31 May 2016

Kruger National Park Calendar - July

Weather:
  • warm to cool days
  • cold nights & chilly mornings
  • occasional winds
  • occasional patches of hot weather
  • almost no rain
Temperatures:

Landscape:
  • Water becomes scarce throughout the park
  • bush is very dry; almost no leaf cover
  • strange-smelling "potato bush" begins flowering
Animal Activity:
  • Game increasingly concentrated around water
  • game spotting usually very good in the South of the park
  • north of the park dominated by elephants
  • resident raptors breeding
  • many weaker aninmals taken by predators

30 May 2016

PayPal now available in Botswana!

Great news for the tourism industry in Botswana. PayPal and First National Bank (FNB) have expanded their partnership in South Africa to Botswana, so that businesses and individuals based in Botswana can now receive and withdraw PayPal funds. Customers of First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) only need to open a PayPal account and link it to their qualified FNBB bank account to benefit from the new service.

Lufthansa to resume nonstop flights to Cape Town!

Germany's largest airline, Lufthansa, will resume operations of the Frankfurt (FRA) <> Cape Town (CPT) route in its flight schedule. From 02 December 2016, the airline will operate three nonstop flights per week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays between the two cities. Cape Town will be served by an Airbus A340-300, which boasts over 279 seats in Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class.

27 May 2016

Mpumalanga: Africa’s first toboggan run has opened its doors!

A new adventure offering in Mpumalanga has opened its doors in March 2016. The Long Tom Toboggan at Mist Mountain is a 1.7km monorail track similar to the tried and tested European model known as "alpine coaster" or "Sommerrodelbahn". The top of the ride starts at an altitude of 1,700 metres and, from beginning to the end, drops by 115 metres. It takes approximately 2.5 minutes at a maximum governed speed of 45km/h. The Long Tom Toboggan is Africa’s first toboggan run of it's type and the tenth longest "alpine coaster" or "Sommerrodelbahn" in the world.



The Long Tom Toboggan can be found at Misty Mountain, situated just outside Sabie on the R37 Sabie to Lydenburg road. Mpumalanga's new attraction is open weekdays and weekends but closed on Mondays (except pubic holidays). Riders have to be able to reach the handbrake of the slide, which does restrict it to children over the age of 7/8 years depending on their size. The ride is not suitable for people heavier than 120kg. A single ride with the Long Tom Toboggan costs R250/Person.

23 May 2016

Cape Town: Table Mountain Cableway to close for annual maintenance!

update (29 July 2016): Cape Town's Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has released a behind-the-scenes look at the annual maintenance.



Cape Town's Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will be closing for scheduled annual maintenance from 25 July 2016 to 07 August 2016 (if weather permits). The annual maintenance, which is getting carried out in order to meet the highest global cableway standards set by the Swiss Governing Body for Cableways (BAV), includes replacing switches, servicing generators, cleaning up and conducting general control checks.


The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately 900,000 people a year using it to visit the top of Table Mountain. The Cableway offers visitors a variety of experiences, including meals with a view at the Table Mountain Cafe, free WiFi at the new WiFi Lounge and free thirty-minute guided walking tours.

20 May 2016

Uganda bans public smoking!

Uganda has introduced stringent new laws banning public smoking and dealing in tobacco products. The new law bans smoking in bars, restaurants and hotels. Smokers must also be at least 50m away from public spaces, such as schools, hospitals and other public places. Offenders to the new legislations face a $60 (£41, €54, ZAR950) fine or a two-month jail term.
The sale of electronic cigarettes, flavoured tobacco for water pipes or shishas and single cigarettes is also banned under the new law. The government of Uganda furthermore tightened rules on labelling, advertising and selling tobacco to under-21s.

19 May 2016

Eastern Cape: The attractions of the Route 72! (video)

The Emfuleni Corridor Tourism Association (ECTOUR), an umbrella body of tourism associations from various tourism nodes across South Africa's Eastern Cape, has released a new image video highlighting the various attractions of the Route 72. The tourist route stretches from the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole (incorporating Port Elizabeth) in the west along hundreds of kilometers of sandy beaches to the Buffalo City Metropole (incorporating East London) in the east, and northwards to the historically rich region of the Frontier Country.



