29 February 2012

The Kruger National Park Calendar - April

  • seasonal shift towards autumn
  • drop in daytime temperatures with cool evenings
  • occasional late summer rains
  • between 13°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
  • Vegetation dense > thick tree canopies
  • many trees are bearing seeds/fruits
  • pods are out on mopaneveld
Animal Activity:
  • Game dispersed throughout the park
  • game spotting generally difficult
  • Warthog, Impala & Wildebeest rutting season
  • most migrant birds depart

Air Mauritius to cut Durban route in October 2012

The flag carrier of Mauritius, Air Mauritius, is cutting several routes and plans to focus on fewer markets with more frequencies after a record loss was reported for the last financial quarter.
As part of the airline’s cost-saving plan, Air Mauritius will discontinue its direct route to Durban, South Africa. Air Mauritius, one of only three to fly internationally out of Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, will stop flights on the route in October 2012. The remaining two international airlines flying in and out King Shaka are LAM – Mozambique Airlines, which is offering direct flights to Maputo, and Emirates, offering direct flights to Dubai.
To meet the demand during the peak-season, Air Mauritius considers to add a second daily flight from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport to its schedule. No good news for Durban and its new King Shaka International Airport.

28 February 2012

Swaziland: Bush Fire Festival will be held from 25 - 27 May 2012

update (01 March 2012): Some of the acts that will be steaming up the festival’s stages are: Ayo, Saul Williams and Flavia Coelho, as well as the Burundi Drummers, the sublime Swazi songstress Nancy G and "Swazi soul" pioneer Bholoja. Among the South African acts will be MXO, Jeremy Loops, Tonik, Mi Casa, DJ duo Revolution, and jazz maestro Adam Glasser’s Mzansi project, featuring vocalist Pinise Saul and guitarist Bheki Khoza.

Now in its 6th year the Bush Fire Festival is Swaziland's major annual music festival. It will  be held from the 25 - 27 May 2012 and staged at the famous House-on-Fire. The festival’s theme for 2012, revealed during the official launch of the event on 24 Feb 2012 held at the Malandela’s lawn, is "the art of self discovery". We'll keep you posted (line up, tickets etc.)!

Bush Fire's annual line up features live music, theatre, poetry, film, circus, dance and visual arts from all over the globe. Each year a diverse audience of up to 20,000 people come together over three days to celebrate cultural meeting points, fuelling a feast of magical performances from Africa and beyond. 100% of the profits from Bush Fire are donated to Young Heroes, a Swazi NGO providing support to AIDS orphans.

Sky Team launches "Go Africa Pass"

Global airline alliance Sky Team has launched its new Go Africa Pass, which provides savings and flexibility on flights operated by Kenya Airways within Africa.
The pass is also available to business and leisure travellers flying with any of Sky Team’s 15 member airlines on an intercontinental round-trip to Africa or a Go Round the World ticket.
Kenya's flag carrier, Kenya Airways, is currently operating services to 45 African destinations in 36 countries including: Johannesburg in South Africa, Luanda in Angola, Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, Lusaka in Zambia and Cairo in Egypt.
Customers purchasing a Go Africa Pass can choose from a minimum of three to a maximum of 16 flight coupons. Fares are calculated based on the number of miles flown and, depending on the itinerary, discounts of up to 75% are offered on standard fares.
Coupons have no minimum stay, open-jaw itineraries are permitted and passengers can stop in each city multiple times - giving them complete flexibility to plan their trips.
The Go Africa Pass is available for sale now for travel starting on or after  01 March 2012.
Kenya Airways is operating flights to Nairobi from cities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Other Sky Team airlines with services to Africa include: Air France, Alitalia, KLM and Delta Air Lines. Korean Air will start services to Nairobi in June 2012.

27 February 2012

Comair increases Johannesburg <> Harare service in April 2012

Comair Limited,  operator of British Airways in South Africa and kulula.com, has announced that it will increase its service on the Johannesburg <> Harare route from daily flights to 10 flights a week, effective from 04 April 2012.
Flights from Johannesburg will operate on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays departing at 18:40, arriving in Harare at 20:20. Flights from Harare will operate on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays departing at 07:00, arriving in Johannesburg at 08:40.

Turkish Airlines to introduce a third daily Istanbul <> New York flight

Good news for travellers looking for flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in the US to Africa. Turkey's flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, will introduce a third daily Istanbul <> New York flight as from May 2012.
Effective from 28 May to 16 September 2012, the summer schedule will include three daily services for this period. The additional flights will be operated with Airbus 330-300 and Boeing 777 aircraft.
Via its main hub in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines is currently offering flights to Nairobi (Kenya,) Entebbe (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), as well as to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa.
Turkish Airlines operates scheduled international flights to 146 international and 41 domestic cities (38 domestic airports), serving a total of 187 airports, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The airline's main base is at Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul.

