31 May 2012

Zambia: "Track and Trail River Camp" promo video

The Track and Trail River Camp is located on a spot on the banks of the Luangwa River overlooking the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The lodge's facilities and accommodation are scattered along the river frontage, and surrounded by bushes, are the more secluded luxury tented accommodation built on elevated wooden platforms.
The camp has currently 4 double storey chalets and 5 en suite safari tents and sleeps 18 guests. Its facilities include a bar & restaurant, a gym in the bush, an on-site spa to relax the body and mind as well as the Luangwa Valley pool located right at the riverfront.

The Track and Trail River Camp is specialised in (photographic) safaris within the South Luangwa National Park in open (4x4) safari vehicles or on foot, accompanied by a professional guide and armed escort scout.

Kruger National Park Calendar - July

  • warm to cool days
  • cold nights & chilly mornings
  • occasional winds
  • occasional patches of hot weather
  • almost no rain
  • between 9°C - 26°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

  • Water becomes scarce throughout the park
  • bush is very dry; almost no leaf cover
  • strange-smelling "potato bush" begins flowering
Animal Activity:
  • Game increasingly concentrated around water
  • game spotting usually very good in the South of the park
  • north of the park dominated by elephants
  • resident raptors breeding
  • many weaker aninmals taken by predators

30 May 2012

Gauteng: Gautrain to increase fares on 01 June 2012

Gautrain announced earlier this month that it will be increasing its fares in line with current inflation as from 01 June 2012. Commuter train fares will be increased by just over 6% on average, while the Airport service and Parking fees will get increased slightly more. Bus fares will remain unchanged.
Airport single tickets will go up by 8%, with the trip from Sandton costing R115 instead of R105, and from Hatfield, Pretoria, R135 instead of R125. Parking fees are currently for instance R10.00 (one day) and will be increased to R12.00 (1hrs - 24hrs); 15min - 1hrs will cost R10.00 from 01 June 2012.

Click here to download the new fare structure (pdf)

The Gautrain system provides its customers with a modern train service between OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) and the Sandton CBD ("Airport Service") and between Johannesburg Park Station, located between the city's CBD and Braamfontein, and Tshwane’s Hatfield Station ("Commuter Service") in Hatfield, Pretoria.

South Africa: Emirates delays A380 service to Johannesburg & reduces its Cape Town service

update (22 June 2012): Emirates further postpones its planned Airbus A380 service resumption on the Dubai <> Johannesburg route. The airline will now resume operating the route with a A380 01 Dec 0212, instead of 01 Oct 2012.

update (12 June 2012): Emirates has adjusted its planned Dubai <> Johannesburg
service for the month of June 2012. From 11 June 2012 to 24 June 2012 2012 and on 30 June 2012, the airline will operate flights with an Airbus A380, instead of planned Boeing 777-300ER, on the route. The A380 remains on schedule to operate regular service on daily basis from 01 Oct 2012.

The largest airline in the Middle East, Emirates, will postpone the resumption of its Airbus A380 service between its main hub in Dubai and Johannesburg in South Africa to 01 October 2012. The service was originally reported to start on 11 June 2012.
The airline has also announced the reduction in frequency of its Dubai <> Cape Town service between 01 September 2012 and 30 November 2012 from presently two daily flights to one daily flight.
With a fleet of 168 aircraft, Emirates is currently flying to 173 destinations, including 22 African destinations, across six continents. The airline is the largest A380 and Boeing 777 operator in the world.

