30 December 2019

Kruger National Park Calendar - February!

Weather:
  • much the same as January
  • traditionally flood season
  • heavy rains can cause rivers to suddenly burst their banks
Temperatures:
safari, Kruger National Park, South Africa, Southern yellow-billed hornbill

Landscape:
  • plants at their most nutrtious
  • large vleis (shallow seasonal or intermittent lakes) on the basalt plain
  • many aloes in flower
Animal Activity:
  • large herds of grazers spread across the Eastern Grasslands
  • many nursery herds (protected by matriachs or alpha males)
  • breading season for Waterbucks
  • loads of bird activity around the flowering aloes

20 December 2019

Cape Town: Green Point Market returns after a 10 year absence!

Cape Town's famous Green Point Market is back after 10 years. The market, which used to be one of the most popular and largest markets in the city, will take place at its new locaton, the P4 parking area of the Green Point Athletics Stadium in Green Point, on 22 December 2019 between 08:00 - 17:00. All of the historic 98 traders have been called back to the market, and an additional 102 trading opportunities have been created for new vendors. The market will only operate on Sundays and public holidays subject to events taking place within the Green Point precinct. Green Point Market was relocated 10 years to make way for the construction of the Cape Town Stadium and the surrounding Green Point Urban Park.


19 December 2019

Ranking: Durban named greenest city in the world!

According to the very first "Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index" (HUGSI) by Swedish manufacturer of outdoor power products Husqvarna, Durban in South Africa is the world's and, of course, Africa's greenest city. Durban also has the highest percentage of urban green space (global & Africa), as well as the best health of urban vegetation, the best distribution of urban green space, the most urban green space per capita and the highest percentage of urban area covered by trees in Africa. Congratulations Durban! Africa's second greenest city is Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, followed by Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
HUGSI is based on satellite image data acquired from the Copernicus Programme (EU earth observation programme), which is getting turned into a range of urban green space metrics by using computer vision and machine learning techniques. These overall greenness scores are calculated and are used to rank select cities.

The world's greenest cities:

  1. Durban, South Africa
  2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Austin, Texas (USA)
  4. Bejing, China
  5. Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Dalian, China
  7. Gothenburg, Sweden
  8. Heidelberg, Germany
  9. Qingdao, China
  10. Caracas, Venezuela
Africa's greenest cities:
  1. Durban, South Africa
  2. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  3. Tshwane, South Africa
  4. Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. Cape Town, South Africa
  6. Nairobi, Kenya
  7. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  8. Dakar, Senegal
  9. Accra, Ghana
  10. Lagos, Nigeria

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18 December 2019

South Africa: Amsterdam in Mpumalanga has been renamed!

South Africa's Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has not only approved the renaming of Cape Town's suburb Zonnebloem back to District Six, but also the name change of Amsterdam in Mpumalanga to eMvelo. The town is located in the Mkhondo Local Municipality, which forms part of the Gert Sibande District Municipality in the south-eastern corner of Mpumalanga. eMvelo was established as a Scottish settlement in 1868 and was proclaimed a town in 1881. The town's first name was Roburnia (after Scottish Poet Robert Burns). One year later, in 1882, Roburnia was renamed to Amsterdam


Outeniqua Nature Reserve (Western Cape): Witfontein area is closed to the public following the recent fires!

CapeNature, the public institution with the responsibility for biodiversity conservation in South Africa's Western Cape, has announced that the Witfontein area in the Outeniqua Nature Reserve remains closed to the public following the recent fires which damaged plantations in the vicinity. Falling trees pose a threat to visitor safety at this time. The Nature Reserve is however open and alternative access points for members of the public include the pass-to-pass trail (Outeniqua pass) and Kouma trail (Robertson pass). Witfontein will remain closed until further notice.
The
Outeniqua Nature Reserve is located close to the Garden Route town of George and easily accessible from Mossel Bay, Knysna and Oudtshoorn. The Nature Reserve, which is panning 38 000 hectares, encompasses the mountain ranges that fall between the coast and the semi-arid Klein Karoo. The primary attraction of the Outeniqua Nature Reserve is the opportunity to traverse the five mountain passes that fall within the reserve and explore the area's rich diversity on the walking and hiking trails.

