30 September 2011

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden voted one of the world's top 10 picnic spots

According to the National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Cape Town's Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the world’s best picnic spots.
Other top spots in the list of ten included the Milford Sound on New Zealand's South Island, Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome and Aran Islands in Ireland!

View Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in a larger map

National Geographic Travelers's World's Top 10 Best Picnic Spots:

Kruger National Park Calendar - November

  • early summer
  • very hot days and warm evenings
  • rain - rainfall usually double that of October
  • 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

  • lush vegetation
  • many trees in flower
  • new pans appear in drier areas
  • river levels start rising
 Animal Activity:
  • breeding season underway for most animals
  • plains animals very aggressive in protecting their young as predator activity increases
  • explosion in insect activity after the first good rains

GAP Adventures becomes G Adventures

After pioneering and shaping the adventure travel industry for more than two decades, a leading Canadian-based small group tour operator unveils its new name – G Adventures.

"Over 20 years ago, we set out on a journey to transform the way people think about travel. We discovered a niche—a gap, if you will—between mainstream travel operators and independent backpackers," says Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures’ founder. "In the intervening years, we worked hard to fill that gap, and in the process developed a new way to help people experience the world they really came to see – the true, raw, honest and amazing world we all inhabit every day. We’ve become an industry leader by seeing ourselves less as a travel company and more as a life-altering experience company. That’s who we are."
"One of our fundamental principles here is to change the lives of anyone who comes into contact with our company. Our business model isn’t about bottom-lines and turnover. It’s about happiness, freedom and independence," shares Poon Tip. "I’ve always believed that the secret to happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage. This year, we are taking a bold step with our identity – a change that's an evolutionary step into the future."
"I have campaigned long and hard to establish an identity for this company that reflects our culture and approach to the world. The time has come for us to put those years of work to the test and take every traveller, old and new, in a new direction. We remain committed to providing the best customer service on the planet and pride ourselves in outpacing our competitors in every aspect of customer satisfaction," adds Poon Tip. "There is a reason why people choose to see the world with us that goes beyond merely offering great trips. We are a company devoted to building communities, promoting happiness and changing lives."
"Our name may have changed, but our principles have not. In every way that matters, we’re the same company today that we were yesterday. We’re still available 24/7 to answer questions. We still offer our innovative lifetime deposit. Our roster of unique trips is still incredible and wide-ranging. We still spend every minute of our waking hours dreaming up new, responsible and sustainable ways to show travellers the world as it was meant to be seen."
The new name will be effective globally October 1, 2011.  

About G Adventures
G Adventures is an adventure-travel pioneer, offering the widest selection of affordable small-group tours, safaris and expeditions to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. Powered by an international team of passionate travellers, the award-winning trips embrace authentic accommodation, exotic cuisine and local transport to put you on a first-name basis with the planet’s people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife. The intimate, authentic and sustainable approach to small-group travel introduces travellers to the highlights of a destination while offering the freedom to explore it on their own. Whatever your age, interest, ability or budget, G Adventures has a genuine life-changing experience for you. For more information please visit www.gadventures.com.
(via G Adventures)

29 September 2011

A very close elephant encounter in the Kapama Private Game Reserve (South Africa)

Does one remember the "never leave apples in your tent in the Okavango Delta or an elephant might come and take them"-video I posted on this blog about a year ago? Anyway, I just found the video footage below, in which an elephant is coming super close to a safari vehicle filled with (elderly) tourist. And by "super close" I mean close, really close! Nothing happened, no one was injured, but I reckon almost everyone in the safari vehicle needed to change pants after the encounter with the elephant... hectic times! At least for the tourists in the vehicle!

The video was filmed in the Kapama Private Game Reserve, a 13000 hectares reserve in South Africa's Limpopo Province.

Turkish Airlines launched live TV and internet services on its Trans-Atlantic flights

Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines is the first carrier to offer live, inflight television on Trans-Atlantic flights and is also one of the first European carriers to introduce inflight wifi internet access to it’s passengers.
Turkish Airlines is using the PLANET IFE Platform, a Global Communication Suite System developed by Panasonic, for both Live TV and, when finished testing, wireless Wi-Fi Internet.
Live TV on intercontinental flights is a first and will feature a variety of programming including uninterrupted access to BBC World, BBC Arabic and Euronews channels with sport channels to soon be added. Seats are also equipped with in-seat power that allows charging of mobile devices as well as continuous Internet connectivity.
Turkish Airlines received the first B777-300ER equipped with the PLANET IFE Platform from the Boeing Company on 23 September 2011. The airline also plans to activate this system on 11 additional B777-300ER and 10 Airbus 330-300 aircraft in its fleet in the near future.

