31 August 2010

Kruger National Park Calendar - October

  • daytime temperatures soar
  • first hard rains
  • it can get extremely hot & humid if the rains are late
  • between 16°C - 32°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

  • Grassland beginns turning green
  • many trees in flower
  • lush vegetation
  • river levels start rising
 Animal Activity:
  • breeding season begins for many antelopes
  • game begins dispersing through the Park
  • most of the northern migrant raptors arrive

27 August 2010

Tour: Helicopter ride over Cape Town

Cape Town is regarded to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Depending on your choice of flight you will get to see the Capes most famous sights and then some, including the bustling V&A waterfront, the rugged 12 apostles, the white sandy beaches of Simon’s Town and maybe even catch a glimpse of Whales breaching and playing off the shore.

26 August 2010

Intrepid Travel - 20% off gorilla tours in September 2010

Intrepid Travel is giving you a 20% discount on two tours in September 2010. If you've ever dreamed of seeing Africa's gorillas in their natural habitat, then now is the time to start planning your adventure...

Gorillas, Chimps & Game Parks >>
16 days ex Nairobi    
Departure: between 04 Sep 2010 and 20 Sep 2010
Meet Rwanda's noble mountain gorillas, Track playful chimps in Kibale Forest, Help out the Kariandusi School Trust Project, Spot a shy antelope in acacia woodland, Experience peaceful wilderness in Lake Mburo National Park, Cruise into hippo heaven in the Kazinga Channel, Marvel at swirling rapids near Bujagali Falls, Spot the Big Five in the remarkable Queen Elizabeth National Park, Search out hippos in the Kazinga Channel

Vic Falls to Cape Town >>
22 days Livingstone to Cape Town
Departure: 21 Sep 2010
Encounter iconic wildlife in Chobe National Park, Camp out in the lush Okavango Delta, See animals come to drink at Etosha National Park's waterholes, Experience the San Bushmen's hunter-gatherer traditions, Feel the thunder of Victoria Falls, Slither down a slippery sand dune in the Namib Desert, Put amazing Fish River Canyon in your viewfinder

Serengeti Trail >>
8 days (ex Nairobi)
Departure: 26 Sep 2010
Spot iconic African wildlife in the Serengeti, Shop for local sculptures and textiles at a bustling Musoma market, Camp high above the Ngorongoro Crater, Visit the home of our earliest ancestors, Experience the grandeur of the Great Rift Valley, Safari through the renowned Serengeti, Search out Africa's Big Five

Transnet to stop operating the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train

South Africa's rail company Transnet announced the decision to terminate the world-famous Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train service. According to Mboniso Sigonyela, Transnet’s External Communications Manager for Group Corporate and Public Affairs, Transnet identified the Choo-Tjoe as one of its non-core assets.

Therefore Africa’s last scheduled steam train will stop operating within the next couple of month unless a new operator for the service will be found. The company already tendered for a new operator as it hoped to privatise the service, but the parastatal could not identify a suitable new operator. The Outeniqua Transport Museum in George will remain open to the public.

UPDATE (14 Sept 2010): MOSSEL Bay has swung into action to try to save the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, Africa’s last scheduled steam-hauled train, which has been slated for closure later this month. More on weekendpost.co.za

25 August 2010

Namibia: Summer time starts on 05 September

On Sunday, 5 September 2010, Namibian time changes from winter time (UTC+1) to summer time  UTC +2. The time will change officially at 02:00am.
  • 04 September 2010 > sunrise 05:59am > sunset 17:42pm
  • 05 September 2010 > sunrise 06:58am > sunset 18:42pm
The time will not change in the Caprivi, as this area is not subject to summer and winter time changes. The time will change back to winter time on 3 April 2011 (first Sunday in April).

Promotional video: The Cacadu District (Eastern Cape, South Africa)

The Cacadu District, which was formerly the Western district, covers the rural western areas of the Eastern Cape province. The coastal parts of the district have temperate winter rainfall, with around 500 -700 mm of rain per year. The Tsitsikamma and Baviaans parks lie in the west of the district close to the Western Cape. The interior of the Cacadu District is mainly dry Karoo and grasslands comprised of commercial farms. In spite of the barren interior, the Sundays and Fish Rivers maintain large irrigated farming and these rivers are supplied by water from the Orange River. The only eco-system not found in the Cacadu District is the true desert. The district is one of the finest game viewing areas in South Africa. It is the place where major cultures in South Africa came into contact.

