29 February 2016

Kruger National Park Calendar - April!

  • seasonal shift towards autumn
  • drop in daytime temperatures with cool evenings
  • occasional late summer rains

  • 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

Namibia: "Undisturbed Places - A Timelapse Film"

Namibia is a filmmaker's wonderland! Wondering why? Check out Maciej Tomków's fantastic video "Undisturbed Places - A Timelapse Film". The film was shot a various places in Namibia (and Botswana) during a month-long trip through the Namib and the Kalahari. Maciej collected 2 terrybytes of timelapse footage while travelling around the two countries. "Undisturbed Places - A Timelapse Film" is a selection of the most beautiful locations the filmmaker was able to film. Kudos Maciej!

25 February 2016

South Africa: SAA to introduce new departure closing time for domestic flights!

South African Airways (SAA) is set to introduce a new departure closing time for domestic flights in South Africa. Effective from 01 April 2016, SAA will close all domestic flights for check-in 40 minutes before boarding for all domestic flights on departures only (!) from Johannesburg to Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London. This change for now only applies to departures to other domestic stations within South Africa from Johannesburg only and will not affect minimum connecting time. Flights will close sooner but would not have an impact on current boarding times which will not be changed at all. Previously South African Airways  closed all domestic flights for check-in 30 minutes before boarding.

Uganda: Gorilla permit promotion in April, May & November 2016!

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has launched a gorilla tracking promotion and a chimpanzee tracking promotion valid during the months of April and May 2016 (01 April - 31 May 2016) as well as during November 2016 (01 - 30 November 2016). According to a facebook post by the UWA, during the promotions foreign non residents will pay US$450 instead of US$600 for a gorilla permit and USD100 instead of USD150 for a chimpanzee permit. Foreign residents will pay US$400 (US$500) for gorilla tracking and USD75 (USD100) for chimpanzee tracking, while East Africans will part with Ush150,000 (Ush 250,000) for a gorilla permit and Ush75,000 (Ush100,000) for a chimpanzee permit. For more information please contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

23 February 2016

Rwanda: 487 of Kigali's city transport buses connected to 4G LTE Internet

A total of 487 city transport buses in Rwanda's capital Kigali have been fitted with routers, which allow passengers on board to have full access to free super-fast 4G LTE internet. All buses are belonging to Kigali Bus Services, Royal Express and Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC). The new service is part of the "Smart Kigali" initiative, which was launched in 2013 with the aim of providing free wireless connection as well as improving internet connectivity and access around Kigali.

Rwanda: Rwandair to launch six new routes!

The flag carrier airline of Rwanda, Rwandair, is set to launch flights to six new destinations on the African continent. The airline will open new routes to Harare in Zimbabwe, Lilongwe in Malawi, Khartoum in Sudan, Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire, Cotonou in Benin and Bamako in Mali. Rwandair also plans introduce flights to London in the UK and Paris in France and, later next year, to Guangzhou in China and to a destination in India.

18 February 2016

South African Airways suspends Johannesburg <> Abu Dhabi & discontinues codeshare with Etihad Airways!

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways (SAA), will cease its operations between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates from 01 March 2016. According to the airline, the decision follows extensive analysis and efforts to make the route sustainable over a much shorter period than anticipated. South African Airways (SAA) will also discontinue the codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, due to route network rationalisation.  SAA Acting CEO Musa Zwane said in report from the South African Government News Agency: "[...] the airline is confident that most routes previously served through this code share can be accommodated through SAA's other code share partners and within the Star Alliance." Etihad Airways is the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates.

South Africa: Qatar Airways & Comair sign codeshare agreement!

The state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways, and South Africa-based Comair, which operates scheduled services on domestic routes as a British Airways franchisee and also as a low-cost carrier under its own kulula.com brand, have signed a codeshare agreement. Effective 23 February 2016, Qatar Airways will place its code on flights that have British Airways livery, operated by its franchise Comair, from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban, Harare, Victoria Falls, and Port Elizabeth. Qatar Airways will also place its code on flights operated by Comair from Cape Town to Durban and Port Elizabeth.

17 February 2016

Namibia adds African wild dogs to protected species list!

Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has amended schedule 3 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 to include African wild dogs as one of the protected species in the country. Wild dogs were previously not protected at all in Namibia. Through the amendment of the Nature Conservation Ordinance, the species now has the same legal status as, for instance, rhinos.

