The 2009 Good Safari Guide Awards were recently announced in Durban. The purpose of the awards is to highlight the best in African safari tourism. Experienced tour operators, journalists and other travel professionals, who have all visited many safari camps and lodges, nominate their top picks in each of the 16 categories.
Next month an intrepid group, led by well-known guide Gordon Putterill, will attempt to walk the full breadth of Hwange National Park from west to east unsupported. Never attempted before, the six-day journey will cover in excess of 100km and cross harsh semi-Kalahari terrain that is densely populated by elephant. Renowned photographer Chris Weston will join the group to document their progress.
On foot in Gorongosa Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique’s flagship conservation area, has recently introduced walking safaris. Although predominantly a mobile walking safari product, it also provides guests with first-hand insights into the innovative restoration project under way within the park. Find out more at www.exploregorongosa.com
Last month in Durban The Good Safari Guide presented their awards in honour of the safari industry’s best. Instituted by Henry Hallward, Chairman of the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA), these awards are the first system of peer recognition in the industry.
Research in one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world has revealed fifteen new species of amphibians and a chameleon species. The findings are a result of biological surveys carried out in the South Nguru Mountains, Tanzania.
Campaigners for conservation are
celebrating a breakthrough: there’s evidence to suggest that an
increasing number of African leaders now acknowledge that their
nation’s wildlife and natural beauty could be the key to reducing
Endemic to the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia, African penguins have earned a place in the heart of all who have encountered them. However, their population has not fared so well over the past few decades.
A remote fishing village in southern Madagascar has sold its first batch of locally farmed sea cucumbers. Believed to be a potent aphrodisiac in Southeast Asia, they were initially produced by a hatchery in the nearby town of Toliara.
The blogging phenomenon is giving
Africans across the continent a brand new opportunity to exchange
ideas. Among those listening in are travellers keen to keep in touch
with topics of discussion that matter to people living in Africa.
The first ever horse safaris in Zambia’s Kafue National Park will start in March 2009. After being given a stunning concession bordering the park, Kafue Horse Safaris have sorted out the final regulatory details and are now accepting bookings.
Deep in southern Gambia is a cluster of
mudbrick huts with a difference. Daubed with colour and rich symbology,
they are an installation, the work of Bakau-born painter Baboucarr
Ndow, better known as Etu.
Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana, a non-profit organisation in a joint venture with Wilderness Safaris, has now started hosting underprivileged children at two safari camps in the Okavango Delta.
There is currently an outbreak of polio in Namibia. Incidents of fatalities and paralysis have been reported but tourists travelling to the country over June and July should not be alarmed and the risk of contracting polio or being exposed to conditions in which polio is a threat are minimal.
Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy hosted the Comrie Cricket Club from Scotland this spring for a match against a Laikipia ‘select eleven’. The match took place within the conservancy, surrounded by wildlife – this included one rather intrigued black rhino that trotted past just as the match was about to start.
Weather and grasslands: More rain again these two months with a total of 135 mm for April and 65 mm for May. Early morning temperatures averaged 20°C and midday Temperatures 30°C. Grass growth has really accelerated and specifically noticeable is the Red Oat grass which has grown to waist height in some places.
On 11 February, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) was forced to open the floodgates at Kariba Dam for only the fifth time in its almost fifty-year history. This was to release excess water caused by the heavy rains falling in the lower Zambezi region during the early part of the year.
Wilderness Safaris in Malawi and Exclusive Air Safaris are offering a opportunity of a lifetime to a limited number of guests - a chance to experience an elephant translocation in southern Malawi. Initial details are below. Please contact Sybille Quandt directly for any further information.
As part of a massive exercise to re-stock the Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi, visitors are being offered the chance to be part of an impressive programme of elephant capture and relocation this coming May and June.
On March 10 Zambian Airways began its low-cost flights from Lusaka to Johannesburg, with inaugural flights running at full capacity. CEO Mr Don MacDonald said: “We are delighted to be able to offer the Zambian market a new a competitive choice in quick and convenient air travel between Johannesburg and Lusaka. This represents affordable air travel for all, with fares starting at only USD100 one-way.”
