29 March 2018

South Africa: NICD issues malaria alert for Easter 2018!

South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has released a new malaria alert for Easter 2018. Due to increased travel during the Easter holidays, and the recent widespread rainfall across southern Africa, the number of malaria cases is expected to rise. The highest malaria transmission in the region would be found in Mozambique.
All residents and travellers to and from malaria transmission areas in
South Africa (north-eastern parts, covering Mopani district and Vhembe district of Limpopo, and the western parts of the Waterberg district (Thabazimbi and Lephalale areas)) remain at risk. Other areas of high transmission risk include the Lowveld of Mpumalanga, including the Kruger National Park and surrounds, and the northern KwaZulu Natal - Mozambique border region.



Kruger National Park: Kanniedood Dam will get demolished!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced that the Kanniedood Dam in Kruger National Park will be removed for ecologocal reasons. The demolition of the artificial water point, which is located on the S50 about 9km south east of Shingwedzi Rest Camp, is set to beginn on 08 April 2018 and will last until 20 April 2018. Explosives will be used to demolish the structure; after which the rubble will be removed as part of the rehabilitation process.
The area around the Kanniedood Dam will be cleared to ensure animals and human beings are safe; all roads in the areas will also be temporarily closed e.g. S50 gravel road will be closed from S50 and S143 junction in Mooiplaas up to S50 and S134 junction in Shingwedzi from 06 to 23 April 2018.

SANParks has been closing artificial water points in Kruger National Park for the past ten years, with the last being Ngotso Dam, Ngotso Weir and Gudzani windmill in December 2016.

Artificial water holes where water did not previously occur naturally have led to numerous ecological problems such as erosion and other environmental degradation. This also resulted in a negative consequence for the rare herbivore species such as roan and sable antelope, increasing grazing competition by the more abundant herbivores. (via SANParks)

28 March 2018

South Africa: Extended border times for Easter 2018!

South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has approved the extension of operational hours for selected ports of entry for Easter 2018. The extension of operational hours already commenced on 27 March 2018 and will run until 06 April 2018. 

Easter 2018, ports of entry, South Africa, operational hours

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: No parking on beaches!

Parking on the beaches of South Africa's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu Natal, is currently not (!) permitted due to the hatchling season of the endangered Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles who return every year to lay their eggs on the beaches of the Park. The season is expected to extend right through to the end of April 2018. If there are any incidents to report the management of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park asks the public to contact their emergency line 082 797 7944 with details.

27 March 2018

Kruger National Park: Paul Kruger Gate & Phabeni Gate inaccessible due to protests!

update (28 March 2018): According to South African National Parks (SANParks), the road from Hazyview to Paul Kruger Gate is clear. Phabeni Gate and Paul Kruger Gate are now accessible, only Numbi Gate remains inaccessible. (27 March 2018)

South African National Parks (SANParks) has informed the public that Kruger National Park's Paul Kruger Gate and Phabeni Gate are inaccessible due to service delivery protests taking place on the road (R40) from Hazyview to Paul Kruger Gate road today (27 March 2018) and is blocked at the moment. Numbi Gate is still also inaccessible (due to protests on the R538). Travellers planning to visit Kruger National Park are advised to use Malelane Gate, Orpen Gate or Crocodile Bridge Gate to access or exit the Park until further notice.

26 March 2018

Kruger National Park: Gate quotas in force during the Easter weekend 2018!

South African National Parks (SANParks) will enforce daily quotas for day visitors at the entrance gates to Kruger National Park over the coming Easter weekend (29 March 2018 - 02 April 2018). Through the day visitor quota for Kruger National Park SANParks aims to better manage the expected volumes of visitors, as well as to improve the visitors' expectations. SANParks has introduced three time slots, of which day visitos can choose from. It is advised to book a time slot prior to arrival, as pre-booked day visitors will get preference over non-booked day visitors at Kruger National Park's entrance gates.

