31 October 2014

Fastjet introduced flights between Johannesburg <> Zanzibar!

Tanzania-based low-cost airline, Fastjet, has teamed up with Coastal Aviation to offer flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) on Zanzibar. Fastjet operates three flights per week between Johannesburg and Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam departing at 23.20, arriving at 03.55am. A Coastal Aviation representative meets Fastjet's passengers at the airport and helps them to transfer to Terminal 1 and check in to the connecting flight to Zanzibar, departing at 7.30am. Return flights operate on the same days, leaving Zanzibar at 17:15 for the 20-minute flight to Dar es Salaam and then connecting to the Fastjet flight that lands back in Johannesburg at 22:30. Due to the smaller size of the Coastal Aviation aircraft passengers may only carry one complimentary cabin bag weighing maximum 20kg and no larger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm.

How to book your flight Johannesburg <> Zanzibar:
screenshot Fastjet.com

Limpopo (South Africa): Makhodo renamed Louis Trichard again!

After a long and controversial name changing process the town of Makhodo in Limpopo is now named Louis Trichard again. Louis Trichardt is located at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountain range about 450km from Johannesburg (N1) and just about an one hours drive along the N1 from the border to Zimbabwe at Beitbridge.

30 October 2014

Hoedspruit (Limpopo): Blyde Bridge (R527) to close during November 2014

update (13 Nov 2014): The Blyde Bridge is open at the moment! It will be closed again for half of Friday and half of Saturday, then it will be open until the next closure in a week to 10days time. (via Kruger2Canyon) Well' keep you posted!

update (04 Nov 2014): The Blyde Bridge is still open...

Travellers planning to visit Hoedspruit via the R527 should be aware that the Blyde Bridge, located on the border of the Ndlovumzi Nature Reserve towards Hoedspruit (just before the R531 goes south towards the Selati Game Reserve) will be closed during November 2014 due to repairs. Kruger2Canyon, a regional community newspaper, reports that the bridge crossing the Blyde River will close for 10+ days from 03 November 2014 and again for another 10+ days later in November 2014. According to the newspaper, the bridge will be open during night from 16:30 - 06:30am. We marked the Blyde Bridge (R527) on a Google Map for better orientation [link].

Hoedspruit, situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg, is mainly known for the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Kruger National Park (via Orpen Gate).

29 October 2014

Cape Town: One of Africa's longest zipline tours to open in November 2014

One of the longest zipline tours in Africa will open its doors in Cape Town 01 November 2014. Cape Town Ziplines, located in the Silvermist Mountain Lodge Estate within the Table Mountain National Park, offers 2.3 km of slides with some being as long as 500m and some as high as 155m. The duration of the zipline tour is approximately 2hrs30; Cape Town Ziplines is open 7 days a week with tours every hour from 9:00 till 17:00 in summer. Cape Town Ziplines is a division of SA Forest Adventures.

Silvermist Mountain Lodge Estate is situated on the forested Southern slopes of Table Mountain and within the Table Mountain National Park. The estate is accessible from all mayor transport routes including the Cape Town City Hop-on Hop-off Tour (Stop 21 Constantia Nek Wine Bus Tour Change Point, +- 300m from the stop down the Hout Bay Road on the left).

Download Getaway's "Guide to Off-Roading in Namibia" for free!

South African travel and outdoor publication Getaway Magazine published a 48-page booklet about off-roading in Namibia in its September 2014 issue. The "Getaway Guide to Off-Roading in Namibia" is now available as a free download (pdf) on the magazine's website. It provides an overview over some of the best 4x4 routes in Namibia, including advice on where to camp, road conditions and vehicle support. Kudos Getaway Magazine!

28 October 2014

South Africa: Lioness hunts down prey with GoPro camera mounted to its body (video)

South African animal behaviourist Kevin Richardson, also known as the "lion whisperer", posted a video to YouTube (via GoPro's youtube channel) offering a piggyback view of a lioness named Meg hunting down a water buck in the wild. The rare video was filmed by strapping a GoPro camera onto the animal’s back. Eish!

Kevin's "Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary" is located just an hour north east of Johannesburg and half an hour from Pretoria in the Welgedacht Private Game Reserve, which forms part of the Dinokeng Game Reserve. Since 01 Nov 2013 Kevin's Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public. Tours include a welcome refreshment, sanctuary tour and a guided game drive with a Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) guide in the greater area of the Big Five Reserve, as well as a boma braai lunch at the end of the tour. For more information please visit Kevin's website!

