28 April 2017

Kruger National Park Calendar - June

Weather:
  • days usually warm, sometimes hot
  • generally wind free
  • cold evenings
  • rarely rain falls
Temperatures:

Landscape:
  • 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

27 April 2017

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

Due to the West Coast Marathon taking place on 6 May 2017, 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.

Video: "Thambo - The Malawian skies 4K (UHD)"

French photographer and film producer Adrien Mauduit recently visited Malawi and toured the country from South to North. He accompanied a group of Danish students on a charity trip and used his spare time to film the Malawian skies - by day and by night. Back home in Denmark, Adrien made the amazing film "Thambo - The Malawian skies" out of  the roughly 7500 pictures and 25+ hours of video footage he shot in Malawi. Sit back, switch to full screen, put your headset on and enjoy this incredible video. In 4k (UHD)! Kudos Adrien!

26 April 2017

Botswana to introduce an obligatory Tourism Development Levy (TDL)

update (01 June 2017): According to Botswana Tourism, the implementation of the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) in Botswana , which was scheduled for the 01 June 2017 as previously indicated, has been postponed. Botswana Tourism will share an update on the new date in due course. We'll keep you posted!

update (29 May 2017): Botswana's Tourism Development Levy (TDL), which comes into effect on 01 June 2017, will not apply to children aged nine years and younger.

update (10 May 2017): The Government of Botswana will review the obligatory Tourism Development Levy (TDL) before implementation to make sure it is age specific. Travellers who have made advance bookings and payments to visit Botswana before the introduction of the levy will be expected to pay the levy. [src.]

update (03 May 2017): From July 2017, tourist visiting Botswana will be able to pay the obligatory Tourism Development Levy (TDL) online. For Chobe district which benefits from day trippers, the TDL will not be an exception. Day trippers who are non-SADC nationals will still be expected to pop up the US$30 despite spending a few hours in the country for activities. Travellers who have already made bookings for tours or activities in Botswana taking place after the introduction of the TDL are also expected to pay the fee upon entry. [src.]

Botswana is set to introduce an obligatory Tourism Development Levy (TDL) of USD30 per person on 01 June 2017. The TDL is payable at all ports of entry including airports and border posts. Eligible to pay are all visitors to Botswana in exception of residents and citizens of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. Payments must be done at Botswana's ports of entry through electronic payment machines through cash (US Dollars), debit and credit card. After the payment, a unique receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically generated. The receipt should then be presented to Immigration Officials. The passport and the receipt will be stamped and handed back to the traveller. The receipt will valid for a 30 day period and can be used for multiple entry.


According to the officical press release regarding the new obligatory Tourism Development Levy (TDL), the purpose of the new fee "is to raise funds for conservation and national tourism development in order to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, resultantly improving the lives of the people of
Botswana".

CemAir to introduce flights between Johannesburg <> Hoedspruit!

South African regional carrier CemAir is set to launch scheduled flights between OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and and Hoedspruit Airport, located just outside Hoedspruit in South Africa's Limpopo Province. The new service will commence on 07 August 2017. CemAir will operate 7 flights per week on board a Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 or Bombardier CRJ 200 between the two destinations.


South African Airways & Hawaiian Airlines launched a new interline partnership!

South Africa's flag carrier, South African Airways, and Hawaii's largest and longest serving carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, have established a new interline partnership. With immediate effect, customers of South African Airways can book flights via New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) between Hawaiian Airlines’ neighbour island network in Hawaii, while cusomers of Hawaiian Airlines have access to over 75 destinations in Africa served by South African Airways. The interline partnership also allows customers of both airlines to travel on one single electronic ticket als well as interline baggage transfer upon check-in.

25 April 2017

School/public holidays in Botswana 2017!