Attractions along the Route 72 in the Eastern Cape include some of the world's best sandy beaches, dune fields and sandstone rocky outcrops, a full variety of water sports (including world class surfing, sailing and snorkelling), quality golf courses, historical trails, a variety of Eco-walks and many annual festivals.

Kruger National Park: Phabeni Gate is expected to reopen on 20 May 2016!

Kruger National Park's Phabeni Gate is expected to reopen on 20 May 2016. The gate is closed since 16 May 2016 due to repair work that needs to be done on the Phabeni low water bridge. Visitors are advised to use alternative gates such as Numbi Gate and Paul Kruger Gate for entry and exit during the period of the closure.



Heavy rains in early March 2016 damaged the bridge at Phabeni Gate. South African National Parks (SANParks) managed to restore access to the bridge for interim use within a week after the rain and is now finishing the remaining bridge repair work.

Zimbabwe: ATMs are currently low on money!

According to an update of the Foreign travel advice - Zimbabwe (17 May 2016) by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK), ATMs in Zimbabwe are currently low on money. Therefore a number of local banks have put in place restrictions on using international bank cards to withdraw cash from their ATMs. It is also now illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than $1,000 (or equivalent).

18 May 2016

The 2016 Men's Samsung Galaxy World Championship Tour returns to Jeffreys Bay!

The 2016 Men's Samsung Galaxy World Championship Tour will return to Jeffreys Bay in July 2016. The JBay Open of Surfing will take place at Supertubes from the 06-17 July 2016. Like in the years before, the major surfing event will be part of the JBay Winterfest.



The JBay Winterfest (06-17 July 2016) is an annual sports festival in Jeffreys Bay. The main event of the Winterfest is the JBay Open of Surfing, which draws over 10 000 spectators for the final day. Besides the Samsung Galaxy World Championship Tour, the sports festival also hosts the J-Bay MTB Open, the Quiksilver JBay Junior Pro / Roxy JBay Junior Pro, the JBU Supertrial, the Oakley X-Over Challenge, the Cold Water Classic, the Fishing Skins Competition, the J-Bay X Trail Run and a Kite Festival.

17 May 2016

Turkish Airlines to increase flights between Istanbul <> Durban!

The flag carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines, is set to increase its service between Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) in Istanbul and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban. Effective 31 October 2016, the airline will operate five flights per week instead of the current four flights per week between the two destinations.

12 May 2016

Drakensberg Amphitheatre: KZN Wildlife issues set of safety precautions!

Following the recent attacks on hikers/campers (end of April 2016) in the Drakensberg Amphitheatre region, KZN Wildlife has issued a set of safety precautions all visitors to the region should be aware of.


  • Do not camp anywhere on the main Amphitheatre "bowl" or major paths. Rather choose a valley well away from the main trails and set up camp uphill, so that you have the advantage of high ground.
  • Do not set up tents when you are being watched. Generally the culprits will hang around on the ridges above hiking parties in the late afternoons. If you are being watched, keep moving and don't set up camp anywhere near them.
  • Do not set up camp near huts or areas of obvious habitation.
  • Be friendly and polite to those you meet, but firm. Don't display cameras and other valuables openly if you can help it.
  • A party size of three or more is recommended.
  • A watch system at night can be exhausting but might be a good option for known trouble spots.
  • Going with a guide or experienced porters helps tremendously as they can often spot trouble and some speak the local language.
  • Keep all your belongings in the tent with you, and tie your boots to your pack or sleeping bag to avoid them being taken without your knowledge.
  • Consider putting survival items such as a space blanket, cell phones and boots into a smaller daypack or jacket that can be quickly retrieved if need be.
The current modus operandi of the suspected attackers at the Amphitheatre area is as follows:
  • Aggressive begging for food or money at the Chain ladders. Some hikers have had stones thrown at them when descending after refusing to give food or money.
  • Shepherds watching hiking parties late afternoon when they set up camp to see what can be stolen. Attacks then generally occur around 23:00 to 03:00.
  • Some tents are cut open and items stolen.
The Amphitheatre is located in the Northern Drakensberg and forms part of the Royal Natal National Park. It is over 5,000m in length and has precipitous cliffs rising approximately 1,220 metres along its entire length. The Amphitheatre is regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth.

10 May 2016

South African Airways to launch codeshare partnership with Avianca Brazil!

