30 April 2019

Kruger National Park Calendar - June!

  • days usually warm, sometimes hot
  • generally wind free
  • cold evenings
  • rarely rain falls
Kruger National Park, South Africa, safari, lion, wildlife

  • most pans and vleis dry up
  • bush thins out
  • grasslands begin receding
  • umbrella acacia pods twirl out
Animal Activity:
  • large elephant populations in northern Kruger
  • animals concentrate around reliable water sources
  • predators very active around reliable water sources

29 April 2019

Victoria Falls: Livingstone Island to temporarily close!

The water levels of the Upper Zambezi River continue to rise as they do at this time of the year, so that Livingstone Island, which is located in the middle of the river right on the edge of the Victoria Falls just before the water thunders down a 103 metre drop, will temporarily close on 01 May 2019. The island usually reopens around late June; the swimming in the pools (Devil's Pool) only starts sometime between mid-July and August.
Livingstone Island is a protected area that is only allowed a maximum of 24 people on at any one time.

Air Tanzania to launch direct flights between Dar es Salaam <> Johannesburg! [update]

update (14 May 2019): Effective 16 July 2019, Air Tanzania will operate an Airbus A220-300 between Dar es Salaam <> Johannesburg.

The flag carrier airline of Tanzania, Air Tanzania, will launch direct flights between Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. Effective 28 June 2019, the airline will operate four weekly return flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays to South Africa. Air Tanzania will also launch a new service between Dar es Salaam and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, India. Effective 17 July 2019, the airline will operate three weekly return flights to Mumbai.Air Tanzania's Boeing B787 Dreamliner, configured with 22 seats in business class and 240 in economy class, will service both routes.

26 April 2019

South African Airways temporarily offers alternative travel arrangements to Blantyre in Malawi!

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways (SAA), is offering customers alternative travel arrangements to Malawi following the temporary closure of the main runway at Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in Blantyre for maintenance and rehabilitation (24 April 2019 to 23 July 2019). The airline operates three weekly services between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Blantyre (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays). The aircraft size, which South African Airways operates to Chileka International Airport (BLZ), does not fit in the required categories/classes of the secondary runway, which will remain operational. For the duration of the runway rehabilitation project, the airline will facilitate travel via Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe for onward connection to Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in Blantyre. This is intended to avoid any service disruptions and is part of contingency plans to re-accommodate customers via Lilongwe. Customers of South African Airways will travel between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe on South African Airways' operated aircraft and further to/from Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in Blantyre with Ethiopian Airlines. Affected customers are advised to contact South African Airways for further information.

24 April 2019

Zimbabwe: The "Lookout Cafe" in Victoria Falls announced the reopening date! [update]

update (13 December 2019): The Lookout Cafe in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe has been re-opened on 01 December 2019!

update (10 July 2019): According to the website of the Lookout Cafe in Victoria Falls, the opening date has again been postponed. The new opening date is 01 December 2019!

The famous Lookout Cafe in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, which was completely devastated by fire in the early hours of 24 December 2018, has announced a new re-opening date. Due to unforseen circumstances and numerous hindrances along the way, the famous restaurant will not reopen in May/June 2019, but on 01 September 2019.

The semi open-air Lookout Cafe, which is operated by Wild Horizons, is located 120m above the turbulent rapids of the Zambezi River, overhanging the Batoka Gorge, just down from the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge.

Western Cape: The Whale Trail will be closed until 2020!

The famous Whale Trail, which is closed since Januray 2019, will only reopen in 2020 and not in October 2019, as previously planned. Cape Nature, the public institution with the statutory responsibility for biodiversity conservation in South Africa's Western Cape, is implementing extensive renovations on the Whale Trail that will greatly enhance the visitor experience. The renovations include:
  • Provision of overnight lapas
  • Improved user-friendly  and safe route to Stilgat for snorkelling and swimming in the blistering hot seasons
  • Cottages will be solar-powered
  • Refreshing filtered water in your huts, for those hot summer days

De Hoop Nature Reserve from CapeNature on Vimeo.

Whale Trail is a 5-day hiking trail that stretches over 55km from Potberg to Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The 34 000ha Nature Reserve is located just three hours from Cape Town.

South African Airways advises customers of operational changes to Blantyre (Malawi)

Due to the closure of the main runway at Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in  Blantyre, Malawi, for maintenance, South African Airways' (SAA) operations to Blantyre have been cancelled on 24 April 2019 and 27 April 2019. The aircraft size which the airline operates to Blantyre does not fit in the required categories/classes of the secondary runway, which remains operational during the mainenance of the main runway. However, contingency plans have been put in place for smaller aircraft operated by SA Express* (Q400 turbo prop aircraft) to operate this route, with the exception of the Wednesday and Saturday flights.
South African Airways usually operates a three weekly service between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in
Blantyre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Affected customers are advised to contact South African Airways for further information.

