31 July 2017

Kruger National Park Calendar - September

  • it is spring time in the park
  • fresh mornings & warm to hot days
  • it can get pretty cold at night
  • occasional showers
  • pretty unpredictable weather patterns
baby elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari

  • first green shoots
  • spring flush depending on rain
  • new mopane growth with red-tinged leaves
  • good spring indicator: purple flowers of tree wisteria
Animal Activity:
  • Game still concentrated around watering holes etc.
  • migrant birds begin arriving
  • Elephants are coming south from their winter feeding grounds in the north

28 July 2017

Mozambique: Government sets US$50 price for tourist border visa

According to a statement from Mozambique's Interior Minister Basílio Monteiro, the price of the tourist border visa has been set by the Mozambican government at US$50 per person.
The government of
Mozambique approved new visa regulations on 21 February 2017, so that travellers from countries where Mozambique has an embassy or consulate are now eligible to get their entry visa at the port of entry. The new visa is valid for 30 days and allows travellers to leave and re-enter the country within the 30 day time frame.

26 July 2017

South Africa: SANParks strike update!

update (28 July 2017): South African National Park (SANParks) just confirmed that services at all their parks have not been affected by the strike action of some of their employees. All parks including Table Mountain National Park and Kruger National Park are open for business and there are no disruptions. Visitors should continue with their plans to visit the National Parks as contingency plans around the strike have been activated.

update (27 July 2017): The strike by the approximately 2000 workers affiliated to the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) is currently affecting Kruger National Park, Agulhas National Park, Mokala National Park, Namaqua National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

update (26 July 2017): The strike by SANParks employees across South Africa is set to continue on Thursday. The employees are demanding a 7.7% pay hike across the board while SANParks has so far only offered 7.1%.

South African National Parks (SANParks) has confirmed that a number of employees who are members of the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) went on strike. The industrical action, which follows after efforts by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) failed to resolve the salary dispute between the SANParks and the employees, is currently affecting SANParks Head Office in Pretoria, the Phalaborwa Gate and the Orpen Gate in Kruger National Park as well as Orpen Rest Camp, Berg en Dal Rest Camp and Shingwedzi Rest Camp (all in Kruger National Park). We'll keep you posted!

Rhino, Kruger National Park, safari, South Africa

South Africa: SA Airlink to operate scheduled flights to St Helena!

The Government of St Helena and South African carrier SA Airlink, a privately owned airline and a franchisee to South African Airways, have signed an agreement for the airline to provide scheduled commercial air services to St Helena. Following the necessary approvals, it is anticipated that the new service will commence in October 2017.

SA Airlink will operate its flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and St Helena's new Saint Helena Airport (HLE) via Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek. On both legs of the journey there will be an opportunity for a connection at Windhoek to a connecting flight to and from Cape Town; this gives flexibility to passengers to go to either destination. A proving flight will need to take place and more information will follow in due course.
The initial weekly service on a Saturday will be operated o board an Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft in a two class configuration. The flight time from
Johannesburg to St Helena will be approximately 06:15hrs including a half hour stop in Windhoek.
SA Airlink
will also operate a monthly charter service between
St Helena and Ascension Island.

25 July 2017

Namibia: New rhino and elephant poaching figures!

According to the deputy director of Wildlife and National Parks in the Central Regions Johnson Ndokosho, Namibia has lost (at least) 18 rhinos and 17 elephants to illegal poaching since the beginning of 2017. A total of (at least) 241 rhinos were killed by poachers since 2012; at least 245 elephants were poached since 2014.

Elephant, black & white, Etosha National Park, Namibia, safari

Namibia has the second largest population of rhino in the world estimated at 2,800 by the end of 2016, while the elephant population in the country is just over 22,000 animals.

24 July 2017

Air France to resume flights between Paris <> Nairobi!

The flag carrier of France, Air France, is set to resume flights between Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi on 25 March 2018. The airline will operate the new route from Paris to Nairobi and back three times a week on board a Boeing 787-9. Air France previously served Nairobi until March 2000.

South Africa: New rhino and elephant poaching figures!

According to the latest statistics released by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), South Africa has lost at least 529 rhinos to illegal poaching between January - June 2017, compared to 542 in the same period for 2016. Out of the 529 rhinos poached nationwide, 243 have been illegally killed in Kruger National Park. This is compared to 354 in the same period in 2016 (-34%). Whilst there has been a decrease in the number of rhino killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga, the number of rhino poached unfortunately increased in some other provinces of South Africa.

