18 October 2018

Mpumalanga: Two new hiking trails in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve!

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has officially opened two new hiking trails in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Both trails are self-guided trails and traverse half of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve as well as privately owned land, from Paradise Camp (on the God’s Window loop road) to Bourke's Luck Potholes.
The Belvedere day walk is a 10km, five-hour walk which takes hikers in a circular route its start at
Bourke's Luck Potholes to the Belvedere Guest House and then back to Bourke's Luck Potholes.

The Waterval long trail/hike is a three-day trail. From the meeting point at
Bourke's Luck Potholes hikers will get transported to Paradise Camp, the starting point of the hike. From there, a 3km walk will bring the hikers to the first overnight stop at Waterval Hut. Day two takes the hikers from Waterval Hut to Clearstream (13.5km). On day three, the trail takes the hikers from Clearstream back to Bourke's Luck Potholes (13.6km).
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) is currently devoleping a third trail, which will include the "Old Mill". For more info and booking, contact the MTPA.

17 October 2018

Ethiopian Airlines to increase flights between Addis Ababa <> Oslo!

The flag carrier of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airlines, is set to increase flights between Bole International Airport (ADD) in Addis Ababa and Oslo Airport (OSL) in Oslo, Norway. From 11 December 2018, the airline will operate six weekly return flights on board a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to Norway instead of the current five return flights per week. Ethiopian Airlines launched the route between Addis Ababa and Oslo in March 2017.

15 October 2018

Cape Town: MyCiTi bus drivers embark on strike!

Cape Town's MyCiTi bus service is currently disrupted due to an (illegal) strike by some bus drivers. As a result, only a few routes are currently operating. It is unclear for how long the strike will continue, and when the MyCiTi service will be able to resume normal operations. The City of Cape Town is monitoring the situation and will inform the public accordingly. We'll keep you posted!MyCiTi is Cape Town's bus rapid transit (BRT) service. Since its launch in May 2010 until August 2018, approximately 89,4 million passenger journeys were recorded on the MyCiTi service.

Mpumalanga: The Graskop Gorge lift is currently not operational!

The Graskop Gorge lift, a viewing lift that takes visitors 51 metres down the face of the Graskop Gorge and into the forest below, is temporarily closed since 12 October 2018. The lift, which is operated by the Graskop Gorge Lift Company, is located just outside of Graskop on the R533 towards Hazyview along Mpumalanga's famous Panorama Route (on the opposite side of the gorge to the Big Swing).

Botswana: Gaborone Game Reserve has been re-opened!

Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks has re-opened the Gaborone Game Reserve in Gaborone earlier today (15 October 2018). The Reserve was closed to the public since August 2018 due maintenance of sewerage lines by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), a parastatal organisation wholly owned by the Government of Botswana.
The Gaborone Game Reserve is located on the western side of Gaborone about 1km east of the Broadhurst Mall. It covers an area of only 5km², but is third busiest game reserve in Botswana. Gaborone Game Reserve is home to wildebeest, elands, gemsboks, kudus, ostriches and warthogs as well as to a particularly plentiful birdlife. All roads in the reserve are accessible by two-wheel drives (2WD). 

South Africa's Blue Flag beaches, boats & marinas 2018/19!

A total of 46 beaches in South Africa, along with twelve sustainable tourism boats and eight marinas have been awarded Full Blue Flag status by the 2018/19 International Blue Flag Jury. The Western Cape has achieved the highest number of Blue Flag sites, with 30 beaches, 12 boats and seven of the eight Blue Flag marinas. The Eastern Cape has been awarded one Blue Flag Marina site, and retained their seven beaches. KwaZulu-Natal has been awarded nine Blue Flag beaches.
Blue Flag is a certification issued by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards. The main criterias include standards for water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria. Blue Flag is sought for beaches and marinas as an indication of their high environmental and quality standards.
South Africa, the first country outside Europe to be granted Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches, the Blue Flag programme is managed by WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) in partnership with participating coastal municipalities.

