30 November 2012

Win prizes every day with the HostelBookers' Advent Calendar giveaway 2012

As the countdown to Christmas begins, HostelBookers, the budget accommodation specialist, will be hosting their annual advent calendar competition*.
Every day between December 1st and 24th, HostelBookers will be posting a question on their Facebook wall. To enter the competition participants need to submit their correct answer, full name and email address in the form provided to be in with a chance of winning a 3rd Generation Apple iPad, a Digital Camera, an Apple iPhone 5, Round-the-World flights, InterRail tickets, Free Accommodation and much more.
Winners will be notified via email within 7 days of the draw. Once the prizes have been claimed, the winners will be announced on the HostelBookers competition blog post.
David Smith, COO at HostelBookers, says: "As a ‘thank you’ to all our customers, HostelBookers Christmas Giveaway promises 24 days of fun trivia, riddles and fantastic prizes. We want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and the best of luck in the New Year!"
Please click here for more information about how to enter the 24 days of Christmas Prizes competition.

*terms and conditions apply

Swaziland: The 7th Bushfire festival will take place from 31 May 2013 - 02 June 2013

update (16 July 2013): Red Bulletin, Red Bull's international monthly publication, covered the Bushfire festival 2013 in their June 2013 edition. Thx Bushfire for making the article available online; click here to download (pdf).

update (01 July 2013): The 8th Bushfire festival in Swaziland will take place between 30 May - 01 June 2014!

The organisers of the famous Bushfire festival in Swaziland have just announced, that the 7th edition of the festival will take place from 31 May 2013 - 02 June 2013. Bushfire is Swaziland's acclaimed international music and arts festival held at the House on Fire in the Malkerns Valley. Each year a diverse audience of up to 20,000 people come together over three days to experience an eclectic Pan-African and international line-up of live music, theatre, poetry, film, circus, dance and visual arts.

Bushfire is a true gathering of arts and culture for the whole family. In addition to the amazing live-music line up, there is a range of other entertainment and educational activities. These include the Bushfire Schools Festival, which sees dozens of local school children participating, the Family and Kidzone that includes workshops, theatre, story-telling, fairground rides, farm animals and much more.
100% of profits made through the festial are donated to two charities in Swaziland: Young Heroes, a child sponsorship programme assisting Swazi orphans, and Gone Rural boMake, a charity that assists rural Swazi women and the communities with information and infrastructure development, addressing health, education and social concerns.
Online ticket sales will open 11 February 2013. We'll keep you posted!
update (23 April 2013): Tickets are still available!

South Africa: Fly Go Air to launch service on 10 Dec 2012

update (11 Dec 2012): South Africa has a new low cost airline. Fly Go Air launched its first domestic flight between Gauteng and Mpumalanga on 10 Dec 2012. The airline's maiden flight departed from Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, landing at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport .

According to business travel now, the new South African domestic carrier Fly Go Air will make its maiden flight on 10 Dec 2012. The airline will initially operate a three weekly service on board a Beechcraft 1900 from Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg to  Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Fly Go Air will announce future routes in 2013. Previous rumours already named flights from Lanseria International Airport to Bloemfontein and George as well as from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) to Cape Town as possible future services of the new airline.

The Kruger National Park Calendar - January

  • peak of rainy season
  • frequent thunder storms
  • hot days
  • warm nights
  • high humidity levels

  • many veld flowers in bloom
  • colourful landscape
  • marula tree in fruit
Animal Activity:
  • animals spread over wider areas
  • a lot predator activity in the south-eastern and central Kruger grasslands
  • many nursery herds having youngsters
  • a lot of elephant activity around marula trees

29 November 2012

Botswana to ban hunting of wildlife from 2014

update (15 Aug 2013): Botswana's Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, confirmed that from 01 January 2014 no quotas, licences or permits will be issued for hunting of Part 1 and Part 2 schedule animals as listed in the country's Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act. Licences will continue to be issued for birds listed in Part 3 of the same law subject to conditions to be determined by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Hunting in registered game ranches will not be affected by the ban.

Good news for Botswana's wildlife! The government of the southern African country has decided to "indefinitely suspend commercial hunting of wildlife in public or controlled hunting areas" from 01 January 2014 because of a decline in animal populations. According to a statement issued by the country's environment ministry, hunting is no longer considered as "compatible with either our national commitment to conserve and preserve local fauna or the long term growth of the local tourism industry".

Hunting concessions currently exist for the Okavango Delta and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The ban of hunting in Botswana will not affect issuing of special game licences for traditional hunting by some local communities within designated wildlife management areas.

