17 November 2017

Garden Route National Park: Progress in the Harkerville area after the Knysna Fires!

The Harkerville area in the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park, an activity hub for nature and is known for its blue duiker population, was heavily affected by the Knysna fires in June 2017. South African National Parks (SANParks) just released an update on the current status of the activities available in the Harkerville area:

Kranshoek Picnic area

  • The picnic area is open for use however there are portable toilets for visitors to use after the fire burnt the old toilet block.
  • SANParks is fast-tracking the procurement process of new water tanks to provide drinking water by the 15 December 2017.
Kranshoek Trail
  • The Kranshoek Trail is still closed, and maintenance work is currently underway.
  • About 90% of the route is complete and the rest should be open by end of this week (week 46).
  • Rebuilding and rehabilitating the route will probably continue until end of December 2017. The trail should be up and running by the end January 2018.
  • There is a clear sign at the entrance and parking area to inform the public of closure and maintenance of routes.
Kranshoek Viewpoint
  • Currently still closed and not accessible to visitors as yet until management and scientists have finalised urgent deliverables pertaining to the area.
Harkerville Trail
  • The coastal portion of the trail is still closed.
  • An alternative scenic route was opened along the coastal ridge
  • Bookings the trail will be open as from 20 November 2017.

Rwanda to introduce a new visa regime on 01 January 2018!

Rwanda is set to establish a new visa regime on 01 January 2018. The new regulations include the introduction of 30-day visa on arrival for travellers from across the world. Rwanda already has such a system in place for all African countries and a number of countries outside the continent.
Nationals of Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States of America will be issued with entry visa valid for a period up to 30 days and pay for a visa ($30) upon arrival without prior application. [src.]
The new visa regime also adresses areas like visa reciprocity for specific countries whose citizens get free visas with 90 days validity, visa waiver for particular diplomatic and service passport holders and specific 90 day visa on arrival for travelers from the COMESA (The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) region. It also allows Rwandans living abroad with dual nationality to use national IDs to enter Rwanda as well as foreign residents to use their resident IDs for entry.

16 November 2017

Alitalia to resume flights to Johannesburg and Nairobi!

The flag carrier of Italy, Alitalia, is set to resume operations between Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO) in Rome and OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg after a 17-year hiatus on 08 April 2018. The airline plans operate 4 weekly flights per week to South Africa.
Alitalia also plans to resume flights between Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO) in Rome and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi on 28 March 2018. Subject to government approval, the airline will operate four weekly flights to Kenya. Alitalia last served Nairobi in 2000.

Western Cape: Swartberg Pass to reopen in both directions on 17 November 2017!

The Swartberg Pass, considered one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the world, is set to reopen in both directions on 17 November 2017. The repair work is not completely finished, so that, at times, the untarred pass will only be open on a monitored stop/go basis.

The 27km Swartberg Pass, which runs through the Swartberg mountain range between Oudtshoorn in the south and Prince Albert in the north, was badly damaged by devastating floods in April 2017.

15 November 2017

SANParks has implemented water saving measures in Table Mountain National Park!

South African National Parks (SANParks) has implemented water saving measures at picnic areas in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). The picnic areas include Bordtjiesdrift and Buffelsbay in Cape Point, Boulders as well as Tokai, Silvermine and Oudekraal. SANParks will continue to monitor the situation with regards to the water crisis and take necessary measures as required.

Cape Town, Cape Point, Table Mountain National Parks

Some of the measures are:
  • Waterless hand sanitation products, especially in the toilet facilities in Cape Point.
  • A reduction in the number of outdoor taps at picnic sites
  • The immediate closure of all outdoor shower facilities at picnic sites and coastal beaches
  • Visitors, especially those that are using the picnic sites, are encouraged to bring water from home
  • SANPArks encourages picnic site users, especially those wishing to braai, to ensure that they don’t leave fires unattended and put their fires out once they have finished braaiing.
  • Park users are encouraged to report leaking taps, pipes etc in the park to the closest TMNP office.