28 September 2011

Three Tree Hill Lodge is the 1st FTTSA-certified accommodation in KwaZulu Natal!

The Three Tree Hill Lodge is the first tourism accommodation establishment to be Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA)-certified in KwaZulu Natal. This recent addition to the FTTSA family is situated against the backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains between Ladysmith and Bergville, overlooking the historical site of the Battle of Spionkop.

View Three Trees at Spioenkop in a larger map

Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) certification is an independent endorsement of fair and responsible tourism practice in South Africa. It is based on adherence to specific criteria including fair wages and working conditions, fair distribution of benefits, ethical business practice, and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. Certification is offered on a voluntary basis to providers of tourist accommodation, activities and attractions.

For more information about Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) visit their website.

Save the Rhino - what Anthony Bourdain suggests Paul McCartney should do about it!

I am currently reading Anthony Bourdain's book "Medium Raw" - a great book and a "bloody valentine to the world of food and the people who cook". Anyway, on page 260 (US version) Bourdain writes about his visit to one of what was said to be New York's premier fine-dining vegan restaurants, which, he was assured, is one of Paul McCartney's favorite ones in New York.
Bourdain went there with "a boyfriend of a producer" who was actually trying to bring him "over to the other [vegan] side". Over "some organic wine and much convival conversation" Bourdain passed on the following suggestion to "Sir Paul":

pls click on the pic to enlarge

Quite a good idea, isn't it? ^^

Zambia's three major airports got new names

Zambia's new president Michael Sata has renamed the country's three main airports after Zambian liberation heroes.
The new name of the airport in Zambia's capital Lusaka is Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. The airport was formely known as Lusaka International Airport.

View Zambia's three major airports got new names in a larger map

Livingstone's airport's new name is Harry Nkumbula (International) Airport. The old name was Livingstone (International) Airport.
The airport in the mining town of Ndola, formely known as Ndola Airport, got named Simon Kapwepwe Airport.

South Africa gains popularity as travel hotspot

South Africa is gradually becoming the most preferred tourist destination among international tourists.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk revealed that South Africa's different cultures and products were the main attractions.
Delivering a public lecture (themed 'Tourism Linking Cultures') on Monday at the University of the Free State's Qwaqwa campus ahead of World Tourism Day celebrations, the minister said 550 000 tourists arrived in the country before 1994.
According to the minister, the number has drastically increased, with eight million tourists having visited the country last year.
"That is a huge achievement ... and we did it together in our industry," he said, expressing confidence that more could be done to further increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
Van Schalkwyk attributed the success to good marketing strategies internationally. Most international tourists who visit South Africa show interest in the different products produced by the various cultural groups.
The minister said about 40% of tourists say, "I want something unique culturally or heritage wise."
Van Schalkwyk called on South African parents to encourage their children to travel locally.
Professor Milena Ivanovic, from the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg, concurred that people around the world were now travelling more than before.
"They want to explore other countries and their cultures," she said, adding that most countries used their cultures to distinguish themselves from others.
Ivanovic said culture and tourism contributed to economic growth. She stressed the importance of communities to revive their cultures. "Culture can be used to show our identity."
However, she said more still needed to be done to improve tourism in South Africa, highlighting that tourist numbers were still low, despite showing signs of improvement. (via BuaNews)

27 September 2011

A very good reason to visit South Africa's West Coast

The West Coast of South Africa is still not on the list of most (foreign) travellers. We are not too sure why, but one very good reason why travellers should go there is the "Gaaitjie Restaurant" in Paternoster, located about 2hrs north of Cape Town. The restaurant, owned by local foodie Suzie Holtzhausen, offers the finest of the West Coast's typical cuisine. To get an idea of what to the West Coast cooking is like, watch the video below and follow Suzie how she prepares some harder fillets with fennel sambal and tomato smoor. Enjoy & kudos @ South Africa's outdoor & travel magazine "Go!" for the video footage!

If you want to cook it on your own, you need the following ingredients:
  • 6 fresh Harder (Southern Mullet) fillets
  • 1/2 cup of yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 of breadcrumbs
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • eggs
  • olive oil
  • fennel sambal (finely chopped fennel with olive oil) with (optional) sedam flowers or some lemon juice instead
  • tomato smoor (kinda chunky sauce or relish) with chili biltong
thx to @joyanne!

