20 March 2018

Table Mountain National Park: Bird flu outbreak at Boulders Penguin Colony!

Due to an outbreak of bird flu (H5N8 strain) in the penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park, South African National Parks (SANParks) has implemented the following precautions:
  • With the exception of visitors on Boulders Beach boardwalk, nobody may access the main breeding colony.
  • In instances where staff need to go off boardwalks to collect injured birds or hats, camera lens, caps etc dropped by visitors they will limit their access to essential work and then sterilise their boots afterwards - gum boots have been issued and are easier to clean than the normal boot.
  • Monitoring routes used for moult/nest counts have been reviewed to ensure that staff and Penguin monitors do not walk through the main breeding colony.
Western Cape Veterinary Services, CapeNature, SANParks, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, City of Cape Town, SANCCOB and other seabird rehabilitation centres and private veterinarians are working in close cooperation to monitor the situation and perform further testing. While the virus is highly pathogenic to chickens and other poultry, the impact on wild seabirds is not that well understood (so far 1 tern and 2 penguins from Boulders have come back positive for H5N8). Closing the colony to visitors is not justified at this stage.
Even though the virus is unlikely to infect humans, precautions should nevertheless be taken.

Tips for visitors:

  • Visitors must stay on designated board walks
  • Visitors should change shoes and clothes if visiting other seabird colonies or poultry farms to prevent contamination from one site to another

19 March 2018

Constitution Hill (Johannesburg): Free entry & tours on Human's Right Day!

Johannesburg's Constitution Hill is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa's journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fort and is, today, home to the country's Constitutional Court. Constitution Hill will offer free admission and tours on Human Rights Day (21 March 2018). Visitors will be able to join a guided tour through the museum, explore the museum on their own, walk through the Number 4 prison, the Old Fort prison and the Women's Gaol, and view, or example, the Nelson Mandela "Prisoner in a Garden" exhibition or the Mahatma Gandhi exhibition.

The Constitution Hill precinct is located at 11 Kotze Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg near the western end of the suburb of Hillbrow. The opening hours are daily from 09:00 to 17:00, with the final tour departing from the Visitor Centre at 16:00. Tickets for adults cost between R65 (1hrs highlights tour) and R350 (3hrs time travel tour). If you are visiting Constitution Hill as part of your City Sightseeing red bus tour, your red bus ticket entitles you to a 25% discount off your Constitution Hill ticket price on the day of your red bus trip.

Constitution Hill provides free entry on the following days:
  • Human Rights Day: 21 March
  • Freedom Day: 27 April
  • Youth Day: 16 June
  • Women's Day: 9 August
  • Heritage Day: 24 September
  • World Tourism Day: 27 September
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

Air Namibia: Operations to continue unhindered!

Namibia's flag carrier Air Namibia has released a public announcement to respond to recent media articles speculating that the airline's operations will cease.
According to the statement, Air Namibia continues to operate as per its mandate, transporting passengers and cargo between domestic destinations in Namibia, the rest of southern Africa and Europe, via Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The airline also reassures its clients and all stakeholders that flights continue to operate according to their published flight schedule. The statement also highlights that the Government of the Republic of
Namibia (GRN), which is the sole shareholder of Air Namibia, has confirmed their continued support, amongst others through the targeted subsidy allocations as announced by Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Finance, in the National Assembly as follows:
  • N$740 million for 2018/19
  • N$676 million for 2019/20
  • N$698 million for 2020/21

16 March 2018

West Coast National Park: Gelbeek Restaurant to continue trading until a new operator has been appointed!

According to South African National Parks (SANPark), the Geelbek Restaurant in the West Coast National Park will continue to operate without interruption. Although the contract with the current operator expired on 28 February 2018, patrons will continue to have full access to the restaurant. SANParks and the current operator concluded a temporary arrangement in order for the restaurant to continue trading until a new interim operator has been appointed. We'll keep you posted!

Geelbek Restaurant is situated near the Langebaan lagoon, inside the West Coast National Park, in the old Geelbek main house. This Cape Dutch building is a National Monument and was renovated three times since it was first built in 1744.

Swaziland: New public holiday on 20 April 2018!

The Government of Swaziland has declared 20 April 2018 a public holiday. The country celebrates both the 50th birthday of Swaziland's King Mswati III and 50 years since independence on 19 April 2018. National Flag Day, a public holiday usually celebrated on 25 April 2018, will be replaced by the new public holiday on 20 April 2018 and becomes a normal working day in the 2018 calendar.

15 March 2018

Eurowings to suspend flights to Windhoek from Munich & Cologne!

German carrier Eurowings just confirmed on twitter (also see this tweet) that the airline will suspend its service between Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN), which serves the cities of Cologne and Bonn in Western Germany, and Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek as well as its service between Munich Airport (MUC) in Munich and Windhoek at the end of October 2018.

Virgin Atlantic to add a second daily service between London <> Johannesburg!

British airline Virgin Atlantic is set to introduce a second daily service between Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg on 28 October 2018. The additional flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft and will add 180,000 seats on the route. Tickets will be available to book from 24 March 2018.

Botswana's first Diamond Museum has been opened to the public!