Accommodation in the Cacadu District: Tsitsikamma & Langkloof | Addo | Jeffreys Bay & St. Francis | Grahamstown | Sunshine Coast | Baviaans & The Gamtoos Valley | Karoo

View Cacudu District in a larger map

also on this blog: Tsitsikamma Treetop Canopy Tour | Hostelworld podcast: Jeffrey's Bay - A surfer's paradise | Shamwari Game Reserve Conservation Project & much more

Table Mountain half price after 6pm

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway's renowned Summer Sunset Special starts on 01 Nov 2010 and runs until 28 Feb 2011. For four months visitors pay half price after 6pm (valid on return tickets only) to travel to the highest sundowner spot in Cape Town.

Sunset Special rates:
Adults: R95 (instead of R180)
Childeren under 18 years: R45 (instead of R90)
The special is valid from Sunday November 1, 2010 until Sunday February 28, 2011
The Cableway operates weather permitting. For information call (021) 424 8181 or visit http://tablemountain.net.

UPDATE: From 01 Oct 2010 you can buy your tickets online!

Video: Waypoint Namibia - Rock climbing in Namibia

In May 2009, a small team of rock climbers departed for Namibia with two goals: to find a way up an unexplored face, and to find a way into a deeper understanding of southern Africa. At the heart of their trip lies the question, can adventure and culture combine to create understanding?

Waypoint Namibia Short from Majka Burhardt on Vimeo.

This is the 8min short film; it is a preview of a longer film that is available for screenings. Pls see the vimeo page for contact details.

View Spitzkoppe & Brandberg in a larger map

24 August 2010

'Go Beyond The Everyday' - Win an expedition to Namibia

Land Rover UK and Biosphere Expeditions have teamed up and are giving away a 2 week trip to Nambia. They are looking for five people to travel to Namibia and work with endangered animals such as cheetahs, leopards and caracal. This is a fantastic opportunity to spend two amazing weeks working alongside scientists in one of the world's most beautiful countries. All you have to do is create a 60 second video that shows how you 'Go Beyond The Everyday'; and submit your entry on their website. The content of the video is fully up to you but we hope it will be fun and show how you're passionate about making a difference, hard working and a team player.

The competition is open to all UK residents aged 21 or over. You also need to be able to take two weeks off between 31 October and 17 December 2010. Closing date for entries is 23 September 2010. Important: before entering our competition, please read the terms and conditions.

Cape Town: Abseiling Table Mountain

Tour: Abseiling off Table Mountain
An insane experience of adrenaline and achievement: a 112 metre controlled descent off Cape Town's magnificent Table Mountain.
Step off the top at 1000 metres above sea level and rappel into pure oblivion and indulge in the world's highest commercial abseil, surrounded with the privilege of awesome views and the deep blue Atlantic at your feet. Walk or take the cableway to meet us at the top for this mind-blowing experience. No climbing experience is necessary to enjoy this humbling abseil. (tour is operated by Downhill Adventures via whl.travel network)

23 August 2010

Supermarket prices in South Africa

The average indi traveller, such as backpackers or "self-catering" travellers, don't go out for breakie, lunch and/or dinner everyday. Therefore we made a list of the what we think are the average groceries travellers are buying. It hopefully helps planning your hols in South Africa. [exchange rates in the daily news]
  • bread - from R6-R11/loaf
  • butter - from R15/250gr
  • eggs - from R10/6ea free range
  • fruit jam - from R8/450gr
  • baked beans - from R5/can
  • bacon - from R20/250gr
  • milk - from R9/1l
  • muesli - from R21/750gr
  • yoghurt - from R4/150ml
  • cheese - from R21/30gr
  • fruits - price depending on season... relatively cheap
  • bottled water (still) - from R4/500ml
  • coke - from R7.50/500ml
  • juice - from R13/1l
  • biscuits - from R5/packing
  • pasta - from R8/500gr
  • pasta sauce - from R20/405gr
  • instant soup - from R3/portion (Cup-a-Soup)
  • steak - from R50/kg (rump etc.)
  • chakalaka - from R9/can
  • chutney - from R16/bottle
  • chili sauce - from R13/bottle
  • potato chips - from R8/125gr
  • bovril - from R17/125gr
  • marmite - from R17/125gr
  • cigs - from R20/pack
  • beer - from R7/330ml
  • cider - from R7.25/330ml
  • wine - from R15/bottle R50/3l box (babalas guaranteed)
The list is probably missing some stuff. Let us know what you think is missing & we will add it.