The times slots below will apply from 29 to 31 March 2018:
  • Time slot 1: 05:30 to 07:30
  • Time slot 2: 07:30 to 09:30
  • Time slot 3: 09:30 onwards
The times slots below will apply as from 01 April 2018 onwards:
  • Time slot 1: 06:00 to 08:00
  • Time slot 2: 08:00 to 10:00
  • Time slot 3: 10:00 onwards
Pre-booked day visitors must ensure that they arrive within the time slots, as per their reservation. Arriving outside the booked time slot, will be regarded as non-booked and therefore not preferential. These bookings can be changed through SANParks Reservations offices. Visitors will be able to book up to 80% of Day Visitor Quota per gate.

Kruger National Park, safari, safari vehicle, South Africa

Visitors should also take note of the following important information:

  • Day Visitor bookings are subject to a non-refundable booking fee of R40 per adult and R20 per child until 31 March 2018 and R41 per adult and R21 per child from 01 April 2018 onwards.
  • Day Visitors who have pre-booked will still be required to pay Conservation Fees or use a valid Wild Card to enter Kruger National Park. The Conservation Fee for residents of South Africa is R82 per adult and R41 per child (between ages 2 – 11) and for international guests it is R328 per adult and R164 per child until 31 March 2018 and R83, R42, R331 and R166 respectively from 01 April 2018 onwards.
  • Guests planning to use Wild Cards are requested to ensure membership is valid before arrival and this can best be done online at www.sanparks.org/wild
  • The number and profile of persons (adults and children) on the reservation and actual persons arriving should correspond.
  • All guests (drivers and passengers) may be required to identify themselves upon admission (SA driver’s license, identity document or passport).
  • Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they are regarded as booked for all Day Visitor admissions.
  • Gate Quotas will be applied and un-booked guests could be denied entry.

22 March 2018

Survey: Durban is South Africa's most liveable city!

According to the 20th edition of Mercer's Quality of Living ranking, Durban is the most liveable city in South Africa, the second-most liveable city in Africa and the 89th most liveable city worldwide. Cape Town was placed second in South Africa, second in Africa and 94th in the world while Johannesburg was placed third in South Africa and Africa and 95th worldwide. Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, is Mercer's most liveable city in Africa and the 83rd most liveable city on a global scale.

The 20th edition of the Quality of Living report provides a separate ranking on City Sanitation, which analyses cities' waste removal and sewage infrastructure, levels of infectious disease, air pollution, water availability and quality. According to the results of the ranking,
Durban has the best city sanitation in South Africa, the second-best in Africa and the 73rd best in the world.

By comparing the Quality of Living rankings since the very first report in 1998, Mercer found out that Maputo in Mozambique had the highest increase in quality of living over the last 20 years in Africa.

Mercer's 2018 Quality of Living Ranking from Mercer on Vimeo.

The top five cities in the 20th edition of Mercer's Quality of Living ranking are Vienna (Austria), Zurich (Switzerland), Auckland (New Zealand), Munich (Germany) and Vancouver (Canada).

Mercer's authoritative survey is one of the world's most comprehensive and is conducted annually to enable multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. In addition to valuable data on relative quality of living, Mercer's surveys provide hardship premium recommendations for more than 450 cities throughout the world; this year's ranking includes 231 of these cities.
Mercer is the world's largest human resources consulting firm with more than 20,500 employees in 40 countries. Headquartered in New York City, the company operates internationally in more than 130 countries

Cape Town International Airport named Best Airport in Africa!

Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town  was named Best Airport in Africa at the 2018 SKYTRAX World Airport Awards™. Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DUR) came in second in the continental category, followed by OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. East London Airport (ELS) in East London was voted 6th best airport in Africa, Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth was named 8th and Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN) in Bloomfontein 9th best Airport in Africa.King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban won the award for Best Regional Airport in Africa (3rd in global ranking!), followed by East London Airport (ELS), Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) and Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN). Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Rwanda's capital Kigali was voted 5th Best Regional Airport in Africa and Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) was voted 6th best African regional airport.