There’s a growing trend towards lodges offering spa treatments, but in Kenya’s Masai Mara the owners of Saruni have given it an African twist. Their Masai Wellbeing Space is managed by a Maasai woman who has been trained in Europe and Kenya, thus she offers the best European techniques combined with ancient Maasai methods. Perfect for a post- or pre-game drive pampering, a 30 minute massage is included in the regular safari price, with a wider range of treatments offered additionally. www.sarunicamp.com
April sees the opening of Chongwe River House near Lower Zambezi National Park. This is the latest in the portfolio of Safari Houses of Zambia, following the recent launch of Luangwa Safari House in the South Luangwa. Both are stylish, spacious properties catering on an exclusive basis for groups of up to eight people. www.safarihouses.com
African Safari Roots and Malawi’s Nyika Safari Company have put together two new safaris for 2006, a proportion of the proceeds from which will be donated to the Nyika-Vwaza (UK) Trust. The Rift Valley Explorer visits Malawi and Zambia from June 10, while the Highlights of Malawi tour starts June 24. Both trips last 14 nights. www.africansafariroots.com
For the first time ever, an incredible opportunity to experience a dignified and sensitive Bushmen Safari. For years, it has not been possible to offer a genuine non-patronising bushman experience due to the threat of exploitation.
Weather and grasslands: Hot and dusty again with strong north easterly winds, mid day temps were hot averaging up to 34°C and early morning temps average 17°C, very little rain for the area, a total of 35 mm received for the month, but this was very local only, with the North East area of the conservation area receiving a little more up to 40 mm.
Wow have we had rain! We've received over 600mm since November and it's
still coming - unbelievable and just what we needed after such a dry
spell in the Park last year. The Park and Hide concession are looking
absolutely amazing with huge pans everywhere, attracting large numbers
of birds ‐ often one imagines you’re driving through the Okavango Delta!
Virgin Nigeria began operations from Lagos to London Gatwick in November. The carrier operates flights from Lagos three times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Return flights from London Gatwick are on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Congratulations to Rainbow Tours, the Africa and Indian Ocean tailor-made travel specialist, which has been voted Best Tour Operator in the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards for the second year running.
Virgin Holidays has issued its first ever dedicated southern Africa brochure. It features destinations including South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles and Mauritius, and there’s an option to create your own itinerary including visits to more than one country.
The partial solar eclipse which affected large parts of North and East Africa in October offered many a taste of the more dramatic celestial event due to take place in March 2006. Some people who didn’t have access to safety goggles, such as the Samburu villagers pictured, improvised by observing the sun through smoke-blackened glass ‐ but experts urge eclipse watchers to take careful precautions to avoid permanent damage to their eyes.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter recently visited the SOS Children’s Village in Cape Town as part of the official charity campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Throughout the tournament, which will be held in Germany in the summer of 2006, funds will be raised to set up six new centres for needy children in countries where football has a high profile, including Nigeria and South Africa.
Thanks to those of you who assisted with funds, especially the SAVE Foundation of Australia, I was able to go to South Africa and purchase 2 new engines for the pumps in Hwange National Park as well as enough spare parts to repair another 20 engines. Thanks to Expeditors for clearing the goods so quickly and efficiently at the border.
Camp Calling - As I write this letter The Hide has just received 45mm of rain in the last few days…what a relief! The nights of the last few months have been filled with the trumpeting and shrieks of thirsty Elephant herds battling it out in front of camp for their chance at the water trough.
Africa is set to experience unprecedented growth in the air transport sector, according to European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. They reckon that air traffic will grow by an average of 4.7% in the next 20 years. A spokesman for Airbus said that companies such as Air Mauritius, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways are making good profits because they operate modern, efficient aircraft.
Doro Nawas, a new Wilderness Safaris camp in Namibia, opened in August 2005. Located in the Damaraland region, the camp is set on the edge of the dry Aba-Huab River with spectacular views of the Etendeka Mountains to the north and the red sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein to the South.
A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials have said.
The East Africa Safari Rally is back ‐ with an improved course and an impressive line-up of participants. Topping the list of classic car drivers signed up to tackle the ten-day challenge in early December are former world rally champions Juha Kankkunen and Stig Blomqvist.
A team from the BBC’s Natural History Unit has been filming lions in Tanzania for a bloodcurdling new historical drama-documentary which looks set to stir up debate about the conflict of interests between pastoralists and predators.
Scientific interest in Africa’s great apes has recently reached new heights. We now know that we are more closely related to chimpanzees than we thought ‐ but if we are to save great apes from extinction in the wild we will have to act fast.
We are pleased to announce the launch of Authentic Tanzania, a new tour operator and ground handler based in Dar es Salaam offering innovative itineraries throughout southern Tanzania and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.
