31 October 2012

The Kruger National Park Calendar - December

  • height of summer
  • very hot & humid days
  • warm nights
  • often spectacular lightning storms
  • between 18°C - 34°C (Fahrenheit: e.g. 34°C = [(34x9)]/5 + 32 = 93.2°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

  • vigorous plat growth everywhere in the park
  • tree canopy very thick
  • fig trees in fruit
  • mopane tree in flower
Animal Activity:
  • height of the impala breeding season
  • predators out to get their young
  • most resident non-raptor birds breeding
  • animal activity all over the park

Kenya Airways to increase flights between Nairobi <> Johannesburg

Kenya's flag carrier, Kenya Airways, will increase its flights between its main hub in Nairobi and Johannesburg in South Africa in order to meet the demand of its customers, who seeking more flexibility with connecting flights to other parts of Africa, the Far East and/or Europe. From 01 December 2012, the airline will operate four additional flights per week between the two destinations. The additional flights will depart from Nairobi every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and returns from Johannesburg to Nairobi on the same days.
Kenya Airways is currently operating flights to over 59 destinations worldwide, 46 of which are in Africa, and carries over three million passengers annually.

30 October 2012

KwaZulu Natal: Mpophomeni Trail Guide (digi guide)

The Mpophomeni Trail is situated in the northern part of the False Bay Park in South Afirca's province KwaZulu Natal. The trail is divided into two routes - the longer section is about 9.5 km and takes three hours to complete, while the shorter section is 6.5 km and takes two hours to complete.
The False Bay Park, which is located along the western shores of Lake St. Lucia, forms a portion of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park. The park covers approximately 4,000 ha and is composed of a diverse range habitats which include thornveld, open savannah and tracts of sand forest, as well as stretches of pristine shoreline. 
Earlier this year, "Wild", Wild Card's free wildlife environment and travel magazine, published a Mpophomeni Trail Guide written by Dr. Francois du Randt. Enjoy & kudos for the trail guide!

South Africa: 488 rhinos killed by poachers so far in 2012

According to the latest statistics released by South African National Parks (SANParks), South Africa has lost 455 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of 2012. Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit by poachers, having lost 296 rhinos since the beginning of this year. KwaZulu-Natal has lost 57 rhinos  to illegal poaching; North West province has lost 52 rhinos and Limpopo 49 rhinos. The number of individuals arrested in connection with rhino poaching is 214.

Latest rhino poaching figures (as of 30 October 2012)
  • Kruger National Park (SANParks) - 296 rhinos poached
  • Mapungubwe National Park (SANParks) - 3 rhinos poached
  • Gauteng - 1 rhino poached
  • Limpopo - 49 rhinos poached
  • Mpumalanga - 21 rhinos poached
  • North-West Province - 52 rhinos poached
  • Eastern Cape - 7 rhinos poached
  • Free State - 0 rhinos poached
  • KwaZulu Natal - 57 rhinos poached
  • Western Cape - 2 rhinos poached
  • Northern Cap - 0 rhinos poached
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has urged members of the public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to 0800 205 005.

Namibia: The National Marine Aquarium in Swakopmund reopened!

The National Marine Aquarium in Swakopmund (Namibia), which was closed for renovation since June 2010, has finally reopened its doors to the public on 19 Oct 2012. The renovations cost the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources about N$14 million.
The renovated National Marine Aquarium is showcasing Namibia's marine environment. The highlight of the rather small aquarium is a 320,000 liter tank with a glass tunnel beneath it. During the renovtion work, the former rockery inside the tank got replaced with cleaner water and less rockery to provide a better view for visitors, while also increasing swimming space for the fish. The old "petting tidal pool" also got revamped and now gives visitors a chance to touch and even feed certain species of marine creature such as sting rays.
A new feature of the Aquarium is the digital rock pool on the floor close to the entrance of the aquarium. If you step into the digital pool it creates a ripple effect and the fish featured in the image swim away. 
The National Marine Aquarium is open daily, except for mondays, from 10:00 - 16:00. Feeding of fishes takes place on tuesdays, saturdays and sundays at 15:00.

