30 July 2010

Tour in Cape Town: Scuba Dive or Snorkel with Great White Sharks

Join this tour for the underwater experience of a lifetime as you scuba dive or snorkel with the Great White Sharks of South Africa! Take the opportunity during your stay in Cape Town to travel to the channels around Dyer Island and get up close and personal with the animal on top of the ocean's food chain.
Travel to Gansbaai and enjoy a light breakfast before proceeding to the channel by Dyer Island, a short boat trip of approximately 20 minutes. Named after Samson Dyer in the 19th century, Dyer Island is a breeding ground for marine birdlife, while nearby Geyser Rock is home to approximately 50,000 Cape Fur Seals. As a prime breeding site for these animals, the area is a natural magnet for the ocean's deadliest predator.

Check out the sharks with a surface view, before slipping into your wetsuit to join these misunderstood creatures in their natural habitat. Choose to snorkel, or scuba cage dive (must hold a valid scuba diving certificate) with the magnificent predators in their natural feeding ground. This is a rare opportunity to share the water with the top ocean predator, and feel the ultimate adrenaline rush as it looks you in the eye with curiosity and maybe a touch of menace!
If you don't want to enter the water, you can remain on the boat and enjoy the surface viewing. Being a surface feeder by nature the sharks swim close to the boat, therefore view onboard is superb and photo opportunities are lurking everywhere. If you are lucky, you may even get the opportunity to witness a spectacular breach as these huge creatures launch themselves clear of the water surface in the hunt for the next seal meal!
The Great White shark cage diving season can be divided into three periods:
 - High season : May to October
- Intermediate : April, November, December, and January
- Low season : January, February and March

28 July 2010

South Africa: new flight connections to Dar Es Salaam & Maputo ex Johannesburg

1time to launch five flights a week between Johannesburg and Maputo
South African low cost airline 1time is about to lauch five flights a week (start: Aug 2010) between OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Mozambique's capital Maputo. 1time's best fare comes in at less than R1300 return, while SAA is currently charging between R2600 and R3000 return. 1time is continuing to focus on expanding into the region, with plans to add Zimbabwe and new routes in Zambia to its growing network.

Kulula to launch five flights a week between Johannesburg and Dar Es Salaam
Comair Limited, operator of British Airways in South Africa and Kulula, is about to launch five flights a week between Johannesburg and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. British Airways will be operating the new route and the flights will also be integrated and sold through the Kulula distribution network. Bookings for the new Dar es Salaam route will go on sale from 1 August 2010, the service will start on 02 Nov 2010.

27 July 2010

Cape Town, South Africa: video of whale breaching onto a yacht

You may have all seen the pics of the Southern Right Whale breaching onto a yacht off the coast of Cape Town. CNN, however, got some video footage of the incident.

22 July 2010

Tourbrief: Guides stopped at Namibian border

Namibian tourism info service tourbrief.com is reporting that all guides who are not in possession of valid work permits are currently being stopped at Namibian borders. This is having a particularly serious impact on overlanders. It is vital that all non-Namibian guides have valid work permits before departing for the Namibian border.
Didn't this happen last year as well?

UPDATE (17 Aug 2010): Tourism Update is reporting that South African tour ops are still struggling to obtain the temporary visas they need to travel with tourists in Namibia and that the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs is reportedly still struggling with a great backlog when it comes to issuing visas.

UPDATE (05 Aug 2010): via Tourbrief.com - TASA (Tour & Safari Association Namibia) has noted that the following details should be attended to in completing work permit and visa applications:
  • Application forms must be complete and legible
  • All dates should be present
  • The application must be signed by the applicant
  • Applications must be made within the relevant submission periods: for work visas, a minimum of 14 days prior to entry to Namibia / for work permits, a minimum of 3 months prior to entry to Namibia (including renewals)
  • Motivation letters
  •  Legible passport copies (the ministry has indicated that they prefer passport copies scanned in colour
Ignoring these details will result in delays to applications.

UPDATE (28 July 2010): via namibian.com.na "During the past two weeks about eight overlander trucks and busses wanting to enter Namibia from South Africa were stopped at Namibia's borders due to temporary visas that had not yet been issued. This is the second time this year that this problem has occurred. At the end of January over 40 overlander trucks and busses were stopped at the borders, with some even having been turned back."

Getaway Mag: Five top backpacker’s spots in South Africa

South Africa's outdoor mag Getaway selected their five top backpackers in South Africa. Read more on Five top backpacker’s spots in South Africa or have a look on the map below.

