31 October 2011

Namibia: International airport planned near Etosha National Park

Groot Property Group (Pty) Ltd, a Namibia-based industrial development and foreign direct investment management company, is planning to develop Groot Town Center, an industrial hub in Namibia, with more than 60 different projects. Groot will occupy more than 2.2 million square feet of exceptional interior shopping mall and entertainment space and 300 acres of an upper-class exterior town center featuring high with pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, open-air gathering spaces, fountains, children's parks, theme parks, and more than 2,100 best-in-class retails from around the world, entertainment, medical facilities, educational institutions, luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, office spaces, residential properties as well as diverse industries that will create a powerful, perpetual and self-sustained economic ecosystem. The project will be situated on 32,000 acre of private land just 29km from Etosha National Park in the Kunene Region, Namibia. The Groot Town Center is being developed to open Phase One on 01 December 2012.

View Larger Map

As part of the Groot Town Center, the Groot Group also seeks to develop and build Groot International Airport as one of Africa's largest and best passenger terminal buildings. To achieve this, the Company plans to retain the services of Foster and Partners, a London-based architect firm which has designed Hong Kong International Airport and other key-signature world-class buildings. Groot International Airport expects to serve direct flights from the US via Senegal, Europe and Asia.
The feasibility study is under way for Groot International Airport. Its construction budget is expected to cost about US$20 billion and will take up to 6 years to complete.

Zambia: Zambezi Airlines grounded

update (05 March 2012): Zambezi Airlines' website is down. No good sign!

update (20 Jan 2012): The government of Zambia has restored the operating certificate of Zambezi Airlines but planes will not be allowed to fly until it meets several other financial and safety requirements. Zambia's Transport and Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga stated the lifting of the suspension was procedural but a tribunal will have to determine whether the requirements were met during the suspension before the carrier can operate again.
update (05 Jan 2012): Zambian airline Zambezi Airlines is still grounded. No further updates currently expected.

update (16 Dec 2011): Zambian airline Zambezi Airlines is still grounded.

update (22 Nov 2011): One of the Zambezi Airlines Planes which was damaged at Lusaka International Airport in May this year has returned to Zambia after undergoing a successful six months repair works in South Africa. [more]

update (22 Nov 2011): Lusaka high court Judge, Anessie Bobo has reserved ruling on an application for judicial review filed by Zambezi Airline. [more]

update (03 Nov 2011): According to btnow.co.za, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it has suspended Zambezi Airlines with immediate effect.

Zambezi Airlines, a privately owned airline based in Lusaka (Zambia), got suspended from operating on reasons of failing to adhere to safety and schedule regulations as required in the aviation sector by the Zambian Government. As a result at least 40 passengers on their way to South Africa were left stranded at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula Airport in Livingstone on Saturday. Pls contact Zambezi Airlines, if you got tickets for flights with the airline as they are meant to be making alternative arrangements for people with tickets already booked.

28 October 2011

Cape Town named "runner up" in UK’s Telegraph 2011 Travel Awards

Cape Town in South Africa was named a "runner up" in the Favorite Cities Worldwide category in the UK's Telegraph 2011 Travel Awards. The City of New York won the category, while Venice in Italy was the other runner up.
The La Residence in Franschhoek, along with Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah in Oman, was voted "runner up" in the Favourite Hotel Worldwide category, which was won by the Villa d'Este at Lake Como in Italy.
The Telegraph opened the voting polls in August 2011 and a total of 23.000 readers were surveyed on their favorite travel places, experiences, and tourism and hospitality service providers. The Telegraph 2011 Travel Awards honor top destinations and companies in various categories.

27 October 2011

Air France & KLM - new baggage policy on flights between Southern Africa and the US and Canada

Air France and KLM have revised their baggage policy on flights between Southern Africa and the US and Canada effective for all new bookings made and valid for travel after 01 November 2011.

