17 July 2018

Namibia: Tsau//Khaeb National Park to get a facelift!

The Tsau//Khaeb National Park, formerly known as Sperrgebiet National Park, in Namibia is set to get a facelift. The country's Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) officially launched the construction of staff houses, offices and park entry gates on 12 July 2018. The facelift will furthermore include the refurbishment of the historic old post office building in Lüderitz as MET's local office, construction of a new office in Aus as well as the extension to the existing offices in Rosh Pinah and Oranjemund. The new entry gates will be constructed at the Lüderitz Peninsula in Lüderitz, in Kolmanskop, Rotkop, Garub, Aus, Obib, Sendelingsdrift and Swartkop. 

Tsau//Khaeb National Park, which covers an area of 22.000km², was proclaimed a National Park (Sperrgebiet National Park) in 2008. The Park is home to Brown Hyaena, Oryx, Springbok, Cape Fur Seal, Grey Rhebock, Heaviside's Dolphin, Southern Right Whale as well as to almost 60 wetland bird species along the Orange River, 120 terrestrial bird species, 100 reptile species, 16 frog species and 1050 plant species. Probably 90% or more of the invertebrates found in Tsau//Khaeb National Park have not been described by science.

16 July 2018

Rwanda's newest National Park to open for visitors in 2019!

Rwanda is set to open it's fourth National Park, the Gishwati-Mukura National Park, to visitors in 2019. The National Park is located in the Ngororero district and the Rutsiro district in the north-west of Rwanda and is known for a wide range of flora and fauna, including Chimpanzees, L'Hoest's monkeys, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys and various species of mammals among others. The 355 hectares Gishwati-Mukura National Park was declared a National Park in 2016.

Brandberg Heritage Site (Namibia): No tours due to reported cases of lions in the area!

The National Heritage Council of Namibia just informed the public that it is currently not conducting any tours at the Brandberg Heritage Site ("White Lady Hike") until further notice due to reported cases of lions in the area. The service at the site is therefore put on hold until the Hertiage Council finds a win-win solution to the above mentioned problem. We'll keep you posted!

The Brandberg Heritage site is situated about 30km north west of the small town of Uis, close to the road from Khorixas to Hentie's Bay.

12 July 2018

Malawi: A new road eases travel to/from Nkhata Bay on Lake Malawi!

Nkhata Bay, located on the shores of Lake Malawi in Malawi, has become more and more popular with travellers over the recent years. Travelling to and from town is set to become easier now due to a new road that connects Mzuzu City and Nkhata Bay. The 46km road, which was named after after President Arthur Peter Mutharika, links the court house roundabout in Mzuzu City with the Nkhata Bay Jetty in Nkhata Bay on Lake Malawi. The road ("APM Highway") forms part of the M05 road which connects Mzuzu City via Nkhata Bay, Dwangwa, Nkkhotakota and Salima with the junction of the M01 road at Balaka Market.

South Africa: Airlink to suspend its service between Pietermaritzburg <> Cape Town!

South African regional carrier Airlink will suspend its daily service between Pietermaritzburg Airport (PZB) in Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town from 01 October 2018. According to the airline, the route has not become profitable since it was launched in February 2017. Airlink currently operates daily return flights on the route, using 37-seat Embraer ERJ135LR regional jets to deliver an effective full-service value proposition offering on the route. Customers holding confirmed tickets for travel after the 29 September 2018 will be offered a full refund. Please contact Airlink for more information.

Air Botswana and LAM - Mozambique Airlines sign agreement to cooperate!

The flag carrier of Botswana, Air Botswana, and the national airline of Mozambique, LAM - Mozambique Airlines, have signed a Special Prorate Agreement (SPA). The agreement extends Air Botswana's route network from Gaborone, Maun and Francistown by providing connections in Johannesburg in South Africa to seven of LAM's destinations in Mozambique. These include Maputo, Beira, Vilanculos, Pemba, Nampula and Inhambane. The SPA similarly allows for the same reciprocal arrangement for passengers traveling from Mozambique with LAM, who will be able to book and purchase tickets via Johannesburg onwards on Air Botswana's flights to Gaborone, Maun and Francistown. The SPA also allows for through check-in of baggage.

Zimbabwe: Fastjet to launch daily flights between Harare <> Bulawayo!

Pan-African low cost-carrier Fastjet will is set to launch daily flights between Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (HRE) in Harare and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport (BUQ) in Bulawayo from 20 July 2018. Ticket sales are already open for booking. Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe and the nearest large city to Hwange National Park, Matobo National Park and Victoria Falls.
With the addition of the
Harare <> Bulawayo route, Fastjet's network in Zimbabwe now totals 4 destinations with more than 100 weekly flights.