Debswana, the world's leading producer of diamonds by value, has officially opened Botswana's first diamond museum in Orapa in the country's Central District on 10 March 2018. The Adrian Gale Diamond Museum is intended to capture the diamond story and showcase anecdotes, artifacts of the critical period in the history of Botswana for the benefit of future generations. The museum, which is named after the late Dr. Adrian Gale, who was the then General Manager of Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM), also offers a curio shop, a coffee shop, storage area and a visitors lounge. Debswana also opened an extension of the Orapa Game Park on 10 March 2018. Both the Adrian Gale Diamond Museum and the extension of the Game Park are part of the mining company's "Orapa Today, Boteti Tomorrow (OTBT)" programme.

Orapa, which is considered to be the diamond capital of Botswana, is located about 520km (by car) from Gaborone and about 250km (by car) from Makgakgadi Pans National Park.

Botswana: Public holiday on 03 April 2018!

Botswana's government has declared 03 April 2018 a public holiday. (Government Notice No. 141 of 2018 dated 5 March 2018). 03 April 2018 is the first Tuesday after the long Easter weekend 2018 (Friday, 30 March 2018 - Good Friday; Saturday, 31 March 2018 - public holiday; Monday, 02 April 2018 - Easter Monday).

13 March 2018

West Coast National Park: Gates to open late due to West Coast Marathon!

Due to the West Coast Marathon taking place on 21 April 2018, the gates to the West Coast National Park will only open from 13:00 for visitors. The National Park usually opens the dates at 07:00 and closes at 18:00 (April - August; September - March 07:00 - 19:00).

The West Coast National Park is located 120 km north of Cape Town in the Western Cape. The National Park covers about 27,500 hectare and runs from Yzerfontein in the South up to the Langebaan lagoon in the North.

12 March 2018

Gross Barmen Resort (Namibia): Increased entrance fee for day visitors!

Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) has announced that the entrance fee for day visitors to the Gross Barmen Resort has been increased to N$200.00/person. The price adjustment is for day visitors intending to make use of the braai facilities and mini pool at the campsites. Day visitors who want to make use of the thermal pool and other facilities are required to pay an additional N$100.00/person.
According to Francois Snyders, NWR Gross Barmen Resort Manager, "the increase is necessary to ensure the upkeep of the facilities that are accessible to day visitors. At the same time, this will also preserve the facilities for future generations to come".

Gross Barmen Resort, located around 100 km from Namibia's capital city of Windhoek and 24 km east of Okahandja, has been built around a natural mineral hot spring. The resort includes facilities for spa & wellness, fitness, recreation, and leisure. The main attraction of the resort is the health and hydro/ medical spa centre, featuring thermal springs and providing a full range of treatments, massages, and health activities for relaxation.

09 March 2018

Iziko Museums of South Africa: Free entry on Human Rights Day!

Iziko Museums of South Africa just announced on Facebook that visitors will have free access all of its museums and galleries in Cape Town (except for the Iziko Planetarium & Digital Dome, Groot Constantia and the Castle of Good Hope) on Human Rights Day on 21 March 2018!

Iziko Museums of South Africa provides free entry on the following days:
  • 21 March – Human Rights Day
  • 27 April – Freedom Day
  • 25 May – Africa Day
  • 24 September – Heritage Day and Heritage Week
  • 16 June – Youth Day
  • 09 August – Women’s Day
  • 01 December – World Aids Day & Emancipation Day

08 March 2018

Kruger National Park/Mozambique: Giriyondo Border Gate inaccessible due to community protests!

update (09 March 2018): Giriyondo Border Gate is accessible again!

According to South African National Parks (SANParks), the Giriyondo Border Gate, one of only two gateways with direct access between Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, is inaccessible as a port of entry/exit due to community protests taking place on the roads in Limpopo National Park on 08 March 2018 and are blocked at the moment. Travellers are advised to use alternative border gates until further notice. We'll keep you posted!

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in February 2018!

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 February 2018.
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 February  2018 (airport target 87%
  1. South African Airways - 92.06% (January 90.60%) 
  2. FlySafair - 89.98% (January 94.10%) 
  3. Airlink - 86.97% (January 89.67%) 
  4. Kulula.com - 82.04% (January 82.65%) 
  5. Mango - 79.70% (January 74.95%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 79.36% (January 91.73%)   
  7. SA Express - 67.32% (January 78.21%) 
  8. CemAir - 54.47% (January 85.78%)  
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (January --.--%) 
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance February 2018 (airport target 90%)
  1. South African Airways - 92.90% (January 92.61%) 
  2. Kulula.com - 88.88% (January 89.25%) 
  3. Airlink - 88.13% (January 90.24%) 
  4. FlySafair - 87.99% (January 90.51%) 
  5. Mango - 86.39% (January 82.74%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 81.19% (January 91.31%) 
  7. SA Express - 75.20% (January 83.20%) 
  8. CemAir - 66.67% (January 83.85%)  
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (January --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance February 2018 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 94.84% (January 94.61%)
  2. South African Airways - 93.87% (January 92.42%)
  3. Airlink - 84.68% (January 94.66%)
  4. Kulula.com - 82.89% (January 84.33%)
  5. Mango - 82.35% (January 85.02%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 79.30% (January 91.96%)
  7. SA Express - 64.45% (January 84.29%)