Cape Town: Table Mountain Cableway’s half-price Sunset Special returns on 01 Nov 2012

Great news for all travellers visiting Cape Town. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway's renowned Summer Sunset Special, which allows visitors to take a half-price ride up the mountain, will return from 01 November 2012 and will run until 28 February 2013 with a short break between 22 December 2012 until 07 January 2013 (weather permitting).

Return tickets for the Cableway are half-price from 18h00 every day when purchased from the Cableway ticket office. This means that adults each pay R102.50 for a return ticket, and children only R50 each. Enjoy Cape Town!

29 October 2012

Video: Longboarding in Cape Town

Downhill pro skateboarder Matt Ardene, a local from Cape Town, filmed this great short film for Fibretec Skateboards. The 04:20 minutes film is telling quite a simple story: one person chases the fleeting feeling of perfection that lifts him from the daily grind up to a quiet place in the clouds. Enjoy! Kudos Matt!

26 October 2012

Swaziland got its first "Ocean Basket" seafood restaurant

Great news for all Swazis and travellers in Swaziland alike. Swaziland recently got its first Ocean Basket outlet. The branch of the South African seafood chain opened at The Gables Shopping Centre in the Swaziland's Ezulwini Valley. Ocean Basket, which was founded in Pretoria in 1995, is a very popluar South African chain of seafood restaurants. Its menu includes "freshest" seafood, as well as a good selection of wines.

View Larger Map

Ezulwini Valley is located on the northwest of Swaziland. It contains a number of wildlife sanctuaries and features including the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. The Ezulwini Handicrafts Centre and Swazi National Museum in Lobamba, the historical capital of Swaziland, are also located in the Ezulwini Valley. The main highway through the Valley is the MR3 between Swaziland's capital Mbabane and Manzini.

25 October 2012

Video: Cape Town Helicopter Tour

A video for Cape Town lovers! Ryan & his friend Barry boarded a helicopter at the city's V & A Waterfront and took a flight over Cape Town to see some of the area’s most stunning sights. Enjoy & kudos Ryan for the video footage!

Cape Town South Africa Helicopter from Ryan Daley on Vimeo.

24 October 2012

South Africa: 2013 African Cup of Nations groups & match schedule

update (07 Feb 2013): Nigeria and Burkina Faso made it into the final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa! Congrats!
3rd place match - 09 February 2013
31 - 20:00 | Mali vs Ghana | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Final - 10 February 2013
32 - 20:00 | Nigeria vs Burkina Faso | Soccer City, Johannesburg

update (04 Feb 2013): The Semi-Finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) are kicking of on 06 Feb 2013.

Semi-Finals - 06 February 2013
29 - 17:00 | Mali vs Nigeria | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
30 - 20:30 | Burkina Faso vs Ghana | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

update (31 Jan 2013): The knockout rounds of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) are kicking off on 02 Feb 2013.

Quarter Finals - 02 February 2013
25 - 20:30 | South Africa vs Mali | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
26 - 17:00 | Ghana vs Cape Verde | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Quarter Finals - 03 February 2013
27 - 20:30 | Burkina Faso vs Togo | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
28 - 17:00 | Côte d'Ivoire vs Nigeria | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Semi-Finals - 06 February 2013
29 - 17:00 | Winner 25 vs Winner 28 | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
30 - 20:30 | Winner 27 vs Winner 26 | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
3rd place match
31 - 20:00 | Loser 29 vs Loser 30 | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
32 - 20:00 | Winner 29 vs Winner 30 | Soccer City, Johannesburg

South Africa will be hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which will run from 19 January 2013 to 10 February 2013. The host cities of Africa's biggest football tournament are Port Elizabeth/Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium), Rustenburg (Royal Bafokeng Stadium), Durban/eThekwini (Moses Mabhida Stadium) and Nelspruit/Mbombela (Mbombela Stadium). The opening and closing ceremonies of the 2013 Afcon will be played at Johannesburg's Soccer City, also known as FNB Stadium.
Tickets are on sale since 26 Sept 2012. Ticket prices range from R50 to R200 for the more expensive seats in the stands. Fans can buy their tickets and special kiosks in selected Spar stores across South Africa or via the Local Organising Committee’s call centre on 087 980 3000.