Conservation news was made in the Cederberg (north of Cape Town, South
Africa) this month when The Cape Leopard Trust caught a leopard in a
cage trap, and for the first time in history in the Cape, fitted it
with a Global Positioning Satellite system (GPS) collar for monitoring
purposes, before the animal was released in the wild.
(with complimentary hotel stay and transfers in Pretoria)
Rovos Rail has launched a new 6-day packaged journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls/Livingstone. The journey is a combination of the existing Cape Town to Pretoria route with the Pretoria to Victoria Falls/Livingstone route and includes a complimentary overnight stay in a pre-selected Pretoria Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis, including transfers to and from Rovos Rail’s Capital Park Station in Pretoria.
Virgin Atlantic is pleased to announce its first ever Flying Without Fear course (FWF) to be held at Heathrow Airport on 28 August 2005. Virgin Atlantic, in association with FWF Limited, offers one day courses throughout the year, aimed at teaching sufferers how to overcome their fear. The course includes an optional 45 minute flight at the end of the session.
Insiders’ Africa: The African Portfolio Two of Africa’s leading photographers, Duncan Willetts and Richard du Toit, will be leading a new 10-day photographic workshop through the landscapes of Kenya this October. Taking in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Masai Mara Game Reserve, the itinerary will include great locations for shooting landscapes, wildlife and Maasai culture.
A slip of the tongue has re-ignited a long-running controversy about which nation has the greatest claim to Africa’s highest mountain ‐ Kenya or Tanzania. Speaking at the welcome dinner of the recent Africa Travel Association Congress in Nairobi, Morris Dzoro, Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister, made the comment that “Mount Kilimanjaro is among the top tourist attractions in Kenya” ‐ provoking raised eyebrows among members of the Tanzania Tourist Board. Kilimanjaro, which features prominently on the southern Kenyan skyline, has been part of the country that is now Tanzania since 1886.
Serena Hotels, East Africa’s leading hotel group, had the ultimate Repeat-business guest ‐ former US President Bill Clinton.
During his recent extensive visit to Africa, Mr. Clinton stayed at no fewer than three Serena properties: The Polana Serena Hotel, in Maputo, Mozambique; the Zanzibar Serena Inn and the Nairobi Serena Hotel, in Kenya.
London won’t experience a total solar eclipse this century ‐ but in North and Central Africa, there’s one just around the corner. We look at three itineraries which take travellers right into Libya’s zone of totality during the eclipse that will take place next March.
Kenya Airways’ latest Boeing 777-200ER aircraft is now in active service, resplendent in new company livery. “We have chosen to adopt our IATA code ‘KQ’ as our logo because our customers, the travel trade and the worldwide news media have all come to recognise us and refer to us by those initials,” said Mr. Titus Naikuni, Kenya Airways’ Chief Executive Officer.
A plan to rename South Africa’s capital city Tshwane, in honour of a pre-colonial chief, has been unanimously approved by the country’s Geographical Names Council. Local government officials are backing the move as part of a nationwide drive to make place names more African, dismissing the objections of those who claim the decision is both undemocratic and disrespectful to the present-day Afrikaner community. The capital was named Pretoria in 1855 after Voortrekker hero Andries Pretorius, who defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838. The proposed new name, which means “we are the same”, is already in use among many of the city’s residents.
Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania have been the world’s most popular ecotourism destinations for two years running, according to online travel agent responsibletravel.com. In over 60,000 booking enquiries via the agent’s website, trips to Egypt scored more hits than any other country. Justin Francis, Responsible Travel’s co-founder, says of Kenya and Tanzania that their high ranking bears out their understanding of the importance of tourism in wildlife conservation and poverty reduction.
The Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Zakia H. Meghji, has announced that park entry fees for the Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Parks will increase to US$60 and US$50 per person per day respectively from 1 January 2006.
The fees presently stand at US$30 per person per day for non-Tanzanian adult visitors. The new rates are likely to remain in place for a
Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp, a new camp in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, celebrated its official opening in May. Located on one of the main animal migration corridors and within easy reach of the prime wildlife theatres of Lobo, the Western Corridor of the Grumeti River, the southern grass plains, the Seronera Valley and the kopjes of Barafu, Gol, Maasai, Loliondo, Simba and Moru, the camp promises
The rowing enthusiasts behind last year’s Zambezi Regatta near Victoria Falls are making good headway in raising sponsorship for this year’s event, tipped to be a highlight of Zambia’s Livingstone anniversary celebrations. The 2005 regatta is due to take place on 24-25 September, and
The restaurant at Le Quartier Français, a country inn in Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, has received a new accolade to add to its many awards ‐ it appears in a British magazine’s definitive list of the world’s 50 best restaurants, and has been voted Best in Africa and the Middle East. A panel of over 600 chefs, gourmands and restauranteurs participated in the annual survey, conducted by Restaurant magazine.