Africa: Pan-continental low-cost carrier Fastjet launched operations

Africa's first pan-continental low-cost carrier, Fastjet, commenced commercial flight operations on 29 Nov 2012 at 06:00am local time with a first aircraft flying passengers from the airline's main hub at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam to Mwanza in Tanzania. According to the airline, the flight departed on-schedule and was "almost full to capacity". It was followed by a second service to Kilimanjaro International Airport later in the morning.
Fastjet will serve the twice daily routes with three Airbus A319s - two of which have entered service, while the third joins the fleet on 03 December 2012.
The new airline has applied for flying rights to Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, Entebbe in Uganda, Kigali in Rwanda as well as to Juba in South Sudan and will launch operations to the destinations in near future. Fastjet will therefore establish a second home base in Nairobi, Kenya, in the first quarter of 2013. Subsequent bases in the west African capitals of Accra (Ghana) and Luanda (Angola) will be added later in 2013.
One-way ticket prices for flights with Fastjet are currently starting at 32,000 Tanzanian Shillings (~US$20) excluding taxes and charges, but are expected to average around US$80.

28 November 2012

Cape Town: Company's Garden to remain open longer during summer

The City of Cape Town has announced, that the famous Company's Garden, a park and heritage site located in central Cape Town, will remain open until 20:30 every day from 01 December 2012 until 28 February 2013. The normal closing time of 19:00 has been extended to allow residents and visitors a better chance to enjoy the Garden.

Various activities are scheduled to take place in the Company’s Garden this summer, including:
  • From 01 – 16 December 2012 (daily from 09:00 to 18:00), a Waste to Art Market will showcase the talents of entrepreneurs in crafting recycled materials into a range of interesting items that will be on sale. This market will be run by the City’s Solid Waste Management Department to create awareness about the importance of reusing, repurposing and recycling waste, in order to limit the amount of waste directed to the City’s landfill sites. There will also be food stalls and entertainment on offer.
  • The Cape Town Summer Market will run from 12:00 (noon) till 21:00 each day from 14 – 24 December 2012. There will be art and craft stalls, musicians, street performers, food stalls, wine and craft beer for sale, and a children’s play section. The activity will spill out from the Company’s Garden onto Orange Street, as well as the Delville Wood Memorial Garden and the Paddocks areas (and will not affected by the 20:30 closing time of the Garden proper).
  • A Christmas Carols by Candlelight event is planned and notices will appear closer to the time.

Google's Street View now live in Botswana

Back in February 2012, Google announced that it will bring the Google Maps service Street View to Botswana. It took the internet giant a couple of months, but from now on anyone can travel virtually through Botswana via Street View. The service is currently covering the streets of Gaborone, Francistown, Maun and Kasane, the major highways and roads in the country as well as the Makgadikgadi Pan and the famous Chobe National Park. Following the launch of Street View in South Africa just before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Botswana is only the second African country to be on Street View.

Short film: The Ivory Crisis (5min)

It is not only the rhinos that are getting illegally killed by poachers in great numbers in Africa, but also the African elephants. While rhino poaching is mainly taking place in South Africa, the poachers in East Africa are about to wipe out the elephants living in parks such as the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. The short film "The Ivory Crisis", produced by Peck Euwer of Swell Pictures, helps to explain the great threat that Africa's elephants are currently facing. Please spread the word!

The Ivory Crisis from Peck Euwer on Vimeo.

27 November 2012

South Africa: 588 rhinos killed by poachers so far in 2012

According to the latest statistics released by South African National Parks (SANParks), South Africa has lost 588 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of 2012. Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit by poachers, having lost 362 rhinos since the beginning of this year. North West province has lost 75 rhinos to illegal poaching; KwaZulu-Natal has lost 59 rhinos and Limpopo 52 rhinos. Of the 246 arrested individuals in connection with rhino poaching, 217 are at the level of poacher, 18 are couriers and 11 are receivers.

Latest rhino poaching figures (as of 27 November 2012)
  • Kruger National Park (SANParks) - 362 rhinos poached
  • Mapungubwe National Park (SANParks) - 3 rhinos poached
  • Gauteng - 1 rhino poached
  • Limpopo - 52 rhinos poached
  • Mpumalanga - 27 rhinos poached
  • North-West Province - 75 rhinos poached
  • Eastern Cape - 7 rhinos poached
  • Free State - 0 rhinos poached
  • KwaZulu Natal - 59 rhinos poached
  • Western Cape - 2 rhinos poached
  • Northern Cap - 0 rhinos poached

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has urged members of the public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to 0800 205 005.

Eat Out names South Africa's best restaurants 2012

South Africa's leading restaurant guide, Eat Out, has named the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards. According to this year's awards, the Western Cape is South Africa's foodie paradise with 8 out of the top 10 restaurants being based in Cape Town and the Winelands. Bon appetit!