The Groups:
Group A (matches in Johannesburg, Durban, Nelson Mandela Bay)
South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco, Angola
Group B
(matches in Nelson Mandela Bay, Durban)
Ghana, DR Congo, Niger, Mali
Group C
(matches in Mbombela, Rustenburg)
Zambia, Burkina Faso Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Nigeria
Group D
(matches in Rustenburg, Mbombela)
Ivory Coast, Algeria, Tunisia, Togo

The match schedule:
Saturday 19 January 2013
01 - 18:00 | South Africa - Cape Verde | Soccer City, Johannesburg
02 - 21:00 | Angola - Morocco| Soccer City, Johannesburg
Sunday 20 January 2013
03 - 17:00 | Ghana - DR Congo | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
04 - 20:00 |Mali - Niger | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Monday 21 January 2013
05 - 17:00 | Zambia - Ethiopia | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
06 - 20:00 | Nigeria - Burkina Faso | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Tuesday 22 January 2013
07 - 17:00 | Ivory Coast - Togo | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
08 - 20:00 | Tunisia - Algeria | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Wednesday 23 January 2013
09 - 17:00 | South Africa - Angola | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
10 - 20:00 | Morocco - Cape Verde | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Thursday 24 January 2013
11 - 17:00 | Ghana - Mali | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
12 - 20:00 | Niger - DR Congo | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Friday 25 January 2013
13 - 17:00 | Zambia - Nigeria | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
14 - 20:00 | Burkina Faso - Ethiopia | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Saturday 26 January 2013
15 - 17:00 | Ivory Coast - Tunisia | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
16 - 20:00 | Algeria - Togo | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Sunday 27 January 2013
17 - 19:00 | Morocco - South Africa | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
18 - 19:00 | Cape Verde - Angola | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth  
Monday 28 January 2013
19 - 19:00 | Niger - Ghana | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
20 - 19:00 | DR Congo - Mali | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Tuesday 29 January 2013
21 - 19:00 | Burkina Faso - Zambia | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit  
22 - 19:00 | Ethiopia - Nigeria | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Wednesday 30 January 2013
23 - 19:00 | Algeria - Ivory Coast | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
24 - 19:00 | Togo - Tunisia | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Quarter Finals - 02 February 2013
25 - 20:30 | 1st A vs 2nd B | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
26 - 17:00 | 1st B vs 2nd A | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Quarter Finals - 03 February 2013
27 - 20:30 | 1st C vs 2nd D | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
28 - 17:00 | 1st D vs 2nd C | Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
Semi-Finals - 06 February 2013
29 - 17:00 | Winner 25 vs Winner 28 | Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
30 - 20:30 | Winner 27 vs Winner 26 | Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
3rd place match - 09 February 2013
31 - 20:00 | Loser 29 vs Loser 30 | Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
Final - 10 February 2013
32 - 20:00 | Winner 29 vs Winner 30 | Soccer City, Johannesburg

Air Zimbabwe releases flight schedule

update (06 Nov 2012): According to an advert in one of Zimbabwe's local newspapers, Air Zimbabwe has launched a four-weekly service between Harare and Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight depart Harare at 07:00, arriving in Johannesburg at 08:45. The return flight leaves Johannesburg at 20:00, arriving in Harare at 21:45. 

Zimbabwe's national airline, Air Zimbabwe, might soon be back in the air. The highly indebted airline announced a new schedule for domestic and regional flights on Tuesday (23 Oct 2012). According to the schedule, domestic flights will resume on 04 November 2012, while a four-weekly service between Harare and Johannesburg in South Africa is planned to start on 12 November 2012. The flight will depart Harare at 07:00, arriving in Johannesburg at 08:45. The return flight will leave Johannesburg at 08:00 (???), arriving in Harare at 09:45. The airline will conduct daily flights between the two destinations in December when the currently operadted Boeing 767 will get replaced by an Airbus A320.
Air Zimbabwe will resume its domestic service with four weekly domestic flights on sundays, mondays, wednesdays & fridays between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
Air Zimbabwe, which is currently only offering limited domestic services, got suspended from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in September 2012 and has to comply with global safety standards by 30 November 2012 in order no to risk getting an indefinite ban from using international airports and air spaces.

Video: London to Nairobi (Kenya) in 2 minutes

A flight from London in England to Nairobi in Kenya usually takes about 8.5hrs (approx. 6,800km), but not in this video. Vimeo user Doctor Bob Studios filmed the entire flight with his GoPro Hero 2 mounted on the airplane window and created a time-lapse / flight lapse video out of the footage! Safe travels & kudos Bob for the video!