The Government of Botswana has published the 2017 school calendar on their official facebook page. According to the post, school holidays in Botswana take place:
  • 12 April 2017 - 01 May 2017
  • 17 July 2017 - 31 July 2017
  • 25 September 2017 - 02 October 2017
  • 02 December 2017 - 08 January 2018

Public holidays in Botswana 2017:
  • 01 January 2017 - New Year's Day
  • 02 January 2017 - Public Holiday**
  • 14 April 2017 - Good Friday
  • 15 April 2017 - Public Holiday
  • 17 April 2016 - Easter Monday
  • 01 May 2017 - Labour Day
  • 25 May 2017 - Ascension Day
  • 01 July 2017 - Sir Seretse Khama Day
  • 17 July 2017 - President's Day
  • 18 July 2017 - Public Holiday
  • 30 September 2017 - Botswana Day
  • 02 October 2017 - Public Holiday**
  • 25 December 2017 - Christmas Day
  • 26 December 2017 - Boxing Day
** Whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following on it shall be a public holiday. If 2nd January, 1st October or Boxing Day falls on a Monday, the following Tuesday shall be observed as a public holiday. When Botswana Day falls on a Saturday, the next following Monday shall be observed as a public holiday. [src.]

24 April 2017

TAZARA: Adjustment of timetables for cross-border passenger trains

update (08 June 2017): The new timetables have been shelved until further notice. [more]

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has just informed us that it will, with effect from 01 June 2017, adjust the Interstate (Cross-Border) Passenger Train Timetables in order to provide for:
  • Ample time for immigration formalities for international travellers
  • More detention (stoppage) time at all the stations that are normally congested with parcels and/or passengers
  • More time and convenient connections for passengers u-turning at the Tunduma/Nakonde Border
Overall, the adjustments will affect the train movements in the following manner:
 
Terminal Departures

Terminal Arrivals
  • In the case of the Mukuba Express, which departs New Kapiri-Mposhi on Tuesdays 16:00, the arrival time at Dar es Salaam will now be 12:10 on Thursday, while arrival time for the New Kapiri-Mposhi bound Mukuba Express will be 13:45 on Sunday.
  • For the Kilimanjaro Ordinary, which departs Dar es Salaam on Tuesdays at 11:00, the arrival time at New Kapiri-Mposhi has changed to 22:54 on Thursday. For the return journey from New Kapiri-Mposhi, the Kilimanjaro Ordinary Passenger Train will now be reaching Dar es Salaam on Sunday at 22:09.
Connections at Nakonde
  • The passengers from Zambia who board the Mukuba Express on Tuesday will arrive in Nakonde on Wednesday morning at 08:41 and may return back to their home stations the same day with the Kilimanjaro Ordinary departing Nakonde at 19:34.
  • For those who head to Nakonde from New Kapiri-Mposhi with the Kilimanjaro Ordinary on Friday, they will arrive in Nakonde on Saturday at 14:07 and may catch the returning Mukuba Express Train at 19:40 the same day.
Detention Times at Stations
  • The detention period has now increased to 10 minutes for Nseluka, Chimba, Chandaweyaya, Makasa, Luchewe and Kapwila stations in Zambia and Chita, Mgeta and Mbingu stations in Tanzania, where extreme congestion of passengers and parcels have been observed in the past.
  • In the same vein, detention time has been increased to 25 minutes at Kasama and Chozi stations, to 40 minutes at Nakonde and Makambako stations and to 60 minutes at Mbeya station, for purposes of immigration formalities and other technical reasons.

Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 - the Southern/Eastern African countries

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the biennial Travel &Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. The report, which features the latest iteration of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), measures "the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country" [src.]. The 2017 TTCI benchmarks the T&T competitiveness of 136 economies. It comprises four subindexes, 14 pillars and 90 individual indicators.

Spain tops the 2017 edition of the TTCI global rankings for the second time, followed by France (#2) and Germany (#3). Japan (gaining five places compared to 2015), the United Kingdom, the USA (loosing two places), Australia, Italy, Canada (up one) and Switzerland (loosing four places) complete this year's top 10.

South Africa is the highest-ranked Sub-Sharan African country in the Index on position #53 (regional rank #1; loosing five places on global level), followed by Mauritius (#55 | #2), Kenya (#80 | #3) and Namibia (#82| #4).