11 July 2018

Eswatini/Swaziland: The dates of the Reed Dance 2018 have been announced!

Eswatini Tourism, formerly Swaziland Tourism, has confirmed the dates of the 2018 Reed Dance. The biggest cultural event in Eswatini/Swaziland is set to start on 28 August 2018, with the main day (Day 7) set to take place on 03 September 2018. It will be on this day when the main ceremony occurs, with the dancing attended by King King Mswati III. 03 September 2018 will be a public holiday in Eswatini/Swaziland.

Swaziland, Eswatini, Reed Dance, Africa

The Reed Dance ceremony, also known as "umhlanga", is a centuries old tradition where the Eswatini's/Swaziland's unmarried and childless females present their newly cut reed to the Queen Mother to protect her residence. The highlight of the event is the reed-giving ceremony. Tens of thousands of maidens from Eswatini/Swaziland, led by Swazi princesses, gather at the Queen Mother's royal village, the Ludzidzini Royal Residence in Lobamba, dressed in traditional attire; bright short beaded skirts with colourful sashes revealing their bare breasts to dance and sing and celebrate the unification of the Kingdom’s women. King Mswati lll, who sometimes makes use of the occasion to publicly court a prospective fiancée, joins the celebrations to pay tribute to the maidens.

10 July 2018

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in June 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 June 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 June 2018 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.40% (May 97.73%) 
  2. Mango - 90.35% (May 86.38%)
  3. South African Airways - 87.46% (May 89.57%)
  4. Airlink - 83.51% (May 89.28%)
  5. Kulula.com - 81.63% (May 78.46%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 80.78% (May 82.69%)
  7. CemAir - 72.18% (May 78.71%)
  8. SA Express - --.-- (May 64.43%) 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (May --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT), Cape Town - 15 Min on Time Performance June 2018 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 93.98% (May 95.85%) 
  2. South African Airways - 92.67% (May 93.60%)   
  3. Mango - 89.32% (May 90.07%)
  4. Airlink - 85.00% (May 91.78%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 78.18% (May 86.27%)
  6. Kulula.com - 71.33% (May 85.85%)  
  7. CemAir - 66.67% (May 81.73%) 
  8. SA Express - --.-- (May 58.19%)   
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (May --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance June 2018 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 95.43% (May 97.13%)
  2. Airlink - 94.84% (May 87.06%)
  3. Mango - 92.57% (May 92.72%)
  4. South African Airways - 90.70% (May 95.00%)  
  5. British Airways Domestic - 83.18% (May 85.86%)
  6. Kulula.com - 79.55% (May 84.79%)
  7. SA Express - --.-- (May 47.22%)

South Africa: Two neighbourhoods have just been named among the coolest in the world

According to the American business magazine Forbes, two of the coolest neighborhoods around the world are Maboneng, located in the south-eastern side of Johannesburg's CBD, and Kalk Bay, located on the False Bay coastline of Cape Town. The list, compiled by Forbes contributor and travel writer Ann Abel and her favourite travel experts, also includes Sants in Barcelona (Spain), Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (USA), Amsterdam Noord in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Getsemani in Cartagena (Colombia), Plekhanov in Tblisisi (Georgia), Casco Viejo in Panama City (Panama), District 5 in Saigon (Vietnam), Keramikos in Athens (Greece), Seonggsu-dong in Seoul (South Korea) and Pilsen in Chicago (USA).

Forbes describes
Maboneng as follows:
“A no-go zone until the end of Apartheid in 1994, Johannesburg’s Maboneng has since transformed into a lively urban area with blossoming art and culinary scenes,” says Biggs Bradley. The compact neighborhood is known for cultural attractions like the Museum of African Design, Arts on Main—a complex that was previously a series of dilapidated buildings and now has many cool galleries—restaurants and boutiques. The culinary offerings are widely diverse, with restaurants that specialize in everything from Ethiopian cuisine to health food. “One of the best spots for a meal is Che Argentine Grill, which offers delicious specialties like empanadas and a live tango band on weeknights.” (src.)

Forbes describes Kalk Bay as follows:
“A seaside haven slightly removed from the bustle of Cape Town, the former fishing village Kalk Bay is attracting more than just the local surfer community” says Marchant. “Blanketed with quaint cafes, rustic fishing boats and colorful storefronts, this vibrant harbor neighborhood is recently the talk of the city. Olympia Café, a standby for locals, is an ideal launching pad for a day of False Bay coastline exploration. An intricate origami installation created by Kalk Bay local Sanae Sawada decorates the walls of the iconic café, which is just steps from the charming seal-invaded wharf.” (src.)