Rwanda: New visa rules from 01 November 2014

Rwanda is set to introduce new visa rules effective 01 November 2014. According to the new regulations, nationals from Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States will have to pay a USD30 visa fee, valid for a period of 30 days. The visa fee can be paid upon arrival at any Rwandan entry point without prior application. According to Rwanda's Directorate of Immigration and Emigration, the country's border posts will have banking facilities that accept various currencies as well as effecting payments. Citizens of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and from Mauritius remain exempted from having to pay a visa fee for stays up to 90 days under a tourist visa. Also available for tourists is the East African Single Tourist Visa at a cost of USD100. The joint visa covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and is valid for up to 90 days for foreign tourists.

27 October 2014

Garden Route: Gondwana Game Reserve introduced 800 new animals!

The Gondwana Game Reserve, located in the heart of the Garden Route about 25 minutes outside the coastal town of Mossel Bay, has recently introduced 800 new animals. The 11,000ha Big Five reserve received herds of Eland, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Red Hartebeest, Waterbuck as well as two adult female elephants and their three young. A pod of hippo and a new female cheetah will be introduced in the near future. Gondwana Game Reserve's pride of lion also welcomed two new cubs which were recently seen on game drive for the first time since their mother was denning. These introductions have taken the wildlife population in the Gondwana Game Reserve to the highest density it has ever been.

24 October 2014

South Africa: 899 rhinos killed by poachers so far in 2014

According to the latest statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa has lost 899 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of 2014. Of the rhinos poached, 581 rhinos were killed in the Kruger National Park, 109 in Limpopo, 74 in KwaZulu Natal, 57 in Mpumalanga, 53 in the North West, 14 in the Eastern Cape, 4 in the Free State, 3 in Gauteng, 2 in the Northern Cape and 1 in the Western Cape.
A total of 282 people have been arrested for rhino poaching-related offences in South Africa since January this year. 

Latest rhino poaching figures (as of 24 October 2014):
  • Kruger National Park (SANParks) - 581 rhinos poached
  • MAP (SANParks) - 1 rhino poached 
  • MNP (SANParks) - 0 rhino poached
  • Gauteng -  3 rhino poached
  • Limpopo - 109 rhino poached
  • Mpumalanga - 57 rhino poached
  • North-West Province - 53 rhino poached
  • Eastern Cape - 14 rhino poached
  • Free State - 4 rhino poached
  • KwaZulu Natal - 74 rhinos poached
  • Western Cape - 1 rhino poached
  • Northern Cape - 2 rhino poached

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is urging members of the public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

23 October 2014

South Africa: The official Absa Cape Epic 2015 route video

The organisers of the Absa Cape Epic, routinely referred to as "the Tour de France of mountain biking", have just released the official 2015 route video. The race will last eight days (15 - 22 March 2015) and will cover 739km with 16 000m of climbing. It starts from the University of Cape Town in Cape Town with stops in Elgin, Worcester and Wellington before the race ends at the Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville.

The Absa Cape Epic is an annual mountain bike stage race held in the Western Cape. It has been accredited as horst categorie (beyond categorisation) by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

22 October 2014

Lonely Planet ranked South Africa second in "Best Value Destination for 2015"!

Great news for the South African tourism industry. Lonely Planet ranked South Africa second in the "Best Value Destination for 2015" category in next year's editon of Best in Travel. Congratulations! The travel guide book publisher names the following reasons for selecting South Africa as the second best country to stretch your travel budget in 2015:
"Currency fluctuations mean that for certain travellers South Africa is more affordable than it has been for many years. Instead of just rejoicing in the undercooked rand, consider what South Africa offers value-seeking travellers at any time. How about fantastically accessible wildlife watching for all budgets, bargain public (and traveller-friendly) transport and free entry to many of the country’s museums? Most visitors will find something to please their budget, whether it’s a cheap-and cheerful Cape Town seaside cafe or an affordable safari campsite. Come in South Africa's shoulder seasons (March to May, September and October) for the best combination of low crowds and comfortable weather." [Read more]

Best in Travel is produced annually as a guide to the top destinations, trends and experiences for the upcoming year. Other countries on Lonely Planet's list of Best Value Destinations for 2015 include Tunisia (#1), Shanghai (#3), Samoa (#4), Bali (#5), Uruguay (#6), Portugal (#7), Taiwan (#8), Romania (#9) and Burkina Faso (#10).

Tanzania: Google Street View adds Gombe Stream National Park!

Google, in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Tanzania National Parks, has send out a team carrying the Street View Trekker to collect thousands of 360 degree images in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park. The images of the park are now availalbe on Google Street View.

Gombe Stream National Park is located in western Tanzania about 20 km north of Kigoma. The park is the smallest national park in Tanzania and only accessible by boat. Gombe Stream National Park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her groundbreaking research into the lives of chimpanzees.

21 October 2014

Lonely Planet: Namibia one of Top 10 countries to visit in 2015!