    Video: Fabulous Food of the Free State

    South African Tourism is currently setting a focus on the country's Free State province, as part of its latest tourism campaign "Leave Ordinary Behind". One of their newest promotional videos is called "Fabulous Food of the Free State", which takes us on a culinary tour through the in-land province. First stop in the video is the gourmet restaurant at "De Oude Kraal Country Estate & Spa" located just out of Bloemfontein. The next stop on the tour through the province is the "Phatt Chef Restaurant" in Clarens, before local resident Anna Moabi from Bethulie is showing us how to prepare Pap with moroho, a local plant that grows wild in the area.

    Etihad Airways wins "Airline of the Year" Award

    Etihad Airways has been named Airline of the year in the 2011 TTG Travel Awards. The TTG Travel Awards are run by United Kingdom's industry leading trade newspaper, the Travel Trade Gazette.
    The TTG Award is the latest in a series of honours to be bestowed on Etihad Airways in recent months. These include Etihad's Diamond First Class being judged the best in the world for the second year running by Skytrax, the aviation industry's pre-eminent global rankings system, determined by the votes of 19 million travellers from more than 100 different countries.

    Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2010 carried more than seven million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad is currently operating flights to 72 cities in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with a fleet of 61 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and 100 aircraft on order, including 10 Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

    26 September 2011

    World Tourism Day 2011 (27 Sept 2011)

    Message from the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr. Taleb Rifai, on the occasion of World Tourism Day 2011:

    This year’s theme is a celebration of tourism’s role in linking together the cultures of the world through travel. With millions of people travelling the world each year, never before have so many people been to so many places, nor been so exposed to other cultures. This interaction between individuals and communities, and their diverse cultures, leads to tolerance, respect and mutual understanding - the building blocks for a more peaceful world.

    The World Tourism Day takes place each year on 27 September. The purpose of the World Tourism Day is to "foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals." (via World Tourism Organization (UNWTO))

    23 September 2011

    Kumuka: Weekend sale - save up to 25%!

    Everyone looks forward to the weekend after a long and tiring week! It's an opportunity to catch up on sleep or catch up with friends, walk the dog or mow the lawn, read the papers or go for a jog... It's also a great opportunity to plan your next big adventure!
    So if a safari in the Serengeti sounds more appealing than mowing that lawn, check out this weekend's great offers from Kumuka.

    Get up to 25% OFF Kumuka tours. Sale ends this Sunday.

    25% OFF Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & The Middle East
    5% OFF Lodge Based Safaris & Family Adventures

    How to claim your discount:
    • go to Kumuka's website
    • Use the promotion code BIGSAVE11 when booking
    • Book on or before Sunday 25th September 2011

    Browse Kumuka's Tours > Terms and conditions apply*!

    *Terms and conditions apply
    1. The following regions and products are excluded from the sale North America and Specialist tours. 2. The sale ends 25th September 2011 3. The sale applies for tours departing from 01 November 2011 to December 2012. 4. To qualify for a Discount full payment must be made at the time of booking. 5. Offers apply to New Bookings only. 6. All bookings must be made at www.kumuka.com 7. Offers apply to bookings made in GBP, USD and EURO only. 8. Offer apply to prices displayed on the Kumuka website. 9. Some tours are excluded. Check the individual tour page on www.kumuka.com or contact Kumuka for further details.

    Bouldering in South Africa's Rocklands

    South Africa's Rocklands, located about 200km north of Cape Town, is a world-known spot for world class bouldering and sport climbing. The area offers a large variety of quality climbing of all grades in both bouldering and sport climbing in a rather small area, so that you don't have to do a lot of walking or even hiking to get to the different boulder locations.
    As most of the Rocklands is situated on CapeNature land, day permits (or a Wildcard) must be obtained. Bouldering areas that fall on CapeNature land include Fortress, Otherside, Campside, Champside, Riverside, Taaiboshkraal, Roadcrew and Roadside. The Clanwilliam Tourism Office issues daily permits for access to all CapeNature land. 

    The nearest town to the Rocklands is Clanwilliam, where you can find a number of different accommodation establishments, as well as supermarkets and restaurants. Clanwilliam is about 20km from the Rocklands.

    22 September 2011

    Video: The African rhino poaching crisis

    To raise awareness of today's 2nd World Rhino Day (22 Sept 2011), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has produced the following video. Please spread the word and share the video on your facebook page, your blog or website.