24 February 2012

Al Jazeera documentary about Johannesburg - "Hillbrow: Between Heaven and Hell" (50min)

In the 50min Al Jazeera documentary "Hillbrow: Between Heaven and Hell", Filmmaker Clifford Bestall is taking us on a personal journey to the heart of one of South Africa's most dangerous neighbourhoods. Through the stories of some of its residents, including an old white Jewish lady that never left, Clifford Bestall, who grew up in an all-white Hillbrow in the 1960s, reveals a rich seam of today's urban South African experience. Hillbrow is the inner city residential neighbourhood of Johannesburg.

Witness is Al Jazeera English's flagship documentary strand, presenting four international documentaries each week. It is presented by Ghida Fakhry and showcases documentaries commissioned from independent filmmakers around the world. The "films focus especially on people whose stories are rarely heard - people at the margins of society and people who are somehow surviving the pressures of international news events" (via Al Jazeera).

23 February 2012

Supermarket prices in South Africa

The most social and important place in a hostel or self-catering lodge, except for the bar of course, is the communal kitchen. It is the place where everyone meets, where you can cook your meals or wait for the leftovers.
Anyway, cooking and eating are simply essential and we therefore made a (price)list of the items that we think are in the average groceries basket of travellers. It hopefully helps planning your holidays in South Africa.
Safe travels! [exchange rates in the daily news]
  • bread - from R5/loaf
  • butter spread- from R19/250gr
  • eggs (large) - from R12/6ea free range 
  • fruit jam - from R6/225gr
  • peanut butter - from R14/410gr
  • baked beans - from R5/can
  • bacon - from R25/250gr
  • milk - from R10/1l
  • muesli - from R22/750gr
  • yoghurt - from R5/175gr
  • cheese - from R25/300gr
  • fruits - price depending on season... relatively cheap
  • bottled water (still) - from R4/500ml
  • coke - from R8.50/500ml
  • juice - from R14/1l
  • biscuits - from R5/packing
  • pasta - from R6.50/500gr
  • pasta sauce - from R15/200ml
  • instant soup - from R3/portion (Cup-a-Soup)
  • steak - from R45/kg (rump etc.)
  • chakalaka - from R10/can
  • chutney - from R13/bottle
  • chili sauce - from R10/bottle
  • potato chips - from R3.50/30gr
  • bovril - from R19/125gr
  • marmite - from R19/125gr
  • beer - from R7/330ml 
  • cider - from R8/330ml
  • wine - from R15/bottle R53/3l box (babalas guaranteed)
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan tabled the 2012/2013 budget on 22 Feb 2012 and had bad news for drinkers and smokers! So-called "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco are going up by between 6% and 20% (Spirits 750ml + 20%, beer & cider 340ml + 10%, wine 1l + 8%, tobacco pack + 5%-8%)
The prices in the list above are the old, but current, prices. (23 Feb 2012).

The list above is probably missing some items. Let us know what you think is missing & we will add it asap!

22 February 2012

Jeb Corliss’ failed Table Mountain jump (video)

update (05 June 2012): American basejumper, wingsuit flyer and skydiver Jeb Corliss has released raw belly cam video footage of his crash into Table Mountain in Cape Town (South Africa) on 16 Jan 2012. Pls consider that the following footage may be a little disturbing.

American basejumper, wingsuit flyer and skydiver Jeb Corliss crashed into Table Mountain in Cape Town (South Africa) on 16 Jan 2012. He survived, but broke both legs. You have probably heard about it, read about it or watched his crash on youtube.
Anyway, Jeb Corliss has released a new video of the crash which is showing the incident from multiple angles. Seemingly unbreakable GoPro cameras made filming it possible! Pls consider that the following footage may be a little disturbing.

Kenya Airways adds more flights to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania)

Kenya's flag carrier, Kenya Airways, will from 28 February 2012 start flying five times each day to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.
The airline is adding an extra early morning flight to its daily schedule between its main hub Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam. This means that the partnership between Kenya Airways and Precision Air, silver and bronze winners of the 2012 African Airline of the Year Awards given by African Aviation news portal, now offers passengers a total of five flights to choose from every single day!

South Africa: Camdeboo National Park to open accommodation facilities

South Africa's Camdeboo National Park, located near Graaff-Reinet and home to the famous Valley of Desolation, will open a campsite on 01 March 2012. The Nqweba Campsite is situated on the floodplains of Nqweba Dam and offers its visitors 14 sites for caravans or tents. Each site has a powerpoint and braai, while a communal kitchen provides a deep freeze, microwave and stove plates.
Camdeboo National Park will also be getting a new tented camp next to the dam. With just four furnished safari tents, the Lakeview Tented Camp will offer seclusion and comfort. The tented camp is due to open on 01 April 2012. Bookings can be made through South Africa National Park's central reservation offices.