23 October 2012

Lonely Planet: The lunar rainbow* over the Victoria Falls is one the "marvellous meteorological sites 2013"

Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, is every year publishing a book called "Best in Travel". "Best in Travel 2013" is a compilation of the best places to go and things to do all around the world in the year ahead. It covers the top 10 countries, regions and cities to visit, best travel experiences for 2013 as well as over 35 events mapped out month by month in the (2013) travel planner.

One of the secions in the 2013 edition of "Best in Travel", called "Marvellous meteorological sites", covers sites worldwide that are known for their extreme weather phenomena. Sites and phenomena such as the Morning Glory in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia, the Tornado Alley in the Midwest of the USA and the storms on Vancouver Island in Canada got selected by Lonely Planet to be the "marvellous meteorological sites 2013" as well as, thank you Lonely Planet, the moonbows lunar rainbows* over the mighty Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/Zambia). Moobows Lunar rainbows* are best seen between April to July during full moon. The best spot to get a glimpse of them is actually from the Zambian side of the Falls (Livingstone). Another very good reason to visit the Victoria Falls!

* Jollyboys Backpackers, you guys are so right. Moonbow is way to cheesy! ;)

Precision Air to launch flights Dar Es Salaam <> Harare (Zimbabwe)

According to news reports, Tanzanian airline Precision Air will launch flights between Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and Zimbabwe's capital Harare in December 2012. Tanzania's largest airline will be operating three weekly flights between the two destinations on board a Boeing 737-300.
Precision Air is a public listed Tanzanian airline and is currently providing scheduled flight services to over 17 destinations within and outside Tanzania from its main hub Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam. Other hubs of the airline are at Kilimanjaro International Airport and Mwanza Airport in Tanzania.

22 October 2012

Zimbabwe/Zambia: Kariba Dam Wall will be subject to tolls from 01 Nov 2012

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has announced that with effect from 01 November 2012 all vehicles using the Kariba Dam Wall will be subject to tolls at prescribed rates.
  • Light motor vehicle > US$1.00
    a vehicle whose gross mass does not exceed 3t
  • Bus > US$5.00
    passenger public service vehicle designed to carry more than 7 pax
  • Heavy motor vehicle > US$30.00
    a vehicle whose gross mass exceeds 3t but does not exceed 56t with an axle load not exceeding 11t per axle
  • Vehicle carrying abnormal load > US$50.00
    a heavy motor vehicle whose gross mass exceeds 56t with an axle load NOT exceeding 11t per axle
Tolls for the use of Kariba Dam Wall are payable to the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) and are collected by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) on the Zimbabwean side of the dam and the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) on the Zambian side.

The Kariba Dam is a hydroelectric dam in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi river basin between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The dam is one of the largest dams in the world, standing 128m tall and 579m long

Virgin Atlantic resumed seasonal London <> Cape Town flights

British airline Virgin Atlantic owned by by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines, has re-introduced its direct flight between London and Cape Town. The airline already started operating the service between the two destinations on 18 Oct 2012 and will continue it until April 2013. Virgin Atlantic has launched this route with three flights a week, which will increase to daily flights from the end of October 2012.

19 October 2012

Western Cape: Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail to reopen in November 2012

The Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail, which forms part of the Steenbras Nature Reserve (Gordon’s Bay - 8km along the R44) and is also part of the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, is scheduled to reopen on 01 November 2012. The hiking trail was closed in May 2011 due to fire damage, soil erosion, vegetation degradation, uncontrolled access and visitor safety issues.

Cape Town's Environmental Resource Management Department has introduced a new permitting system and rules and regulations for the trail that will improve visitor safety and management of the area. According to the news system, only 50 people per day will be allowed to enter the area and visitors must be in possession of a pre-booked and paid permit in order to enter the area. No permits will be issued at the entrance to the gorge.
Until an electronic booking system is in place, bookings can be made at the Helderberg Nature Reserve main gate during operating hours. The gate hours are 07:30 – 20:00 from December to February; 07:30 – 19:00 in March and October; and 07:30 – 17:30 from April to October.
The following information is imperative to visitors planning a hike in the Steenbras Nature Reserve:
  • Steenbras River Gorge is only open from 01 November to the end of April and will be closed during the winter period
  • A maximum carrying capacity of 50 persons per day will be permitted to enter the area
  • In the interests of visitor safety, a minimum of three and maximum of 10 persons per group will be allowed
  • No children under the age of 12 will be allowed to walk in this area
  • Hikers need to be fit to complete this trail
  • There will be a tariff of R60,00 per person