South Africa, Blue Flag, Beach

Western Cape Blue Flag beaches:

Cape Town - Silwerstroomstrand  
Cape Town - Clifton 4th  
Cape Town - Camps Bay  
Cape Town - Llandudno  
Cape Town - Muizenberg  
Cape Town - Strandfontein  
Cape Town - Mnandi
Cape Town - Bikini
Cape Town - Melkbosstrand
Cape Town - Fishhoek  
Kleinmond (Overstrand Municipality) - Kleinmond  
Hermanus (Overstrand Municipality) - Hawston  
Hermanus (Overstrand Municipality) - Grotto
Stillbaai (Hessequa Municipality) - Lappiesbaai  
Stillbaai (Hessequa Municipality) - Preekstoel
Witsand (Hessequa Municipality) - Witsand 

Gouritsmond (Hessequa Municipality) - Gouritsmond
Mossel Bay - Santos
Mossel Bay - De Bakke  
Mossel Bay - Hartenbos  
Mossel Bay - Klein Brak
Knysna - Buffalo Bay
Knysna - Brenton-on-Sea
Plettenberg Bay (Bitou Municipality) - Robberg 5
Keurboomstrand (Bitou Municipality) - Keurboomstrand
Keurboomstrand (Bitou Municipality) - The Dunes
Natures Valley (Bitou Municipality) - Nature's Valley
Plettenberg Bay (Bitou Municipality) - Lookout 
Plettenberg Bay (Bitou Municipality) - Singing Kettle
Cape Agulhas (Cape Agulhas Municipality) - Struisbaai 

Western Cape Blue Flag marinas:

Knysna - Thesen Islands (TIHOA)
Knysna - Thesen Islands (Thesen Harbour Town)
Cape Town - False Bay Yacht Club
Cape Town - The Water Club
Cape Town - V&A Waterfront
Gordon's Bay - Harbour Island  
Saldanha - Yachtport SA 

Western Cape Blue Flag boats:

Plettenberg Bay (Offshore Adventures) - Robberg Express
Plettenberg Bay (Offshore Adventures) - Oceanic Express
Gansbaai (Dyer Island Cruises) - Whale Whisperer  
Gansbaai (Dyer Island Cruises) - Dream Catcher
Gansbaai (Marine Dynamics) - Slashfin
Knysna (Ocean Odyssey) - Oyser Catcher  
Knysna (Ocean Odyssey) - Sousa
Knysna (Ocean Odyssey) - Dolphin II
Kleinbaai (Great White Shark Tours) - Apex Predator
Van Dyks Bay (White Shark Ventures) - Megalodon II

Van Dyks Bay (White Shark Ventures) - Megalodon I

Eastern Cape Blue Flag beaches:

Jeffrey's Bay (Kouga Municipality) - Dolphin
Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Municipality) - Humewood
Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Municipality) - King's
Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Municipality) - Hobie
Hamburg (Amatole Municipality) - Hamburg  
Kenton-on-Sea (Ndlambe Municipality) - Kariega
Port Alfred (Ndlambe Municipality) - Kelly's 

Eastern Cape Blue Flag Marina: 

St Francis Bay (Sarah Baartman District Municipality) - Cape St Francis

KwaZulu Natal Blue Flag beaches:

Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Marina  
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Trafalgar  
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Lucien
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Southport
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Umzumbe
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Ramsgate  
Hibiscus Coast (Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) - Hiberdene
Durban (Ethekwini Municipality) - Westbrook

Durban (Ethekwini Municipality) - Ushaka    

12 October 2018

Fastjet to launch flights between Maputo <> Quelimane!

Fastjet (Mozambique) is set to launch scheduled flights between Maputo International Airport (MPM) in Maputo and Quelimane Airport (UEL) Quelimane, a coastal city in central Mozambique. Effective 29 October 2018, the airline will operate four weekly return flights on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with the intention of growing into daily frequencies. The new service replaces Fastjet's flights between Nampula Airport (APL) in Nampula and the Mozambican capital, which will end on 28 October 2018 due to lower than expected route performance.

11 October 2018

Botswana to open an ivory museum & a geology and mining museum!

Botswana is set to open a new ivory museum and a new geology and mining museum. According to the deputy director of Botswana's Department of National Museums and Monuments, Stephen Mogotsi, the ivory museum will be opened in Gaborone, while the geology and mining museum will be located in Francistown
The ivory museum will be a specialised museum within the Natural History Centre in Gaborone's Botanical Garden. The objective of the new museum is to preserve Botswana's bio-diversity and showcase the story of African Elephant.

Africa, desert, elephant, wildlife

The geology and mining museum, which will be called Gerald Estate National Monument (GENM), will also be a specialised museum. Located in Gerald Estate in Francistown, it will be showcasing the geology and early mining in the Francistown area. The museum will be a first of its kind in Botswana and will be declared a national monument.
The construction of both museums is expected to to commence in 2019/20 while exhibitions are expected to start in 2020/21. We'll keep you posted!