17 December 2019

Cape Town: The renaming of Zonnebloem back to Distict Six has been approved!

South Africa's Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has approved the renaming of Cape Town's suburb Zonnebloem back to District Six. The renaming application had been made by the District Six Museum to the Western Cape Provincial Geographical Names Committee (WCPGNC) last year. The City of Cape Town has also renamed Keizersgracht to its historic name of Hanover Street in September 2019. During the years of apartheid, District Six was named Zonnebloem when the area was declared whites-only and the previous residents were forcibly removed.

Cape Town, District Six Museum, District Six

Botswana: Seasonal rainfall & temperature outlook update (January - March 2020)!

Botswana's Department of Meteorological Services (DMS) has updated the seasonal rainfall and temperature outlook for the month of January, February and March 2020. According to the reviewed forecast, the season will generally be a normal to below rainfall season over the north and east i.e. the eastern parts of Ngamiland, Chobe, North-East and Central districts. The west and southern parts of Botswana i.e. western parts of Ngamiland, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Southern, Southeast, Kgatleng and Kweneng districts are expected to receive normal to above rains. Most parts of Botswana are expected to be relatively hot as above normal temperatures are predicted countrywide.

13 December 2019

South African National Parks: Better bring your "proof of payment" for online bookings!

South African National Parks (SANParks) advises visitors to present their proof of payment (The confirmation letter serves as a proof of payment) for their online bookings at South Africa's National Parks. This request is because of system failures caused by the numerous load shedding incidents experienced in South Africa. The country is currently facing a massive energy crisis caused by sate-owned electricity public utility Eskom, which has revealed that unplanned breakdowns, diesel shortages, flooding at power stations and "wet coal" are responsible for the ongoing energy crisis in the country.

11 December 2019

Festive season 2019/20: Kruger National Park to enforce daily gate quotas!

South African National Parks (SANParks) will enforce daily quotas for day visitors at the entrance gates to Kruger National Park over the coming festive season (13 December 2019 - 14 January 2020). Through the day visitor quota for Kruger National Park SANParks aims to better manage the expected volumes of visitors, as well as to improve the visitors' expectations. SANParks has introduced three time slots, of which day visitos can choose from. It is advised to book a time slot prior to arrival, as pre-booked day visitors will get preference over non-booked day visitors at Kruger National Park's entrance gates.
  • Time slot 1 - 05:30 to 07:30
  • Time slot 2 - 07:30 to 09:30
  • Time slot 3 - 09:30 onwards
Pre-booked day visitors must ensure that they arrive within the time slots, as per their reservation. Arriving outside the booked time slot, will be regarded as non-booked and therefore not preferential. These bookings can be changed through SANParks Reservations offices.


Visitors should also take note of the following important information:
  • Day Visitor bookings are subject to a non-refundable booking fee of R43 per adult and R22 per child.
  • Day Visitors who have pre-booked will still be required to pay Conservation Fees or use a valid Wild Card to enter Kruger National Park. The Conservation Fee for South African residents as well as Zimbabwe and Mocambique nationals (passport required to prove this) is R100per adult and R50 per child between ages 2 - 11. For nationals of eSwatini and other SADC countries the conservation fees are R200 per adult and R100 per child. For all other guests the standard conservation fees of R400 for adults  and R200 for children applies.
  • Guests planning to use Wild Cards are requested to ensure membership is valid before arrival and this can best be done online at www.sanparks.org/wild
  • The number and profile of persons (adults and children) on the reservation and actual persons arriving should correspond.
  • All guests (drivers and passengers) may be required to identify themselves upon admission (South African drivers' license, identity document or passport).
  • Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they are regarded as booked for all Day Visitor admissions.
  • Gate quotas will be applied and un-booked guests could be denied entry.

Kruger National Park: Roads closed due to rainfall! [update]

update (08 January 2020): Road works are completed on S21 in Kruger National Park. The road is open to the public again.

update (19 December 2019): The Balule Bridge is now open after having been flooded.