The African wild dog, classed as an endangered species (high risk of extinction in the wild) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), is both Africa's and Namibia's most endangered large mammal and one of the world's most endangered carnivores. The current population in Africa has been estimated at roughly 39 subpopulations containing 6,600 adults, only 1,400 of which are fully grown. According to the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), Namibia is currently home to an estimated number of 300 - 600 African wild dogs.

15 February 2016

Brussels Airlines adds fifth weekly nonstop flight to Entebbe (Uganda)!

The flag carrier of Belgium, Brussels Airlines, is set to introduce a fifth weekly nonstop flight between Brussels Airport (BRU) in Brussels and Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Entebbe (Uganda). The airline will operate an Airbus A330-200 in a Business/Economy two class cabin layout on the route. The five flights combine Entebbe with Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali (Rwanda) enroute back to Brussels. Earlier this year, Brussels Airlines shifted one of its two flights between Brussels and Bujumbura International Airport (BJM) in Bujumbura in Burundi to Entebbe International Airport.

Fastjet cancels new route between Kilimanjaro <> Nairobi!

update (17 Feb 2016): Fastjet will now operate flights between Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Tanzania and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi on Fridays and Sundays instead of daily.

update (15 Feb 2016):

Tanzania-based low cost-airline Fastjet has canceled its daily service between Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Tanzania and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. According to news reports it seems that the suspension of the flight came as a result of poor loadfactors. Fastjet only launched the route on 11 January 2016 and operated an Airbus A319 for the flights between Kilimanjaro and Nairobi.

12 February 2016

Fastjet to increase flights between Johannesburg <> Harare!

update (18 Feb 2016): Fastjet has again raised the number of flights between Johannesburg and Harare. The airline will now offer double-daily flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays (all effective 26 February 2016), Tuesdays and Thursdays (effective 28 March 2016).

Following the huge demand after the launch of Fastjet's new route between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Harare International Airport (HRE) in Harare on 01 February 2016, the airline is set to increase the frequency on its daily flights between the two destinations from 7 to eleven flights a week. Effective 29 February 2016, Fastjet will operate four extra weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the Johannesburg - Harare route.

Johannesburg: Refurbishments at OR Tambo International Airport to affect international departures!

The final phase of refurbishments at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) is set to start on 13 February 2016. The Retail Duty-Free Mall at the airport's International Terminal Departures in Terminal A will get modernised and revitalised to enhance ambience and passenger experience. The refurbishments will include:
  • modernisation of existing finishes made up of the upgrading of ablution facilities
  • replacement of directional signage
  • improvement of lighting, replacement of ceiling tiles to improve the overall ambience
  • upgrading of bulk services which includes amongst others replacement of air conditioning units to improve air circulation in the area
During the final phase of the refurbishments at OR Tambi International Airport:
  • Passengers will need to set aside sufficient time for check in.
  • Customs (Tax refund for tourists) will remain at Terminal A just before the check-in counters and will operate as normal.
  • International Check In, for airlines that currently use Terminal A will continue as normal as this area is not effected by the refurbishment project. On completion of the check in process, Customer Care agents wearing orange t-shirts inscribed with the words "How Can I help you" will be on hand to assist passengers with the route to be followed.
  • The security screening and emigration processes of passengers will take place at the Central Terminal Building (CTB)
  • Passengers are encouraged to look for directional signage from the Terminal A International Check In Island to the Central Terminal Building (CTB) security and emigration screening points.
  • Airlines currently operating international or regional flights from Terminal B will continue to check in at Terminal B and proceed to the Central Terminal Building (CTB) security and emigration processing points.
  • Passengers arriving on Gautrain for departure flights out of Terminal A will proceed to Terminal A for check in and then walk past the KFC outlet to CTB for security and emigration processes. International passengers are encouraged to arrive early for check in and it is recommended that a minimum of three hours be set aside.
  • Passengers requiring any information are encouraged to make contact with our customer care on 011 921 6262.
  • The Customer Care agents located at the information desks will also be able to assist with passenger queries.

09 February 2016

Western Cape: CapeNature earns first ever Eco certification in Southern Africa!

The Kogelberg Nature Reserve, the Robberg Nature Reserve and the Goukamma Nature Reserve have been awarded the prestigious ECO Certification by Ecotourism Australia. The three reserves, all managed by CapeNature, are the first tourism products in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to earn the certification. Congrats!

The ECO Certification program, which was developed to address the need to identify genuine nature and ecotourism operators, assures travellers that certified products are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provides high quality nature-based tourism experiences. Ecotourism Australia is represented in southern Africa through an exclusive agreement with Eco-tourism Africa, a COMET Corporation initiative.