21 February 2012

Malawi's Swift Air now flying to Johannesburg

Privately owned Malawi-based airline Swift Air is as of 21 Feb 2012 offering flights on the Lilongwe - Blantyre - Johannesburg route. The airline is operating flights (Boeing 737) five times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. The return airfare from Johannesburg to Lilongwe are currently ranging from R941-R4 940 inclusive of taxes.
Swift Air is a trading division of African Flying Boats which is a Malawian company holding scheduled and charter licenses. The airline links Johannesburg, Blantyre and Lilongwe with seasonal routes from Lilongwe to Karonga via Mzuzu.

Air Namibia to launch flights to Livingstone, Zambia

Namibia's flag carrier, Air Namibia, will launch direct flights between Windhoek and Livingstone in Zambia to meet the growing demand of flights between the two countries. From October 2012 the airline will offer four flights a week between Windhoek and Livingstone.
The airline is already flying to Lusaka, the country's capital, so that Livingstone will become Air Namibia's second destination in Zambia.
Air Namibia is also offering scheduled services to Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe, which is across the Zambezi River from Livingstone. According to Air Namibia's General Manager Commercial Services Xavier Masule, flights to the Victoria Falls would be split because Livingstone was increasingly becoming a popular destination for the tourists the airline was bringing in who were later distributed across the region.

Ethiopian Airlines wins Gold in African Airline of the Year Awards 2011/12

Ethiopia's flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, won the "Gold Award" in this year's African Airline of the Year Awards given by African Aviation News portal. Kenya Airways got the "Silver Award" and Precision Air Tanzania won the "Bronze Award".
Ethiopian Airlines, currently offering international flights to 40 different destinations in Africa, received to highest number of votes cast in by the readers and followers of African Aviation, who voted in an online poll, set up at the African Aviation's website as well as in various industry meetings and airline congress events attended by officials of African Aviation.
Kenya Airways, Kenya’s largest airline and second-largest airline in sub-Saharan Africa, garnered the second highest number of votes earning the Silver Award.
Not far behind in the tally of votes is Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest national airline, which got the Bronze Award. The airlines operates scheduled air services between its main hub Dar Es Salaam and fourteen other airports in Tanzania, as well as flights to Johannesburg in South Africa, Entebbe in Uganda, Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya and to Moroni on the Comores.

17 February 2012

Rock art sites in the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve (video)

The family-run Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, situated at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains only 270 km from Cape Town, is offering various outdoor activities including nature drives, walking and hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, canoeing, and swimming in clear rock pools. Bushmans Kloof is home to over 130 rock art sites which date back some 10,000 years, creating one of the world's largest open-air art galleries. Trained guides conduct daily rock-art walks to rock art sites.

One of Bushmans Kloof's most famous rock art sites is a site called "Fallen Rock Shelter".It houses one of the largest collections of well-preserved and diverse rock art images known in the region, as well as the largest painting of a San cave dwelling group known in the Western Cape. Kudos outdoor & travel magazine "Go!" for the video!

Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) certifies first township based hotel

The Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre is the first township based hotel to be Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA)-certified. This four 4-star hotel is centrally located in Kliptown at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, one of South Africa’s national heritage sites and the birthplace of the Freedom Charter, giving it an eclectic fusion of history and culture with a contemporary urban vibe. 
The Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre has 46 deluxe rooms and 2 suites. The rooms are equipped with televisions, coffee and tea-making facilities, wireless connectivity, hairdryers and safes. Room service and dry-cleaning services are also available. 
The 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.

16 February 2012

"BeetleCam Project": New footage from the Masai Mara (Kenya)

Back in 2009 Will & Matt Burrard-Lucas started the "Beetlecam Project" to photograph wildlife from "a new perspective". After various project instalments around the world, the two brothers are now back with new material from Africa.
For their shootings in the Masai Mara in Kenya Will & Matt Burrard-Lucas were not only using the "old" remote control buggy with a DSLR camera mounted on top known as the "BeetleCam", but also an all new revamped version of the vehicle, the "BeetleCam Mark II". And again the Burrard-Lucas brothers managed to get some incredible photographs and video footage of the wildlife in the Masai Mara which they will be soon publishing on their website. Enjoy the teaser! We keep you posted!

Kenya: Etihad Airways to launch direct flights to Nairobi

The Kenyan newspaper "The Standard" is reporting in its online edition (14 Feb 2012) that Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, announced a scheduled start of passenger flights to Nairobi, its first destination in East Africa.
The daily service between Abu Dhabi and Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will commence on 01 April 2012 and will be operated by a two class Airbus A320 aircraft with 16 Pearl Business class and 120 Coral Economy seats.

15 February 2012

Video: 10 little-known Nelson Mandela facts

The people from youtube's channel "alltime10s" have searched the web and other sources and found 10 facts about former South African President Nelson Mandela you might not know. Kudos "alltime10s"!