* State-owned airline SA Express is operationally independent of South African Airways, but its flights are incorporated within the strategic alliance with South African Airways.

Garden Route National Park: Temporary closure of hiking trails due to rain!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has temporarily closed hiking trails, including the world-famous multi-day Outeniqua hiking trail, in the Diepwalle Forest and the Harkerville Forest in the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park due to rain. According to the Park Manager for the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park, Megan Taplin, "it is great to see rivers overflowing, the trails will be closed temporarily until after the rain. This is done to also protect hikers and nature walkers who use trails in Diepwalle and Harkerville forests".
The hiking trails in the Wilderness section of the
Garden Route National Park remain open.

23 April 2019

Ethiopian Airlines to launch flights between Addis Ababa <> Marseille!

Ethiopia's flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, will launch a new service to Marseille in France. Effective 02 July 2019, the airline will operate three weekly flights between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Addis Ababa and Marseille's Marseille Provence Airport (MRS). France's second largest city marks Ethiopian Airline's 20th destination in Europe. The airline is currently serving 120 international destinations across five continents.

18 April 2019

Easter 2019: Kruger National Park to enforce daily gate quotas!

South African National Parks (SANParks) is urging visitors to be aware of gate quotas for day visitors at the entrance gates to Kruger National Park that will be in effect over the coming Easter long weekend. 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.
  • 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.

South Africa, Rhinos, Kruger National Park, safari, Open Safari Vehicle

Visitors should also take note of the following important information:
  • Day Visitor pre- bookings are subject to a non-refundable booking fee of R43 per adult and R22 per child.
  • Day Visitors who have pre-booked will still be required to pay Conservation Fees or use a valid Wild Card to enter the Kruger National Park. The Conservation Fee for South African residents as well as Zimbabwe and Mozambique nationals (passport required to prove this) is R93 per adult and R47 per child (between ages 2 – 11). For nationals of Eswatini and other SADC countries the conservation fees are R186 per adult and R93 per child. For all other guests the standard conservation fees of R372 for adults and R186 for children applies
  • 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) will be required to identify themselves upon admission (by producing a South African driver's license, identity document or passport)
  • Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they have paid for the annual operating permit and are authorised to enter external gates 15 minutes before opening time to ensure fair distribution/flow of traffic.
  • Gate Quotas will be strictly applied and guests without pre-bookings could be denied entry.

17 April 2019

Tanzania to ban single-use plastic bags! [update]

update (16 May 2019): The office of the Vice President of Tanzania has released an official notice to travelers planning to visit Tanzania regarding the ban of plastic carrier bags.

Tanzania is set to ban the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags by July 2019 from 01 June 2019. Single-use non-biodegradable plastics have been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. Tanzania will join its East African neighbours Rwanda and Kenya, which have already banned single-use plastic bags. Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, implemented a ban of light plastics already back in 2006. Namibia has also banned plastic bags, but only in its game parks and nature reserves!

Strike Notice: Comair (British Airways & Kulula) puts contingency plans in place! [update]

update (18 April 2019): Comair just announced that due to a Labour Court temporary interdict the striking NUMSA ground staff are required to return to work.

update (18 April 2019): Comair is pro-actively calling as many customers as possible 72 hours before departure to facilitate check in and is providing additional bag-drop counters. Customers are advised to check-in online or use the airport kiosks and to drop bags at the dedicated fast-bag-drop counters.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has issued Comair, which operates British Airways' domestic routes in South Africa  and also operates as a low-cost carrier under its own kulula.com brand, with a strike notice. This allows those airport ground staff represented by NUMSA to strike from 13:00 on 18 April 2019. Just over 700 of Comair's 2 200 airport ground staff are NUMSA members. NUMSA represents just over 50% of Comair's 700 airport ground staff. The airline has a staff complement of 2200 people. According to Comair, the airline has a comprehensive contingency plan in place and intends to continue its daily operations. However, in order to ensure a continuous operation for its customers over the busy Easter period it has approached the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to prevent the strike.

NUMSA's strike notice follows the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issuing a certificate of non-resolution on 26 March 2019, after the parties were unable to reach an agreement about a salary discrepancy dispute. 

16 April 2019

Cathay Pacific to reintroduce its seasonal service between Hong Kong <> Cape Town!

The flag carrier of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, is set to reintroduce its seasonal nonstop service between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in Hong Kong and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. The three-times-weekly service, from November 2019 to February 2020, will complement Cathay Pacific's existing daily non-stop return flights to OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and will be operated by state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Cathay Pacific will operate its return flights to Cape Town on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Kenya Airways to increase flights between Nairobi <> New York!

