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Africa Travel News and Tips
To view past news stories and and Africa travel tips please click on the link to the left.
Great Plains Botswana Special, May 28 2013
Stay 6 or more nights at any combination of Duba Plains, Selinda, Selinda Explorers or Zarafa and you will be transferred by helicopter between camps at no extra cost! The Bell 406 helicopter holds 5 guests plus luggage.
Selinda Canoe Trail, May 28 2013
Due to low water levels the Selinda Canoe Trail in Botswana may have to be stopped at some point this year.
Duba Plains Canoeing, May 28 2013
New and never done before activity will be canoeing the islands of Duba Plains. Coming soon...
Selinda Camp New Pool, May 28 2014
Plans are underway to rebuild the pool, with intention to make it a floating pool set in the Selinda Spillway.
Zarafa Camp, May 28 2014
The new Zarafa two suite unit will operate independent of the main camp, and booked on exclusive use basis. Amenities include arrival by Zanzibari dhow, private chef and private activities.
Getting to Azura Quilalea, May 22 2013
Azura's beautiful Quilalea property in Mozambique can be reached with daily flights from Dar Es Salaam and Johannesburg to Pemba. And from May 18, 2013, Azura Quilalea will transfer guests directly from the Pemba airport to the island with their new helicopter. The flight takes just 25 minutes and goes along the stunning Mozambique coastline and over the islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago to the helipad at Azura at Quilalea private Island.
Rafting at Victoria Falls Starts, May 22 2013
White water rafting on the Zambezi River re-opened on May 14, 2013. During the initial period high water trips will run from Rapid No.15 to Rapid No. 23, changing to start at Rapid No. 11 once the water levels in the Zambezi River drop further.
New Okavango Camp, May 22 2013
In addition to the extension of Tubu Tree and Little Tubu, a seasonal mekoro camp is being built in the Jao concession. Pelo means heart - a fitting name as from the air this island is heart shaped and it is situated pretty much as deep into the heart of the delta as you can be. Scheduled to open on July 1, 2013, this 10 bed tented camp will have no permanent structures. It will be Ideal for the adventurous traveller wanting a more traditional Delta experience with the focus on mekoro excursions (minimum age limit of 13 years), boating and walking. There will be no game drives.
New Vehicles at Mombo, May 22 2013
Yes it is true... new vehicles at Mombo include heated seats, fridges, running board lights and plug points for camera charging!
New Family Room at Kings Pool, May 22 2013
A family room is being built at Kings Pool Camp, and will be available to book from July 10, 2013. The design will be similar to the Savuti family room, where the children’s side is slightly smaller with its’ own en-suite bathroom. There will be an inter-leading walkway so that the two rooms are accessible from the inside. The second room will have a small deck but no outside shower.
Tent Upgrade on Migration Routes, May 22 2013
The tents utilised at the Linyanti and Khwai Adventurer Camps have been upgraded. The 4m x 4m (13 ft x 13 ft) Meru-style tents allow for clothes storage, plus a hammock and extended shade area at the entrance with comfortable safari chairs. Wooden beds are covered in cotton linen (with duvets) plus there are bedside tables with lamps. The en-suite bathroom, accessed via a zip door in the rear of the tent, has a serviced tin bucket shower – with hot water available whenever guests require it – and a short-drop toilet. The accommodation at Xigera Mokoro Trails Camp still utilises 3m x3m (9.84 ft x 9.84 ft) dome tents with mini-verandas. The interiors are furnished with pure cotton linen (with duvets) on GI stretchers, a bedside table with light and mini luggage benches. Accessed via a zip door in the rear of the tent, the en-suite canvas-wrap open air bathroom has a serviced en-suite tin bucket shower – with hot water available whenever guests require it – plus short-drop toilet.
Duma Tau Pool Update, May 22 2013
We previously advised that the new pool at Duma Tau would have a serviced bar. This has changed – fridges will be stocked with drinks to which guests can help themselves, plus sorbets, fruit and snacks will be provided.
Low Delta Waters in Botswana Affecting Activities, May 22 2013
Early reports suggest that the annual Delta ‘inundation’ is going to be quite low this year – which may have an impact on the water activities on offer. In particular, the Linyanti region has already been affected. Okavango Wilderness Safaris have advised that due to a drop in water levels (very little rain received so far this season), boating at Savuti and DumaTau is already proving to be a challenge. The situation at the moment is as follows: Savuti – canoeing is no offered as activity. Boating is limited - currently they can take a short trip out the front of camp and do some fishing, but heading up (or down) the channel is not possible. At DumaTau boating west of camp is limited as there are very low patches before Zibalianja lagoon. Boating is possible east of camp, however, not for great distances. The barge is still operational and available as an activity. At Kings Pool – the Queen Sylvia activity is still fine as water levels in that area are still high enough for the barge.