Kevin Richardson: The Lion Whisperer

Have you ever seen something like this? Or even thought that a human could get that close with lions? Well, watch the video below and see how close zoologist and self-taught animal behaviorist Kevin Richardson is getting with "his" pride of lions.

His farm "Kingdom of the White Lion", which is situated just out of Johannesburg, is currently not open to the public, so you are not able to actually see Richardson interacting with the animals. But according to their website they might "open to the public soon"...

Cape Town: Bye bye Athlone Cooling Towers...

Cape Town's iconic Athlone Cooling Towers, also known as "the two ladies of Athlone", were demolished in just eight seconds on last Sunday (22 Aug 2010). The future of the site is still unclear, but the redevelopment of the site will most likely be completed in about three years.

UPDATE (25 Aug 2010): South Africa's leading energy supplier has announced that, in conjunction with the City of Cape Town, it will be converting the old Athlone coal fired power station into a wind farm filled with eight new 1.5MW wind turbines. [more]

20 August 2010

Addo Elephant National Park: Fence taken down

The 4km fence seperating Addo's Main Game Area from the Colchester Area was taken down by SANparks officials, rangers & volunteers earlier today (20 Aug 2010). [src.]
The dropping of the fence will effectively merge the two areas of the Park to form a 24 000-hectare area, stretching from the Addo Main Camp down to the Park’s Camp Matyholweni rest camp near Colchester on the Algoa Bay coastline. Elephants, lion, hyena and other species will be able to move gradually across to the Colchester area of the Park. Buffalo, zebra and antelope species have already been introduced to the area. Also read "Addo Elephant National Park: New wildlife and roads for Colchester area" (05 Nov 2009)

19 August 2010

World Humanitarian Day 2010 (19 August)

19 August was declared the "World Humanitarian Day 2010" in 2008 in remembrance of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Iraq Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues, who got killed following the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. 

The designation of 19 August as World Humanitarian Day is the outcome of the relentless efforts of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation and its aim dedicated to continue his (del Mello) unfinished mission of encouraging dialogue between communities and relieving the plight of victims of humanitarian crises.

16 August 2010

Zanzibar: Airport gets a new name & a new extended runway

The name of Zanzibar's main airport, previously known as Zanzibar International Airport or Kisauni Airport, will be changed to Abeid Karume International Airport in recognition of the first president of the island. The name change was announced during the official opening ceremony of the airport's new extended runway, which now allows larger wide-bodied aircrafts to use the airport.

View Larger Map

12 August 2010

South Africa: Shosholoza Meyl train service currently disrupted

UPDATE (18 Oct 2010): Some long-distance train services suspended by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in August are still not running, the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) said on Sunday. [more...]

UPDATE (21 Sept 2010): The service is still disrupted. Several long distance routes had been suspended for over a month now because of operational difficulties with Transnet in servicing the trains [more...]

UPDATE (25 Aug 2010): Current operational routes are:
• JHB-DNB-JHB (the Trans Natal and Premier Classe); and
• JHB-CPT-JHB (Premier Classe only).

UPDATE (18 Aug 2010): PRASA has already started running the Johannesburg <> Durban service again, Johannesburg <> Cape Town will start on Thursday (19 Aug 2010). Buses were being used to transport passengers on other routes. [more...]

UPDATE (16 Aug 2010): The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Transnet are in "high-level talks" today to try and resolve an impasse that has seen the suspension of Shosholoza Meyl's long-distance service. [more...] 

UPDATE (12 Aug 2010): The Shosholoza Meyl train service is going to run a limited long-distance service nationally for around two weeks! People should call the Shosholoza Meyl call centre on 0860-008888 for further information.

Due to a financial dispute between the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Transnet, which is running the Shosholoza Meyl long-distance train service, thousands of train passengers were left stranded yesterday (11 Aug 2010).
Trains in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Durban, Musina and Komatiepoort are currently affected. Buses had been arranged as alternative transport to ferry passengers from stations throughout the regions. A normal service will operate on the Cape Town-Durban route, though.
Stations will continue to make announcements to keep passengers informed of the service disruption and alternative transport arrangements. If you don't have a valid train ticket already, take the bus (Intercape, Greyhound, Translux) or board a plane.
According to PRASA spokeswoman Lillian Mofokeng technical and operations teams were working to re-instate a full service in due course. We'll keep you posted!

