30 June 2020

Kruger National Park Calendar - August!

Weather:
  • cool mornings and cold evenings
  • temperatures & humidity rise during the day
Temperatures:

Landscape:
  • bush extremely dry
  • landscape a yellow hue through flowering knobthorn, cassias and other
  • veld often overgrassed, especialy around watering holes etc.
Animal Activity:
  • game congrates around watering holes, rivers etc.
  • elephant numbers at their highest in northern Kruger
  • earliest summer migrant birds arrive
  • local raptors breeding
  • weakest animals die of thirst or from predators

South Africa: Airlink expands its domestic flight network for business and essential travel!

Following the announcement by South Africa's Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, that seven more airports in South Africa resume operations from 01 July 2020, South African regional carrier Airlink is set to introduce flights between OR Tambo Internaitonal Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN) in Bloemfontein, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP) in Nelspruit, Upington Airport (UTN) in Upington and Pietermaritzburg Airport (PZB) in Pietermaritzburg as well as Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town to Bloemfontein and Cape Town to Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth. All services will commence on 06 July 2020. In the next few weeks the airline is expecting additional airports to be approved and added to their operations, these include Kimberley, Mthatha, Polokwane, Richards Bay as well as Cape Town to George.
Domestic passenger air travel in
South Africa is currently not permitted for recreational, leisure or tourism purposes. All international passenger flights are prohibited except for those flights authorised by the Minister of Transport for the repatriation of South African Nationals from foreign countries and evacuation of foreign nationals from South Africa.

29 June 2020

Zambia has reopened its international airports to trigger the recovery of the tourism sector!

Zambia's President, Edgar Lungu, announced on 26 June 2020 the reopening of all international airports in Zambia, namely Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) in Lusaka, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) in Livingstone, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (NLA) in Ndola and Mfuwe International Airport (MFU) in Mfuwe/South Luangwa National Park. According to the President, the decision was to trigger the recovery of the tourism sector not only in Livingstone but the country at large. He further announced that the Minister of Communication and Transport, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Tourism will get directed to work together in ensuring stringent health guidelines such as:
  • screening
  • testing passengers with symptoms
  • masking
  • social distancing
  • frequent washing of hands
  • follow-up on passengers who test positive and sending them into quarantine until they test negative
As of 26 June 2020, Zambia has registered 1,497 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths. 52,195 total coronavirus tests have conducted so far.


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South Africa reopens seven more airports!

South Africa's Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, today (29 June 2020) announced that in addition to the original four airports that are currently allowed to operate in alert level three of the country's risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of COVID-19 - OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban, Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town and Lanseria International Airport (HLA) in Johannesburg - the following domestic airports will reopen from 01 July 2020:
 

Mpumalanga: Graskop Gorge lift reopens!

The Graskop Gorge lift in Mpumalanga, a viewing lift that takes visitors 51 metres down the face of the Graskop Gorge and into the forest below, has announced that it will reopen on 03 July 2020. The lift was closed for more than three month as a result of the national coronavirus lockdown. The celebrate the reopening, the Graskop Gorge lift will reduce the prices for the viewing lift and forest experience. The lift experience special, valid for July 2020 only, is:
  • R140.00 for adults and pensioners
  • R90.00 for all school-going children
A R30 entrance fee applies to guests who want to enjoy the views and retail offerings but will not be buying lift or Big Swing tickets. The Lift Café will offer a limited takeaway menu.

The Graskop Gorge lift, which is operated by the Graskop Gorge Lift Company, 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).

26 June 2020

eSwatini: The Royal Eswatini National Airways Corporation & Royal Jet (Abu Dhabi) formed an air charter partnership!