Best Airports in Africa

  1. Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town
  2. King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban
  3. OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg 
  4. Mauritius
  5. Marrakech 
  6. East London Airport (ELS) in East London 
  7. Seychelles 
  8. Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth  
  9. Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN) in Bloomfontein 
  10. Cairo
Best Regional Airports in Africa
  1. King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban
  2. East London Airport (ELS) in East London  
  3. Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth   
  4. Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN) in Bloomfontein 
  5. Kigali International Airport (KGL) in Kigali 
  6. Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek 
  7. Tunis
  8. Dakar
  9. Luxor
  10. Abidjan
Best Airport Hotels in Africa
  1. InterContinental Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg 
  2. Le Méridien Cairo Airport, Cairo 
  3. Novotel Cairo Airport, Cairo
  4. Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa 
  5. Hotel Verde Cape Tow, Cape Town
The 2018 SKYTRAX World Airport Awards™ are based on 13.73 million airport survey questionnaires completed by over 100 different nationalities of airline customers during the survey period. The survey operated from August 2017 to February 2018, covering 550 airports worldwide and evaluating traveller experiences across different airport service and product key performance indicators - from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration through to departure at the gate.

21 March 2018

Swaziland: New public holiday on 20 April 2018!

The Government of Swaziland has declared 20 April 2018 a public holiday. The country celebrates both the 50th birthday of Swaziland's King Mswati III and 50 years since independence on 19 April 2018. National Flag Day, a public holiday usually celebrated on 25 April 2018, will be replaced by the new public holiday on 20 April 2018 and becomes a normal working day in the 2018 calendar.

The main crossing between Mozambique & South Africa will be operational 24hrs a day from April 2018!

update (22 June 2018): We just got information from Mozguide.com that the border times have not changed. The border times are still 06:00 - 24:00!

The goverments of Mozambique and South Africa have announced that the Ressano Garcia border post (Mozambique) and the Lebombo border post (South Africa) between the two countries will be operational 24 hours a day from 01 April 2018. The Ressano Garcia border post is located in the town of Ressano Garcia along the EN4; the Lebombo border post is located about 7km from Komatipoort along the N4

Mozambique <> South Africa border posts:
  • Parfuri/Parfuri border post - opening hours: 08:00 - 16:00
  • Giriyondo/Giriyondo border post - opening hours: 08:00 - 16:00 (October - March); 08:00 - 15:00 (April - September)
  • Ressano Garcia/Lebombo border post - opening hours: 06:00 - 24:00; 24hrs from 01 April 2018
  • Ponta do Ouro/Kosi Bay - opening hours: 08:00 - 16:00

20 March 2018

Table Mountain National Park: Bird flu outbreak at Boulders Penguin Colony!

update (12 April 2018): As of 09 April 2018, the deaths of four penguins have been confirmed to be as a result of bird flu and 18 penguin deaths are suspected to be linked to the disease.

Due to an outbreak of bird flu (H5N8 strain) in the penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park, South African National Parks (SANParks) has implemented the following precautions:
  • With the exception of visitors on Boulders Beach boardwalk, nobody may access the main breeding colony.
  • In instances where staff need to go off boardwalks to collect injured birds or hats, camera lens, caps etc dropped by visitors they will limit their access to essential work and then sterilise their boots afterwards - gum boots have been issued and are easier to clean than the normal boot.
  • Monitoring routes used for moult/nest counts have been reviewed to ensure that staff and Penguin monitors do not walk through the main breeding colony.
Western Cape Veterinary Services, CapeNature, SANParks, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, City of Cape Town, SANCCOB and other seabird rehabilitation centres and private veterinarians are working in close cooperation to monitor the situation and perform further testing. While the virus is highly pathogenic to chickens and other poultry, the impact on wild seabirds is not that well understood (so far 1 tern and 2 penguins from Boulders have come back positive for H5N8). Closing the colony to visitors is not justified at this stage.
Even though the virus is unlikely to infect humans, precautions should nevertheless be taken.

Tips for visitors:

  • Visitors must stay on designated board walks
  • Visitors should change shoes and clothes if visiting other seabird colonies or poultry farms to prevent contamination from one site to another

19 March 2018

Constitution Hill (Johannesburg): Free entry & tours on Human's Right Day!

Johannesburg's Constitution Hill is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa's journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fort and is, today, home to the country's Constitutional Court. Constitution Hill will offer free admission and tours on Human Rights Day (21 March 2018). Visitors will be able to join a guided tour through the museum, explore the museum on their own, walk through the Number 4 prison, the Old Fort prison and the Women's Gaol, and view, or example, the Nelson Mandela "Prisoner in a Garden" exhibition or the Mahatma Gandhi exhibition.