Rhino, black & white, Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari

During January - June 2017, 30 elephants were illegally killed by poachers in the
Kruger National Park.
A total of 359 alleged poachers and traffickers have been arrested in South Africa between January and June 2017 - of which 90 were arrested in Kruger National Park and 112 adjacent to the famous National Park.

21 July 2017

Tanzania: TANAPA introduced fixed rate concession fees for its 16 National Parks

Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA), a public organization with the mandate of managing all areas designated as National Parks in Tanzania, has introduced new fixed rate concession fees (pdf) applicable to all permanent facilities (lodge or permanent tented camp) within its 16 National Parks on 01 July 2017.
  • Ruaha National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Serengeti National Park - 50USD/Person
  • Katavi National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Mkomazi National Park - 25USD/Person
  • Mikumi National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Tarangire National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park- 25USD/Person
  • Kilimanjaro National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Mahale Mountains National Park- 30USD/Person
  • Saadane National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Arusha National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Rubondo Island National Park - 30USD/Person
  • Kitulo National Park- 25USD/Person
  • Lake Manyara National Park - 40USD/Person
  • Gombe National Park- 30USD/Person
  • Saanane National Park- 30USD/Person
Concession fees are payable to TANAPA by hoteliers maintaining Lodges and permanent camps within Tanzania's National Parks. The new fixed rate concession fee (pdf) is higher than the previous concession fee (10% of half board), so that travellers can eventually expect increased accommodation rates in TANAPA's National Parks in Tanzania.

Protected areas that are not managed by TANAPA, such as Ngorongoro Conservation Area or Selous Game Reserve, are currently not affected at the moment.

Johannesburg: Vilakazi Street gets CCTV cameras!

The City of Johannesburg has installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras along the popular Vilakazi Street in Orlando West in Soweto, the only street in the world where two Nobel Laureates - former South African President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - once lived. The new CCTV system was unveiled by Johannesburg's mayor Herman Mashaba on 19 July 2017. The cameras are installed to  ensure the safety of tourists and locals in Sowetos most popular street. The footage of the 25 hi-tech surveillance cameras in Vilakzi Street is monitored around the clock by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD). Over and above the installation of the CCTV cameras, the Vilakazi precinct is also getting patrolled by JMPD officers.

"Increasing security along Vilakazi Street, foreign and local tourists will enjoy their stay knowing that someone is guarding them. We need to invest in fighting crime as it has a negative impact on business and investment." Herman Masashaba during the launch of the new CCTV system in Vilakazi Street

20 July 2017

Malawi declares the "Elephant Marsh" its second Ramsar site!

Malawi has declared the Elephant Marsh, situated in the lower Shire valley in the south of the country, its second Wetland of International Importance*. The marsh, which forms part of the flood plain of the River Shire, is a mosaic of rooted swamp vegetation, floating flora and open water with grassy margins and reed beds, interspersed with islands containing reeds, shrubs and palm trees. In some places, floating mats of vegetation are so thick boat travel is nearly impossible. The size of the Elephant Marsh is depending on the flow of the Shire river and the Ruo river and varies from season to season and year to year - it ranges usually between 400km² to 1200km². 

Malawi's second Ramsar site* was named "Elephant Marsh" by the explorer David Livingstone in 1859, who counted as many as 800 elephants in one sighting. Nowadays the elephants are largely gone, but the marsh supports over 20,000 waterbirds. Around 26 waterbird species have been found breeding in the Elephant Marsh, including fish eagles, storks, kingfishers, herons, as well as the threatened Madagascar squacco heron, wattled crane and grey crowned crane.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands by providing a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of these fragile ecosystems and their resources. 

*Lake Chilwa, second-largest lake in Malawi, was declared a Ramsar site in 1996.

19 July 2017

South Africa: SANParks strike update!

update (19 July 2017): South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) have agreed to suspend the strike until 24 July 2017.

South African National Parks (SANParks) is currently experiencing service delays due to industrial action by employees who are members of the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA). SANParks has activated its contingency plans in all National Parks and will be monitoring the situation closely. The South African Police Services (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and volunteers from Working for Water have been posted at entrance gates to ensure safe passage to all those entering the 19 National Parks managed by SANParks.

elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari

HOSPERSA is demanding a 9% increase for their members while SANParks is offering 6.01% salary adjustment and a 1% pay progression with a total offer of 7%. Though the strike is protected, the "no work no pay" rule will apply to those who take part in the industrial action. We'll keep you posted!

Johannesburg: No City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off tours on 23 July 2017!