08 February 2016

South Africa: British Airways (operated by Comair) amend closure time for departing flights!

As of 01 March 2016, all British Airways (operated by Comair) domestic and regional flights in South Africa will close 45 minutes prior to departure and no longer 30 minutes as was previously the case. The check-in closeout time has been standardised across the British Airways global route network (including all franchise partners) as part of the deployment of its new airport solution (FLY) which is currently been rolled out across all airports that British Airways currently serve. Travellers are advised to check their flight status prior to travelling, as the closing time of their flight may be earlier than previously published.

04 February 2016

TAZARA: Adjustment to the passenger train running schedules!

In order to incorporate the newly acquired passenger coaches in the system and further streamline TAZARA's passenger train operations, the timetables for the through interstate passenger trains, known by the names Mukuba and Kilimanjaro, have been adjusted* with effect from 16 February 2016 as follows:
  • The Mukuba Passenger Train, which used to run as Express Train from New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia every Tuesday and as Ordinary Train from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania every Friday, will now be running as MUKUBA EXPRESS TRAIN departing from New Kapiri Mposhi every Tuesday and then departing from Dar Es Salaam every Friday. The change is that the Mukuba Express Train will run both ways as EXPRESS TRAIN and will follow the current Express Passenger Train running times.
    • Mukuba Express departs New Kapiri-Mposhi every Tuesday at 16:00
    • Mukuba Express departs Dar es Salaam every Friday at 15:50
  • The Kilimanjaro Passenger Train, which used to run as Express Train from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania every Tuesday and as Ordinary Train from New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia every Friday, will now be running as KILIMANJARO ORDINARY TRAIN departing from Dar Es Salaam every Tuesday and then departing from New Kapiri Mposhi every Friday. The change is that the Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train will run both ways as ORDINARY TRAIN and will follow the current Ordinary Passenger Train running times.
    • Kilimanjaro Ordinary departs Dar es Salaam every Tuesday at 13:50
    • Kilimanjaro Ordinary departs New Kapiri-Mposhi every Friday at 14:00
*This new interstate passenger train schedule supersedes all other schedules.

03 February 2016

Qatar Airways to launch direct flights between Doha <> Maputo (Mozambique)!

The state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways, will launch direct flights between Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha and Maputo International Airport (MPM) in Maputo, Mozambique, on 27 March 2016. The airline currently serves the Doha Maputo route three times a week via OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Qatar Airways will operate three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on board the Boeing 787 Dreamliner between the two destinations.

02 February 2016

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in January 2016!

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 2016.
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 2016 (airport target 87%)
  1. Airlink - 93.13% (December 85.68%) 
  2. FlySafair - 92.86% (December 89.91%)
  3. South African Airways - 86.09% (December 77.74%) 
  4. British Airways Domestic - 85.24% (December 80.33%)
  5. Kulula.com - 83.30% (December 65.56%)  
  6. Mango - 82.01% (December 79.77%) 
  7. SA Express - 80.09% (December 77.53%)   
Cape Town International Airport - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2016 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.00% (December 92.31%)  
  2. SA Express - 94.99% (December 87.43%) 
  3. Airlink - 94.24% (December 95.94%) 
  4. South African Airways - 87.53% (December 84.09%)
  5. British Airways Domestic87.37% (December 84.47%) 
  6. Kulula.com - 87.34% (December 78.56%)
  7. Mango - 85.09% (December 84.99%)    
King Shaka International Airport, Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance January 2016 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 97.27% (December 97.30%)
  2. SA Express - 94.38% (December 87.42%)  
  3. South African Airways - 92.86% (December 87.23%) 
  4. Airlink - 92.55% (December 87.84%) 
  5. British Airways Domestic - 86.62% (December 80.00%)  
  6. Mango - 85.14% (December 85.54%)
  7. Kulula.com - 80.00% (December 69.91%) 

01 February 2016

Kruger National Park Calendar - March!

  • end of summer...
  • still hot and humid during the day, but nights begin to get colder
  • last major rainfalls of the season

  • Water availability at its peak
  • river levels high
  • dense vegetation
  • grasslands in full seed
Animal Activity:
  • animal dispersal at its widest
  • animals rather relaxed - least competition for resources
  • water sources throughout the park are usually full
  • buffalo & kudu breeding peak
  • many migrant birds leaving