29 September 2012

Did you know... that one of the world’s largest mammal migrations is taking place in Zambia?

Every year between late October and December, millions of straw-coloured fruit bats (Eiodon helvum) are migrating from Central Africa to the Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia. The migration of the bats is said to be the largest congregation of mammals in Africa, possibly even the world. The arrival of the bats in Zambia normally coincides with the start of the first rains and the ripening of many local fruit and berry species in the Kasanka National Park.

The Kasanka National Park, which is the first of Zambia's national parks to be privately managed (Kasanka Trust Limited), is one of the country’s smallest national parks. The park, located about 5-6 hours by car north of Lusaka, lies between 1160 and 1290 meters asl and has a relatively flat topography, except for the rocky Mpululwe and Bwalya Bemba hills. Nine permanent lakes occur in the Park and it is dissected by a network of rivers and streams. Kasanka National Park is home to 108 mammal species and 450 bird species. Video courtesy of youtube user achidakel. Kudos!

28 September 2012

Video: Skateboarding in Durban

The adidas Skateboarding Team South Africa is back again with a new video. After Maputo and Cape Town they are now skating in South Africa's surfing capital Durban. Watch the video for some great skateboarding through Durban's suburbs, streets and skateparks, as well as at the city's beach front, also known as the "Golden Mile".
Enjoy the video and, again, kudos @ adi three leaf & Pieter Retief, Jansen van Staden, Yann Horowitz, Khulu Dlamini for the video footage!

South Africa: Airlink to increase flights to Nampula (Mozambique)

Privately owened South African airline Airlink will increase the frequency of its service between Johannesburg and Nampula, located about 2100km north of Maputo in Mozambique.
From 03 October 2012 Airlink will add a Wednesday flight to its weekly schedule. Flights depart Johannesburg at 11:05 arriving in Nampula at 13:35 and depart Nampula at 14:10 arriving at Johannesburg at 16:45.
The additional flight will compliment the airline's current schedule which operates on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Airlink will operate the route with one of its 11 Embraer ERJ135 37 seat regional jets.
Airlink works closely with South African Airways to ensure seamless service for corporate and leisure travellers visiting Pemba. Benefits for Airlink travellers include Voyager Miles and convenient interline connections with South African Airways and its Star Alliance partner flights locally and globally.

27 September 2012

Video: A dolphin "super-pod" encounter just off Cape Town (South Africa)

Have you ever seen a so-called "super-pod" of dolphins? Photographer Chase Jarvis and explorer Mike Horn encountered such a rare "super-pod" of thousands of dolphins about an hour’s sail south of Cape Town in August 2012, took their cameras out and filmed it. Amazing! Kudos Chase & Mike!

Dolphins are known to form temporary groups or "pods", typically consisting of 2-15 animals, while hunting or defending themselves and their pod. The size of an individual pod is usually related to the availability of food and the size and openness and depth of their environment. In areas of high food availability (and enough space), such "normal" pods can temporarily join together to form a so-called "super-pod", with a size exceeding 1,000 dolphins.

26 September 2012

South Africa: Marakele National Park safe following fire blaze

South African National Parks (SANParks) told the public in a statement, issued on 26 Sept 2012, that tourists planning to visit the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg Mountains in Limpopo this week are free to book and make use of the park following a fire blaze in the mountainous area of the park. The fire, which started on 23 Sept 2012 and got extinguished in the meantime, destroyed about 20% of the 67,000 hectares of land in the park. No fatalities or damage to property occurred as most of the animals and tourism infrastructure are in the plains of the Marakele National Park and not in the mountains.
Marakele National Park im Limpopo forms part of the Waterberg Biosphere and is known for its majestic mountain landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys. The park is home to all the large game species from elephant and rhino to the big cats as well as to an amazing variety of birds including what’s probably the largest colony of endangered Cape vultures (approx. more than 800 breeding pairs) in the world. Up to five metre high cycads and tree ferns, yellowwood and cedar trees can also be found in Marakele National Park.

Six white rhinos to be translocated from KwaZulu Natal to the Okavango Delta

update (20 May 2013): &Beyond has announced that six translocated rhino have been officially released into the Okavango Delta in Botswana!

update (12 March 2013): The translocation of the six white rhinos from the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve to the Okavango Delta in Botswana began in February 2013 and is still under way.

In the first ever private game reserve donation of rhino, luxury experiential travel company &Beyond has earmarked six white rhino to be translocated from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, located within easy reach of the Indian Ocean coastline and the famous iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), to the Okavango Delta in Botswana. From October 2012, game scouts from Botswana will travel to the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve to undergo intensive tracking and monitoring training, as they are not familiar with white rhino behaviour in the southern part of the Okavango Delta. In terms of veterinary regulations, the rhinos will be quarantined at an isolated facility for the specified period after capture, before being transported to the Okavango Delta via Maun.  On arrival, the animals will be held in a specially prepared boma until local vets and land managers are confident that they have recovered from their journey.
The actual translocation process is set to begin in February 2013 and will end with the final release of the six rhinos scheduled to take place in April 2013. 