09 July 2018

Airlink adds capacity to its Johannesburg <> Walvis Bay route!

South African regional carrier Airlink is set to introduce further capacity to its service between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Walvis Bay Airport (WVB) in Walvis Bay, Namibia. From 30 July 2018 the airline will operate one of its newly acquired 74 seat Embraer 170 E-Jet on the route. The aircraft provides customers with enhanced comfort by way of 68 economy class seats with a generous seat pitch, and 6 expansive business class seats. The E-Jet cabin layout features two plus two abreast seating, with large eye-level windows allowing in lots of natural light, and ample overhead bin space to accommodate carry-on items. Every seat offers either a window or an aisle option.

06 July 2018

Air France to increase flights between Paris <> Nairobi in 2019!

According to the preliminary schedule filing for the Northern summer 2019 season, the flag carrier of France, Air France, is set to increase its service between Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Beginning on 31 March 2019, the airline will introduce two additional weekly flights on board a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Air France flies in code share with its SkyTeam partner Kenya Airways on the route between the Paris and Nairobi.

05 July 2018

Namibia: Namibia Wildlife Resorts encourages cashless payments!

Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), the state-owned enterprise mandated to run the tourism facilities within the protected areas of Namibia, has started a sensitisation campaign aimed at encouraging domestic and international travellers to start making use of debit/credit cards when making payments for their bookings or any services offered at their various camps and resorts in Namibia. The company embarked on this campaign after noting the risks associated with carrying cash around to make payments.

Etosha National Park, Namibia, giraffe

According to the company's Chief Information Officer, Mr Martin Kantika, NWR has worked tirelessly to ensure that there are sufficient card terminal points to make payments from, so that visitors will never have to carry cash to make use of NWR's services or any purchases at their camps and resorts in Namibia. Nonetheless, the option to pay in cash for bookings or any services will remain available.

04 July 2018

South Africa: Three airports get four-star ranking for on-time performance in independent global survey

According to the latest assessment by OAG, a global provider of digital flight information, three of South Africa's international airports have received four-star rankings for On-Time Performance (OTP). The three airports are O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB, 82.9% on-time performance) in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport (CPT, 84.4%) in Cape Town and King Shaka International Airport (DUR, 84.8%) in Durban. All three are operated by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the state-owned airport management company that operates South Africa's nine major airports.
OAG's On-time Performance (OTP) Star Ratings are measured across a rolling 12-month period. To achieve an OTP star rating, the world's airports must meet two simple criteria: all airports must have a minimum of 600 operations a month and OAG must receive flight status information for no less than 80 percent of scheduled flights within the 12-month period. The
OTP star ratings range from one to five stars. Airports with the best on-time performance, for example, the top 10%, receive five stars.

Cape Town: One of Africa’s longest & highest Ziplines has been reopened!

One of Africa's longest and highest ziplines, Cape Town Ziplines, has been reopened in Cape Town following a 19 month closure due to a legal battle. The adventure facility offers 2.3 km of slides with some being as long as 500m and some as high as 155m. The duration of the zipline tour, which also includes an exhilarating 4x4 trail up the mountain, is approximately 1:30 to 2:00 hours.  

Cape Town Ziplines forms part of SA Forest Adventures product offering. It is located on the the Silvermist Mountain Lodge Estate in Constantia, Cape Town. Cape Town Ziplines is accessible from all major transport routes including the Cape Town City Hop-on Hop-off Tour (Stop 21 Constantia Nek Wine Bus Tour Change Point, +- 300m from the stop down the Hout Bay Road on the left).

Cape Town: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway to increase rates!

Cape Town's Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is set to implement a rates increase. The new rates will be valid from 01 October 2018 until 30 September 2019. The Cableway offers two types of tickets - morning tickets (08:00 - 13:00) and afternoon tickets (13:00 till close). The morning adult return ticket will cost R330/person (one way ticket: R190/person) from 01 October, while the morning child return ticket (4-17 years of age) will cost R165/person (one way: R90/person). The afternoon adult return ticket will cost R290/person (one way: R190/person) and the afternoon child return ticket (4-17 years of age) will be R145/person (one way R90/person). 

travel, tourism, Cape Town, Table Mountain

The SA senior citizens ticket, which is available on Fridays only with a valid South African ID, will cost R100/person (oneway: R50/person) and the student ticket, which is available on Fridays only with a valid student card, will cost R1550/oerson (oneway: R90/person).