29 May 2012

Lesotho: AfriSki Mountain Resort to open winter season 2012

The AfriSki Mountain Resort in Lesotho is kicking off its 7th winter season on 07 June 2012. The season will end on 02 September 2012. The only skiing resort in Southern Africa, located 3,322 m above sea-level in the Maloti Mountains, offers skiing and snowboarding to all from beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. Don't worry if you don't have any winter sport equipment - all can be rented at the resort. Renting is not really cheap, but also not that expensive. Like everywhere else in the world the access to AfriSki's slopes requires a so-called "snow pass" which allows you to use the various slopes and lifts in the resort. Snow passes range from 1 days all the way to 7days and season passes. The season pass is currently R2200/person, while the 1 day pass is R350, 2 day pass R600, 3 day pass R750 and the 4 day pass is R900.
The accommodation options at the resort are ranging from pricey lodges to backpackers.

View AfriSki, Lesohto in a larger map

Access from South Africa to the AfriSki Mountain Resort is gained via the Caledonspoort Border Post at Fouriesburg. Once through the border post and into Lesotho, the scenic Moteng Pass (newly tarred) leads you to the the Mahlasela valley at 3,222m above sea level. It takes about 90min from the border post to the AfriSki resort (mind the occasional potholes, speed limit 80km/h). The last chance to fill your car up is at Clarens or Fouriesburg in South Africa. The border post is open daily from 06:00am to 22:00pm.

Social work internship in South Africa (Knysna)

Country: South Africa (Knysna)
Departures: Available all year round. Placements are very flexible, you can choose your own start and finish dates.
More info: Price includes accommodation, food, meeting you at the airport, transfer to your accommodation, full pre-departure support, local in-country team support and backup, 24 hour emergency support. 
You'll work with social workers who provide counselling services to people in need of support owing to emotional problems they may be suffering from.
These can include marital and family stress, depression, mid-life crisis, divorce counselling, HIV-related counselling, conflict management and parenting.
The Society (FAMSA - Families South Africa) is very much family orientated, serving to help resolve family problems and disintegration. It is one of a chain of Centres throughout South Africa. The Centre is not very big, thus you'll have opportunity to learn a lot about all the areas of counselling and social work that they deal with. Counsel families and adults in the beautiful coastal resort town of Knysna. Any person from any type of background could need assistance and counselling, regardless of background. The counsellors help people from Knysna’s more wealthy areas as well as from the very large disadvantaged township surrounding the town.
The FAMSA Centre's counselling programmes include a wide range of methods and techniques by which clients are helped:
  • Resolve personal and inter-personal problems
  • Select and adopt more constructive attitudes and skills of relating
  • Enhance their functioning in significant relationships and other interpersonal transactions
The Centre's motto is "We believe in every person’s potential to solve their own problems. We give support and guidelines for optimal functioning." They have centres all around South Africa and in Knysna they are supported by the Department of Social Development, the Knysna Municipality, the Lotto and various members of the public and businesses.
The services provided by the Centre can be split up into five areas:
  • Counselling
  • Trauma support
  • Training
  • Parenting support
  • Various programmes that they run
All counselling is done by appointment only and takes place in the office at the Centre. The appointments last for an hour each.

25 May 2012

Cape Town: Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point to close for renovations

update (18 July 2012): The Two Oceans Restaurant is back open!

update (12 July 2012): The Two Oceans Restaurant is set to re-open on 18 July 2012.

The Two Oceans Restaurant, located at Cape Point in the Cape of Good Hope Section of the Table Mountain National Park will be closing for renovation from 01 June 2012 and is estimated to reopen on 10 or 11 July 2012. The Food Shop (located next door to the restaurant)  will remain open for business.
Set into the cliffs high above the south-western most tip of the Cape Peninsula, the Two Oceans Restaurant has a spectacular view over False Bay and comfortably seats some 350 guests. We'll keep you posted!

24 May 2012

Southern African backpackers - Zululand Backpackers in Eshowe (South Africa)

Zululand Backpackers in Eshowe, the cultural capital of South Africa's Zululand, is a comfortable 50 bed hostel in a forest setting and located only about 500m from town. The backpackers does not only offer its guests spacious gardens and a large swimming pool, a self-catering kitchen, laundry facilities, internet café and a bar, it is also the only backpackers in the world with its own microbrewery.