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures "the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country".
South Africa (global #53 | regional #1)

positive:

  • continues to rely on cultural resources (19th), strong natural resources (23rd), and a conducive business environment (21st), characterized by minimal red tape and modest administrative burden
  • labour market remains inefficient (118th), but there has been some progress in this area: it ranked 135th two years ago
  • improved price competitiveness (43rd) by reducing tickets charges, taxes and hotel prices
negative:
  • tourism competitiveness has deteriorated on two elements — safety and security (120th) and environmental sustainability (117th)
  • Fears of terrorism and an increased sense of insecurity related to crime make tourists less light-hearted about travelling in the country
  • With 33 homicides per 100,000 people, South Africa has one of the worst homicide rates in the index, ranking 131st
  • deforestation and loss of habitat have proceeded at a rapid rate since 2000. The global interest and demand for South Africa’s natural resources is increasing, but insufficient habitat preservation could prevent the country from benefitting from this growing source of tourist attraction
  • reduced efforts made by the government to support the tourism sector (59th)
Although spending has remained unchanged, marketing campaigns have been perceived as effective (40th).
To foster its tourism sector,
South Africa could also implement more open visa policies (71st) and service trade agreements (91st).

Namibia (#82 | #3)

Namibia loses 12 positions this year, resulting partially from statistical adjustments such as the inclusion of previously unavailable deforestation figures, which have significantly reduced the sustainability performance of the country.

positive:

  • natural resources (40th), its business environment (38th), air transportation (58th) and price competitiveness (30th) sustain Namibia's competitiveness as the country slowly continues to increase international arrivals
negative:
  • Namibia has lost a considerable portion of its forest since the early 2000s (127th) and its water resources have deteriorated
  • re-assessment of car rental services (72nd) and the diffusion of ATMs have resulted in a lower performance of Namibia's tourism service infrastructure (73rd).
Namibia still needs to improve its health and hygiene (117th) and under-appreciated cultural resources (127th), and renew focus on its inadequately qualified human resources (106th), which remain the main bottlenecks toward a faster development of the T&T sector in the country.

Tanzania (#91 | #6)

positive:

  • home to one of the most impressive concentration of natural resources (8th) and wildlife globally, with its rich variety of landscapes, ranging from Mt. Kilimanjaro to its coastline and Zanzibar
  • price-competitive destination (34th) where the government plays an active role in promoting the T&T sector (45th)
  • enormous untapped potential
  • Cultural resources (86th) could be nurtured to better complement the natural and safari tourism offer.  progress in the country’s infrastructure, particularly air (106th, up 10 places) and ground transport (102nd, up 18 places)
negative:
  • international arrivals have flattened since 2012, when the country welcomed 1 million international visitors
  • remains largely underdeveloped
  • tourism service infrastructure (103rd) and, specifically, the hotel reception capacity, remain low (119th). Tanzania's business environment (102nd) is still characterized by slow and costly processes to start a business or obtain construction permits
  • Health and hygiene conditions (125th) are also improving very slowly
  • the uptake of ICTs technologies is proceeding at a slower pace than in other countries (121st)
  • particularly low increase in mobile broadband subscriptions.
Despite its immense potential, Tanzania still has important gaps to fill to fully leverage the T&T sector as a mean to increase its living conditions.

Southern & Eastern African countries in the Travel &Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017*:

  1. South Africa (global #53)
  2. Mauritius (#55)
  3. Kenya (#80)
  4. Namibia (#82)
  5. Botswana (#85)
  6. Tanzania (#91)
  7. Rwanda (#97)
  8. Uganda (#106)
  9. Zambia (#108)
  10. Zimbabwe (#114)
  11. Ethiopia (#116)
  12. Madagascar (#121)
  13. Mozambique (#122)
  14. Malawi (#123)
  15. Lesotho (#128)
  16. DR Congo (#133)
  17. Burundi (#134)
*Angola, Seychelles and Swaziland are not covered this time due to insufficient data.

Cape Town: Table Mountain Cableway to close for annual maintenance!

Cape Town's Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will be closing for scheduled annual maintenance from 24 July 2017 to 06 August 2017. The cableway will reopen, weather permitting, 07 on August 2017.


The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately 900,000 people a year using it to visit the top of Table Mountain. The Cableway offers visitors a variety of experiences, including meals with a view at the Table Mountain Cafe, free WiFi at the new WiFi Lounge and free thirty-minute guided walking tours.

21 April 2017

South Africa: FlySafair named most on-time airline in the world for 2017!