The free baggage allowance in Economy (Voyager) is now 1 baggage item per person weighing 23 kg maximum at no extra charge. Flying Blue Silver, Gold, Platinum, or SkyTeam Elite/Elite Plus member can transport one additional baggage item weighing up to 23 kg. All other passengers will be charged for a 2nd baggage item at CAD/USD75 on flights departing from Canada and the US or at an additional fee of €100 (or equivalent to the local currency) on flights departing from Southern Africa.
If the weight of one of your baggage items exceeds 23 kg/50lb, you must pay a fee of CAD/USD75 on flights departing from Canada or the US or an additional fee of €100 (or equivalent to the local currency) on flights departing from Southern Africa. A special authorization is required from the telephone sales service for all baggage items that exceed 32kg/70lb in weight.
If the dimensions (height + length + width) of one of your baggage items exceeds 158cm/62in, you must pay an additional fee of CAD/USD300 on flights departing from Canada or the US and €300 (or equivalent to the local currency) on flights departing from Southern Africa. A special authorization is required from the telephone sales service for all baggage items whose dimensions exceed 158cm/70in (height + length + width).

South Africa's Blue Flag beaches 2011/12

South Africa has four new so-called "Blue Flag" beaches in 2011/12, but only on the condition that three of the four new beaches meet certain requirements by the end of November 2011. The Blue Flag is a certification issued by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards. The main criterias include standards for water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria. The Blue Flag is sought for beaches and marinas as an indication of their high environmental and quality standards.

View Blue Flag Beaches in South Africa 2011/12 in a larger map

The four new beaches in South Africa are Kelly's Beach in Port Alfred, which was awarded the full status, as well as Silwerstroomstrand (Cape West Coast), Llandudno (Cape Town) and Keurboomstrand (Plettenberg Bay), which still need to complete steps such as ablution upgrading and putting up educational signage before receiving full status.
South Africa has currently no Blue Flag certified marina, but the marina in Port Alfred and the three Cape Town marinas False Bay Yacht Club, Granger Bay Water Club and Royal Cape Yacht Club applied for the Blue Flag marina pilot status in 2011.

South Africa's Blue Flag beaches 2011/12 are:
  1. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Bikini beach
  2. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Camps Bay beach
  3. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Clifton 4th beach
  4. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Mnandi beach
  5. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Muizenberg beach
  6. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Strandfontein beach
  7. Western Cape - City of Cape Town - Llandudno (provisional)
  8. Western Cape - Mossel Bay - Hartenbos beach
  9. Western Cape - Mossel Bay - Santos beach
  10. Western Cape - Plettenberg Bay - Keurboomstrand (provisional)
  11. Western Cape - Hermanus - Grotto beach
  12. Western Cape - Hermanus - Hawston beach
  13. Western Cape - Kleinmond - Kleinmond beach
  14. Western Cape - Hessequa (Stilbaai) - Lappiesbaai 
  15. Western Cape - Hessequa (Heidelberg)- Witsand beach
  16. Western Cape - Cape West Coast - Silwerstroomstrand (provisional)
  17. Eastern Cape - Jeffreys Bay - Dolphin Beach
  18. Eastern Cape - Port Elizabeth - Humewood Beach
  19. Eastern Cape - Kenton-on-Sea - Kariega beach
  20. Eastern Cape - Plettenberg Bay - Robberg 5
  21. Eastern Cape - Port Alfred - Kelly's Beach
  22. KwaZulu-Natal - Margate - Lucien beach
  23. KwaZulu-Natal - Margate - Margate beach
  24. KwaZulu-Natal - San Lameer - Marina
  25. KwaZulu-Natal - San Lameer - Trafalgar beach
  26. KwaZulu-Natal - Ramsgate - Ramsgate
  27. KwaZulu-Natal - Umzumbe - Umzumbe beach

26 October 2011

Volunteer at a safari lodge in Africa

Departures: Departures are flexible and can be arranged to suit you but will depend on local weather conditions and seasons.
Price: From £2400 (12 weeks) excluding flights. In rare circumstances there may be an increase in cost, such as when the hosts are unable to get local park fees, in these cases the cost will be confirmed on application.