The Top 10 restaurants:
  1. The Test Kitchen (Cape Town)
  2. The Tasting Room (Franschhoek)
  3. Jordan Restaurant (Stellenbosch)
  4. Overture (Stellenbosch)
  5. Rust en Vrede (Stellenbosch)
  6. DW Eleven-13 (Johannesburg)
  7. La Colombe (Cape Town)
  8. The Greenhouse (Cape Town)
  9. Terroir (Stellenbosch)
  10. Hartford House (Mooi River)
Restaurant of the Year
Best Bistro
Best Steakhouse
Best Country-style Restaurant
  • Fresh at Paul Cluver Wine Estate (Elgin)
Best Asian Restaurant
Best Italian restaurant
Chef of the Year
Service Excellence Award
The Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award brought to you by Paarl Media

26 November 2012

Timelapse video: The Chapman's Peak Drive (Cape Town)

I just stumbled on this great time-lapse video of Cape Town's Chapman's Peak Drive by Paul Chasusa, a videographer living and working in Swaziland. Kudos @ Paul! Have fun with the video!

Chapmans Peak Drive - Time-Lapse from Paul Chasusa on Vimeo.

The background music is the bonus track "Reconsider" from The XX's album Coexist.

South Africa: Port Elizabeth to launch Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS)

update (28 Nov 2012): The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will be launching its Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) on 29 November 2012 at the Uitenhage Town Hall starting at 09:00.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in South Africa's Eastern Cape will finally get its long-awaited Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS). The service, which is named "Libhongolethu" (meaning: "Our Pride"), will be launched next week (week #49). Initially the buses will run on seven routes between Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage and will, for example, connect the CBD of Port Elizabeth with the city's international airport.

Screenshot. Click here to download the brochure (pdf)

22 November 2012

South Africa/Mozambique: November to January is nesting season for sea turtles

The coastline stretching from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, known for Lake St. Lucia, Cape Vidal and the famous diving spot Kosi Bay, in South Africa's northern KwaZulu Natal province to the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in southern Mozambique is the only remaining major area in Africa where loggerhead and leatherback turtles are still laying their eggs between November and January of every year. The area the turtles are nesting in is part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which was born out of the Peace Park Foundation's vision to establish a network of transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa. The conservation area covers 4,195km² and links the Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique through the Futi Corridor and the Lubombo Conservancy in Swaziland to the Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa.

Leatherback turtles are the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth largest modern reptile. They can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Leatherbacks are usually 120-185cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. The largest ever found however was over 3 meters from head to tail and weighed 920kg. Loggerhead turtles are the world's largest hard-shelled turtles, measuring up to 213cm long when fully grown.

South Africa: Kulula to launch flights Johannesburg <> East London

South African budget carrier Kulula, a subsidiary of British Airways franchise Comair, announced that it will launch flights between Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport and East London (Eastern Cape). The airline will operate two daily return flights between the two destinations onboard a new 189-seater Boeing 737-800 from 28 March 2013. Bookings for the flights will open on 28 November 2012.
To meet the current demand, Kulula will also be increasing the frequency of flights between Johannesburg <> Durban and Johannesburg <> George.

Al Jazeera documentary "The Last Rhino" (47 min)

In the well compiled documentary "The Last Rhino" Al Jazeera's correspondent Jonah Hull investigates how South Africa became the epicentre of rhino poaching in the world. He travels around South Africa, Mozambique and Vietnam and interviews conservationists such as Dr Joseph Okori (WWF, African Rhino Manager), Tom Milliken (Traffic, Director East, Southern Africa) and Dr Ian Player (Founder of The Wilderness Foundation), as well as Major Jack Greeff of the Anti Poaching Intelligence Group Southern Africa and Kobus de Velt, a manager of a CIS unit in the Kruger National Park. While in Mozambique, Hull speaks to members of a familiy of a killed poacher, to an "influential business man" and to an alleged poacher. Towards the end of the documentary Hull visits the game farm of South Africa's largest private rhino breeder, John Hume, and interviews him about his motives. All in all a very interesting, but shocking documentary. Kudos at Jonah Hull, Clifford Bestall and Al Jazeera.

20 November 2012

Cape Town: A "Historial Walk of Kirstenbosch" (video)

The famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town is turning 100 years old in 2013 and to celebrate the centenary, volunteers from the Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa will organise so-called Historial Walks of Kirstenbosch throughout the next months. From December 2013, and until summer 2013, the guided walks will be available for visitors on every first Saturday of the month. According to the short video about the Historial Walk of Kirstenbosch produced by South Africa's outdoor and travel magazine Go!, people of all fitness levels can join in. For more information about the the walk contact the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Kudos @ Go!