The Constitution Hill precinct is located at 11 Kotze Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg near the western end of the suburb of Hillbrow. The opening hours are daily from 09:00 to 17:00, with the final tour departing from the Visitor Centre at 16:00. Tickets for adults cost between R65 (1hrs highlights tour) and R350 (3hrs time travel tour). If you are visiting Constitution Hill as part of your City Sightseeing red bus tour, your red bus ticket entitles you to a 25% discount off your Constitution Hill ticket price on the day of your red bus trip.

Constitution Hill provides free entry on the following days:
  • Human Rights Day: 21 March
  • Freedom Day: 27 April
  • Youth Day: 16 June
  • Women's Day: 9 August
  • Heritage Day: 24 September
  • World Tourism Day: 27 September
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

Air Namibia: Operations to continue unhindered!

Namibia's flag carrier Air Namibia has released a public announcement to respond to recent media articles speculating that the airline's operations will cease.
According to the statement, Air Namibia continues to operate as per its mandate, transporting passengers and cargo between domestic destinations in Namibia, the rest of southern Africa and Europe, via Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The airline also reassures its clients and all stakeholders that flights continue to operate according to their published flight schedule. The statement also highlights that the Government of the Republic of
Namibia (GRN), which is the sole shareholder of Air Namibia, has confirmed their continued support, amongst others through the targeted subsidy allocations as announced by Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Finance, in the National Assembly as follows:
  • N$740 million for 2018/19
  • N$676 million for 2019/20
  • N$698 million for 2020/21

16 March 2018

West Coast National Park: Gelbeek Restaurant to continue trading until a new operator has been appointed!

According to South African National Parks (SANPark), the Geelbek Restaurant in the West Coast National Park will continue to operate without interruption. Although the contract with the current operator expired on 28 February 2018, patrons will continue to have full access to the restaurant. SANParks and the current operator concluded a temporary arrangement in order for the restaurant to continue trading until a new interim operator has been appointed. We'll keep you posted!

Geelbek Restaurant is situated near the Langebaan lagoon, inside the West Coast National Park, in the old Geelbek main house. This Cape Dutch building is a National Monument and was renovated three times since it was first built in 1744.

15 March 2018

Eurowings to suspend flights between Cologne <> Windhoek!

German carrier Eurowings just confirmed on twitter (also see this tweet) that the airline will suspend its service between Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN), which serves the cities of Cologne and Bonn in Western Germany, and Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek at the end of October 2018. The airline will instead launch flights between Munich Airport (MUC) in Munich and Windhoek on 07 May 2018.  

Virgin Atlantic to add a second daily service between London <> Johannesburg!

British airline Virgin Atlantic is set to introduce a second daily service between Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg on 28 October 2018. The additional flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft and will add 180,000 seats on the route. Tickets will be available to book from 24 March 2018.

Botswana's first Diamond Museum has been opened to the public!

Debswana, the world's leading producer of diamonds by value, has officially opened Botswana's first diamond museum in Orapa in the country's Central District on 10 March 2018. The Adrian Gale Diamond Museum is intended to capture the diamond story and showcase anecdotes, artifacts of the critical period in the history of Botswana for the benefit of future generations. The museum, which is named after the late Dr. Adrian Gale, who was the then General Manager of Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM), also offers a curio shop, a coffee shop, storage area and a visitors lounge. Debswana also opened an extension of the Orapa Game Park on 10 March 2018. Both the Adrian Gale Diamond Museum and the extension of the Game Park are part of the mining company's "Orapa Today, Boteti Tomorrow (OTBT)" programme.

Orapa, which is considered to be the diamond capital of Botswana, is located about 520km (by car) from Gaborone and about 250km (by car) from Makgakgadi Pans National Park.

Botswana: Public holiday on 03 April 2018!

Botswana's government has declared 03 April 2018 a public holiday. (Government Notice No. 141 of 2018 dated 5 March 2018). 03 April 2018 is the first Tuesday after the long Easter weekend 2018 (Friday, 30 March 2018 - Good Friday; Saturday, 31 March 2018 - public holiday; Monday, 02 April 2018 - Easter Monday).