11 August 2010

UK: Win a fantastic Windhoek Southern African BBQ Kit worth £1,000

Good old Namibian beer Windhoek Lager landed in the UK earlier this year and to promote the new beer in the land of ale and bitter the brewery is giving away a WEBER Gas BBQ, a £200 Tesco voucher to grab all the essential BBQ meats to cook up your Southern African feast, and, of course, some Windhoek Lager to wash it all down. To enter the competition click here!

The promotion closes at 23:59 on Sunday 15 August 2010. The successful applicant will be chosen at random from all entries received. The winner will be notified by telephone on Monday 16 August 2010. It is open to residents of Great Britain only! Good luck!

10 August 2010

Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema

Inspired by a true story, Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema is an unflinching look into the crime, corruption and the transgressions of those looking to survive in the most crimeinfested district of Johannesburg.
Starting off with simple smash and grabs, and petty crime, Lucky Kunene quickly graduates to more aggressive heists such as armed robbery and carjacking. Soon, Lucky realizes he needs a bigger score to fulfill his goals of making it big, and escaping from the slums, to a dream house by the sea. Kunene hatches an elaborate and violent plan to make his fortune - hijacking buildings from landlords of Johannesburg tenements by winning the favor of the tenants and then holding their rent hostage from the landowners. His highprofile real estate acquisitions attract the attention of the local police force who have no qualms about using unprovoked brutality to bring him down. His trouble with the law, coupled with an escalating war between a local drug lord, creates a tense standoff: both sides are closing in, and Kunene must stay one step ahead - or his empire, and his life, will come crashing down.      

Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema is written and directed by Ralph Ziman, and stars Rapaulana Seiphemo (Tsotsi), Robert Hobbs (District 9), Kenneth Nkosi (District 9), Eugene Khumbanyiwa (District 9), and Louise Saint-Claire (District 9).
The film will be out on DVD on the 30 Aug 2010 (UK; GER) and on the 28 Sept 2010 in the US. I couldn't find out the release date for South Africa.

Jump to 10min on the timeline (2nd part of Al Jazeera's Fabulous Picture Show) for an interview with Ralph Ziman after a screening in a Johannesburg cinema.

Swakopmund: Jetty officially reopened!

Swakopmund's famous landmark, the jetty, was officially reopend on Friday, 30 July 2010. The Swakopmund Municipality closed the jetty already back in 1998 on safety grounds, as it was no longer deemed safe for people to walk on.

The "new" jetty has some new additions, such as the southern side for walking and the northern side for fishing, a second deck offering uninterrupted views over the Atlantic Ocean, and an upmarket seafood restaurant and oyster bar at the end of the 300-metre pier. The jetty has toilet facilities and no waste is deposited into the sea. Entrance is free. Lighthouse Group, which developed the "new" jetty and will maintain and manage it, promised the public to provide 24-hour security.

09 August 2010

Volunteer project: Medical work experience in Kenya

Country: Kenya
Location: Mombasa
Departures: This trip can be arranged at any time throughout the year for up to 12 weeks
Price: From £675 - £1695 (2 - 12 weeks) excluding flights
More info: Price includes accommodation, meals, transfers, pre-departure comprehensive information pack and 24 hour in-country support

Work experience in the field of medicine in Mombasa
Get a behind the scenes view of medicine and observe experts to learn how they work in Kenya. The experience you gain will be an excellent entry on your CV or Résumé. Your placement will be based in the Portreitz District Hospital. The Hospital was established in 1952, as an Infectious Diseases Hospital. It is a poor hospital which caters for a very poor community. The Hospital has up-to-date facilities and a reputation for excellent medical attention.

What you'll gain from the project:
  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa.
  • Good, practical work experience that will stand you in good stead in your career.
  • You'll learn a lot from experts in your field about how they work in a cultural environment that's different to what you're used to.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
A day in the life of a volunteer
It is difficult to be specific about the day-to-day work you will do because work is so varied and spread across many areas. The hospital is very busy with a multitude of duties and responsibilities, so you will probably be worked very hard in most areas! Your work may take you into all departments, e.g. surgery, burns unit, ICU, Physiotherapy, X-ray and even the mortuary to name just a few. However, if you're not qualified, you won't be allowed into operating theatres. The type of work you will be allocated will depend to an extent on your own abilities and capabilities, which is understandable given that you will be dealing with patient health and safety.
You'll be given basic and general on-the-job training by your supervisor, and further jobs should become available for those with medical experience. Your hours may vary insofar as they will be subject to shift rotas, but your usual hours will be from 9-5 Monday to Friday. However, you may sometimes work evenings or nights, sometimes over weekends, but you will have time off on other days instead. Most of your work will entail assisting the local doctors and nurses with their daily rounds, making medical notes and updating records. You'll also be asked to help with computer entries, as well as helping to clean equipment and various areas within the hospital.