The following roads are now open:
  • S48
  • S147
  • S125
  • S86
  • S33
  • S35
  • S79
  • S76
  • H2-2
  • S108
  • S26
  • S25
  • S27
  • S83
  • S84
  • S85
The following roads remain closed:
  • H5
  • S21
  • S102.
update (18 December 2019): The situation regarding the closed roads (see update 13 December 2019) in Kruger National Park has not changed. Please note that Sable Hide is closed (again). Balule low water bridge is still flooding and is closed.

update (17 December 2019): Low-level bridge at Balule Nature Reserve ("Balule Bridge") in Kruger National Park is currently flooded and impassable. The Olifants River has risen substantially due to the rains inland.
update (13 December 2019): The following roads in Kruger National Park remain closed:
  • Nxanatseni:
    • S48
  • Marula:
    • S147 
    • S125 
    • S86 
    • S33  
    • S35 
    • S79 
    • S76 
    • H2-2  
    • H5 
    • S102  
    • S108  
    • S26  
    • S25  
    • S27 
    • S83  
    • S84  
    • S85
update (12 December 2019; 13:00 SATC):
  • Crocodile Bridge: most roads are closed and damaged
  • Pretoriuskop: all roads open
  • Malelane: all roads open
  • Skukuza: all roads open
update (11 December 2019, 13:00 SATC): All gravel roads are temporarily closed throughout Kruger National Park due to heavy rains until further notice.
Closed roads are marked with "No Entry" signs or blocked with other objects. People should refrain from opening and driving on these roads as closures are necessary to ensure their safety. Technical services teams will continue to monitor the situation and request co-operation in this regard.

South African National Parks (SANParks) has closed several roads in Kruger National Park on 10 December 2019 due to rainfall in the area. We will update this post as soon as new official reports/statements/press releases from SANParks are coming in. According to the latest updates, the following roads in South Africa's most popular National Park are currently closed:
  • Houtboschrand (as of 11 December 2019, 10:00 SATC):
    • all gravel roads closed (S39, S127,S147, S89 & S90)
    • Guest of Balule can still exit across the low water bridge over the Olifants river. SANParks will keep an eye on it since it is expected that the Olifants will rise because of the rain on the Highveld.
  • Pretoriuskop (as of 11 December 2019, 10:00 SATC):
    • all gravel roads closed
  • Phalaborwa (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • All gravel roads are closed
    • S51 Sable dam loop, S131
    • All Category D roads (management only roads, not open to the public)
    • PLEASE NOTE: The road to Sable Hide as well as the Sabie Hide are closed
  • Lower Sabie (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • Closed roads: S79, S21, S128, S29 (to Mlondozi picnic site only), S129, S122.
    • All roads apart from S30 and S29 between high water bridge and H10
  • Nwanetsi (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • S100
    • S41
    • S37
  • Tshokwane (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • S34
    • S35
    • S33
  • Letaba (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • all gravel roads closed
  • Kingfisherspruit (as of 10 December 2019, 17:00 SATC):
    • S39 only with restrictions on S140 to Talamati and Imbali staff and guests

10 December 2019

Cape Town: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway introduced "Early Access Tickets" for the festive period!

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, the cable car transportation system offering visitors a five-minute ride to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, has launched so-called "Early Access Tickets" to better handle the increased numbers of visitors over the festive period. These tickets allow visitors to take the first cable car up at 07:30 – before the site opens to the general public. The limited "Early Access Tickets" are only available for purchase online and are valid between 01 December 2019 and 15 January 2020.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway encourages its visitors to use public transport during the festive period as there is ususally a high demand for parking and recommends the free MyCiTi shuttle service that operates from Lower Tafelberg Road to the Lower Cable Station.

Travel + Leisure: Botswana is one of the Top 10 destinations 2020!

According to the 2020 edition of Travel + Leisure's annual list of the 50 best places to travel, Botswana is one of the Top 10 destinations 2020. The country was named ninth best place to travel to in the coming year. Main reason for Travel + Leisure to pick Botswana for the Top 10 is the vast variety of new safari lodges that will open in 2020 or have been opened during 2019, namely Tuludi in the Okavango Delta (July 2019), Xigera Safari Lodge in the Moremi Game Reserve (June 2020), Linyanti Expeditions' new mobile camp in Chobe National Park (July 2019) and the Great Plains Selinda Camping northern Botswana (June 2019).

Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash

Travel + Leisure's annual list of the 50 best places to travel is based on indicators such as tourism statistics, major events taking place, new flight routes, hotel debuts and Instagram posts of Travel + Leisure's most well-traveled pals. Additionally the US-based travel magazine surveyed its network of travel experts, trusted writers, hospitality insiders, and other industry pros to compile the list of the 50 best places to travel 2020

Travel + Leisure's Top 10 best places to travel:
  1. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  2. Arequipa, Peru
  3. Asheville, North Carolina (USA)
  4. Austria
  5. Baja Sur's East Cape, Mexico
  6. Barbados
  7. Beijing, China
  8. Big Island, Hawaii (USA)
  9. Botswana
  10. Boston. Massachusetts (USA)

09 December 2019

Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve: Truitjieskraal has been closed until further notice!

CapeNature, the public institution with the responsibility for biodiversity conservation in South Africa's Western Cape, has announced that Truitjieskraal in the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve has been closed until further notice due to the access road being damaged by heavy rain and hail.
Truitjieskraal boasts some of the most impressive of sandstone formations in the Greater Cederberg region with rock art dating back to 5000 years ago. The site is located on an old route from the farms in the east to those in the Breekkrans River valley in the west. Stock farmers used it until the mid-twentieth century to move their sheep and goats from winter to summer grazing areas. Truitjieskraal is also a popular rock climbing venue with a range of grades from easy to difficult on vertical to overhanging rock.

Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve is located on the eastern edge of the Cederberg Mountains, about three to four hours from Cape Town and 35 kilometres beyond Algeria. The 12 800ha reserve lies in a transitional zone where fynbos and lowland succulent Karoo vegetation overlap.

06 December 2019

South Africa: Reinstatement of Shosholoza Meyl and Premier Classe passenger train services!

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) just informed the public that Main Line Passenger Services (MLPS), which operates the Shosholoza Meyl and Premier Classe long-distance passenger train services in South Africa, is set to reinstate services between Johannesburg - Musina (via Polokwane), Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth and Cape Town - East London.
The service between
Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth will operate with effect from 11 December 2019 and will run every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The service from Cape Town to East London (Thursdays) will operate with effect from 12 December 2019, and return (Sundays) from 15 December 2019. The service from Johannesburg to Musina via Polokwane (Fridays) will operate from 13 December 2019 and return (Sundays) from 15 December 2019.

05 December 2019

South Africa: South African Airways to be put into business rescue! [update]

update (09 December 2019): South African Airways is officially in business rescue. The notice of commencement of business rescue proceedings was filed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) on 05 December 2019, as per Chapter 6 of the Companies Act 2008 (Act 71 of 2008). The CIPC has processed the appointment of the business rescue practitioner, Mr Les Matuson from Matuson Associates in South African Airways' voluntary business rescue process.

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways, has adopted a resolution to place the company into a state-approved business rescue at the earliest opportunity in order to put the company on a sustainable footing and save jobs. The business rescue process will be directed by an independent practitioner.
According to a statement by South African Airways, the airline will endeavour to operate a new provisional timetable and will publish details shortly. Services operated by Mango, a subsidiary of South African Airways, will continue as usual and as scheduled. We'll keep you posted!

04 December 2019

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in November 2019!