Nambiti Private Game Reserve to dehorn two more rhinos

The Nambiti Private Game Reserve, situated in the heart of the KwaZulu Natal's Midlands about 25km east of Ladysmith in KwaZulu Natal and only 2.5hrs from Durban, announced that it will dehorn its last two remaining rhinos with horns later this week. The reserve, which already dehorned the rest of their rhinos over a number of years, has had no reported incidents of poaching so far.

The malaria-free Nambiti Private Game Reserve is covering about 8000 hectares and is home to the famous Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino) as well as to over thirty species of game including cheetah, hyena, giraffe, hippo, kudu and eland.

South Africa: Mango to launch daily flights to Port Elizabeth

South African budget airline Mango will launch daily flights between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth and between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on 05 December 2012. Initially, the airline will operate one return flight daily between the respective cities. Flights to and from Port Elizabeth go on sale on Tuesday (20 November 2012) this week.  
Mango is a subsidiary of South African Airways and operates domestic flights in South Africa. The airline's main base is OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

16 November 2012

British Airways to increase flights London <> Johannesburg from April 2013

British Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, will boost its London <> Johannesburg service during the northern summer 2013. From 29 April 2013 the airline will increase the number of flights between the two destinations from currently 14 fligths per week to 17 flights per week. British Airways will also increase capacity on the route by operating a Boeing 777-200ER between London <> Johannesburg.

Namibia: Pilot strike grounds Air Namibia

update (29 Nov 2012): Air Namibia and the Namibian Airline Pilots Association (Napa) concluded negotiations and signed on to an 5% increase on the total package. Air Namibia's normal flight schedule will resume today. Pls read Air Namibia's official press statement (pdf).

update (29 Nov 2012): According to a post on Tourbrief's facebook page, Air Namibia has confirmed that the strike by pilots has ended. We keep you posted! 

update (28 Nov 2012): Air Namibia has released an update on the airline's operations during the ongoing pilots strike (pdf). There have been on-going negotiations between the airline and its pilots, but sadly no agreement has been reached so far.
  • All domestic flights continue uninterrupted.
  • Regional flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town have been reduced from three flights per day to two.
  • Regional flights to Accra, Lusaka, Harare and Gaborone have been temporarily suspended.
  • Regional flights to and from Maun and Victoria Falls are operating as normal.
  • Regional flights to and from Luanda are operating as normal.
  • International flights to Frankfurt, Germany, have continued with few disruptions. Flights to and from Frankfurt on 29 November 2012, 1st and 2nd December 2012 have been cancelled. The next flights to and from Frankfurt will be on 28 and 30 November 2012 and on 3 December 2012. An update for the period beyond 3rd December 2012 will be issued in due course.
  • Air Namibia has granted passengers an opportunity to reschedule or cancel their flights during this period at no additional cost. 
  • Passengers on cancelled flights are being rerouted on other airlines

update (26 Nov 2012): Air Namibia has announced that flight SW285/286 (Windhoek <> Frankfurt) on Monday 26 November 2012, will be cancelled. In addition, Air Namibia has amended the schedule for the period 27 - 29 November 2012, and SW285 flight will change operation to 12 hours earlier, i.e. 08:10 a.m. (Namibian time). Click here to download Air Namibia's revised schedule (pdf)!

update (21 Nov 2012): Negotiations over salary increments between Air Namibia and the Namibian Airline Pilots Association (Napa) continue to stall.
update (20 Nov 2012): Air Namibia has released an new and revised flight schedule (domestic, regional and international) for flights operating from today until 26 Nov 2012. Click here (pdf) to download it!

update: (19 Nov 2012): Air Namibia has released an new press release "UPDATES ON AIR NAMIBIA’S PILOTS INDUSTRIAL ACTION" (pdf)

update (19 Nov 2012):
According to Namibia's Allgemeine Zeitung, the daily connection between Windhoek <> Frankfurt might today or tomorrow be affected by the ongoing strike of Air Namibia's pilots. > the flight Frankfurt <> Windhoek (SW9285), scheduled to depart Frankfurt today at 17:20 local time, got canceled!


update (18 Nov 2012):
Air Namibia has announced that no international flights are affected by the industrial action undertaken by pilots. Click here to download the airline's revised flight schedule (as of 16 Nov 2012).

update (16 Nov 2012):
To download Air Namibia's current revised flight schedule, here (pdf)!

Following failed salary negotiations between the pilots of the cash-strapped national airline of Namibia, Air Namibia, and the airline, 14 flights scheduled for today (16 Nov 2012) and tomorrow (17 Nov 2012) have been cancelled due to a strike of the pilots. Domestic, regional and international flights are affected.
According to Air Namibia's spokesman, Paulus Nakawa, a contingency plan is in place to ensure minimum disruptions to the airline's operations. A new contingency plan will be announced on 17 Nov 2012 for Sunday's (18 Nov 2012) scheduled flights, if the strike is not over by then.