Lonely Planet has just rankend Namibia second in this year's Best in Travel - Top 10 Countries category. Congratulations! Best in Travel is produced annually as a guide to the top destinations, trends and experiences for the upcoming year. Other countries on the list include Singapore (#1), Lithuania (#3), Nicaragua (#4), Ireland (#5), Republic of Congo (#6), Serbia (#7), Philippines (#8), St Lucia (#9) and Morocco (#10).

FlyAfrica.com to launch daily flights Johannesburg <> Windhoek!

update (27 Feb 2015): FlyAfrica has announced that its inaugural flight between Johannesburg <> Windhoek will be delayed by two weeks. The inaugural flight between Cape Town <> Windhoek will not be affected!

update (25 Feb 2015):
FlyAfrica has just announced via its facebook page that it is required to get some more approvals for both their Namibia flights (Cape Town <> Windhoek & Johannesburg <> Windhoek).

update (15 Dec 2014): FlyAfrica.com has postponed the launch date for its service between Johannesburg and Windhoek from 02 Feb 2015 to 02 March 2015.

FlyAfrica.com, a new low cost carrier in Southern Africa with plans to operate scheduled regional flights in Africa from various hubs, has announced that it will launch daily flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek on 02 Februrary 2015.
update (21 Oct 2014): FlyAfrica (or Namibia flyafrica) also has plans to operate scheduled regional flights from Namibia to Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. We'll keep you posted!

Zimbabwe & Zambia to launch an uni-visa regime

update (10 Nov 2014): Zimbabwe and Zambia are going to introduce the so-called "Kaza uni-visa" on 28 November 2014. It will cost $50 and it will be bought at the tourist's point of entry. The visa, which is in its pilot phase, will last for 30 days.

update (23 Oct 2014): According to Tourism Update, the uni-visa for Zimbabwe and Zambia is still subject to cabinet approval. In a news update, Tourism Update quotes an official from the Zambia Department of Immigration saying that a "tentative" date had been set for November 28 but that it would definitely not be launched before then. We'll keep you posted!

The governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia will launch an uni-visa regime between the two countries at the World Travel Market (03-06 Novemer 2014) in London. The two countries expect that the implementation of the joint visa offers the opportunity to market shared national heritage (such as the Victoria Falls) and that it will boost tourist arrivals. We'll keep you posted!

20 October 2014

Ethiopian Airlines to launch flights to Tokyo (Japan)

update (27 Oct 2014): Ethiopian Airlines delays the start of operations between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Addis Ababa and Narita International Airport (NRT) in Tokyo via Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in Hong Kong to 20 April 2015.

According to aviation experts Airline Route, Ethiopian Airlines is set to introduce a new service to Tokyo, Japan. From 01 April 2015 the airline will operate three weekly flights between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Addis Ababa and Narita International Airport (NRT) in Tokyo via Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in Hong Kong. As a result, Ethiopian Airlines' overall service to Hong Kong will increase from four to seven weekly flights.

17 October 2014

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) certifies five new tourism businesses on Madagascar!

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT), a South African NGO that encourages and monitors fair and responsible practises in tourism establishments and activities, recently added five businesses on Madagascar to the family of FTT-certified businesses.

The five newly certified tourism businesses in Madagascar are:
These tourism businesses all adhere to the FTT standard and use the FTT label as a way of signifying their commitment to fair and responsible tourism. This includes fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.
Specific initiatives range from contributing to the education of children in the local communities and offering health clinics on their premises to working with local fishermen and fish farmers, in order to support them in making their businesses more profitable and more resilient. Recognizing the importance of preserving the local farming sector and increasing the value generated from agriculture,
FTT-certified businesses provide local farmers with the necessary tools as well as sharing technical and commercial knowledge with them. The businesses are also dedicated to water and energy savings and make use of local handicrafts to decorate their rooms.

Thai Airways to end operations to South Africa!

The flag carrier airline of Thailand, Thai Airways, has confirmed that it is ending its operations to South Africa. The airline will operate its last service between Bangkok <> Johannesburg on 14 January 2015.

16 October 2014

Video: Aerial Cape Town

While visiting Cape Town, photographer Eric Cheng filmed a short aerial video of the Mother City and its surrounding area with his DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter and his GoPro HERO 3+ Black. Locations include Lion's Head, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Hout Bay, Simon's Town and Seal Island; the footage includes great white sharks from above at Seal Island, an aggregation of spotted gully sharks/sharptooth houndshark in the surf near Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park and a brown fur seal surfing in the waves. Awesome! Kudos Eric!

Aerial Cape Town, South Africa, by Phantom 2 from Eric Cheng on Vimeo.