How this holiday makes a difference?
We work very closely with the lodges we are involved with, all driven with the underlying ethos that the conservation of tomorrow is based on the strong relationship between local people, the environment and eco-lodges. The success of one helps the other and so together they help build a better future for developing communities. For example: the lodges provide employment and therefore a valuable, reliable income. This income can be spent on education and buying basic provisions and very often supports a large extended family as well as the individual employed. Indirectly the communities will be more respectful of the environment and its wildlife realizing that without the animals there will be no tourists and then no job – a very effective way to reduce poaching!
On a smaller scale, the lodges and camps we work with are predominantly built out of local materials often using solar power and rainwater. They strive to make a minimal impact on the environment and adhere to strict rules about litter, recycling, carbon footprints and the responsible use of vehicles within National Parks.
By working in these camps you will be integral in helping educate not only the local communities about long term sustainability but also the tourists who visit, many of whom will be experiencing Africa for the first time. Education is an important aspect of a placement and an investment in the future stability and interest in these fragile environments, both locally and internationally.
Approximately 60% of the cost of the scheme is given to the camp who spend this on their ongoing local community projects or environmental initiatives. In some camps it is even possible to become directly related in teaching English to local children and in most you’ll be required to help conserve the environment for example by helping to detect and remove snares from the bush or rehabilitating injured animals. 

KwaZulu Natal: "Valley of 1000 Hills" tourism routes to get a facelift

The eThekwini Municipality (Durban) has unveiled plans to give the Valley of 1000 Hills tourism routes a facelift. The focus of the upgrading will be set on the "Comrades route", which goes along the Old Main Road from the bottom of Fields Hill to Cato Ridge, but it will also cover the whole tourism area. The Municipality will do the tourism signage on all the routes and then concentrate on the facilities for tour buses at the Comrades route's view sites, such as the parking area opposite Heidi’s Farm Stall complex in Botha’s Hill as well as the one in Monteseel. The facilities at the Comrade's Wall of Honour will also get improved.
The cost of the first phase of the overall project – the new signage and the view-site improvements on the Comrades route – will be R2.5 million.

The Valley of 1000 Hills is a 30-minute drive from Durban and the Indian Ocean. It is situated just off the N3 highway, almost half way between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The area is named for the many hills which tumble down to the banks of the Umgeni River, flowing from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the Indian Ocean. The area combines the laid back ease of luxurious country living with an ancient, indigenous culture on its doorstep. The valley has been home to the Zulu people for centuries, and many of them continue to practice and live out their unique traditional lifestyle.

Valley of a 1000 Hills tourism routes are
  • Comrades Route
  • Krantzkloof Route
  • Assagay Alverstone Route
  • Isithumba Route
  • Shongweni Shuffle Route

25 October 2011

Wildlife video: A leopard in action!

Filmed in the Londolozi Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve (adjacent to the Kruger National Park), the video below shows how a leopard, who made a kill earlier, is trying to rearrange its prey in a tree to continue feeding. The tree, for some reasons, isn't the perfect one for such purpose and so the leopard has make use of all its skills to finally feed on the antilope. Kudos to Roho Ya Chui for the filming and sharing the video!

The Cape Town Diamond Museum is now open to visit

Cape Town's latest attraction is the recently opened "Cape Town Diamond Museum". Situated in the upgraded Clock Tower precinct at the V&A Waterfront, the museum is telling its visitors the story of South Africa’s diamond trade. Also on dispaly are the most famous South African diamonds, such as the 3,106 carat Cullinan rough diamond discovered in 1905, showcases specimens of Kimberlite rock dating billions of years old as well as life-size replicas of South Africa's famous diamonds that have adorned royalty, the rich and the famous.