Mauritius is fast becoming foodie heaven: when three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux (pictured) was looking outside Europe for a location for a new restaurant, he zoned in on the Indian Ocean island. The result is Le Gavroche des Tropiques, recently opened at the new Voile D’Or luxury resort.
When searching for a concept for his new IMAX movie about South Africa, 3D film maker Ben Stassen, decided to keep things simple. “I’d never been on safari before”, he explains, “and I found the idea of going on a game drive extremely exciting. So, I thought, let’s convey that excitement.
Elephant Back Safaris are now offering the ultimate educational elephant experience
at Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. A maximum of eight guests
are invited on each three-day safari, in which they join the elephants
in their natural dail
Funding is being sought to transport a large number of elephants
from Botswana to Mozambique. Botswana, which has Africa’s largest
elephant population, has offered to donate 500 animals to Mozambique’s
Gorongosa National Park. The cost of the 1120 mile journey is likely to
be over $2000 per elephant.
Gorongosa was severely poached during the civil war
Britain and South Africa are holding regular talks aimed at increasing air traffic between the two countries. British Airways currently operates two flights a day to Johannesburg, and twelve flights a week to Cape Town. Virgin Atlantic, which wants more flights to Johannesburg,
The Gambia’s Mandina Lodge, which was featured in Travel Africa edition 27 (Spring 2004), has won a major tourism award. The British Guild of Travel Writers’ annual prize for the best new overseas tourism project goes to an enterprise which benefits the local community. Mandina was named as the 2004 winner
Visitors to South Africa can enjoy unlimited entry to 59 parks, reserves and resorts for one year with a WILD card, available at entrance gates and camps at South African National Parks and online at www.sanparks.org for ZAR795 (one person), ZAR1395 (two people) or ZAR1795 (family). Card holders are not required to pay daily conservation fees. However, the WILD card does not exempt you from the new Kruger Park gate quota system, whereby, on particularly busy days such as public holidays and long weekends, only pre-booked guests are allowed to enter.
The 2005 edition of the Travel Photographer of the Year competition (www.tpoty.com), which seeks out the best travel photography in the world, opened on28 February. Anyone can enter ‐ amateur or professional, young or old. You can send in as many images as you like, either singly or in portfolios of four that fit a common theme. The impressive array of prizes includes airline tickets, holidays, photographic tuition and equipment.
Private villas are the very latest trend in luxury holiday
accommodation. From cool, classic riads in Morocco to mini safari
lodges in South Africa’s game reserves, booking a place of your own is
a great way to get the best of both worlds ‐ utter privacy, and
top-notch service. The exclusive cottage a
Making a big splash at London’s Hayward Gallery is Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent‐ the largest and most exciting exhibition of contemporary African art ever seen in Europe.
Featuring more than 60 artists from 25 countries, some of them emerging and some internationally renowned, the show includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, film and video. Look out for a spectacular ‘cloth of gold’ made from thousands of bottle tops by Ghanaian El Anatsui,
The government of Botswana and the World Conservation Union have signed a letter of intent regarding the development and implementation of the Okavango Delta Management Plan. An integrated management strategy is seen as vital to preserving the Delta, the world's largest Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.
South Africa and Botswana are helping restore wildlife to Angola's game parks. Around 40 elephant were flown from South Africa's Madikwe Game Reserve to the Quicama Game Reserve, while a South African Navy supply ship is to airlift a further 200 elephant from Madikwe and Botswana's Tuli Game Reserve.
Gap Year travellers can now benefit from AA Travel Assistance. The service doesn't replace full travel insurance, but does offer 24-hour support. The AA can contact the local British Embassy to replace a lost passport, translate a doctor's diagnosis, provide information on climate, currency and attractions, or organise hotel bookings, car hire and tickets. It can even arrange for a gift to be sent from anywhere in the world. Costing £25 per year (£21 to AA Members), the service can be used at home or abroad. Calls are free worldwide. Visit www.theaa.com