Tanzania's Maasai Battle Arab Game Hunters for Grazing Land, May 16 2013
We have known for years about the hunting in Tanzania's Loliondo area - wealthy Emiratis allowed to hunt in exchange for oil deals with the Tanzanian government... you could drive up to the area and make free cell calls on the UAE network they installed. Your phone would literally say "Welcome to UAE". Now Jason Patinkin has written a great piece on this:
In a remote corner of northern Tanzania, Boeing 747 planes land on a private airstrip, trucks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) number plates drive across the plains, and anyone with a cell phone receives an unlikely text message: "Dear guest, welcome to UAE."
For centuries, the sprawling savannah in the Arusha region of the East African nation has been home to the Maasai people, but these days it can feel more like Dubai, one of the states that make up the UAE. That is because this chunk of land in Arusha's Loliondo area near the Serengeti National Park has been leased to an Emirati hunting company called the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC). Since 1992, OBC has flown in wealthy clients to shoot lions and leopards, angering nomadic Maasai cattle herders who are blocked from pastures in the hunting grounds. Now, Tanzania's government wants to give more land to the hunters by establishing a 1,500 sq km (579 sq mile) wildlife corridor exclusively for OBC. The plan would displace about 30,000 people and affect tens of thousands more who graze cattle there in the dry season. The Maasai have erupted in protest, saying their livelihoods will be destroyed. More than 90 per cent of Loliondo's Maasai depend on rearing livestock on seasonal grasses there. "Without land we cannot live," said Naishirita Tenemeri, a mother of three. Ms Tenemeri raises cows and goats in Loliondo to pay for food and her children's schooling. Ruling party cards spurned The Maasai have a history of losing their land in Tanzania since the British moved them from the Serengeti in 1959. The former coloniser guaranteed future land rights, but post-independence governments further restricted grazing rights and the latest proposal would remove almost 40 per cent of Loliondo's highland prairie and forested mountains. Earlier this month, Ms Tenemeri, wrapped in a traditional red-checked blanket known as a shuka, joined 1,000 people, mostly women, under thorny acacia trees at Olorien village to protest at the plans. Some walked for days for the chance to show their anger by publicly giving up their membership cards for Tanzania's ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). "If I have no land then I have no place to deliver my children," said Morkelekei Gume, as she tossed her CCM card to the ground. "My son is in secondary school because of the grass from here. "If they need my land they can kill me."
The women have been so outspoken because they bear the worst of the evictions, left jobless to care for children while the men move to cities, where many find work as security guards. They have also led the protests since local politicians, who had said they backed the campaign against the wildlife corridor, later refused to resign from the party as they had promised to do.
The women's outcry spurred the deputy secretary-general of the CCM to trek all the way to Olorien, a collection of huts eight hours by four-wheel-drive from the region's main city of Arusha. CCM officials then denounced the planned corridor, but the ministry of tourism, and by extension Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, stands firm. Mr Kikwete, who will stand down at the next election, in 2015, after two terms in office, has tried for almost a decade to give more land to OBC. During a 2009 drought, he sent national police to help OBC block herders from a vital water source meters away from the company's current hunting ground. The Maasai say more than half of their cattle died as a result. Isaac Mollel, the executive directive of OBC's Tanzania branch, says people are only blocked from water resources during the July to December hunting season - which coincides with the dry season. "If there is hunting going on, it is going to be dangerous if someone comes around and grazes," he said. For John Moina, who exports cattle from Loliondo to Kenya, Mr Kikwete's message was clear. "The government is saying OBC is better than citizens of Tanzania," he said. But Mr Kikwete's government can earn more income in Loliondo from tourism through OBC - which has catered for English royalty like Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and the UAE royal family - than livestock. And Loliondo is ideal for developing tourism. It is rich in game with few visitors, and borders the Serengeti, Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki defends the evictions, saying the project will promote conservation as the Maasai are exhausting the land. "These 1,500 sq km are a crucial breeding area for wildlife, a corridor for the iconic great migration of wildebeest, and a critical water catchment area," he said in a press release. However, academics say the Maasai barely affect wildlife. "I would question those who say that the Maasai create more of a threat to wildlife than the hunting OBC is doing," said Benjamin Gardner of the University of Washington, who has studied Maasai land issues for two decades. The Maasai rarely hunt, and use the corridor's highlands to avoid wildebeest that give birth in the lowlands and can spread disease to cattle. If Loliondo's 66,000 Maasai plus their livestock are hemmed into only 2,500 sq km, they may overstress land and wildlife. "There is no big drought now," said Samwel Nangiria, who heads a group of Maasai non-governmental organisations called NGO Network. "But if they get the corridor it is going to affect twice as many people as 2009." Regardless, Mr Kagasheki has vigorously defended the government's right to appropriate the land, accusing the Maasai of living in Loliondo illegally and blaming the unrest on foreign-funded groups.