Due to the 2017 edition of "WalktheTalk" in Johannesburg on 23 July 2017, the City Sightseeing open-top bus hop-on hop-off tours will not be running on that day. "WalktheTalk" is a popular walking event in Johannesburg that many walkers use as a platform to raise awareness for great causes and come together in vibrant costumes or matching outfits. It caters to walkers of all fitness levels and abilities – there's a 15km walk which winds through some of Johannesburg's iconic landmarks, an 8km walk which goes through the leafy suburbs around Emmerentia, and a 5km walk which attracts a lot of families walking with kids, prams, gran and gramps, and even the family dog.

The City Sightseeing open-top bus hop-on hop-off tour in Johannesburg covers 12 stops around the city, including Constitution Hill, Ghandi Square and the Gold Reef City Theme Park. Travellers can remain on the bus and listen to the informative audio commentary during the entire 1.5-hour loop, or hop on and off and explore independently. 1-day or 2-day tickets for unlimited travel from the time of first use are available.

18 July 2017

SANParks announced the dates for the SA National Parks Week 2017!

update (18 Sept 2017): According to an article on enca.com, South African National Parks (SANParks) said during the official launch of National Parks Week at Golden Gate Highlands National Park on Sunday, its 19 national parks, including the Kruger National Park, will grant free admission to both local and international tourists.

South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced the dates of the South African National Parks Week 2017. The 12th annual SA National Parks Week will take place from 18 to 22 September 2017. During the week, South African day visitors will have free access to most of the 21 National Parks in the country. Only the Namaqua National Park (annual natural flower show will be in full bloom in September) and the Boulders Penguin Colony area in the Table Mountain National Park will be excluded from this year's SANParks' National Parks Week.

Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari vehicle, rhinos

It should be noted that free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities. Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the weekend. Individual park dates to be announced soon. The excluded Parks will apply normal entry tariffs.

17 July 2017

South Africa: Intended strike by SANParks' HOSPERSA staff might cause some service delays!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has confirmed that it received a notice to strike by workers affiliated to the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA). All outsourced services in SANParks' National Parks in South Africa, such as restaurants and retail stores, will continue operations as normal while SANParks managed operations including hospitality and gates are likely to experience some service delays. SANParks will activate contingency plans in all National Parks to ensure that guests enjoy their holidays with minimal interruption. We'll keep you posted!

Rhino in Kruger National Park, South Africa

12 July 2017

South Africa's most visited tourist attractions in 2016!

According to South Africa Tourism's 2016 Annual Tourism Report, the top three most-visited attractions or landmarks in South Africa are located in Cape Town. The V&A Waterfront was South Africa's most-visited attraction or landmark with 1 101 000 visitors (tourists) in 2016, followed by Cape Town's Central City, the most-visited tourist attraction of 2015, with 1 088 000 visitors and Cape Point with 862 000 visitors.

Cape Town, shipwreck, Robben Island, South Africa
Cape Town from Robben Island

Attractions or landmarks visited by tourists in South Africa 2016:
  1. V&A Waterfront - 1 101 000 visitors
  2. Cape Town Central City - 1 088 000 visitors
  3. Cape Point - 862 000 visitors
  4. Sandton City / Mandela Square - 818 000 visitors
  5. Table Mountain Cableway - 786 000 visitors
    able Mountain (not cableway) - 352 000 visitors
  6. The Winelands - 669 000 visitors
  7. Camp's Bay - 511 000 visitors
  8. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - 447 000 visitors
  9. Garden Route - 402 000 visitors
  10. Clifton Beach - 374 000 visitors
  11. Robben Island - 337 000 visitors
  12. Kruger National Park - 294 000 visitors
    via Skukuza, Numbi, Malelane, Crocodile Bridge
  13. Apartheid Museum - 262 000 visitors
  14. Tsitsikamma National Park - 250 000 visitors
  15. Eastgate Mall (Johannesburg) - 233 000 visitors
  16. Mandela House (Soweto) - 227 000 visitors
  17. Cape Town Ostrich Ranch / Cape Point Ostrich Farms - 226 000 visitors
  18. The Karoo / Karoo National Park - 193 000 visitors
  19. Tour of Soweto - 212 000 visitors
  20. Union Buildings (Pretoria) - 179 000 visitors

Ethiopian Airlines suspends flights between Addis Ababa <> Durban!

Ethiopia's flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, suspends its service between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Addis Ababa and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban. The last flight from Addis Ababa to Durban and back is scheduled to be on the 28 July 2017. The airline currently serves the route four times a week on Fridays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

11 July 2017

Fastjet to reintroduce flights between Johannesburg <> Victoria Falls!