Kenya Airways KQ signs codeshare agreement with Korean Air

Geat news for Korean travellers planning to visit Kenya and East Africa. Korean Air, both the flag carrier and the largest airline of South Korea, and Kenya's national airline, Kenya Airways, have signed a codeshare agreement.
The flights from Seoul in South Korea to Nairobi (Kenya) will take off every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night at 20:45, arriving in Nairobi the next morning at 05:05, so that travellers have a convenient connection to the entire range of domestic, regional and international flights via Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO).
Flights from Nairobi to Seoul will depart every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and at 10:30 in the morning, arriving at Incheon International Airport (ICN) in Seoul at 04:40 the next morning.

18 October 2012

Promotional video: Malawi - The Warm Heart of Africa (26min)

update (12 Dec 2012): Malawi Tourism has uploaded a new version of the promo video with a slightly different commentary. See the playlist below!

Malawi's UK-based Tourism Information Office, Malawi Tourism, recently released a pretty comprehensive 26-minutes long promotional video about Malawi. The video covers literally everything the traveller planing to visit Malawi wants to know - the usual "how to get there", the country's nature reserves, landscapes and wildlife, its famous Lake Malawi and the attractions and activities the lake has to offer, as well as Malawi's cultural centres, festivals and its restaurant and accommmodation options. Enjoy the video and your trip to Malawi!

Condé Nast Traveler (USA) readers voted Cape Town the #1 city in Africa & #2 in the World!

The U.S. luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler recently announced the results of its annual "Reader's Choice Awards" survey, through which the magazine names the world's best cities, islands, hotels, resorts, cruises and airlines based on its readers experiences.
Cape Town in South Africa became second in the Top Cities in the World ranking and was voted the Top City in Africa. Knysna, located on the Garden Route, became second in the ranking of Africa's top cities. The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park was named the 6th best Hotel/Resort in World and the best Resorts & Safari Camp in Africa. The best Hotel in Africa is, according to the readers of the Condé Nast Traveler magazine, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, followed by the Cape Grace, also located in Cape Town.

South Africa: New domestic airline "FlyGoAir" to launch service in November 2012

update (07 Feb 2013): FlyGoAir has not commenced operations so far, except for its inaugural flight in December 2012.

Little is known about FlyGoAir, a new South African carrier that will commence service in November 2012. It is known though, that the airline, which will have its main hub at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, is planning to operate flights on routes that are currently not served by other domestic airlines in South Africa. FlyGoAir's first route will therefore be between Lanseria International Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA). The airline will start operating flights between the two destinations on 26 Nov 2012; one-way flights will be ZAR999pp, inclusive of all taxes. FlyGoAir will, according to news reports, also extend its network to Polokwane and Pietermaritzburg in January 2013. Later in 2013, the carrier is planning to operate flights from Lanseria International Airport to Bloemfontein and George as well as from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) to Cape Town.

FreshAir to commence flights between Johannesburg <> Victoria Falls in November 2012

update (12 Nov 2012): According to news reports, FreshAir has announced  plans to resume operations from as early as December with another operator. 51% shareholder Nu-Aero (49% belong to 1time) is currently planning to find a new operator that will operate between Victoria Falls and  OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on its behalf. 

update (03 Nov 2012): 1time's liquidation puts indoubt the joint venture between the South African airline and its Zimbabwean partner Nu.Com (Pvt) Ltd (Nu-Aero).

The new Zimbabwean registered low cost airline FreshAir, a joint venture between Nu.Com (Pvt) Ltd (Nu-Aero) from Zimbabwe and South African budget carrier 1time, announced that it will start operating flights between OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, on 02 November 2012. FreshAir will, as it stands, operate three weekly flights on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays between the two destinations. In favour of the new airline, 1time is terminating its current Johannesburg <> Livingstone (Zambia) flights and will subsequently replace it with flights between OR Tambo International Airport and Victoria Falls.