The "Cape Town Diamond Museum" is open 09:00 - 21:00, 7 days/week. It can be found on 1st Floor of "The Clock Tower" adjacent to Robben Island Gateway at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Ethiopian Airlines code shares with Singapore Airlines

Ethiopean Airlines, flag carrier of Ethiopia, Singapore Airlines, the national airline of Singapore will start code sharing effective 01 November 2011.
According to the code share agreement, Ethiopian will code share on Singapore Airlines operating flights between Singapore and Dubai and Singapore Airlines will code share on Ethiopian operating flights between Addis Ababa and Dubai effective November 01, 2011. Ethiopian currently serves Dubai 20 times a week. Under this agreement, the two airlines will jointly provide daily flight services between Addis Ababa and Singapore via Dubai and vice versa.

24 October 2011

Trailer: The Ambassador (2011)

Mads Brügger, a danish filmmaker/satirist/journalist, bought himself a diplomatic passport then went to live in the Central African Republic and to see what that passport could gain him. And he captured the entire thing on film. The Ambassador is a genre-breaking, tragic comedy about the bizarre, hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin-tonics flow on a daily basis and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free.

The film was released this month (Oct 2011) and will open the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam on 16 Nov 2011.

Wildlife video: Two cheetahs vs. one wildebeest

Shot during the annual "Great Migration" in Kenya & Tanzania, the following video shows how two young male cheetahs are taking down prey much larger than themselves - a wildebeest. Cheetahs are usually solitary creatures living a nomadic lifestyle, but sometimes young male cheetahs, especially litter mates, team up with another cheetah to maintain their territory. Impressive! Kudos National Geographic!

21 October 2011

"Who is Mandela" - What Capetonians think about Nelson Mandela (video)

I just stumbled on a very interesting video made by UK journalist Matt Tabaccos, who interviewed Capetonians on Mandela's birthday on 18 July 2011 about Nelson Mandela.

Tabbacos is describing his motivation for the interviews and his core question "Who is Mandela?" as follows:
"Having been residing in South Africa for over a year as a journalist, I had often received mixed opinions from locals across the class and racial divide on his status as an icon for peace and unity in modern South Africa.
So I decided to hit the streets of Cape Town on International Mandela Day 2011 and ask locals "Who Is Mandela?"

20 October 2011

Dubai International Airport (DXB) introduced 10 "SnoozeCubes"

Good news for passengers with rather long stop-overs in Dubai. Dubai International Airport (DXB), main hub of Emirates, has recently installed 10 so-called "SnoozeCubes". "SnoozeCubes" are state-of-the-art modular sleeping pods that are offering travellers comfort, privacy, entertainment and connectivity at the world’s fourth busiest airport for international passenger traffic. 

Ten of the sound-proofed units have been installed next to Gate 122 at Terminal 1 in the airport and each unit contains a full-sized bed, touch-screen TV offering a selection of entertainment and music, as well as high-speed Internet. The "SnoozeCubes" are also connected to the airport’s flight information system to ensure that amidst the rest and relaxation, passengers do not miss their flights. The units can be used on an hourly basis with rates starting from AED65 (approx. US$17.80 |12.80Euro | 11.20GBP | R140.00) per hour for the first four hours.
Beside the fact that the "SnoozeCubes" are somehow looking like prison cells, I must say I quite like the idea of having my own space for a certain time in such a busy and never sleeping airport like DXB is. And I also like the fact that in such a box it shouldn't smell like smelly feet and that you can not hear the constantly hooting golf caddy taxis driving around the airport. I will defo give it a try next time I am at DXB.

Cape Town: Table Mountain & Signal Hill roads closed at night

Authorities in Cape Town have closed both the road to Table Mountain and Signal Hill for all unauthorised vehicles between 22:00 - 05:00. In a joint decision South African National Parks (SANParks) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) agreed to close the roads to prevent more crimes from occurring around the two scenic routes.