Air Botswana to launch flights to new destinations in Southern Africa

The flag carrier of Botswana, Air Botswana, has announced that it will add various new destinations in Southern and East Africa to its network. From 28 Oct 2012 the airline will be operating flights between Gaborone and Cape Town and Lanseria (Johannesburg) in South Africa, between Gaborone and  Lilongwe and Blantyre in Malawi and between Gaborone and Nairobi in Kenya, as well as between Maun and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The service between Gaborone and Harare (Zimbabwe) will be increased from currently 3 weekly fligths to 4 weekly flights.

Gaborone - Cape Town (South Africa) | 3 weekly flights
  • 07:00 Gaborone (GBE) > 09:15 Cape Town (CPT)
  • 17:25 Cape Town (CPT) > 19:40 Gaborone (GBE)
Gaborone - Lilongwe (Malawi) | 2 weekly flights
  • 09:30 Gaborone (GBE) > 13:00 Lilongwe (LLW)
  • 14:00 Lilongwe (LLW) > 17:30 Gaborone (GBE)
Gaborone - Harare (Zimbabwe) - Blantyre (Malawi) | 1 weekly flight
  • 08:30 Gaborone (GBE) > 10:00 Harare (HRE) 11:00 > 12:10 Blantyre (BLZ)
  • 13:00 Blantyre (BLZ) > 14:10 Harare (HRE) 15:25 > 17:05 Gaborone (GBE)
Gaborone - Harare (Zimbabwe) - Nairobi (Kenya) | 2 weekly flights
  • 10:00 Gaborone (GBE) > 11:40 Harare (HRE) 12:25 > 15:25 Nairobi (NBO)
  • 16:10 Nairobi (NBO) > 19:10 Harare (HRE) 19:55 > 21:35 Gaborone (GBE)
Gaborone - Lanseria (Johannesburg, South Africa) | 2 weekly flights
  • 07:20 Gaborone (GBE) > 08:20 Lanseria (HLA)
  • 16:00 Gaborone (GBE) > 17:00 Lanseria (HLA)
  • 08:50 Lanseria (HLA) > 09:50 Gaborone (GBE)
  • 18:00 Lanseria (HLA) > 19:00 Gaborone (GBE)
Maun - Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) | 3 weekly flights
  • 10:15 Maun (MUB) > 11:15 Victoria Falls (VFA)
  • 14:20 Maun (MUB) > 15:20 Victoria Falls (VFA)
  • 12:00 Victoria Falls (VFA) > 13:00 Maun (MUB)
  • 16:05 Victoria Falls (VFA) > 17:05 Maun (MUB)

Air Botswana's main hub is the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Botswana's capital Gaborone. The airline is currently flying to 8 destinations in Southern Africa including Francistown, Maun, Kasane and Gaborone in Botswana, Lusaka in Zambia, Harare in Zimbabwe and Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.

25 September 2012

South African Airways is "Africa's Leading Airline" for the 19th consecutive year!

At least according to the 19th World Travel Awards, 2012 was quite a succesful year for the South African aviation industry. South African Airways won the award as "Africa's Leading Airline" for the 19th time in a row. The flag carrier of South Africa also got named "Africa's Leading Airline Economy Class". Budget airline 1time, currently South Africa's most punctual airline, got recognised as "Africa's Leading Low-Cost Airline" for the fourth consecutive year and O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg was awarded with "Africa's Leading Airport 2012" for the 6th time in a row. Congratulations!
The World Travel Awards was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognise excellence in the global travel and tourism industry. Now celebrating its 19th anniversary, it is regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel product could hope to receive.

Johannesburg: Modderfontein Reserve is now open to the public

The Modderfontein Reserve, the biggest private open space in Gauteng, has been opened to the public on 20 Sept 2012 to picnic, cycle, bird-watch and enjoy the game of the reserve. The Modderfontein Reserve, which is located in Modderfontein in Johannesburg, is operated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) on a day-to-day basis. The land it is situated on belongs to chemicals group AECI and forms part of its 2 400ha Modderfontein landholding. Various fauna and flora studies are currently being conducted to record animal and plant species in the reserve and a monitoring system is being implemented which will allow the EWT team to record changes at fixed points throughout the reserve over time. Mammals on the site include small buck such as steenbok, as well as black-backed-jackals. A bat survey has already been carried out and studies on the bats are ongoing. Fish eagles and long-crested eagles are among the bird life in the Modderfontein Reserve.
The community will have access to the Modderfontein Reserve at a cost of R30 per adult and R15 for children and pensioners.