Zululand Backpackers has double and triple dorms, and a big 10 man dorm. All rooms include clean linen. Private en-suite rooms are available, and there are also camping facilities. The owners of the backpackers are running an eco-adventure company that will assist you with fulfilling their list of "101 Things to do in Eshowe".
If you are looking for a hotel in Eshowe, click here to request a qoute for the The George Hotel, a 100-year-old hotel that has recently been renovated, but has not lost its original touches. The The George Hotel is located right next door from Zululand Backpackers.

Video: "Who Is Mandela to you?"

update (17 July 2012): In honour of Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday, Nickolaus Bauer and Demelza Bush from South Africa's Mail & Guardian quizzed some children on what they think the father of the nation did for South Africa.

Back around the same time last year I stumbled over a video made by journalist Matt Tabaccos, in which he interviewed random Capetonians about Nelson Mandela. Tabaccos now updated the video and added some more interviews he held over the year with people from Johannesburg. He asked the people the one simple question "Who Is Mandela to you?"... Check out their answers in the video below! Kudos @ Matt Tabaccos!

23 May 2012

Ethiopian Airlines to connect Canada with Africa

Ethiopian Airlines has announced the introduction of flights to Toronto from its hub in Addis Ababa. The first flight will operate on 16 July 2012. The new route will be the only regularly scheduled non-stop connection between Toronto and the African continent. The flight will be operated with Ethiopian’s brand new B777-200LR aircraft, configured with 34 seats in business class and 287 seats in economy class.
Toronto will be Ethiopian’s 67th international destination, and second in the Americas. Thanks to the new flight, the Canadian city will be connected to dozens of cities in Africa via Ethiopian Airlines' hub at Addis Ababa, including Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania),  Lusaka (Zambia), the Seychelles and Harare (Zimbabwe) etc..
Passengers traveling from North American cities such as Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver (all Canada) and from Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis or San Francisco (all USA) will find convenient connections via Toronto using Ethiopian Airlines’ partner Air Canada on the new flight.

Kenya Airways to launch Nairobi <> Kilimanjaro flights

Kenya's flag carrier Kenya Airways has announced the launch of direct flights from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania from 02 July 2012. The route will initially be operated six times a week (not on Thursdays) and from 01 October 2012 onwards on a daily basis.
Kilimanjaro International Airport is situated halfway between Arusha and Moshi in Northern Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro. Other tourism highlights in the area include the Arusha National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. Kenya Airways currently codeshares with Precision Air on the Nairobi <> Kilimanjaro route.

22 May 2012

Lion Park (Johannesburg): The teenager & his hyena

If you are visiting the famous Lion Park near Johannesburg, you might get the chance to meet 16-year-old schoolboy Shandor Larenty and his 18-month-old spotted hyena named Thender. Thender was rejected by his mother, so Shandor’s dad, British lion wrangler Alex Larenty agreed to take him in to his house for some weeks and, later on, to live with the other hyenas at his Lion Park.
Now that Thender is a fully-grown hyena, Shandor and him are so used to each other that the hyena is not only eating out of Shandor’s mouth, but is also letting him clean his teeth afterwards. Another amazing story from the African bush. Kudos Matt Tabaccos from NR5 for the video below!

18 May 2012

Rwandair to increase flights to Tanzania & South Africa

update (08 June 2012): Rwandair has confirmed that it will introduce night flights departing Johannesburg on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 01h30, arriving in Kigali at 05h25.

Rwanda's national carrier Rwandair will increase its services to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and Johannesburg in South Africa.
From 11 June 2012 the airline will operate 3 (instead of 2) weekly flights between Kigali and Dar Es Salaam and from 10 June 2012 Rwandair will increase its service between Kigali and Johannesburg from 4 weekly flights to 8 weekly flights.
Rwandair's hub is the Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda. The airline is currently operating services to East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East and has codeshare agreements with Brussels Airlines (Star Alliance) and Ethiopian Airlines (Star Alliance).