  1. His detractors included Magret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who both considered him a terrorist.
  2. He was given the name Nelson by his schoolteacher. His birth name is Rolihlahla, which means "pulling the branch of a tree".
  3. Tripe (edible offal) is one of this favourite foods.
  4. While in prison he was allowed one visitor a year for 30 minutes. He could only send & receive one letter every six months.
  5. He has honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities.
  6. Nelson Mandela was dubbed the "Black Pimpernel" due to his ability to evade police. He variously disguised himself as a gardener, a chauffeur & a chef.
  7. Nelson Mandela is the oldest elected President of South Africa. He was 75 years old when he took office.
  8. The Cosby Show's Cliff and Claire Huxtable's grandchildren were named Nelson and Winnie in honor of Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie.
  9. His favourite musical artists are Händel & Tchaikovsky.
  10. Mandela is a minor royal. He is the great-grandson of King Ngubengcuka of the Tembu people.

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in January 2012

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 January 2012.
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 January 2012 (airport target 85%)
  1. South African Airways - 94.70% (Dec. 91.87%)
  2. Mango - 91.79% (Dec. 81.82%)
  3. Airlink - 91.65% (Dec. 88.52%) 
  4. 1time - 91.57% (Dec. 85.23%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 90.98% (Dec. 82.98%)
  6. South African Express - 87.49% (Dec. 80.78%)
  7. Kulula.com - 85.80% (Dec. 75.06%)
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2012 (airport target 87%)
  1. 1time - 94.84% (Dec. 92.19%)
  2. Airlink - 94.58% (Dec. 94.94%)
  3. South African Airways - 94.46% (Dec. 90.78%)
  4. South African Express - 93.86% (Dec. 90.84%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 92.94% (Dec. 84.44%) 
  6. Mango - 89.62% (Dec. 80.80%)
  7. Kulula.com - 89.52% (Dec. 77.03%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2012 (airport target 89%)
  1. South African Airways - 95.25% (Dec. 94.66%) 
  2. British Airways Domestic - 93.89% (Dec. 87.81%)
  3. 1time - 93.67% (Dec. 89.60%) 
  4. Airlink - 93.62% (Dec. 91.87%)
  5. South African Express - 92.32% (Dec. 93.91%)
  6. Mango - 90.44% (Dec. 77.13%) 
  7. Kulula.com - 86.73% (Dec. 74.42%)

HostelBookers' Awards for Excellence 2012 - Top hostels in Africa

The hostel booking website Hostelbookers has revealed the best hostels around the world in the HostelBookers Awards for Excellence 2012. The top hostels in Africa & the Middle East which received the highest rating from their customers are:

Top 3 accommodations (highest overall customer rating)
  1. Dar Hafsa - Fes, Morocco
  2. Riad Khabia - Marrakech, Morocco
  3. Riad Verus - Fes, Morocco
Award for Cleanliness (highest customer rating for "cleanliness")
  1. Atlantic Point Backpackers - Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Equity Point Marrakech - Marrakech, Morocco
  3. Riad Baraka - Chefchaouen, Morocco
Best value cheap hostel (highest customer rating for "value")
  1. Arabian Nights hotel - Cairo, Egypt
  2. Cleopatra Hotel Luxor - Luxor, Egypt
  3. Hotel Sindibad - Agadir, Morocco
Best location (highest customer rating for "location")
  1. Alexander Hostel - Cairo, Egypt
  2. Djemaa El Fna Hotel Cecil - Marrakech, Morocco
  3. Eilat Youth Hostel & Guest House - Eilat, Israel
Best atmosphere (highest customer rating for "atmosphere")
  1. Dar Houdou - Fes, Morocco
  2. Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech - Marrakech, Morocco
  3. Riad Marrakech Rouge - Marrakech, Morocco
Best staff (highest customer rating for staff")
  1. Boomerang Hotel - Luxor, Egypt
  2. Hostel Brothers - Cairo, Egypt
  3. Riad Attouyour - Marrakech, Morocco
Most popular (highest number of bookings made through HostelBookers)
  1. Hotel Central - Casablanca, Morocco
  2. Riad Madina Mayurqa - Marrakech, Morocco
  3. Riad Medina Azahara - Marrakech, Morocco
Best newcomers (Awarded to 2 properties on each continent that opened in 2011 and received the highest overall customer ratings)
  1. Abraham Hostel Jerusalem - Jerusalem, Israel
  2. Mesho Inn hostel - Cairo, Egypt
Best for solo travellers (highest overall customer rating in the ‘alone’ traveller type category)
  1. Hola Cairo - Cairo, Egypt
Best for couples (highest overall customer rating in the ‘with my spouse/partner’ traveller type category)
  1. Riad Lakhdar - Marrakech, Morocco