21 September 2012

South Africa: Kruger National Park flood repair update

South Africa's Kruger National Park experienced heavy floodings in January 2012 caused by strong rainfall in the area. Some of the parks camps and picnic sites, as well as roads and low level bridges, got damaged by the water masses and had to be temporarily closed. Flood repairs are still underway in Kruger National Park, but in the meantime all camps and picnic spots are open again. Except for the following, all roads are open again (as of 20 Sept 2012):
  • S25 (From S26 to S139, Biyamiti Low Level Bridge washed away (a temporary bypass has been completed and S25 has reopened)
  • S33, S84
  • Balule Low Level Bridge (detour via S89 and S90): Balule Bridge is expected to reopen by 15 November 2012.  

20 September 2012

Brussels Airlines to increase flights to Kigali

The flag carrier airline of Belgium, Brussels Airlines, will increase its flight frequency between Brussels (Belgium) and  Kigali in Rwanda subject to government approval. In case of approval, the East African destination will be served four times instead of three times a week starting from 28 Oct 2012. The airline will operate the route via Nairobi, Kenya.
Brussels Airlines currently operates service to the East African airports of Kigali (Rwanda), Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Bujumbura in Burundi as well as to 16 other African destinations.

Ethiopian Airlines revises Addis Ababa <> Milan (via Rome) service

Ethiopian Airlines, one of the fastest-growing carriers in the industry and flag carrier of Ethiopia, has revised its service between its main hub at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa and Milano Malpensa Airport in Milan (Italy) via Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome (Italy) on 10 Sept 2012. The airline is operating daily flights between Addis Ababa - Rome - Milan. Ethiopian Airlines previously operated this routing until 31 May 2012.
  • Addis Ababa (ADD) 00:30 - 0550 Rome (FCO) 06:50 - 08:05 Milan (MXP)
  • Milan (MXP) 21:45 - 23:05 Rome (FCO) 00:05+1 - 07:00+1 Addis Ababa (ADD)
Ethiopian Airlines is currently operating international flights to more than 60 destinations in Africa, Europa, the Americas and Asia. The airline is a Star Alliance member since December 2011.

19 September 2012

British Airways (Comair) to increase flights between Durban <> Cape Town

Comair Limited, operator of British Airways in South Africa, has announced an increase in their Durban <> Cape Town weekday flights. From 29 October 2012, the airline will operate four instead of three daily flights between the two destinations. The flights are operated on-board of Boeing 737-300s and Boeing 737-400s aircrafts.
Comair Limited operates scheduled services as a British Airways franchisee and an affiliate member of the Oneworld airline alliance. The airline is also the operator of the South African low-fare airline kulula.com.

South African Airways and Porter Airlines (Canada) signed new interline agreement

Great news for all travellers who are looking to travel between Canada and Africa. Canada-based Porter Airlines and South African Airways (SAA) announced a new interline agreement, which allows travellers to purchase tickets and access easy connections between 12 Porter Airlines' Canadian destinations and South African Airways’s 44 African destinations via Washington, DC (Dulles). The agreement took effect on 17 September 2012, with tickets between the two airlines now available for purchase.
South African Airways offers non-stop service from Washington, DC (Dulles) to Dakar, Senegal, with a continuation to Johannesburg in South AfricaPorter Airlines' service between Washington, DC (Dulles) and Toronto's City Airport opens up 12 destinations in Canada for SAA’s passengers including Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Windsor, St. John’s, Halifax and Moncton.

Air France to resume Paris <> Cape Town flights

The French flag carrier, Air France, will resume its seasonal (European Winter 2012/13) flights between Paris and Cape Town. The three-weekly Boeing 777-200 operated direct overnight flights will remain in effect from 25 October 2012 until 12 May 2013, instead of only until 30 March 2013 as previously announced.
  • Paris (CDG) 23:30  > 10:50+1 Cape Town (CPT)
  • Cape Town (CPT) 18:35 > 05:55+1 Paris (CDG) 

18 September 2012

Third annual World Rhino Day (22 September 2012)

More information about the third annual World Rhino Day >>

Qantas & South African Airways scored two year extension of code-share alliance

update (23 Nov 2012): The Australian International Air Services Commission (IASC) has granted permission to Qantas for seven weekly services on the South African route, and to South African Airways to codeshare on Qantas’ South African flights until 31 December 2014.

