backpackers Paradise & Joyrides should be the accommodation of your choice! Great place, brilliant vibe and amazing people from around the world! Check it out!

British Airways: only two daily flights to Johannesburg from October 2010, but six more to Cape Town

UK airline British Airways is going to reduce some its Johannesburg flights from end of October 2010. The airline announced that flight BA34 (daily flights five days a week) will be suspended, but it will still operate its double-daily services between London and Johannesburg. At the same time it will introduce an additional six services to Cape Town to offer 13 weekly flights from London over the South African summer period. According to British Airways a third Johannesburg service will be reintroduced as demand grows.

12 September 2010

via facebook: Rikkis (taxi service) offering September special

Just got a facebook message from RIKKIS, taxi service in Cape Town:

2 - 4 - 1 Special untill the end of September.(after 7pm)
Call our call centre on 0861 745 547 and quote 2 - 4 - 1 and only pay for one person travelling SHARE RIDE!
Dont take a risk .... call a Rikkis!


Rikkis Taxis are probably the most popular, versatile and economic door-to-door taxi service in Cape Town, South Africa. Their bright vibrant vehicles cover all the most popular destinations in Cape Town and surrounds on a continual basis throughout the day! They have low prices and and you can even book the whole taxi. It's sort of mixture of a minibus taxi and a "normal" one.
Contact: See their website at www.rikkis.co.za. Phone them under 0861 745 547 (24/7) or email them bookings[@]rikkis.co.za (weekdays between 9am- 5pm)

10 September 2010

Cape Town: new Liquor Trading Days and Hours by-law...

Cape Town's new Liquor Trading Days and Hours by-law, which will come in effect on 01 Jan 2011, states that liquor trading hours in business centres will run only from 11:00 to 02:00 the following morning. Trading hours in residential areas will be only from 11:00 to 23:00. No good news for the tourism industry... What about all the hotels, backpackers, restaurants, bars etc.? What about all the big party nights in Cape Town? Not possible anymore? Shame!
According to news24.com a conviction from breaking the by-law would carry a fine not exceeding R30 000, a prison term of up to three years, or both. GOSH!

Pretty bad news from Cape Town!

09 September 2010

mp3 of the day: Calexico - Live in Nuremberg

Calexico is offering a free stream and download of a 2009 concert in Nuremberg (Germany), featuring ten of the band's standout tracks. Enjoy!

Calexico, Live in Nuremberg by cashmusic

Calexico, Live in Nuremberg (free & legal download (320kBit/s) via CASH music):
1. Roka
2. Bend To The Road
3. Inspiration
4. Crystal Frontier
5. Two Silver Trees
6. Red Blooms
7. Victor Jara’s Hands
8. Man Made Lake
9. Fractured Air
10. All Systems Red 

get more from Calexico on amazon.com | .co.uk | .de >>

Documentary about Fokofpolisiekar

Fokofpolisiekar, a South African documentary film about 5 young Afrikaans punk rockers that transformed a generation during a unique time in history; in one of the most reluctantly complex and evolving societies of the 21st century.



The film follows the story of the band over 4 years as they forge a place for themselves and their fans in a new South Africa; in the process challenging the stigmas and expectations placed on them by their Afrikaner heritage, the church and tradition.
Through the controversy and chaos, Fokofpolisiekar rose above their detractors and initiated a change in how the media perceived them and portrayed them. Through the death threats and Christian backlash they stood tall - sentries for the right identity, freedom of thought, and the raw and often unseemly right to express one's own truth. They unleashed a debate in the nation's Afrikaans community that sought finally to heal the wounds or at the very least to acknowledge it.

get the documentary (DVD) on kalahari.net >>
Fokofpolisiekar on amazon.com | .co.uk | .de >>

Hostelworld offers reservation guarantee

Hostelworld.com, one of the leading online hostel booking plattforms announced the launch of its so-called Service Guarantee. The Service Guarantee is simple - in the unlikely event that after making a secure online reservation through the hostelworld.com booking system, a customer arrives at the property and the property cannot locate a reservation, then Hostelworld.com will not only credit the customer's account with the deposit but will add an additional $20 credit toward future accommodation bookings on Hostelworld.com.

07 September 2010

mp3 of the day: "Other People’s Songs Vol. 1" by Damien Jurado & Richard Swift

Other People’s Songs Vol. 1”, performed by Damien Jurado & Richard Swift,  is a collection of covers recorded on the weekend of August 21-22, 2010 (with the aid of a four-track cassette recorder and a Coles-4038 ribbon microphone). Look for another one around Winter time...

OTHER PEOPLE'S SONGS - Volume One - Performed by Damien Jurado & Richard Swift by Richard Swift

  1. “Be Not So Fearful” - Originally by Bill Fay
  2. “Hello Sunshine” - Originally by Relatively Clean Rivers
  3. “Sweetness” - Originally by Yes
  4. “Sincere Replies” - Originally by Oh! Calcutta! Original Broadway Cast
  5. “If The Sun Stops Shinin’” - Originally by Chubby Checker
  6. “Follow Me” - Originally by John Denver
  7. “Outside My Window” - Originally by The Fleetwoods
  8. “Radioactivity” - Originally by Kraftwerk
  9. “Crazy Like A Fox” - Originally by Link Cromwell & The Zoo

06 September 2010

South Africa: National Heritage Day is National Braai Day (24 Sept. 2010)

UPDATE: Visit South Africa's first Craft Beer Festival in Woodstock, Cape Town, on the 23 September 2010! "The event will draw on small, independently-owned breweries to unite under the banner of 'Real Beer'."!!!