International Students' Day: Free access to all Iziko Museums in Cape Town for students!

International Students' Day is held annually on 17 November. Students will have free access to all 11 national museums* in Cape Town operated by Iziko Museums of South Africa on this day and will get tickets at half price for the Iziko Planetarium & Digital Dome. Terms and conditions apply; students must present a valid student card.
Cape Town, South Africa, Castle of Good Hope

*Bo-Kaap Museum, Groot Constantia Manor House, Koopmans-De Wet House, Maritime Centre, Michaelis Collection at the Old Town House, Planetarium, Rust en vreugd, SAS Sommerset, Slave Lodge, Social History Centre, South African Museum, South African National Gallery, Bertram House, William Fehr Collection at the Castle of Good Hope

14 November 2017

Cape Town: Spring and Summer Months = Shark Time!

The annual shark season in and around Cape Town has started and the City of Cape Town has therefore issued list of advises all beach and ocean users should be aware of. General shark safety tips include:
  • Use beaches where shark spotters are on duty
  • Take the time to speak to the shark spotters on the day you visit the beach
  • Use the shark spotters signs to familiarise yourself with the four-flag warning system and warning siren – the green flag indicates that spotting conditions are good; the red flag indicates that there is a high risk of in-shore shark activity; the black flag means spotting conditions are poor; and the white flag with the black shark indicates a shark has been spotted (a siren will sound and all should leave the water immediately)
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where trek-netting, fishing or spear-fishing is taking place
  • Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers
  • Do not swim if you are bleeding
  • Do not swim near river mouths
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
  • Obey beach officials, lifeguards and shark spotters if told to leave the water
  • Be aware that the rate of encounters with white sharks rises significantly when the water temperature is warmer (18ÂșC or higher) and during new moon, due to increased opportunities for feeding
  • If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no shark spotters are present, consider using another beach for the day
  • First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, lifeguards or locals about the area
  • For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea, please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation)
  • Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
  • Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches

Cape Town, beach, South Africa

Surfers must be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and the Macassar Beach during the spring and summer months, as research has shown that shark presence in these waters is extremely common at this time of year.

The Shark Spotters information centre at Muizenberg Surfers Corner
in Muizenberg is open to the public from 08:00 until 18:00 seven days a week. The centre provides up-to-date information on sharks and marine ecology, basic first-aid, general public assistance and help with emergencies, and storage of valuables and lost property.

Shark spotters are present at the following beaches: 

  • Muizenberg Surfers Corner (Muizenberg)
    Monday - Sunday, 08:00 - 18:00 (October to April)
  • St James/Kalk Bay
    Monday - Sunday, 08:00 - 18:00 (October to April)
  • Fish Hoek
    Monday - Sunday, 07:00 - 18:45 (October to April)
  • Caves, Kogel Bay
    Monday - Sunday, 08:00 - 18:00 (October to April
  • Noordhoek (The Hoek)
    Monday - Sunday, 08:00 - 18:00 (October to May)
  • Clovelly  
    Weekends, public holidays and school holidays, 08:00 - 18:00
  • Glencairn
    Weekends, public holidays and school holidays, 08:00 - 18:00
  • Monwabisi
    Weekends, public holidays and school holidays, 08:00 - 18:00
The Fish Hoek exclusion net has proven to be an effective shark safety measure by creating a physical barrier preventing any sharks from entering the bathing area. The exclusion net is in operation during the summer season as follows:
  • October 2017
    weekends, public holidays and school holidays (09:00 and 17:00)
  • November 2017 to March 2018
    The net will operate on a daily basis, depending on the weather. Weekends, public holidays and school holidays will be prioritised. (09:00 and 17:00)
  • April 2018
    School holidays, public holidays and weekends (09:00 and 17:00)
The operating hours may be extended to allow for lifesaving training or events. The Shark spotters will inform beach goers as and when the net is deployed via Twitter, Facebook, and the Shark Spotter mobile application.