The Royal Eswatini National Airways Corporation (RENAC) and Royal Jet, an international luxury flight services provider headquartered in Abu Dhabi, have formed a joint venture to offer a charter flight service from King Mswati III International Airport (SHO) in Sikhuphe in eSwatini to desired destinations once international air travel restarts. 
This collaboration will see a Royal Jet luxury 28-seater Boeing 737 BBJ based at King Mswati III International Airport (SHO) for a duration of 12 month. The strategic partnership is mainly looking at the luxury travel market and is aimed at reviving the aviation industry in eSwatini and stimulating activity at King Mswati III International Airport (SHO).
RENAC will offer ground handling and cleaning services to Royal Jet at a fee. Royal Jet will be getting their aviation fuel from RENAC's fuel farms at the Matsapha Airport Airport (MTS) and King Mswati III International Airport (SHO). In addition, RENAC's sister company, Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority (ESWACAA), will provide Royal Jet landing and parking services.

Zimbabwe: National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is planning to resume passenger train operations "soon"!

Zimbabwe's Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Joel Biggie Matiza, announced in a media briefing in Bulawayo on 25 June 2020 that National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is planning to resume passenger train operations in Zimbabwe soon. The Minister didn't name a specific date. Both NRZ's urban and long-distance trains were suspended in March 2020 in line with Zimbabwe's lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Upon of the return, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will introduce more routes in cities and between districts as well as provinces. According to the Mr. Matiza there is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of ensuring that the trains are safe and that issues such as social distancing are implemented in the trains. [src.] We'll keep you posted!

24 June 2020

South Africa: Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has reopened selected nature reserves in Mpumalanga!

In line with South Africa's alert level three regulations, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has with effect from 23 June 2020 opened selected nature reserves in Mpumalanga to the public for self-drives, hiking, fishing and hunting activities. The MTPA introduced strict health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests and encourages those intending to visit the nature reserves to make the necessary bookings prior through MTPA's central reservations office. The braai facilities, picnic sites, swimming pools and camping sites in the reopened nature reserves remain closed for the public. Social distancing should be observed at all times and no groups will be permitted.

The following nature reserves
in Mpumalanga have been opened to the public with the following activities being offered:
  • Loskop Dam Nature Reserve - self drive
  • Barberton Nature Reserve - self drive
  • Songimvelo Nature Reserve - self drive, hunting and fishing
  • Manyeleti Nature Reserve - self drive
  • Blyde River Canyon - self guided walk and hiking trails
    (Belvedere day walk hiking trail available from 07:00 - 12:00)
  • Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve - fishing and hunting
  • Andover Nature Reserve - hunting

23 June 2020

Coronavirus pandemic: Namibia is getting ready to welcome international tourists from September 2020! [update]

update (24 June 2020): According to an infographic posted by the Embassy of the Republic of Namibia in Germany on facebook, Namibia enforces incoming travellers to submit to mandatory, supervised quarantine during stage five of the country's five-stage strategy to exit the coronavirus lockdown.

Namibia's Government has extended its four-stage strategy to exit the coronavirus lockdown by a fifth stage to address exclusively the opening of points of entry and the resumption of international air travel. The country is expected to migrate to stage five on 18 September 2020. In stage five, which is intended to last until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus, Namibia's points of entry will gradually open to targeted low risk countries and international air travel will resume with direct flights to and from low risk cities.

Namibia, Etosha National Park, sunrise, safari

During stage four (
30 June 2020 to 17 September 2020), Namibia will conduct a targeted international tourism revival initiative from 15 July 2020 to 15 August 2020 in collaboration with the tourism and hospitality sector. This initiative will look to accommodate a limited number of tourists, who will be determined in consultation with the private sector, from a carefully selected low risk market. This trial will inform and strengthen public sector preparations for the imminent reopening of Points of Entry under stage five. Detailed modalities for Namibia's targeted international tourism revival initiative will be announced in coming weeks.

Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flights between London <> Johannesburg!

British airline Virgin Atlantic is planning to resume operations between Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. Effective 15 September 2020, the airline plans to gradually reintroduce flights. This date is dependent on the relevant government approval. Virgin Atlantic will initially offer three weekly return flights on board a brand-new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft to Johannesburg with the same overnight schedule that was operated prior to lockdown. Subject to demand, the airline will slowly ramp the service back up to a daily schedule. We'll keep you posted!