OBC too points the finger at NGOs and says it has invested in the area over the last 20 years, digging five boreholes, building classrooms and a hospital. "The people communicating for the Maasai are not the Maasai themselves. They make sure that there is no clear understanding between the investors and the indigenous people of Loliondo," Mr Mollel says.
In fact, he says their current five-year concession was supposed to allow them access to the whole of the 4,000 sq km Loliondo area - so the smaller corridor is actually a concession to the Maasai. He also says that, in the government's eyes, the Maasai do not own the land, and it will help protect a drought-prone area. Thirteen civil society groups from across Tanzania said in a statement that the Maasai do have title deeds for the corridor and the government is "going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public". Maasai representatives plan to take the government to court over the corridor, but fear this may not lead to a quick resolution of the problem as a case from 2009 remains unheard. Mr Nangiria believes there has been deliberate administrative blocking of their legal action as it is a constitutional case which requires three judges, but there is only one judge in Arusha and the other judges have yet to be sent for. "The government should stop interfering with the judiciary," the civil society groups said in a statement. So the women under the acacia trees may be running out of options. "Our government is taking us from our land," said Paulina Leysa to a group of fellow protesters. "We are crying to anyone who can help."
And here is a second article titled "The Killing Fields of Loliondo" by Meitamei Ole Dapash of the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition
Is this what you call civilization? Killing innocent animals?
Well, nature will have to judge you by your actions.
—Kailol Ole Pere, Olosira Lukunya/Loliondo resident
An ecological crisis is looming in Loliondo, an area of Maasai ancestral lands in the northern part of Tanzania along the common border with Kenya. Tanzania has become an enormously important destination for trophy hunters from Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. Regrettably, Tanzania does not recognize Maasai traditional land rights or their right to full access and control of natural resources.
The Ortello Business Company (OBC), a hunting company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), operates in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area in northern Tanzania with a license that permits hunting of wild game and trapping of live animals to be flown to the UAE. It appears that OBC has a long-term agenda for exploiting the high concentration of wildlife in Loliondo.
According to residents of Loliondo, OBC illegally uses fire to control the movement of wildlife within and around the Loliondo hunting concession. The Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC) has learned that fires usually are started at the beginning of the prime hunting season to coincide with the great ungulate migration, including wildebeests, zebras, elands, hartebeests, giraffes, and buffaloes. OBC ignites fires along the common border area to prevent animals from crossing into Kenya, and instead forces them to retreat to hunting areas. The halted migration of large herds of plains game also attracts increased numbers of carnivores—lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, hunting dogs, and jackals. This provides OBC with an opportunity to capture large cats—particularly the much favored lion, cheetah, and leopard—and transport them to UAE.
OBC also employs baiting, a hunting practice that circumvents the need for long searches for wildlife, especially big cats and hyenas. A common form of baiting used by tourist hunters entails using carcasses to lure animals into traps. In Loliondo, in addition to carcasses, OBC digs artificial watering holes and small dams to lure large numbers of mammals and even birds for easy shooting. According to Loliondo residents, OBC relies heavily on small dams during the dry season to entice large numbers of thirsty animals. Local guides keep watch and radio to OBC when animals head in the direction of the dams. The hunters take cover before the animals arrive and then strike with machine guns.
Night hunting is not a new practice in the world of hunting, but it too is gaining popularity in some parts of Tanzania. In Loliondo, MERC learned that OBC uses powerful spotlights mounted on vehicles to locate animals at night. Blinded and confused, animals stagger in front of vehicles, making them easy targets. This appears to be an exercise in shooting for fun or practice rather than trophy hunting.