National Heritage Day on Friday, 24 September 2010, is a public holiday in South Africa. Some years ago the dudes from braai4heritage.co.za had the fabulous idea to encourage all South Africans to, at some point during 24 September each year, gather around a fire and Braai4Heritage. Said and done! Kudos, guys! And to all the international travellers in South Africa - have a braai on the 24 September and take part in South Africa's rich and diverse heritage by putting some lekker vleis on the fire!



also read: Jan Braai's top 10 braai tips on getaway.co.za!

South African food & beverages on amazon.com | co.uk | .de >>

03 September 2010

Getaway Mag: Win Rocking the Daisies and Rocking the Gardens tickets

South Africa's #1 outdoor mag Getaway, in conjunction with Rocking the Daisies and Rocking the Gardens, is giving away a pair of tickets (for Sat. 09 & Sun 10 Oct.) to Rocking the Daisies (Darling, 08 - 10 Oct.) and a pair of tickets to Rocking the Gardens (Johannesburg Botanic Gardens, 09 & 10 Oct. 2010) for Saturday (09 Oct.) and a pair for Sunday (10 Oct.), worth R1 430 (Competition closes 30 Sept 2010.). For more info see Win Rocking the Daisies and Rocking the Gardens tickets!


View Rocking the Daisies & Rocking the Garden in a larger map

Lüderitz (Namibia): The Nest Hotel now offering tours in & around town

Good news are coming from Lüderitz - The Nest Hotel is now offering tours in & around town:
  • Lüderitz Town Tour with a drive through the old town of Lüderitz, the Benguela Township, the so called 'factory route' and a visit to Shark Island. From 09h30 to 10h30.
  • Peninsula Tour with a scenic drive through the Lüderitzbucht Peninsula, past the Grossebucht (Big Bay), the Irmgard shipwreck to Diaz Point. At Diaz Point enjoy a cup of coffee at the little Restaurant. From 11h00 to 13h00.
  • Kolmanskop Ghost Town Tour with a short drive to the once wealthy diamond town of Kolmanskop, that is gradually being covered by the Namib Desert. Starting time either 09h30 or 11h00. Duration approx. 2 hrs.
  • Combined Lüderitz Town and Peninsula Tour
  • Sunset Tours to a secluded area of Lüderitz with a visit to Shark Island and a sundowner drink overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Duration approx. 1 hour, starting time depending on sunset.
Note: All activities are with a minimum of 2 and maximum of 12 persons.

I am currently not 100% sure if the tours are open for everyone or only for guests staying at the Nest Hotel. The info src. didn't provide such information. Pls contact the hotel if you are looking for tours in Lüderitz.

02 September 2010

Video: Why you should never leave apples in your tent in the Okavango Delta

Camping is great fun and camping in the bush is even more fun. But camping in the bush sometimes confronts you with situations that you have probably never dreamed of. The campers in the video below experienced such a situation in the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta in Botswana a couple of years ago.



South Africa's Winelands on Google Street View

update (07 Feb 2012): Google has added five Western Cape wineries to its popular Street View service in Google Maps. The five new wineries – Boekenhoutskloof and Môreson in Franschhoek, Groot Constantia in Cape Town, Hartenberg, Rustenberg Wines and Warwick in Stellenbosch – bring to 30 the number of wineries now available in Street View.

South Africa has got the most comprehensive database of winelands imagery in the world. Google launched Street View in South Africa in June 2010 and now extended its street view imagery content by 19 South African wineries. South Africa's vinyards are also the very first ever covered vinyards on Steet View. Such a great way to explore the winelands before you are actually heading of to South Africa! Congrats SA Wines!


How do I use Google Street View?
  • Go to http://maps.google.com
  • type the address into the maps search bar, or zoom into where you want to go
  • drag the orange "Pegman" icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted street (the blue highlighted streets are the ones google has imagery of)

Volunteering: Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa - 25% off for late availability in October

Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa >>
country: South Africa
location: South Africa wildlife reserves
price: from €950 (GB £788) - €1,700 (GB £1,410) (2-4 weeks) excluding flights
Price includes accommodation at the camp, all meals and training. Longer stays can be arranged from €700 (GB £580) per 2 weeks spent after 4 weeks.
The organisation has got a few spots that still need to be filled in October - join them any time before November and get 25% off the usual price for the wildlife experience of a lifetime. Click here for more info/booking about the project!

22 September 2010 - "Make Noise for Rhinos Day"

WWF South Africa declared the 22 September 2010 as the "Make Noise for Rhinos Day" and therefor urged the public to take their vuvuzelas at at 1pm CET on the 22nd and to participate. The day is part of a campaign in September 2010 in which the WWF will be stepping up its support to security efforts in dangerous areas with high rates of poaching and will be seeking public support through awareness-raising events.


Untill today 188 rhino had been poached in South Africa in 2010 already; about 600 rhinos in Africa in total. It is time to act! More on panda.org...

01 September 2010

Arcade Fire: Your town in their new video!

The superb new Arcade Fire interactive video for their song We Used To Wait (track is on their latest album The Suburbs) uses Google Maps, Street View and HTML5 to give you a personalised video experience... Go to www.thewildernessdowntown.com, type in any city (it doesn't necessarily has to be your home town... ;-)) and watch the video!


They recommend using Google Chrome to watch the video...

Get Arcade Fire's latest album The Suburbs

Zambia: Victoria Falls National Heritage entry fees increased

The Zambian government has increased the National Heritage entry fees at the Victoria Falls to US$20 per person. The increase is essential to maintain, protect and improve the experience of the Victoria Falls. As a result all Sanctuary Lodges and Camps have announced that, effective 15 Sept 2010, Heritage entry fees will be passed on to guests.