Victoria Falls border post will be closed on 29 May 2012

update (24 May 2012): Due to the signing ceremony, which is set to take place right on the Victoria Falls Bridge, not only the border post between Zimbabwe and Zambia will be closed, but also the bungee jump [Zambia | Zimbabwe] will be suspended!

The Victoria Falls border post between Zimbabwe and Zambia will be closed from 06:00 to 15:00 on 29 May 2012, but will stay open all night trough after 15:00 to make up for the inconvenience. The signing ceremony of the Trilateral Hosting agreement for the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) made the border closure necessary.
Zimbabwe and Zambia will host the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia) in August 2013.

Air Tanzania relaunched its scheduled domestic service

update (24 May 2012): Air Tanzania just released its very first TV advert on youtube...

Air Tanzania, the national airline of Tanzania, relaunched its scheduled domestic service on the 18 May 2012, with the use of its recently acquired Boeing 737-500. Initially the airline will operate flights between Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. The new plane is capable of carrying 108 passengers, 12 passengers in the first class and 96 passengers in the economy class.
According to Air Tanzania's Acting Director General Paul Chizi, the airline is expecting to add some more flights to Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe) and to the Comoros Island before going to Dubai in three months’ time.

17 May 2012

Virgin Atlantic to cancel London <> Nairobi (Kenya) route

Due to rising costs of fuel, a lack of passengers and the rising air passenger duty in Kenya, British carrier Virgin Atlantic has announced its withdrawing from the London Heathrow <> Nairobi route from 24 September 2012.
Since Virgin Atlantic launched the route between the two destinations in 2007, the air passenger duty  has more than doubled and fuel costs have increased by more than 50%.
Virgin Atlantic's last flight from London to Nairobi will be on 23 September 2012; the return flight will be operated on 24 September 2012. The full published schedule will operate until this point so passengers can continue to book flights throughout the next few months.

Rwandair to launch flights between Kigali & Mwanza (Tanzania)

Rwanda's national carrier Rwandair is expanding its regional network in East Africa. From 02 July 2012 the airline will operate three weekly flights between Kigali and Mwanza in Tanzania.
Mwanza, the country's second largest city, is a port city located on the southern shores of Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania. The City is one of the unique destinations in Tanzania that is still a bit off the beaten path. Mwanza, and the surrounding areas even more, are full of destinations travellers love, such as Ukerewe Island, of course Lake Victoria, the Biharamulo Game Reserve, the Burigi Game Reserve and the Rumanyika Game Reserve, as well as the Rubondo Island National Park, the Maswa National Park and the Serengeti National Park. Safe travels!

16 May 2012

Virgin Atlantic to allow cellphone calls during flights

British Airline Virgin Atlantic teamed up with AeroMobile, a GSM service provider for the aviation industry, to bring an in-flight cell phone service for voice calls to its new Airbus A330-300 aircrafts and refitted Boeing 747s. AeroMobile’s technology creates a small cell network on the plane, which routes calls from the aircraft through a satellite network that relays the calls to the ground. During flights, six passengers at a time will also be able to use the service for sending and receiving text messages, emails and web access via GPRS. As U.S. regulations forbid cell phone usage on commercial flights, the service won’t be available on flights to New York or other destinations in the US Virgin Atlantic is operating flights to.
Initially, the service will only be available for customers of European cell phone providers O2 and Vodafone. International roaming costs will apply during fights.

The Hoerikwaggo Trail in the Table Mountain National Park (video)

The Hoerikwaggo Trail is a 5 day/4 night hiking trail through the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) in and around Cape Town. Linking Cape Point with Table Mountain, the 75km trail is passing through peaks, forests, beaches and restricted conservation areas of the iconic National Park.