View Getaway Mag's Top 5 Backpackers in South Africa in a larger map

The Top 5 are:
Daddy Long Legs Boutique Hotel Cape Town, South Africa
Owlhouse Backpackers Nieu Bethesda, South Africa
Away with the Fairies Hogsback, South Africa
Buccaneers Backpackers Cintsa Cintsa, South Africa
Bulungula in Bulungula, Wild Coast, South Africa

Mozambique expands Gorongosa National Park

Mozambique has expanded Gorongosa National Park by about 10 percent to 4,067 square kilometres and created a "buffer zone" of 3,300 square kilometres around the park in which the local population is only allowed to limited farming, hunting and mining.

View Gorongosa National Park in a larger map

The park is located in central Mozambique and once had one of Africa's densest wildlife populations. Around 95% of the wildlife in the park got killed during the 15-year civil war in Mozambique, which ended back in 1992. Over the last couple of years wildlife groups have begun reintroducing animals into the park, so that the government hopes that Gorongosa National Park will now become one of the major tourist attraction of Mozambique.

21 July 2010

The story behind "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

The BBC is currently running a podcast series about "The greatest hits of the world". In part two of the series BBC's Paul Gambaccini looks at the song "Wimboweh" or "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by South African songwriter Solomon Linda. The song, written in 1939, is estimated to be worth $16 million by today, but Solomon Linda was paid a one off fee of 10 shillings and he died in poverty in 1962... So what is the story of the search for social justice behind the song?
download the song from amazon.co.uk | .com | .de >>

Old Gaol Backpackers in Grahamstown is closing doors

Sad news from Grahamstown - Old Gaol Backpackers (yes, the backpackers which was originally a jail) is closing down on 24 July 2010. The following message just reached me via facebook:

"Dear Old Gaol friends... this is it. We are closing our doors.
Come and join us on Friday 23 or Saturday 24 July for a final beer in the Gallows pub! Bring your memories with you.
If you need any more info or if you want to contribute/ perform in any way please email us brianpeltason[a]gmail.com or elviravannoort[a]gmail.com or give us a call on 083 982 59 66.
Much love,
Old Gaol Backpackers team

20 July 2010

French civil aviation strike from 20 - 22 July 2010

Up to 50% of flights into Paris Orly (ORY) and around 20% of flights into Roissy Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport may be cancelled due to a strike by air traffic controllers beginning Tuesday (20 July 2010) evening and lasting until Thursday morning (22 July 2010). According to carrier Air France all its long-haul flights were scheduled to run normally Wednesday, 21 July 2010. It said 80 percent of short- and medium-haul routes would operate at Charles de Gaulle, while half of short- and medium-haul flights would run at Orly.
So if you are flying via Paris during that time make sure that your flight is not cancelled (or delayed), check your flight's schedule and/or contact your airline.

15 July 2010

News24: massive visa cost increase in Mozambique

According to news24.co.za Mozambique has increased visa costs by up to 1000%.
  • Temporary residence permits now cost R5 300 and permanent permits R6 700 against R500 for both previously. 
  • Tourist visa prices at borders increased from $25 (R190) to $82 (R615) on 06 July 2010. These visas were only valid for 30 days.
UPDATE: According to Tourismupdate (via ATTA) the increase is currently only applicable at some borders. Most airports are still working on between USD 25 and USD 30 pp as they don't yet have the technology required for the new visas. The new fees are currently enforced at Maputo (Malavane) Airport and the Komatipoort border.

    South Africa: The annual Sardine Run has finally begun

    The annual Sardine Run in South Africa has finally begun. The first major shoals were at spotted at Margate beach in the countries Southcoast region.

    Update (27 July 2010): Check the gallery on Times LIVE!

    The "run" or migration of sardines begins off the cool waters south of the African continent where they form into hundreds of large swirling shoals. The sardines then run north east into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean along South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province. This mass migration is known to be the Greatest Shoal on Earth. Check out www.sardinerun.co.za for Sardine Festival activities and celebrations.

    14 July 2010

    Lonely Planet: 2nd edition of "Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide" out in July 2010

    Are you looking for a more meaningful travel experience? Do you want to give back to the communities you visit, make a genuine connection with locals, meet like-minded travellers and build your skills? International volunteering opens up all these opportunities, and this book has all the advice you need to get you there.
    Much more than just a resource directory, Volunteer is packed with invaluable information and full-colour inspiration to get you planning your perfect short- or long-term volunteer experience anywhere in the world - whether it's monitoring sea turtles in Greece, helping set up handicraft businesses in Ghana or building community centres in Guatemala!

    Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide (2nd Ed.)
    2nd Edition / July 2010
    ISBN:  9781742200859
    272 pp colour
    Next edition due: July 2013

    get the Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide from shop.lonelyplanet.com >>
    get the Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide from the 

    new hostelworld podcast: Soweto - South Africa's most famous township

    Hostelworld is currently releasing a series of podcasts about South Africa. In the latest episode Hostelworld.com's Colm Hanratty speaks to Lebo Malepa of Lebo's Soweto Backpackers to discuss the famous township of Soweto, find out what you can see there and much more.

    Previous podcasts:

    13 July 2010

    Getaway Mag: Wild about SA - Camping and caravanning in South Africa

    South Africa's outdoor mag Getaway asked their Facebook community for their favourite campsites in the country... read more on Wild about SA - Camping and caravanning

    View Untitled in a larger map

    Africa: National parks hit by mammal declines

    British scientist from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Cambridge University found out that African National Parks have seen populations of large mammals decline by up to 59% between 1970 and 2005. According to a study published in Biological Conservation the scientist created an index of change in population abundance for a multitude of species in 78 protected areas throughout Africa. The results of the study vary from region to region. Populations are increasing in southern Africa, declining by more than half in East Africa and 85% declines in West Africa. Despite the severe losses, the rate of decline has slowed over time, indicating that management of the National Parks has been gradually improving.

    12 July 2010

    Madagascar declares three new protected areas

    Madagascar has declared three new protected areas in the island's north. The three protected area are:
    • Montagnes des Fran├žais (near the town of Diego Suarez) - dense deciduous dry forest, famed for various caves
    • Bay of Ambodivahibe (29km from Diego Suarez) - forests, pristine coral reefs and mangrove areas
    • Zone d'orangeades - famous for its three bays, first military base in the country, now converted into a sanctuary, rich biodiversity of plants and animal species.

    View Diege Suarez, Madagascar in a larger map

    07 July 2010

    TIMESlive: Traffic plans for World Cup Final

    South African newspaper timeslive.co.za got the traffic plans for the World Cup Final from the local police in Johannesburg. They took out the relevant pages to tell you where the diversions are. Might be quite helpfull to know for all the locals and tourists in the city on the 11 July 2010. Click here for the plans >>

    Camdeboo National Park to develop bushcamp and campsite

    South Africa National Parks (SANParks) announced the construction of a bush camp and, in a second phase, the development of ten to twelve camping sites in Camdeboo National Park in the country's Eastern Cape province.

    View Cambedoo National Park in a larger map

    The development of the bush camp will involve the erection of four to six safari-style tents on fixed wooden decks at the Park’s existing Gannalapa facility. The tents, which will accommodate two people each, will be provisioned with rustic furnishings including beds and bedding. The campsite will be erected in Acacia woodland area adjacent to Gannalapa.
    Due to a rising demand from visitors for camping and caravanning facilities SANparks has decided to develope accommodation facilities in the park.

    06 July 2010

    Single East African visa: Five East African nations are nearing agreement

    The five East African nations (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi) that agreed on a work plan to pilot a single visa for East Africa back in March 2010 "are (now) nearing agreement to collapse their borders so that foreigners will need only one visa to travel to any of the five", NYtimes.com is reporting in their issue from 02 July 2010. The original plan was to implement the trial phase in June 2010 already, but it seems it might take a little longer.

    Lonely Planet: Africa Travel Guide - 12th edition out in July 2010

    Whether you're a hardened African veteran or a wide-eyed first timer, this is a continent that cannot fail to get under your skin. Our 12th edition of the Lonely Planet Africa Guide takes you on a Serengeti safari, reveals the best spot to view Victoria Falls and tells you where to see surfing hippos. Whether you're after big-name highlights or lesser-known adventures, this guide has got it all covered.
    Africa Travel Guide
    12th edition / July 2010
    ISBN:  9781741049886
    1216 pp  / 8 pp colour  / 251 maps

    Next edition due: August 2013

    Digital Chapters: buy and download individual chapters from this guidebook (PDF format).

    The guide book (print version) is also available in the TravelComments.com eShop!

    01 July 2010

    African Dope Records: Finest South African music (16 tracks!)to download for FREE

    Late in 2009, African Dope teamed up with the renowned satire artists, "Laugh It Off". They put a link in their annual magazine for people to download the music, and now African Dope is passing that link on to you :) Enjoy the beats, some of which are from African Dope artists and some from artists that African Dope Publishing represents.

    Laugh It Off - Musical Interlude by africandope

    Kruger National Park Calendar - August

    • cool mornings and cold evenings
    • temperatures & humidity rise during the day
    • between 12°C - 28°C (Fahrenheit: e.g. 28°C = [(28x9)]/5 + 32 = 82.4°F)
    • visit travelcomments.com/webcams_sa.htm and follow daily game drives via webcam to check the weather & how the landscape is changing during the year

    • 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