22 June 2020

Coronavirus pandemic: Namibia to launch a "targeted international tourism revival initiative" during stage four of its five-stage strategy to exit the coronavirus lockdown! [update]

update (22 June 2020): Namibia has added an additional stage five, estimated from 18 September 2020, to address exclusively the opening of Points of Entry and the resumption of Air Travel. 

Namibia's President Dr. Hage G. Geingob (22 June 2020) announced that 13 of the 14 regions of Namibia will migrate from stage three to stage four of the country's four five-stage strategy to exit the coronavirus lockdown at midnight on 29 June 2020. The Erongo Region, which is currently in stage one lockdown, will migrate to stage three at midnight tonight, Monday 22 June 2020. 
As of today, Namibia has a total of 63 confirmed cases of covid-19, with 28 new cases reported during the past 7-day period. Twenty-four out of the 28 newly reported cases originate from the Erongo Region.

The following measures will apply to all residents across Namibia, except for the Erongo Region:

  1. Namibia will migrate from stage three to stage four with Relaxed Precautions on 30 June to 17 September 2020 for an extended 10-week period.
  2. Points of entry will remain closed except for the transportation of imported goods. Government in collaboration with the Tourism and Hospitality sector will conduct a targeted International Tourism revival initiative between 15 July to 15 August 2020. This initiative will look to accommodate a limited number of tourists, who will be determined in consultation with the private sector, from a carefully selected low risk market that has potential to contribute towards Namibia's tourism sector that employs over 100,000 Namibians. Modalities for this initiative will be announced in coming weeks and this trial will inform and strengthen public sector preparations for the imminent reopening of Points of Entry under stage five.
  3. Travel related quarantine: As from 30 June 2020, all Namibians & Non-Namibians entering the country must submit to a COVID19 PCR test on arrival and mandatory, Government supervised Quarantine, at own cost. Only citizens who cannot afford to quarantine at own cost (as will be defined in the Directives) can apply to be quarantined at cost to Government.
  4. The size of public gatherings will increase to 250 people for social gatherings including weddings, funerals and religious gatherings. Members of the public must strictly adhere to the Health & Hygiene protocols.
  5. Education: The resumption of Pre-Primary (Grades Zero to 3) is hereby deferred for a period of two-weeks across all 14 regions, until Monday 06 July 2020. The Ministry of Education will provide an updated schedule to the public.
  6. Government will continue to strengthen public health response measures through Surveillance, Testing, Contact Tracing and Isolation of confirmed cases, and by intensifying public education. [src.]
The following measures will apply to all residents of the Erongo Region:
  1. The Erongo region will migrate from stage one to stage three at midnight tonight, Monday 22 June 2020 until midnight on Monday 06 July 2020, for an initial period of 14 days or one-incubation cycle.
  2. Travel between towns in the Erongo region and to the rest of the country, will be permitted, with exception of the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis Local Authority Areas.
    Considering the linkages and movement of labour between the towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis, travel between these Local Authority Areas will be permitted. However travel into and out of these Local Authority Areas to the rest of the country is highly discouraged and will be restricted to emergency situations only, as defined in the Regulations. Bearing in mind that the disease does not move by itself but through human carriers, all residents are strongly urged to avoid unnecessary travel during this period, and allow authorities to conduct the active case search at these towns, in an effort to determine the extent of spread of disease into the community.
  3. Essential service providers as defined in the Regulations and truck drivers will be permitted to travel into and out of the region on the basis of an authorized permit. To avoid local truck drivers mixing with cross-border truck drivers, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Social Services are directed to identify separate Truck Ports and parking areas at Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis Local Authority Areas. Local truck drivers are to be escorted by law enforcement officials to and from their respective delivery destinations.
  4. Public gatherings at Erongo region will be restricted to 50 persons with exception of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund & Arandis Local Authority Areas, which will be restricted to gatherings of 10 persons. 4
  5. Education: Schools across the Erongo region that meet the ‘COVID-19 Compliance Standards’ may resume face-to-face instruction for Grade 11 and 12.
    For Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis Local Authority Areas, the resumption of Grades 11, 12, and Pre-Primary (Grades Zero to 3) remains suspended for the next 14 days. Face-to-face instruction will be determined pending observation of the unfolding situation in those towns.
  6. Vulnerable persons, in categories as defined, will be permitted to work from home at Erongo region subject to authorization issued by the Employer and upon presentation of a valid Medical Certificate. Old Age Homes should remain under isolation and caregivers should strictly adhere to the Health & Hygiene Protocols.
    [src.]