Although Tanzanian law only allows tourist hunters to kill males who are no longer active reproductively, OBC personnel and guests shoot and capture animals young and old, male and female, lactating and pregnant. Some of the species that the Maasai say they have seen captured include: lion, leopard, cheetah, impala, baboon, vervet monkey, gerenuk, giraffe, hyena, warthog, and bird species, particularly ostrich. In some cases, dead animals are transported in lorries to nearby non-Maasai communities and sold as bushmeat, potentially encouraging poaching and an illegal market for such flesh. Despite the fact that Tanzanian law forbids foreign tourist hunting companies from utilizing game for commercial purposes, OBC workers take advantage of official hunts to kill animals for their own consumption and sale in the neighboring communities. Maasai do not eat wild game.
The Maasai of Loliondo have for a long time accused OBC of grave human rights abuses and environmental violations. They have described acts of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and even torture by OBC officials and security forces, as well as by Tanzanian police and military in the name of OBC; brazen violations of grazing and land rights; and wanton environmental destruction and extermination of wildlife. They have seen leaders who once opposed OBC’s practices corrupted and bought-off. They have witnessed OBC officials trying to convert Maasai to Islam, with further instruction to abandon Maasai culture.
The Government of Tanzania should sanction an independent investigation team to examine the numerous complaints about OBC’s practices in the field and their impacts on human rights, wildlife, and the environment. This should include an examination of the role of Tanzanian security forces and government officials. The team should be composed of international and Tanzanian experts but should not include members of the Tanzanian government due to allegations of widespread corruption. During the investigation, OBC’s hunting privileges must be suspended.
The killing of wildlife for sport is in itself an offense to the Maasai worldview. Maasai traditionally believe that the present generations hold all natural resources, including the land, in trust for future generations. The killing of wildlife for pleasure or commercial purposes is not permitted. Maasai believe that trophy hunting leads to greed, over-exploitation of wildlife resources, and often irreversible damage to delicate ecosystems. Today’s East Africa owes much of its wildlife prosperity to traditional Maasai conservation practices. This invaluable conservation role has gone largely unappreciated—and worse, in the name of modernity, it continues to be undermined and targeted for elimination. The Maasai tradition must survive despite foreign influences such as those of OBC. As Lemido Saunae, a Tarangire resident says, “You know, at the end of the day, they will eliminate these animals and then go back to their wealthy homelands and leave us more impoverished than when we had our animals."
Proflight Zambia Enters Malawi Skies, May 16 2013
Proflight Zambia are launching a Lusaka - Lilongwe route on June 4, 2013. The flights will be on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and provide seamless connections to / from Emirates new flights in Lusaka.
Cape Grace #2, May 16 2013
Cape Town's iconic Cape Grace Hotel is #2 on TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels in the World. For 2014 Ultimate Africa has learned rates at the Cape Grace are expected to increase upwards of 8% on suites and upwards of 12% on all other rooms.
Mombo Vehicles Get Extras, May 16 2013
Renowned Mombo Camp in Botswana offers some of Africa's best wildlife viewing and luxurious accommodations. Their vehicles have now been fitted with fold away canvas roofs (great), bucket seats (great), a fridge (a cooler was just fine and quieter), heated seats (really?), and LED lighting for the floor and foot rails (are you kidding me?).
Ethopian Airlines Eyes Lusaka as Hub, May 1, 2013
Due to its central location Ethiopian Airlines is considering turning Lusaka, Zambia into its East and Southern Africa hub. Ethiopian Airlines is the fastest growing airline in Africa. Meanwhile, the airline is weighing options of opening a new route from Addis Ababa – Livingstone to add to flights to Lusaka and Ndola.
Le Quartier's Restaurant Recognized Again, May 1, 2013
Le Quartier Francais's "The Tasting Room" has moved up the gourmet ladder from 57 to 53 on San Pellegrino World’s Top 100 Restaurants. Only one of two African restaurants on the list (Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen came in at position 61) makes this a remarkable achievement. No stranger to international recognition this will be Chef Margot Janse’s tenth year on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. She’s also been a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef since 2008. At The Tasting Room there is no menu. Expect the unexpected with the surprise tasting menu, each course is unveiled with the spirit of true African story-telling—through texture, aroma and nostalgia; and the continent’s timeless ingredients are made new on the plate for utter food theatre.
Zarafa Camp Gets AC, May 1 2013
New to Zarafa Camp’s tents, evening breeze air-conditioning units have been installed for guest comfort during the warmer months. These units are super silent systems that are designed to cool the bed area only, utilizing ozone-friendly refrigerants and running entirely off solar power.