Kenya's flag carrier, Kenya Airways, is set to increase the number of nonstop flights between  Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. From June 2019, the airline will operate seven weekly return flights instead of the current five weekly return flights to New York. In January 2019, Kenya Airways reduced the number of flights between the two destinations due to low demand from the seven to five a week.

United Airlines to launch a nonstop service between New York <> Cape Town! [update]

update (03 May 2019): Tickets have gone on sale for United Airlines' new direct flights between Cape Town and New York City.

Major American airline United Airlines has applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation for authority to launch a nonstop seasonal service between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), which serves the New York City - Philadelphia Urban Area, and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. Effective 15 December 2019, the airline is planning to operate three weekly return flights to Cape Town on board a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 48 seats in business class, 88 seats in economy plus and 116 seats in economy.
The nonstop service, which will be the only nonstop service between the United States and
Cape Town, will decrease the current travel time from New York City to the Mother City by more than four hours and provide customers from more than 80 U.S. cities with easy one-stop access to Cape Town.
  • New York/New Ark 20:30 > 18:00+1 Cape Town
  • Cape Town 20:50 > 05:45+1 New York/New Ark

Easter 2019: Operating hours extended at some of South Africa's ports of entry!

South Africa's Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced that it will extend the operating hours at some of the country's border posts during the Easter 2019 holidays. In addition, the DHA will install temporary infrastructure to help with the faster processing of travellers and will increase capacity of staff deployed at the South Africa's ports of entry. An additional 237 staff members will be deployed at selected ports.

15 April 2019

Chapman's Peak Drive (Cape Town): Road closure for Two Oceans Marathon!

Due to the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on 20 April 2019, the famous Chapman's Peak Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic. The temporary road closure will start from 03:30 and Chapman's Peak Drive should reopen between 12:00 and 14:00.
The Chapman's Peak Drive
is a scenic 9km route between Noordhoek and Hout Bay along the western flank of the Chapman's Peak, a mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, located about 15 kilometres south of Cape Town.

The Two Oceans Marathon is Africa’s biggest running event. Known as the world’s most beautiful marathon, it spans 56km of unrivalled scenic splendour. Cape Town's best loved race takes place every year on Easter Saturday – 20 April 2019, 11 April 2020 and 03 April 2021. The Two Oceans Marathon is host to more than 30 000 runners who "Run As One" in the 56km Ultra Marathon, Half Marathon, Trail Runs or cluster of Fun Runs. 

Malawi: The main runway at Chileka International Airport (Blantyre) to close for three month!

The main runway at Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in Blantyre, Malawi, will be closed for two month from 24 April 2019 until 24 July 2019 due to rehabilitation works. The airport's second runway ("auxiliary runway"), which can only be used by small aircrafts, will remain open during the two month. The closure of the main runway affects big aircrafts operated by Malawian Airlines, Kenya Airways as well as South African Airways. They will be temporarily diverted to Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe. Blantyre's Chileka International Airport (BLZ) is located about 340 km along the M1 from the airport in Lilongwe.

12 April 2019

West Africa: ASKY Airlines to launch flights to South Africa!

West African airline, ASKY Airlines, is set to launch to new routes to South Africa in June 2019. From it's hub at Lomé–Tokoin Airport (LFW) in Lomé, Togo, the airline will operate a three weekly return service via Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) in Lagos, Nigeria, and Douala International Airport (DLA) in Douala, Cameroon, to OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. The service commence on 16 June 2019. On 15 June 2019, ASKY Airlines will launch a four weekly return service between Lomé–Tokoin Airport (LFW) in Lomé and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg via Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) in Lagos and Léon-Mba International Airport (LBV) in Libreville, Gabon.

Southbound - Mon/Wed/Thu/Sat
  • Depart Lomé 14:00 - Arrive Lagos 16:00
  • Depart Lagos 16:45 - Arrive Libreville 18:30
  • Depart Libreville 19:20 - Arrive Johannesburg 01:15
Southbound - Tue/Fri/Sun
  • Depart Lomé 14:00 - Arrive Lagos 16:00
  • Depart Lagos 16:45 - Arrive Douala 18:20
  • Depart Douala 19:00 - Arrive Johannesburg 01:15
Northbound - Tue/Thu/Fri/Sun
  • Depart Johannesburg 03:15 - Arrive Libreville 07:10
  • Depart Libreville 08:00 - Arrive Lagos 09:45
  • Depart Lagos 10:30 - Arrive Lomé 10:30
Northbound - Mon/Wed/Sat
  • Depart Johannesburg 03:15 - Arrive Douala 07:30
  • Depart Douala 08:10 - Arrive Lagos 09:45
  • Depart Lagos 10:30 - Arrive Lomé 10:30