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways, and Australia's national carrier, Qantas, have been granted a two-year extension of their code-share alliance on flights between Johannesburg and Sydney in Australia.
Qantas had applied for a four-year extension to the agreement with the International Air Services Commission (IASC), but the independent Australian Government agency only granted approval for two additional years. The IASC said in a statement that it was not satisfied that the code share would be of benefit to the public beyond 31 December 2014.
Qantas and South African Airways are currently the only carriers that operate nonstop flights between Australian airports and South Africa. The two airlines started to code-share flights between Australia and South Africa in December 2000. For more information on the decision of the IASC click here (pdf).

17 September 2012

Did you know... plastic bags are prohibited in Rwanda

Rwanda banned plastic bags in the country already in 2007. The goverment's decision to ban all non-biodegradable polyethylene (plastic) bags is based on a scientific study on the impact of plastic bags on the Rwandan environment, as well as the plastic bags contribution to the economy of our country. The outcomes of the study showed an overwhelming negative impact of plastic bags on the environment and so the government of Rwanda agreed to ban all plastic bags in the country.
If you are travelling to Rwanda, your luggage may get searched at the border and sometimes even at police checkpoints throughout the country to make sure you are not carrying plastic bags. Travellers carrying plastic bags upon arrival at the Kigali International Airport in Rwanda's capital Kigali may have them confiscated and have to pay for a reusable cloth replacement.

South Africa: Kruger National Park flood repair update

South Africa's Kruger National Park experienced heavy floodings in January 2012 caused by strong rainfall in the area. Some of the parks camps and picnic sites, as well as roads and low level bridges, got damaged by the water masses and had to be temporarily closed. Flood repairs are still underway in Kruger National Park, but in the meantime all camps and picnic spots are open again. Except for the following, all roads are open again:
  • S25 (From S26 to S139, Biyamiti Low Level Bridge washed away (a temporary bypass has been completed and S25 has reopened)
  • S33, S84
  • Balule Low Level Bridge (detour via S89 and S90): Balule Bridge is expected to reopen by 15 November 2012.  
  • H1-5 (From S91 to H8) (detour via S91, S92 & H8 – detour  17km of which 12km is gravel road): Breach on H1-5 near N’wamanzi is expected to reopen by 30 September 2012.

East Africa: Budget airline FastJet's first base in Tanzania

The first African base of FastJet, a new African budget airline, will be Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. The airline will start operating in November 2012 with seats going on sale a few weeks earlier. According the various media reports, flights with FastJet will be as low as $20 one-way excluding taxes and charges.
The airline's first Airbus A319 aircraft will arrive in Dar Es Salaam next month. Recruitment for crew and ground staff is already under way. FastJetis planning to open a second base in Nairobi, Kenya. Once established in East Africa, FastJet has also plans to launch in Accra, Ghana and Luanda (Angola).

SkyTeam member Aeroflot to end Angola operations

The flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, Aeroflot, will end its Angola operations. The airline will be operating its last service on the Sheremetyevo International Airport (Moscow, Russian Federation) – Hurghada (Egypt) – Luanda (Angola ) route on 16 Oct 2012 (last flight from Luanda will be on 17 Oct 2012).
Aeroflot is currently operating scheduled passenger and cargo flights from its main hub at Sheremetyevo International Airport to 52 countries, serving 116 destinations. The airline joined SkyTeam in April 2006, becoming the 10th member of the international airline alliance.

14 September 2012

Mapungubwe National Park: Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre officially opened

The new Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, winner of the 2009 World Building of the Year award, was officially opened at Mapungubwe National Park outside Musina in Limpopo in South Africa on 10 September 2012. The complex landscape of the Mapungubwe National Park, which was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003, was both the inspiration for the design and the source of the materials for the construction of the new Interpretation Centre. The 1,500 sqm centre was designed by Peter Rich Architects from Johannesburg.

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was a pre-colonial state in Southern Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers. It was South Africa's first kingdom, and developed into the subcontinent's largest realm, lasting for 400 years before it was abandoned in the 14th century.
The 28,000ha Mapungubwe National Park, located in Limpopo, is bordering Botswana and Zimbabwe. Together with the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana and the Tuli Safari Circle in Zimbabwe, it forms part of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Video: Saving the endangered Cape Parrots in the Eastern Cape

The Cape Parrot, the only parrot endemic to South Africa, is Africa's most endangered parrot. Only between 800 - 1000 adult Cape Parrots are currently left in their natural habitat, which is stretching from the coastal escarpment near sea-level to the midlands at around 1000m in eastern South Africa.
Dr. Steve Boyes, a South African ornithologist and a National Geographic Expeditions Expert, is the Project Coordinator of the Cape Parrot Project in Hogsback in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. He has commited his day-to-day activities to saving the highly endangered parrot from two major threats: capture for the wild-caught bird trade, and disease. Learn more about his work and about the Cape Parrots in the video below, presented by National Geographic.