Botswana dehorns all rhinos in the Okavango Delta!

Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks has undertaken an operation to dehorn all black rhinos and white rhinos in the Okavango Delta, home to the majority of the country's wild rhino population. This operation was necessitated by the rise in rhino poaching over the past few years. Especially the Okavango Delta rhino population has been hard hit by the recent poaching surge with 56 animals reported poached as of 04 May 2020. The dehorning of all rhinos is accompanied by the intensification of surveillance and monitoring of rhinos in Botswana as well as the relocation of highly endangered black rhinos from the Okavango Delta to a secret location.


USA: Delta Airlines to launch a new service between Atlanta <> Cape Town!

Major US airline Delta Airlines is planning to start a new year-round non-stop service between Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta in Georgia, USA, and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. On the USA > South Africa leg, the flight will stop at OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg before continuing to Cape Town. The new route is subject to government approvals, but the airlines hopes to launch flights from 24 October 2020. Delta Airlines will use its flagship Airbus A350-900 on the route, one of the newest and most fuel-efficient aircraft in its fleet. The new routing to Cape Town via Johannesburg replaces Delta's direct service between Atlanta and Johannesburg.
Under alert level three of South Africa's risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of COVID-19, only limited domestic flights for business travel have been allowed. International air travel is currently not permitted. While South Africa's Government currently foresees that international commercial flights will only be able to resume in early 2021, the local aviation industry and the tourism industry have been lobbying for flight restrictions to be eased earlier. 

Cape Town, South Africa

20 June 2020

Namibia: National Heritage Sites have been reopened! [update]

update (24 June 2020): The Brandberg Mountain National Heritage Site will reopen to the public on 29 June 2020.

The National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHC), the national administrative body responsible for the protection of Namibia's natural and cultural heritage, has announced the reopening of the Heritage Sites under its direct management. Only the Brandberg Mountain Heritage Site remains closed due to the lockdown restrictions in the Erongo Region. As the State of Emergency continues with eased restrictive measures, coronavirus regulations will be observed at the Heritage Site therefore the wearing of face masks is mandatory when visiting the sites. As part of the measures, the Heritage Sites will only be open from Monday - Friday. Weekend visitation is allowed solely on bookings. 

Namibia, Twyfelfontein,

The reopened heritage sites in Namibia are the following:
  • Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site
  • Petrified Forest National Heritage Site
  • Hoba Meteorite National Heritage Site
  • Heroes Acre National Heritage Site
  • Burnt Mountain National Heritage Site
  • Zieben Platten National Heritage Site
  • Brandberg Mountain National Heritage Site (still closed due to the lockdown restrictions in the Erongo Region)
  • Lake Otjikoto National Heritage Site
  • Eenhana Shire National Heritage Site
  • Ondeshifilwa National Heritage Site
  • Organ Pipes National Heritage Site
  • Omugulugwoombashe National Heritage Site

19 June 2020

Namibia: Air Namibia sets a date for resumption of international operations! [update]

update (23 June 2020): Air Namibia just confirmed on its official facebook page that international and regional flights remain suspened until 31 August 2020.

According to the facebook page of Air Namibia Deutschland, the German branch of Namibia's flag carrier, the airline continues to suspend international operations until 31 August 2020. The airline resumed domestic flights on selected routes on 06 May 2020 in line with stage two of Namibia's four-stage strategy to exit its coronavirus lockdow. Air Namibia's regional operations in Southern Africa also remain suspended until such time. We'll keep you posted!