    South Africa has lost at least 287 rhinos in 2011, so far, including 16 or more critically endangered black rhinos. A majority of the poaching incidents have occurred in the world famous Kruger National Park, but privately owned rhinos have also been targeted. Law enforcement officials have made over 165 arrests so far during the year, and some convicted poachers have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

    South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in August 2011

    Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has published the on-time performance results of domestic airlines’ flying out of OR Tambo in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport, and Durban's King Shaka International Airport in August 2011.
    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, Johannesburg - 15 Min on Time Performance Aug 2011 (airport target 85%)
    1. South African Airways - 95.54%
    2. Mango - 93.51%
    3. 1time - 93.36%
    4. Airlink - 91.62%
    5. British Airways Domestic - 88.49%
    6. Kulula.com - 84.38%
    7. South African Express - 74.78%
    Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance Aug 2011 (airport target 87%)
    1. Mango - 95.52% 
    2. 1time - 95.24%
    3. Airlink - 94.82%
    4. South African Airways - 94.41%
    5. South African Express - 91.53%
    6. British Airways Domestic - 90.23%
    7. Kulula.com - 88.77%
    King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance Aug 2011 (airport target 89%)
    1. 1time - 95.12%
    2. South African Airways - 95.09%
    3. Mango - 94.33%
    4. Airlink - 91.44%
    5. South African Express - 90.70%
    6. British Airways Domestic - 89.52%
    7. Kulula.com - 86.57%

    21 September 2011

    Emirates to launch flights to Lusaka (Zambia) & Harare (Zimbabwe) in February 2012

    update (06 Feb 2012): If the current load factor is maintained, Emirates could increase its flights into Lusaka & Harare from five to six days a week. Emirates senior vice president commercial operations in Africa Mr Jean-Luc Grillet told journalists on Thursday, 02 Feb 2012, that they were encouraged by the load on their inaugural flight into Harare which was about 80% on their Airbus A330-200 which has a carrying capacity of 256 passengers.
    "Normally the load factor on inaugural flights is about 40% to 50% and we are very happy that we were at 80% and we hope that if this is sustained we will be flying into Harare six days a week by October.
    "In fact, we are optimistic that by October we will be having daily flights between Harare and Dubai," he said. > Seb: I am not too sure about it! It is probably just rumours.

    Emirates, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates based out of Dubai, will extend its African network by adding flights to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe from 01 February 2012. The two cities will be linked with a five times weekly flight from Dubai.
    The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service will be operated by an A330-200 aircraft in a three-class configuration that offers 12 luxurious First Class seats, 42 seats in Business Class and generous space for 183 passengers in Economy Class.
    Passengers flying Emirates from Lusaka and Harare will be able to connect seamlessly to points across the Far and Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Europe and Australasia via the airline’s hub in Dubai.
    Starting 01 February 2012, EK 713 will depart Dubai on every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 0925hrs, arriving in Lusaka at 1450hrs. The service will depart Lusaka at 1620hrs, arriving in Harare at 1720. The return flight leaves Harare at 1920, arriving Lusaka at 2020. It departs Lusaka at 2150 and lands in Dubai at 0710hrs the next day.

    Guest post: Lusaka’s newest backpackers hostel

    Combining the best of Zambian and Irish hospitality, Kalulu Backpackers Hostel is Lusaka’s newest budget accommodation provider. Perfectly located close to transport links, shopping, bars and restaurants, we offer comfortable and affordable accommodation in secure and relaxed surroundings. Whether you’re exploring the city, lounging by the pool, swapping tales by the fire, or enjoying a cold beer to the sound of some African beats in the bar, our friendly and experienced staff will make sure you enjoy your stay with us.

    With a mix of dorm beds, private rooms, and camping, we have accommodation to suit everyone. Two of the rooms are located in a separate cottage, complete with its own kitchen and bath facilities – perfect for families or for long-term volunteers.  Linen is provided in all rooms and towels are available from reception.
    Delicious meals are available at the cafe, or you can cook your own in the communal kitchen.

    Lusaka, Zambia’s bustling capital city, is a great base to explore this amazing country. Whether you’d like to take a safari to one of Zambia’s famous National Parks, visit the mighty Victoria Falls, or get your adrenaline pumping at one of the many adventure activities on offer in Livingstone, we can advise you on the best options and take care of your bookings.

    We have all the facilities you'd expect from a great hostel:
    • Free Light Breakfast
    • Fully Stocked Bar
    • DSTV
    • Internet
    • wimming Pool
    • Cafe
    • Communal Kitchen
    • Barbeque/Braai Area
    • Fireplace
    • Book Swap
    • Tour Bookings
    • Airport Transfer Service
    • Laundry Service
    • Secure off-street Parking