13 March 2018

West Coast National Park: Gates to open late due to West Coast Marathon!

Due to the West Coast Marathon taking place on 21 April 2018, the gates to the West Coast National Park will only open from 13:00 for visitors. The National Park usually opens the dates at 07:00 and closes at 18:00 (April - August; September - March 07:00 - 19:00).

The West Coast National Park is located 120 km north of Cape Town in the Western Cape. The National Park covers about 27,500 hectare and runs from Yzerfontein in the South up to the Langebaan lagoon in the North.

12 March 2018

Gross Barmen Resort (Namibia): Increased entrance fee for day visitors!

Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) has announced that the entrance fee for day visitors to the Gross Barmen Resort has been increased to N$200.00/person. The price adjustment is for day visitors intending to make use of the braai facilities and mini pool at the campsites. Day visitors who want to make use of the thermal pool and other facilities are required to pay an additional N$100.00/person.
According to Francois Snyders, NWR Gross Barmen Resort Manager, "the increase is necessary to ensure the upkeep of the facilities that are accessible to day visitors. At the same time, this will also preserve the facilities for future generations to come".

Gross Barmen Resort, located around 100 km from Namibia's capital city of Windhoek and 24 km east of Okahandja, has been built around a natural mineral hot spring. The resort includes facilities for spa & wellness, fitness, recreation, and leisure. The main attraction of the resort is the health and hydro/ medical spa centre, featuring thermal springs and providing a full range of treatments, massages, and health activities for relaxation.

09 March 2018

Iziko Museums of South Africa: Free entry on Human Rights Day!

Iziko Museums of South Africa just announced on Facebook that visitors will have free access all of its museums and galleries in Cape Town (except for the Iziko Planetarium & Digital Dome, Groot Constantia and the Castle of Good Hope) on Human Rights Day on 21 March 2018!

Iziko Museums of South Africa provides free entry on the following days:
  • 21 March – Human Rights Day
  • 27 April – Freedom Day
  • 25 May – Africa Day
  • 24 September – Heritage Day and Heritage Week
  • 16 June – Youth Day
  • 09 August – Women’s Day
  • 01 December – World Aids Day & Emancipation Day

08 March 2018

Kruger National Park/Mozambique: Giriyondo Border Gate inaccessible due to community protests!

update (09 March 2018): Giriyondo Border Gate is accessible again!

According to South African National Parks (SANParks), the Giriyondo Border Gate, one of only two gateways with direct access between Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, is inaccessible as a port of entry/exit due to community protests taking place on the roads in Limpopo National Park on 08 March 2018 and are blocked at the moment. Travellers are advised to use alternative border gates until further notice. We'll keep you posted!

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in February 2018!

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 February 2018.
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 February  2018 (airport target 87%
  1. South African Airways - 92.06% (January 90.60%) 
  2. FlySafair - 89.98% (January 94.10%) 
  3. Airlink - 86.97% (January 89.67%) 
  4. Kulula.com - 82.04% (January 82.65%) 
  5. Mango - 79.70% (January 74.95%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 79.36% (January 91.73%)   
  7. SA Express - 67.32% (January 78.21%) 
  8. CemAir - 54.47% (January 85.78%)  
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (January --.--%) 
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance February 2018 (airport target 90%)
  1. South African Airways - 92.90% (January 92.61%) 
  2. Kulula.com - 88.88% (January 89.25%) 
  3. Airlink - 88.13% (January 90.24%) 
  4. FlySafair - 87.99% (January 90.51%) 
  5. Mango - 86.39% (January 82.74%) 
  6. British Airways Domestic - 81.19% (January 91.31%) 
  7. SA Express - 75.20% (January 83.20%) 
  8. CemAir - 66.67% (January 83.85%)  
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (January --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance February 2018 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 94.84% (January 94.61%)
  2. South African Airways - 93.87% (January 92.42%)
  3. Airlink - 84.68% (January 94.66%)
  4. Kulula.com - 82.89% (January 84.33%)
  5. Mango - 82.35% (January 85.02%)
  6. British Airways Domestic - 79.30% (January 91.96%)
  7. SA Express - 64.45% (January 84.29%)