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, Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DUR) and Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth in November 2019.
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 November 2019
  • FlySafair - 91.65% (October 95.43%)
  • Airlink - 89.77% (October 95.67%)
  • South African Airways - 85.06% (October 86.61%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 79.92% (October 89.39%)
  • Mango - 70.08% (October 66.02%)
  • Kulula.com - 69.64% (October 75.80%) 
  • SA Express - 65.14% (October 66.39%)
  • CemAir - 60.00% (October --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT), Cape Town - 15 Min on Time Performance Novmber 2019
  • Airlink - 96.98% (October 93.97%)
  • FlySafair - 95.57% (October 92.82%)
  • South African Airways - 86.77% (October 84.25%)
  • Mango - 79.20% (October 73.17%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 76.49% (October 84.35%)
  • Kulula.com - 68.65% (October 71.71%)
  • SA Express - 63.83% (October 76.98%)
  • CemAir - 50.00% (October --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2019
  • Airlink - 99.36% (October 96.41%)
  • South African Airways - 89.75% (October 85.80%)
  • FlySafair - 89.46% (October 97.26%)
  • Mango - 79.70% (October 78.55%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 79.62% (October 89.79%)
  • Kulula.com - 65.00% (October 80.65%)
  • SA Express - 54.17% (October 57.89%)
Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ), Port Elizabeth - 15 Min on Time Performance November 2019
  • Airlink - 99.30% (October 98.70%)
  • Flysafair - 90.65% (October 96.23%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 86.36% (October 92.08%)
  • Mango - 82.50% (October 80.80%)
  • South African Airways - 80.00% (October 74.14%)
  • SA Express - 47.30% (October 51.67%)
  • CemAir - --.--% (October --.--%)

British & Irish Lions announce itinerary for 2021 Tour of South Africa!

The British & Irish Lions, a rugby union team selected from players eligible to play for the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland, has announced the itinerary for the 2021 Tour of South Africa (03 July - 07 August 2021). The eight-game schedule includes three test matches against the Springboks in Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as three matches against Super Rugby teams (Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers) and two fixtures against an invitational side and South Africa "A" in Port Elizabeth, Durban, Nelspruit and Pretoria.

Cape Town, South Africa

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight and drew one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

British & Irish Lions 2021 Tour of South Africa (03 July - 07 August 2021):
  • Saturday 3 July 2021: British & Irish Lions v DHL Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
  • Wednesday 07 July 2021: British & Irish Lions v South Africa Invitational – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
  • Saturday 10 July 2021: British & Irish Lions v Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
  • Wednesday 14 July 2021: British & Irish Lions v South Africa "A" – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
  • Saturday 17 July 2021: British & Irish Lions v Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
  • Saturday 24 July 2021 (First Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
  • Saturday 31 July 2021 (Second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
  • Saturday 7 August 2021 (Third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Air Madagascar to suspend operations between Antananarivo <> Johannesburg!

The national airline of Madagascar, Air Madagascar, will suspend its two weekly service between Ivato International Airport (TNR) in Antananarivo and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg from 08 January 2020. The last scheduled flight will take place on 07 January 2020. Travellers who have confirmed bookings after this date will be offered rerouting options or refund possibilities by the airline. Air Madagascar only resumed operations to Johannesburg in June 2019. According to a statement by the airline, Air Madagascar "will resume its flights once conditions are met for an optimal service with an aircraft whose capacity is more suited to the demand".

Graskop Gorge Lift (Mpumalanga): The suspension bridge is now wheelchair accessible!

The Graskop Gorge Lift Company has announced that the 52-metre suspension bridge, which links the southern side of the gorge, where the Graskop Gorge Lift is situated, to the northern side, which houses the Big Swing (the world’s highest cable gorge swing!), can now be accessed with wheelchairs. The bridge was built around the edge of the Graskop Gorge as an alternative means of access to either side.


The Graskop Gorge lift in Mpumalanga is a viewing lift that takes visitors 51 metres down the face of the Graskop Gorge and into the forest below. It is located just outside of Graskop on the R533 towards Hazyview along the famous Panorama Route (on the opposite side of the gorge to the Big Swing).

03 December 2019

South Africa: Johannesburg is the most popular destination with international travellers in Sub-Saharan Africa!

According to the findings of Euromonitor International's "Top 100 City Destinations - 2019 Edition", Johannesburg in South Africa is the most popular destination with international travellers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The largest city of South Africa had 4,12 Mio. arrivals in 2018 and will have 4,21 Mio. (estimated) arrivals in 2019. International arrivals by city includes visitors from abroad who arrive at the city under review as their first point of entry, also including visitors to the city who arrived in the country via a different point of entry, but then go on to visit the city in question during their trip. No other Sub-Saharan African or South African city made it to the list of the top 100 cities based on 2018 international arrivals. Euromonitor International is a privately owned, London-based global market research company, providing market research, business intelligence reports, and data to industry.

Johannesburg, South Africa