South Africa: South African National Parks is getting ready to reopen accommodation facilities in its National Parks!

In the wake of an announcement by South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa that accredited and licensed accommodation providers can resume operations in alert level three of the country's risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of COVID-19, South African National Parks (SANParks) is preparing for a recall of its hospitality staff and for a phased-in approach in the reopening of its overnight facilities. According to SANParks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni, SANParks will approach the opening of its accommodation facilities responsibly to ensure that the gains made by South Africa in curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic are not compromised.


SANParks' CEO further said that hospitality staff will get a re-training on new operating protocols in line with industry standards to ensure compliance with regard to the regulations in
South Africa. SANParks will announce the dates for the reopening of accommodation bookings in the next few days. We'll keep you posted!

18 June 2020

Rwanda reopens for domestic and international tourism!

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which promotes tourism and investment for Rwanda, yesterday (17 June 2020) announced the reopening of tourism activities as well as the resumption of international travel for charter flights, effective 17 June 2020. Rwanda introduced specific precautionary measures, sidelined by robust health and safety guidelines, to create a safe environment for travelers and operators during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In cooperation with the country'S
private sector, the RDB is offering all-inclusive tourism packages for Rwandans and foreign residents. These packages have been designed to showcase the Rwanda's leisure and recreational experiences.

Promotional offers are available until 31 December 2020 in Rwanda's National Parks:

  • Gorilla permits are now available for USD 200 for Rwandans & East African Community (EAC; Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) nationals residing in Rwanda, and USD 500 for foreign residents.
  • Special packages are available for groups, families and corporates on other products in Volcanoes National Parks and Nyungwe National Park.
Specific precautionary measures are as follows:
  • Domestic tourists visiting Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park are required to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to visiting these attractions. A private test center has been set up at Petit Stade, Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali, by appointment only. Other test centers outside Kigali will be communicated as demand grows.
  • All visitors travelling by charter flights are expected to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival. Tourists will take a second COVID-19 test prior to visiting any tourist attraction.

Guidelines for re-opening tourism activities during COVID-19 | Official Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Website

The principles and considerations outlined in these guidelines were compiled through reference materials including from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), Global Association for Attractions Industry, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Rwanda Ministry of Health (MoH) guidelines on COVID-19 prevention.

South Africa moves to an "advanced" alert level three lockdown: accommodation establishments allowed to reopen!

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced in a national address on 17 June 2020 that the country will move to an "advanced" alert level three lockdown, with a number of business sectors reopened to the public. Following discussions with industry representatives and after advice from scientists and consultation with the Cabinet, South Africa's Government has decided to ease restrictions on certain other economic activities.

These activities include:

  • Restaurants for "sit-down" meals
  • Accredited and licensed accommodation, with the exception of home sharing accommodation like AirBnB.
  • Conferences and meetings for business purposes and in line with restrictions on public gatherings.
  • Cinemas and theatres, to be aligned to limitations on the gathering of people.
  • Casinos.
  • Personal care services, including hairdressers and beauty services
  • Non-contact sports such as golf, tennis, cricket and others. Contact sports will be allowed only for training and modified activities with restricted use of facilities.
According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, in each instance, specific and stringent safety requirements have been agreed to by the various representatives of these industries. These will need to be put in place before a business can reopen, and protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for businesses to remain open.
Further details on opening dates and the guidelines that must be followed will be made public in due course. We'll keep you posted!

16 June 2020

Qatar Airways is planning to resume flights to various destinations in Southern & East Africa! [update]

According to Qatar Airways' updated time table, the airline is planning to resume flights to various destinations in Southern and East Africa in June 2020 and July 2020. Flights to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) resumed today (16 June 2020), while flights to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban (South Africa), Windhoek (Namibia), Maputo (Mozambique), Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar (Tanzania), Entebbe (Uganda), Kigali (Rwanda) as well as Nairobi in Kenya are planned to resume in July 2020. Changes seem likely, as the travel restrictions in most of the countries in Southern and East Africa currently do not permit international air travel. We'll keep you posted.