Blyde River Canyon (Mpumalanga): Restricted access to the Swadini section between October 2018 - February 2019! [UPDATE]

update (18 October 2018):The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has detailed information regarding the restricted access to Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve's Swadini section. Access to the Swadini paypoint gate of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve will be restricted due to filming taking place. As a result, access to the waterfall and the path leading to the waterfall will be resticted from 29 October 2018 until 03 January 2019 and from 19 February 2019 until 28 February 2019. The Swadini paypoint gate will be closed with no access from 04 January 2019 until 18 February 2019. There will be no access to the Visitor Centre during the closure period. Access to the Swadini A Forever Resort will still be accessible to visitors. This part will not be affected by the filming process.

update (17 October 2018): The most popular tourism attractions in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, such as Bourke's Luck Potholes, God's Window and all the viewpoints along the canyon will be unaffected by the closures. Only the access to a small section of the Swadini area in the Nature Reserve, to the north of the main canyon will be restricted at the dates mentioned below.

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), the governmental organisation responsible for maintaining wilderness areas and public nature reserves in Mpumalanga, has announced that access to the waterfall and the path leading to the waterfall in the Swadini section of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve will be restricted due to filming between 29 October 2018 and 3 January 2019 as well as between 19 February 2019 and 28 February 2019. Access to the Swadini section of the Nature Reserve will be completely restricted between 04 January 2019 and 18 February 2019.

The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is situated in the Drakensberg escarpment region of eastern Mpumalanga. It protects the second largest canyon in Africa after the Fish River Canyon in Namibia,the Blyde River Canyon, and includes natural wonders such as the Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, Pinnacle Rock and God's Window.

Air Namibia temporarily cancels all flights to Zimbabwe!

Namibia's flag carrier, Air Namibia, has temporarily canceled all flights to Zimbabwe following the impounding of an aircraft operated by the airline in Harare on 05 October 2018. According to a statement by the airline, Air Namibia will not operate flights to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (HRE) in Harare and Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls between 10 October 2018 and 27 October 2018. Flights to Victoria Falls will instead be diverted to Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) in Livingstone, Zambia. For more information please contact Air Namibia.

09 October 2018

SA Express to relaunch flights between Johannesburg <> Hoedspruit!

South African carrier SA Express just announced the relaunch of scheduled services between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) in Hoedspruit, Mpumalanga, on 11 October 2018. The airline, which was grounded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) between May and August 2018 due to various reasons, also relaunched scheduled services between Johannesburg and Walvis Bay Airport (WVB) in Walvis Bay, Namibia, on 24 September 2018. This brings to seven the total number of SA Express destinations reinstated since the airline's relaunch.

Cape Town: New MyCiTi routes to tourist highlights!

Following a comprehensive review of the MyCiTi bus service, the City of Cape Town will introduce routes to new destinations as well as more direct routes with fewer transfers, and 29 new bus stops. These changes will take effect on 27 October 2018 and include new routes to several tourist highlights in Cape Town. These routes are:
  • District Six <> Civic Centre
  • Upper Kloof Street <> V&A Waterfront
  • Civic Centre <> V&A Waterfront Silo
  • Oranjezicht <> Sea Point
MyCiti is Cape Town's bus rapid transit (BRT) service. Since its launch in May 2010 until August 2018, approximately 89,4 million passenger journeys were recorded on the MyCiTi service.

08 October 2018

Pretoria: Church Square is set to re-open on 11 October 2018!

The project to rejuvenate Church Square in Pretoria's CBD has been completed. The City of Tshwane will therefore host a re-opening event to highlight the completition of the project. The event, which will inlude music acts and other activities, is set to take place on 11 October 2018 from 08:00 to 16:00.

Church Square is a square at the historic centre of the city of
Pretoria. Built in 1855, the square is surrounded by the Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Tudor Chambers, the Old Council Chamber (Ou Raadsaal) and the General Post Office. Church Square is the grandest civic square in Pretoria and among the great attractions in Gauteng.

06 October 2018

St Helena: St Helena Airport has recommenced operations as normal!

St Helena's Government just informed the public that confirmation has been received from the Airport Regulator, Air Safety Support International (ASSI), that the Aerodrome Certificate and approvals for St Helena Airport (HLE) on St Helena have been issued to St Helena Airport Ltd (SHAL). St Helena Airport has recommenced operations as normal with effect from today, 5 October 2018.
St Helena Airport (HLE) was opened in 2016 and began scheduled commercial services on 14 October 2017, when the South African carrier Airlink inaugurated a weekly service from O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg.

04 October 2018

Durban is one of British Airways' top 19 must-see destinations for 2019!