View Table Mountain And Signal Hill Roads Closed At Night in a larger map

Both roads, the Tafelberg Road (Table Mountain), just after the Kloof Nek Parking Area, and the Signal Hill Drive (Signal Hill), at a certain point after the main route up Lion’s Head, will actually be physically blocked during that time. Walking to the mountain and to one of Cape Town's most famous look-out points between 22:00 - 05:00 is still allowed though.
Tour operators can get an authorisation to drive on the roads at night from Table Mountain’s Kloof Nek visitor safety office.

19 October 2011

G Adventures: 20% off Africa overland tours (book by 31 Oct 2011)

If it's a roadtrip across Africa you're craving, G Adventures got the tours for you! With 5 tours to choose from, the opportunity to visit National Parks, up close and personal wildlife encounters, sparkling beaches of Mozambique and Zanzibar, thundering Victoria Falls, Namibian sand dunes and the mighty Zambezi is yours for the taking. The tours bring South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda within reach. Don't miss out!

Book now and depart before April 30, 2012 and save 20%!

Travellers receive 20% off Africa Overland tours (valid only for tour codes DCC, DZVZ, DKKU, DLLJ, DCJ). Book by October 31, 2011 for travel until April 30, 2012. Valid for new bookings only. Can not be combined with any other offers, promotions or discounts, and subject to availability. Does not apply to airfare, hotels, transfers, My Own Room or other in-country services. G Adventures reserves the right to withdraw this offer from sale at any time. Use Promo Code: BZDRT-AO20

Video: Heston Blumenthal's boerewors burger recipe

The following recipe will sound like blasphemy to some readers, but to me it sounds simply delicious. A boerewors burger is the perfect combination of two of my favourite braai dishes, cheeseburger and boerewors. Ok, steaks and chops are also my favourites, and a boerie roll is also somewhere on top of my list, but a boerie burger... well it simply sounds really delicious to me! Kudos to Heston Blumenthal for the idea!

Ingredients (for 6 burger patties):
  • 20g breadcrumbs
  • 10g coriander seeds
  • 500g minced beef
  • 500g minced pork
  • 1/4 tsp ground gloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 10g salt
  • 11/2 tsp ground black pepper
Everyone likes his/her burgers differently. I'd have my boerie burger with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, chilies and tomato sauce.

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in September 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 September 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 September 2011 (airport target 85%)
  1. Airlink - 93.05% (Aug: 91.62%)
  2. South African Airways - 91.90% (Aug: 95.54%)
  3. Mango - 88.32% (Aug: 93.51%)
  4. British Airways Domestic - 87.66% (Aug: 88.49%)
  5. 1time - 86.62% (Aug: 93.36%)
  6. Kulula.com - 86.29%(Aug: 84.38%)
  7. South African Express - 84.95% (74.78%)
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance September 2011 (airport target 87%)
  1. Airlink - 96.30% (Aug: 94.82%)
  2. South African Express - 92.42% (Aug: 91.53%)
  3. 1time - 90.79% (Aug: 95.24%)
  4. Kulula.com - 89.01% (Aug: 88.77%)
  5. South African Airways - 87.03% (Aug: 94.41%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 87.03% (Aug: 90.23%)
  7. Mango - 84.05% (Aug: 95.52%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance September 2011 (airport target 89%)
  1. South African Express - 97.00% (Aug: 90.70%)
  2. Airlink - 95.24% (Aug: 91.44%)
  3. South African Airways - 93.18% (Aug: 95.09%)
  4. Mango - 88.74% (Aug: 94.33%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 87.68% (Aug: 89.52%)
  6. 1time - 87.05% (Aug: 95.12%)
  7. Kulula.com - 86.57% (Aug: 85.60%)

Video: Crocodile attacks elephant's trunk!

I am not too sure if the video footage was actually taken in Chobe National Park in Botswana (as stated in the Telegraph's desc.) or in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia (other sources), but the following video shows how an approx. 3 m crocodile is attacking an adult female elephant, accompanied by a baby elephant, on the it's trunk at a water source! The whole attack lasted for around 10sec only; the elephant escaped almost unharmed and the croc disappeared... check the footage!