South African low-cost carrier FlySafair has been named the most on-time airline in the world for 2017 by air travel intelligence company OAG. According to OAG, the airline achieved an annual overall on-time performance (OTP)* of 95.94%. FlySafair, second-placed Jazerra Airways from Kuwait and third-placed Air Baltic from Latvia are the only three airlines globally to achieve a 5-star rating. Out of the three top airlines for 2017, FlySafair is the only 5-star rated airline which is a low-cost carrier. Congratulations!



FlySafair:
  • Annual overall on-time performance (OTP) - 95.94%
  • Number of operations - 12366

OAG is the leading global provider of digital flight information. The  travel intelligence company provides digital information and applications to the world's airlines, airports, government agencies and travel-related service companies. The company has the world's largest network of air travel data, including the definitive schedules database of more than 900 airlines and over 4,000 airports, and the most extensive flight status information database in the market. 

*On-time is defined as arrivals that take place strictly less than 15 minutes after schedule.

South Africa's most punctual domestic airlines in March 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 March 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 March 2017 (airport target 87%)
  1. FlySafair - 93.01% (February 95.60%) 
  2. British Airways Domestic - 91.97% (February 91.19%)
  3. South African Airways - 89.07% (February 90.79%)
  4. Airlink - 86.91% (February 86.49%) 
  5. CemAir - 85.52% (February 93.83%)
  6. Kulula.com - 84.68% (February 86.45%)
  7. Mango - 82.31% (February 86.64%)
  8. SA Express - 75.21% (February 77.11%)
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (February --.--%)
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) - 15 Min on Time Performance March 2017 (airport target 90%)
  1. FlySafair - 96.08% (February 96.39%)
  2. CemAir - 94.23% (February 100.00%)
  3. Airlink - 92.08% (February 93.60%)
  4. British Airways Domestic - 91.81% (February 91.00%)
  5. South African Airways - 90.20% (February 93.84%)
  6. Kulula.com - 90.13% (February 92.36%)
  7. SA Express - 88.41% (February 87.80%) 
  8. Mango - 85.48% (February 91.81%) 
  9. Fly Blue Crane Aviation - --.-- (February --.--%)
King Shaka International Airport (DUR), Durban - 15 Min on Time Performance March 2017 (airport target 91%)
  1. FlySafair - 93.17% (February 98.79%) 
  2. South African Airways - 91.80% (February 93.75%)
  3. British Airways Domestic - 91.59% (February 87.32%)
  4. Airlink - 87.45% (February 85.31%)
  5. Mango - 87.29% (February 92.68%)
  6. Kulula.com - 83.87% (February 86.53%)
  7. SA Express - 75.95% (February 88.46%)  

20 April 2017

Namibia: Hobas Camp in the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has been reopened!

Hobas Camp in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has been reopened by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) after a extensive refurbishment. The camp, which was previously just a campsite, now also offers 6 rooms (chalets), a restaurant (Quiver Restaurant), a swimming pool and, of course, 14 camping sites. The spacious chalets offer two single beds, a sleeper couch, toilet and bathroom. The total costs for the faceflift are about N$6.5 million.
Hobas Camp is situated at the northern end of the Fish River Canyon in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and is widely known as the main starting point of the Fish River Canyon hiking trail



The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a Peace Park located on the border between South Africa and Namibia. The park was formed in 2003 by combining the |Ai-|Ais/ Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa.

SOUTH AFRICA - A Mavic Tale (drone video)

US-based Rind-Raja Picture Company travelled with their DJI Mavic Pro to South Africa to film drone videos "and what transpired was magnificent". Kudos Rind-Raja Picture Company!

19 April 2017

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued a new official malaria advisory!

South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi are currently experiencing the annual malaria season and as expected there has been an increase in transmission due to the rise in ambient temperature, rainfall and humidity as compared to the same period in 2016. The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has therefore issued a new official malaria advisory (April 2017) to remind travellers visiting any of the malaria areas within or outside of South Africa to take additional precautions and maintain a higher index of suspicion.


MALARIA ADVISORY APRIL 2017

Southern Africa is currently experiencing the annual malaria season and as expected there has been an increase in transmission due to the rise in ambient temperature, rainfall and humidity as compared to the same period last year.