Hikers will require food, good walking boots, a backpack, water bottles, snacks and weather-proof hiking gear, as well as a specially trained trail guide or at least a good map of the area. Along the Hoerikwaggo Trail hikers will find 4 tented camps, which have been exclusively built for this trail. These accommodation camps are: Orange Kloof (Hout Bay), Silvermine (below Noordhoek Peak) Slangkop Point, near the Kommetjie Lighthouse, and Smitswinkel near the entrance to the TMNP's Cape Point section. There is no charge for hiking the trail itself, but hikers are required to pay entrance (Cape Point) and accommodation fees.  South Africa's outdoor & travel magazine "Go!" did not only produce and publish the video above (kudos!), but will also discuss the Hoerikwaggo Trail in their June 2012 issue. Get your copy and enjoy the beauty of one of South Africa's most scenic hiking trails!

South African Airways: Best on-time performance in 12 years!

South Africa's flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) has published some performance statistics at the INDABA in Durban, one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar.
According to SAA CEO Siza Mzimela, the passenger revenue in the last quarter of the 2011/2012 financial year showed a 20% increase and the on-time performance (87%) was the best in 12 years. The number of mishandled bags dicreased by 8%, while passenger complaints were down by 13% and passenger compliments went up by 10%.
South African Airways, together with its regional partners SA Express and Airlink, are currently offering flights to 70 destinations in Africa, Asia, America, Australia and Europe. South African Airways operates the biggest route network in Africa and flies to more destinations, both overseas and within South Africa, than anyone else. The airline is the currently the only African airline to be ranked a 4-star rating by the independent research consultancy firm Skytrax.

14 May 2012

Zambia: Zambezi Airlines to resume operations

update (30 May 2012): Zambezi Airlines's website still does not allow any bookings, although the booking engines are online.

update (17 May 2012): A first proof of life from Zambezi Airlines - their website got updated. It is still not possible to book flights, but the airline is now at least presenting some updates on passenger ticket refunds:
(a) Tickets purchased through travel agencies - clients are advised to approach their respective travel agents. Travel Agencies are receiving these monies directly from IATA via the BSP platform.
(b) Tickets purchased through Zambezi Airlines Ticketing Offices - clients to receive cash refunds beginning 1 July 2012 
Zambezi Airlines, a privately owned airline based in Lusaka (Zambia), will resume flights by June 2012. The airline 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 in October 2011. According to Zambezi Airlines's website, the "portal will be reactivated for flight bookings and reservations on 15th May, 2012". We'll keep you posted!

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in April 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 April 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 April 2012 (airport target 85%)
  1. Mango - 93.81% (Apr. 87.99%)
  2. Airlink - 90.64% (Apr. 92.13%) 
  3. 1time - 90.57% (Apr. 84.01%) 
  4. South African Airways - 87.15% (Apr. 88.73%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 86.87% (Apr. 81.01%)
  6. SA Express - 83.64% (Apr. 78.70%)
  7. Kulula.com - 80.61% (Apr. 78.88%)
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance April 2012 (airport target 87%)
  1. Airlink - 97.70% (Apr. 95.78%)
  2. Mango - 95.08% (Apr. 90.15%)
  3. 1time - 92.81% (Apr. 88.19%) 
  4. South African Airways - 90.95% (Apr. 92.98%) 
  5. British Airways Domestic - 88.82% (Apr. 81.72%)
  6. SA Express - 86.64% (Apr. 83.86%) 
  7. Kulula.com - 80.88% (Apr. 86.39%)
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance April 2012 (airport target 89%)
  1. Airlink - 94.96% (Apr. 89.00%)  
  2. 1time - 93.75% (Apr. 86.96%)
  3. South African Airways - 93.58% (Apr. 93.99%)
  4. Mango - 91.78% (Apr. 84.27%)  
  5. SA Express - 87.36% (Apr. 84.23%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 87.09% (Apr. 81.76%)
  7. Kulula.com - 79.88% (Apr. 77.92%)