Intrepid Travel selected as a finalist for the 2010 Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Award

Small group adventure travel company Intrepid Travel has been selected as a finalist for the 2010 Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Award by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). TIES is the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association. The organisation seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel.
The Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Awards recognizes individuals and organizations who have demonstrated leadership in innovative actions that effectively promote sustainable tourism and bring tangible benefits to communities and conservation. Each year, one individual and one organization (non-profit, business, community) will be honored for their contributions, best practices, and most of all leadership in innovative actions supporting sustainable tourism. Innovation Award applicants are judged based on one example of an innovative project, product, or program developed in the previous year that advocates for uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel.

Congrats Intrepid Travel

06 August 2010

awesome Southern African backpackers - Jollyboys in Livingstone, Zambia

If there is a backpackers at the mighty Victoria Falls everyone knows it is Jollyboys in Livingstone. Just watch the video & you'll immediately understand why. Love the place!

What is Voluntourism?

I just came across a very good and interesting infosheet answering the question what "Voluntourism" actually is. It also gives a short insight into the "economics of voluntourism".

download full-size (pdf)

To sum it up the infosheet is defining Voluntourism as follows: "Volutourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. In recent years "bite-sized" volunteer vacations have grown in popularity. the different types of volunteer vacations are diverse, from cleaning up local wildlife areas to providing medical aid in a foreign country."

South Africa National Park Week from 13 - 17 Sept 2010

UPDATE: SANparks confirmed the date von their website!

According to Muzi from Travelwires.com the 2010 South Africa National Parks week will be from 13 - 17 September 2010. The official opening will be at Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape.
South Africans will have free access to all National Parks in South Africa managed by SANParks, except for Boulders in the Table Mountain National Park. Free access will not include any guided walks, safaris or accommodation and will be granted to all South African day visitors on production of their ID book.
The parks throughout the country will be pretty busy during that week, so International travellers should keep it in mind.

04 August 2010

Tanzania: Ngorongoro Conservation Area is now a Cultural World Heritage Site

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania as a cultural property on the World Heritage List (34th session of the Committee, Brazil 07/2010). The Conservation Area got inscribed because of the "extraordinary record of human evolution" at the site. The NCA spans from the well-known Serengeti National Park in the north-west of Tanzania to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.

View Larger Map

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including the Ngorongoro Crater, is already listed as a Natural World Heritage Site since 1978 and is now one of the 27 "mixed" World Heritage Sites.

03 August 2010

Real time weather on Google Earth

Google Earth, one of the super popular tools to explore the globe from home, got a brand new feature - real time weather!

Google's LatLong blog: "The latest version (5.2) projects images of rain and snow over the areas with those weather patterns as it’s actually happening! First enable the clouds layer, then zoom in to a particular location where it might be raining or snowing."

Ok, Google Earth' real time weather is probably not as "quick" as on the well-known weather websites, but it is still an interesting add-on when scanning the globe.

02 August 2010

Drakensberg Mtns: The Maluti Cave Hiking Trail

The Maluti Cave Hiking Trail is located in the Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality, in the QwaQwa area of South Africa's Free State province. The trail offers a choice of either two, three or four days of hiking. The trail starts outside the town of Phuthaditjaba and runs through the valleys of the Kgotjwane River and its tributaries, up the Drakensberg escarpment and surrounding foothills. Hiking is possible all year round, with April and May being the best months. Pls visit the trails website for more information.

View Maluti Caves Hiking Trail in a larger map

Kruger National Park Calendar - September

  • it is spring time in the park
  • fresh mornings & warm to hot days
  • it can get pretty cold at night
  • occasional showers
  • pretty unpredictable weather patterns
  • 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

  • first green shoots
  • spring flush depending on rain
  • new mopane growth with red-tinged leaves
  • good spring indicator: purple flowers of tree wisteria
Animal Activity:
  • Game still concentrated around watering holes etc.
  • migrant birds begin arriving
  • Elephants are coming south from their winter feeding grounds in the north