According to aviation experts airlineroute.net, South Africa's flag carrier South African Airways and Avianca Brazil, a Brazilian airline based in São Paulo (Brazil), are set to commence a codeshare partnership on 17 May 2016. Under the agreement, Avianca Brazil will put its code on South African Airways' service between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (CGH) in São Paulo. In return, South African Airways will put its code on 12 domestic flights operated by Avianca Brazil in Brazil.

Avianca Brazil operated by South African Airways:
South African Airways operated by Avianca Brazil:

09 May 2016

South Africa: 363 rhinos killed by poachers so far in 2016!

According to the latest statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa has lost 363 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of 2016. Of the rhinos poached, 232 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park, 51 in KwaZulu Natal and 30 in Limpopo.
Since the 01 January 2016 a total of 206 alleged poachers have been arrested in South Africa.

Latest rhino poaching figures (as of 08 May 2016):
  • Kruger National Park (SANParks) - 232 rhinos poached
  • MNP (SANParks) - 0 rhino poached
  • Gauteng -  0 rhino poached
  • Limpopo - 30 rhinos poached
  • Mpumalanga - 14 rhinos poached
  • North-West Province - 15 rhino poached
  • Eastern Cape - 13 rhino poached
  • Free State - 3 rhino poached
  • KwaZulu Natal - 51 rhinos poached
  • Western Cape - 0 rhino poached
  • Northern Cape - 5 rhino poached

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is urging members of the public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

04 May 2016

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

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 April 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, Johannesburg - 15 Min on Time Performance April 2016 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 95.61% (March 91.36%)
  2. Airlink - 91.57% (March 84.62%)
  3. British Airways Domestic - 88.81% (March 85.52%)
  4. South African Airways - 88.45% (March 88.37%)
  5. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 87.29% (March 77.39%)
  6. CemAir - 82.16% (March 80.07%)
  7. Kulula.com - 81.82% (March 80.86%)
  8. SA Express - 80.35% (March 72.33%)
  9. Mango - 79.92% (March 85.52
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance April 2016 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.63% (March 94.09%) 
  2. South African Airways - 92.79% (March 94.01%)
  3. British Airways Domestic - 90.55% (March 88.61%)
  4. SA Express - 87.24% (March 89.06%)
  5. Mango - 86.63% (March 89.14%)
  6. Kulula.com - 86.49% (March 86.62%)
  7. Airlink - 81.22% (March 89.65%) 
  8. CemAir72.41% (March 100.00%) 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - 67.86% (March 70.34%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance April 2016 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 98.14% (March 96.40%)
  2. South African Airways - 95.38% (March 92.72%) 
  3. British Airways Domestic - 90.51% (March 86.91%) 
  4. Airlink - 88.93% (March 93.64%)  
  5. Mango - 88.86% (March 90.05%)  
  6. SA Express - 88.79% (March 77.14%)  
  7. Kulula.com - 88.13% (March 89.07%)  

Free poster download: The Common Snakes of the Kruger National Park!

Herpetologist Johan Marais, author of "A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa", has published a new poster about the common snakes of the Kruger National Park. The poster is available as a free download in high resolution and is designed to be printed in A3 (or A4).

via africansnakebiteinstitute.com. KUDOS!
To download the poster "Common Snakes of Kruger National Park" click here (pdf, 8mb) or here (jpg, 350kb)!

03 May 2016

Austria reopens honorary consulate in Mombasa (Kenya)!

Austria has reopened its honorary consulate in Mombasa (Kenya) after four years of closure. Mr Saleem Ghalia, who also serves as the honorary consul for the government of Germany in Mombasa, was appointed Austria's new honorary consul for Mombasa on 02 May 2016. The reopened Consulate is located on Dedan Kimathi Avenue. It is open Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 to 16:00; consular services are available between 8.30 and 12:00.


02 May 2016

Kruger National Park Calendar - June

Weather:
  • days usually warm, sometimes hot
  • generally wind free
  • cold evenings
  • rarely rain falls
Temperatures:

Landscape:
  • most pans and vleis dry up
  • bush thins out
  • grasslands begin receding
  • umbrella acacia pods twirl out
Animal Activity:
  • large elephant populations in northern Kruger
  • animals concentrate around reliable water sources
  • predators very active around reliable water sources