03 July 2018

Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve closed until further notice!

update (06 July 2018): The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is open again.

CapeNature, the public institution with the statutory responsibility for biodiversity conservation in South Africa's Western Cape, has informed the public that the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve has been closed until further notice due to adverse weather conditions. No day visitors for hikes or accommodation will be allowed onto the reserve premises. 

The 70 000-hectare Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is located in the Hottentots Holland Mountains, about 90km south-east of Cape Town. It stretches from Elgin in the south to beyond Villiersdorp in the north and from the Stellenbosch Mountains in the west to the Groenland Mountains in the east.

South Africa: Airlink further enhances Cape Town <> Hoedspruit route!

South African regional carrier Airlink will from 31 July 2018 introduce further enhancements to its Cape Town <> Hoedspruit services. In order to be able to address the concerns raised by the trade and lodges as to the late arrival in Hoedspruit, which has impacted guests' afternoon game drives in Kruger National Park and the surrounding private wildlife reserves, the airline's revised schedule (Mondays to Sundays) will see flights from Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town to Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) in Hoedspruit depart at 10:50 (was 12:20) and arrive at 13:20 (was 14:50). The return flight from Hoedspruit will depart at 14:00 (was 15:20) and arrive in Cape Town at 16:40 (was 18:00).

South Africa, Kruger National Park, landscape, safari

From September 2018, Airlink will introduce one of its 98-seat Embraer 190 E-Jet to the route which will provide customers with enhanced comfort by way of 92 economy class seats with a generous seat pitch, and 6 expansive business class seats. The E-Jet cabin layout features two plus two abreast seating, with large eye-level windows allowing in lots of natural light, and ample overhead bin space to accommodate carryon items.  Every seat offers either a window or an aisle option. 

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 groceries indepedent travellers usually buy. It is an open list, so please feel invited to add missing items in the comments and we'll add them to the list. It hopefully helps planning your holidays in South Africa. Safe travels! [exchange rates in the daily news update]

braai, bbq, South Africa
  • bread - from R10.00/loaf (700g)
  • Rama Margarine - from R14.00/250g
  • eggs (large, free range) - from R40.00/15 eggs
  • mixed fruit jam - from R17.50/290g
  • peanut butter - from R20.50/250g
  • Nutella - from R30.25/180g
  • Bovril - from R27.25/125g
  • Marmite - from R27.25/125g
  • baked beans - from R7.00/can (400g)
  • bacon - from R29.00/200g
  • milk (full cream) - from R5.50/250ml
  • muesli - from R25.00 (400g)
  • porridge oats - from R19.00/500g
  • yoghurt (plain) - from R9.00/175g
  • cheese - from R43.00/240g (cheddar)
  • potatoes - from R25.00/2kg
  • tomatoes - from R18.00/kg
  • onions - from R19.00/kg
  • mushrooms - from R23.00/250g (white mushrooms)
  • cucumber - from R13.00 (english cucumber) 
  • lettuce - from R15.00 (baby gem lettuce)
  • avocado - from 35.00/4s
  • pasta - from R10.00/500g (maccaroni)
  • pasta sauce - from R31.00/440g
  • instant soup - from R14.00 (4ea)
  • biscuits - from R5.50/80g
  • rusks - from R39.00/450g
  • chewing gum - from 7.60/pack (Clorets)
  • boerewors - from R84.00/kg
  • steak - from R126.00/kg (rump steak)
  • chakalaka - from R14.00/can (410g)
  • chutney - from R28.00/bottle (Mrs H.S.Ball's Hot Chutney, 470g)
  • hot sauce - from R23.00/bottle (125ml)
  • tomato sauce - from R17.00 (750ml)
  • potato chips - from R6.00/40g
  • bottled water (still) - from R4.60/500ml 
  • Coke - from R10.00/440ml
  • mango juice - from R10.00/300ml
  • beer - from R56.50/6x330ml (Tafel Lager)
  • beer - from R70.00/6x500ml (Hansa)
  • beer - from R135.00/12x500ml (Castle Lager) 
  • beer - from R125.00/12x330ml (Amstel Lager)
  • beer - from R135.00/12x330ml (Windhoek Lager)
  • cider - from R90.00/6x440ml (Hunters Dry)
  • cider - from R80.00/6x330ml (Savanna Dry)
  • wine - from R25.00/750ml (White)