Sandibe Safari Lodge to be Rebuilt, May 1 2013
The long overdue rebuild of Sandibe in Botswana's Okavango Delta has gotten final go ahead! To allow for the extensive work, three cottages will be closed from September 2013, followed by the temporary closure of the entire lodge from January to June 2014.
Victoria Falls Airport Overhaul Update, May 1 2013
A Chinese construction group has officially started the massive overhaul of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls Airport - a two-year project aimed at raising the airport’s passenger handling capacity and ushering in international flights. The overhaul of Victoria Falls Airport is estimated to cost US$ 202 million. It includes extending the current runway, building a second 4,000 meter long runway, a 100,000 sq. meter tarmac, a 20,000 sq. meter new terminal, and car parks. After completion, the airport’s runway would be able to accommodate wide-body aircraft like Boeing B747-400s and Airbus A340s. The airport’s passenger handling capacity will also surge from 500,000 to 1.5 million annually and airlines like KLM and Emirates both expressed intention to launch long-haul international flights to Victoria Falls, instead of commuting via Harare.
New Livingstone Airport Terminal, May 1 2013
On the Zambian side of Victoria Falls the Livingstone Airport has undergone a major refurbishment along with the complete construction of a new international terminal. The new terminal is set be open for business by June 30, 2013. The new terminal building will cater for international passengers only, whilst the old wing will process passengers that arrive and depart to destinations within Zambia. The new terminal will be able to process up to 1 million passengers per year. The building has two levels with a total area of 11,852 square meters. State of the art departure and arrivals halls have been constructed in line with international standards. The departure hall will have 12 dedicated check-in counters to allow easy processing of passengers. A lot of work has also been done to extend the apron where the aircraft will park, but at this stage air bridges have not been included. In addition to the new terminal building and enlarged apron the runway at the airport has also been significantly extended, making it the longest in the Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Chobe region. Large wide bodied aircraft will now easily be able to land here and Kenyan airways have already registered to fly in directly from Nairobi.
Kenya Airways to Fly to Livingstone, May 1 2013
Kenya Airways will start flying between Livingstone and Nairobi 3 times a week (via Harare, Zimbabwe) on June 2, 2013.
Ellerman House 10% Discount, May 1 2013
Book 3 nights at Cape Town's exclusive Ellerman House (perfect for honeymooners) and receive a 10% discount on their Low Season Rate. This is applicable May through September 2013. Rates include Table Mountain & Robben Island Tickets for 2, a Peninsula Tour for 2 in luxury vehicle with personal guide, private chauffeur-driven airport transfers in air-conditioned courtesy cars, private transfers within 15km radius of the hotel, hand-finished laundry packed in tissue paper, breakfast and complimentary teas, coffees, spirits and beer, fully stocked in-room bar with luxury brands, guest pantry with wide selection of snacks and in-between meal options, sunset cocktails, and wifi.
Ellerman / Singita Special, May 1 2013
Stay 3 nights at Ellerman House or Villa in Cape Town and 3 nights at Singita Lebombo or Singita Sweni in the Kruger National Park and receive a complimentary 4th night at both properties! Travel must be complete by December 15, 2013.
Rubondo Island Special, May 1, 2013
Rubondo is offering 3 nights for the price of 2 and 5 nights for the price of 3! Special valid for travel January 6 through March 31 and June 1 through December 19, 2014.
Matemwe Special, May 1, 2013
Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 or 7 nights for the price of 5 at Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat or Matemwe Beach House on Zanzibar. Special valid for travel January 6 through December 19, 2014. 4 for 3 not valid in High Season and excludes the new plunge pool suites at Matemwe Lodge.
Tswalu 2014 Specials, May 1, 2013
Stay 3 nights for the price of 2 in 2014 at Tarkuni, 5 for 4 at Motse in 2014.
Tswalu 2013 Specials, May 1 2013
Stay 4 nights at Motse and get free flights. Stay 5 nights and get 1 free night which may be spent at Motse, Cape Grace or at the Saxon in Johannesburg. Families staying 4 nights will be upgraded to a Family Suite (based on availability at time of booking) and kids under 18 will stay free. Stay 3 nights for the price of 2 at Tarkuni.
12 Apostles, May 1 2013
Ultimate Africa exclusive - Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 in a Superior Sea Facing room between April 1 and September 30 and December 1 and December 19, 2013. A free, space available, upgrade to one of their 9 one bedroom suites will be included along with canapés and glass of bubbly at sunset!