11 April 2019

Uganda: Uganda Airlines to commence operations in August 2019! [update]

update (02 August 2019): Uganda Airlines will launch operations on 31 August 2019. The inaugural fligth will be Entebbe <> Nairobi, while on 01 September 2019 the routes Entebbe <> Mogadishu and Entebbe <> Dar es Salaam will be launched.

update (31 July 2019): In the first phase, Uganda Airlines plans to launch flights to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Mogadishu, Kilimanjaro, Mombasa, Bujumbura and Juba. In the second phase, the airline will link Entebbe International Airport (EBB) with destinations like Kigali, Goma, Lusaka, Harare and Johannesburg.

update (29 July 2019): Uganda Airlines is set tp commence operations on 28 August 2019 after having secured its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) on 25 July 2019.

update (19 July 2019): According to a statement to parliament by Uganda's Works and Transport Minister Hon. Monica Azuba (18 July 2019), Uganda Airlines' launch date will most likely be postponed to August 2019 due to the late audit completion for the airline’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and the subsequent delay of securing the IATA two letter code. We'll keep you posted!

update (17 July 2019): According to Uganda's State Minister for Works, Katumba Wamala, Uganda Airlines "will be ready to go by 31 July 2019" [src.]. We'll keep you posted!

update (12 June 2019): Uganda Airline's first flight will be from Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Entebbe to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya. The airline received two Bombardier CRJ900s in April 2019; the other two Bombardier CRJ900s are expected in July 2019 and September 2019.

According to the Uganda Media Centre, the official centre for public pommunications of Uganda's government, Uganda Airlines' first two Bombardier CRJ 900 aircrafts are set to arrive in Uganda on 23 April 2019. Once the country's new startup national carrier has received the two aircrafts, a five phase process to get the all-important and mandatory Air Operator Certificate (AOC) needs to be completed. This process usually takes 90 days, so that Uganda Airlines will presumably commence operations in late July 2019. Before flights officially commence, the airline also has to fulfill Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda's (CAA) mandatory requirements. These include proper operating premises, trained staff, maintenance providers, tools and equipment as well as structures, processes and systems to enable safe and secure operation of international commercial flights. We'll keep you posted!

10 April 2019

South Africa to roll out e-visas in New Zealand in April 2019! [update]

update (12 April 2019): South Africa's e-visa pilot programme in New Zealand is due to run until June 2019, after which it will be rolled out to additional countries, such as China, Nigeria and India, pending the success of the pilot phase.

According to news reports, South Africa's the first ever electronic visa (e-visa) system will be piloted in New Zealand in April 2019. The new visas will allow prospective visitors to apply for a visa online and, once granted, to print the e-visa at home. As of now, New Zealanders have to personally visit one of the two South Africa Visa Application Centres in New Zealand (in Wellington and Auckland) to apply for a visa for South Africa. The standard processing time is a minimum of four weeks.

09 April 2019

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in March 2019!

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, Durban's King Shaka International Airport (DUR) and Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth in March  2019.

Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth International Airport, PLZ, Airport, Beach

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 March 2019
  • FlySafair - 87.87% (February 94.37%)
  • Airlink - 86.86% (February 91.51%)
  • South African Airways - 79.19% (February 85.63%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 75.48% (February 84.37%)
  • Mango - 70.96% (February 80.88%)
  • Kulula.com - 70.33% (February 81.05%)
  • SA Express - 69.97% (February 81.82%)
  • CemAir - --.--% (February --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT), Cape Town - 15 Min on Time Performance March 2019
  • FlySafair - 94.79% (February 94.34%
  • SA Express - 93.59% (February 92.36%)
  • Airlink - 92.05% (February 93.94%)
  • Kulula.com - 80.66% (February 86.84%)
  • Mango - 77.71% (February 84.89%)
  • South African Airways - 77.46% (February 88.07%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 75.74% (February 87.09%)
  • CemAir - --.--% (February --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance March 2019
  • Airlink - 96.18% (February 89.07%)
  • FlySafair - 92.48% (February 95.83%)
  • Kulula.com - 78.38% (February 83.77%)
  • Mango - 77.87% (February 84.96%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 75.51% (February 86.66%)
  • South African Airways - 74.56% (February 90.65%)
  • SA Express - 60.20% (February 68.89%)
Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ), Port Elizabeth - 15 Min on Time Performance March 2019
  • Airlink - 91.10% (February 93.18%)
  • FlySafair - 90.49% (February 97.92%)
  • Mango - 86.32% (February 94.68%)
  • British Airways Domestic - 79.83% (February 87.74%)
  • South African Airways - 71.93% (February 65.38%)
  • SA Express - 52.04% (February 60.00%)
  • CemAir - --.--% (February --.--%)