Low cost-carrier Fastjet is set to reintroduce scheduled direct flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls, effective 31 July 2017.
In addition, the airline will also increase the number of flights between Harare International Airport (HRE) in
Harare and Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) in Victoria Falls to daily and at times twice daily frequencies as well as between Harare and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg from three to four flights per day on peak-demand days.

South Africa: New security measures at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg!

The government of South Africa is set to implement new security strategies to combat the rampant crime at OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. The revised measures will see the people working at the airport vetted and rotated to curb corruption, tactical response which will be intensified, increased police and security personal, as well as searching of people entering and leaving the airport.
"Things won't be business as usual. This new security strategy won’t be seasonal- but it is here to stay. The dangerous criminals must know we have an appointment with them. It is going to be a very horrible experience for them. If they come with their guns, they must pray to satan because they will meet our forces on the ground. This is not just war-talk, this is real." [Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, src.]
Travellers arriving at or departing from OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg should be aware of potential delays caused by the new security measures and should allow some extra time for entering or leaving the airport.

10 July 2017

South Africa: The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape has been inscripted as a World Heritage Site!

At its 41st session taking place in Krakow, Poland (02-12 July 2017), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has inscripted the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape in South Africa as a World Heritage Site. The landscape (959,100ha) is located in the Dawid Kruiper District Municipality in the Northern Cape. It covers the entire Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP) and forms part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which is bordered by Botswana and Namibia in the east and west respectively.

The ‡Khomani and related San people are unique in that they descend directly from an ancient population that existed in southern Africa some 150,000 years ago, the ancestors of the entire human race.
The red dunes of the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape are strongly associated with this unique culture stretching from the Stone Age to the present, thus making it a landscape that has changed little from a time long ago when humans were mainly hunter gatherers.  The Khomani Cultural Landscape has been home to at most a few hundred people who have survived life in the extreme desert landscape of the southern Kalahari through their knowledge of the land. Particular to their practices is their ways of physically defining the land through designated uses of the different parts; how their movements were organised as well as other significant cultural practices. (via https://www.environment.gov.za)
The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape is South Africa's ninth World Heritage Site. The other eight include the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Transboundary with Lesotho), Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Vredefort Dome, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Robben Island Museum, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

07 July 2017

Air Seychelles to suspend operations between the Seychelles and Durban!

The national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles, will suspend its direct service between Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on the island of Mahé and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban, effective 27 July 2017. According to the press release by the airline, the performance of the twice-weekly operation and its contribution to inbound tourism in the Seychelles did not meet company expectations.
Travellers will still be able to travel easily between Durban and the Seychelles via a short stop in Johannesburg, thanks to a codeshare agreement between Air Seychelles and South African Airways.

Latam Airlines increases seasonal flight frequency São Paulo <> Johannesburg!

The Latam Airlines Group, formed through the association of LAN (Chile) and TAM (Brazil), is going to increase the number of flights between São Paulo/Guarulhos–Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo (Brazil) and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg from 17 November 2017 to 24 March 2018 by two weekly flights. The additional flights from Johannesburg will be operated on Mondays and Saturdays and from São Paulo on Fridays and Sundays.

06 July 2017

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in June 2017!

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has published the on-time performance results of domestic airlines’ flying out of OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town and Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in June 2017.
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 (JNB), Johannesburg - 15 Min on Time Performance June 2017 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 97.91% (May 95.99%) 
  2. Kulula.com - 91.79% (May 89.95%)
  3. British Airways Domestic - 90.76% (May 90.94%)
  4. South African Airways - 90.43% (May 88.09%)
  5. CemAir - 88.86% (May 83.06%)
  6. Airlink - 88.58% (May 88.69%)
  7. Mango - 88.56% (May 88.81%)
  8. SA Express - 65.51% (May 63.17%)
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (May --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance June 2017 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 95.87% (May 96.80%)
  2. CemAir - 93.48% (May 94.23%
  3. South African Airways - 90.44% (May 92.35%)
  4. Mango - 90.00% (May 90.49%)
  5. British Airways Domestic - 89.31% (May 92.34%)
  6. Kulula.com - 88.34% (May 92.16%)
  7. Airlink - 88.13% (May 92.54%
  8. SA Express - 82.30% (May 85.03% 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (May --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance June 2017 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 99.24% (May 96.72%) 
  2. Mango - 94.26% (May 90.92%)
  3. Airlink - 94.12% (May 94.96%)
  4. Kulula.com - 93.26% (May 88.87%)
  5. South African Airways - 93.23% (May 87.48%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 93.00% (May 89.18%)
  7. SA Express - 75.62% (May 78.16%)