According to British Airways' annual travel predictions for the year ahead, Durban in South Africa is one of the top 19 must-see destinations for 2019. South Africa's third largest city features on the list for the first time. British Airways, which will launch direct flights between Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban in October 2019, describes the city as follows:
Located on South Africa's sublime Indian Ocean coast, 350 miles south-east of Johannesburg, Durban is a tropical, urban gem offering upmarket guesthouses, trendy bars and stylish restaurants overlooking the azure ocean and sweeping beaches. The city offers an array of festivals along with unbeatable surfing in warm waters along the Golden Mile.
Traditional afternoon tea is offered across the city, a throwback to the city's colonial past, and a bowl of bunny chow is a must to finish off any day in Durban. The signature dish is a fusion between South African and Indian cuisine, made up of a loaf of soft white bread filled with spicy curry. British Airways will be the only airline offering a direct service to the city from October 29. [src.]
British Airways Top 19 for 2019 features:
  • Durban
  • Pittsburgh
  • Osaka
  • Marrakech
  • Seychelles
  • Barbados
  • Toronto
  • Edinburgh
  • Sofia
  • Salzburg
  • Malta
  • Cologne
  • Sydney
  • Croatia
  • Kos
  • Cancun
  • Las Vegas
  • Dubai
  • Tokyo

Uganda: The "New Jinja Bridge" to open to the public in October 2018!

According to Uganda National Roads Association (UNRA), the "New Jinja Bridge" is substantially complete and will be officially opened for public use in mid-October 2018 (17 October 2018?). The new four-lane bridge is located in the town of Jinja on the proposed Kampala–Jinja Expressway, approximately 82 km, by road, east of Kampala. It is expected that the new bridge will serve as a major trade route connecting Uganda to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, Rwanda, Burundi, the DR Congo as well as Central Africa.

Uganda's longest bridge has a length of 525 m and a width of 23 m. The total cost of the bridge was budgeted at US$125 million. The "New Jinja Bridge" will replace the olf "Nalubaale Bridge", which was built in 1954.

St Helena: St Helena Airport is temporarily closed!

According to the St Helena Government, St Helena Airport (HLE) on St Helena is temporarily closed in accordance with standard regulatory procedure. Basil Read Ltd are no longer contracted to operate the airport, so that the airport's Aerodrome Certificate, which was held by Basil Read Ltd, has been rescinded by ASSI (Air Safety Support International). The Government is in the process of activating contingency arrangements and will update the public shortly. We'll keep you posted!
St Helena Airport (HLE) was opened in 2016 and began scheduled commercial services on 14 October 2017, when the South African carrier Airlink inaugurated a weekly service from O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg.

02 October 2018

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]

Potjie, Potjiekos, South Africa, outdoor cooking

  • bread - from R12.00/loaf (700g)
  • Rama Margarine - from R25.00/500g
  • eggs (large) - from R15.00/6 eggs
  • mixed fruit jam - from R17.50/290g
  • peanut butter - from R20.50/250g
  • Nutella - from R29.00/180g
  • Bovril - from R26.00/125g
  • Marmite - from R33.00/125g
  • baked beans - from R7.00/can (400g)
  • bacon - from R32.00/200g
  • milk (full cream) - from R15.00/1l
  • muesli - from R25.00 (400g)
  • porridge oats - from R15.50/500g
  • yoghurt (plain) - from R9.00/175g
  • cheese - from R43.00/240g (cheddar)
  • potatoes - from R29.00/2kg
  • tomatoes - from R19.00/kg
  • onions - from R19.00/kg
  • mushrooms - from R23.00/250g (white mushrooms)
  • cucumber - from R15.00 (english cucumber) 
  • lettuce - from R15.00 (baby gem lettuce)
  • avocado - N/A
  • 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 R39.50/500g
  • chewing gum - from 8.00/pack (Stimorol)
  • boerewors - from R81.00/kg
  • steak - from R168.00/kg (rib eye steak)
  • chakalaka - from R13.00/can (410g)
  • chutney - from R37.00/bottle (Mrs H.S.Ball's Hot Chutney, 470g)
  • hot sauce - from R23.50/bottle (125ml)
  • tomato sauce - from R17.00 (750ml)
  • potato chips - from R6.00/30g
  • bottled water (still) - from R4.60/500ml 
  • Coke - from R14.00/1l
  • mango juice - from R18.00/1l
  • beer - from R56.50/6x330ml (Tafel Lager)
  • beer - from R60.00/6x330ml (Hansa)
  • beer - from R60.00/6x330ml (Castle Lager) 
  • beer - from R65.00/6x330ml (Amstel Lager)
  • beer - from R70.00/6x330ml (Windhoek Lager)
  • cider - from R90.00/6x440ml (Hunters Dry)
  • cider - from R80.00/6x330ml (Savanna Dry)
  • wine - from R25.00/750ml (White)