One and Only Cape Town, May 1 2013
Book 60 days prior to travel and save up to 35% on stays of 4 nights or more. Valid for travel June 20 through September 27, 2013.
Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe, May 1 2013
Stay 3 nights at one of Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe properties and receive a 50% discount off the flying into and out of camp. Valid for all new bookings travelling in 2013.
Mana Canoe Trail Update, April 12 2013
Nick Murray, who owns and runs Bushlife Safaris in Zimbabwe, will now operate Wilderness Safaris' Mana Canoe Trails under the name "The Ruwesi Canoe Trail".
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Opening Postponed, April 12 2013
The opening of the new Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in remote north-west Namibia has been postponed from July 2013 until 2014 - with the precise date yet to be advised. Wilderness Safaris are determined to build an unique and iconic camp on this location. For now booking sheets are closed for the remainder of 2013 and for 2014. As an alternative Desert Rhino Camp is a similar sized camp, equally remote, in the same concession, offering similar landscapes (with the exception of the Hoanib River), similar wildlife viewing (desert-adapted giraffe, oryx, springbok, a chance of desert-adapted lion) and desert-adapted black rhino. Serra Cafema Camp is also of a similar size, even more remote, with desert landscapes and the flowing Kunene River (replaces Hoanib) and Himba village.
Easier Flights ex Canada to South Africa, April 12 2013
A new interline agreement between South African Airways and Porter Airlines will make it easier for Canadians to fly to Africa. Good connections can now be made with Porter Airlines' flights between their Toronto Billy Bishop City Airport hub and South African Airways (SAA) gateway at Washington, D.C. (Dulles) for daily flights to Dakar, Senegal and Johannesburg, South Africa. From SAA's Johannesburg hub, flight connections can be made to more than 45 destinations throughout the African continent. Travelers who book interline tickets with SAA and Porter Airlines will be able to check their baggage through to their final destination.
Mount Nelson Hotel Refurbishment, April 12 2013
Cape Town's historic Mount Nelson Hotel has reopened its Oasis wing, with 30 completely refurbished and renovated rooms. The new rooms are located alongside the swimming pool, overlooking the hotel's gardens and set against the backdrop of Signal Hill and Table Bay. The rooms are all decorated in fresh and bright colour schemes, giving them a modern but timelessly classic feel. Overall we still don't recommend the hotel for a great number of reasons - poor service being the most prominent.
And Beyond Specials Continue to Raise Eyebrows, March 28 2013
AndBeyond is offering free light air transfers in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania for safaris of 7 nights or more staying at their properties. This would be an expected off / low season offer however they are offering this throughout 2013 - the entire year - including high season. From an industry perspective this is a red flag at a time when rumors are swirling about the companies direction. As to the merits of the special itself this is not so much of a deal in Botswana where they don't have a great circuit but in Tanzania it is definitely worth considering.
6 for 4 with AndBeyond, March 28 2013
Stay 6 nights with AndBeyond and pay for only 4 nights in Tanzania. Stay 10 nights and only pay for 7 nights. Offer valid until May 15 and again November 1 through December 20, 2013 (low season periods when we would not suggest in Tanzania).
Southern Africa Customs Update, March 28 2013
Customs agents in Botswana and in Johannesburg, South Africa are being more vigilant with regards to animal and plant products that are being brought in or taken out. There has been no official directive although it is probably as a result of the recent scourge of poaching in southern Africa. If you purchase curios, we recommend keeping the relevant documentation (invoice) to hand officials when proceeding through arrivals and departures. We also suggest exercising caution when it comes to the small things that you may pick up as mementos - bracelets, sea shells, loose seeds / pods, feathers, porcupine quills, anything bone or ivory or horn – as these may be removed / destroyed.
All Jet Service Kruger - Victoria Falls, March 28 2013
South African Airlink has enhanced its Kruger - Livingstone (the Zambian side of Victoria Falls) service by using one of its Embraer ERJ 135 jets as of March 22, 2013. The service operates on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays – departing Nelspruit KMIA (Mpumalanga) at 11:35AM and arriving in Livingstone at 1:10PM. The return flight departs Livingstone at 1:45PM, arriving in Nelspruit KMIA at 13:25PM.
White Water Rafting Closed, March 28 2013
The Zambezi white water rafting season at Victoria Falls is closed due to high water levels. It will reopen sometime between late May and June as water levels drop.
Asilia Special in Tanzania, March 28 2013
For June 2013 receive 50% off your 2nd night onwards at Rubondo Island Camp (their new chimpanzee viewing property). On Zanzibar stay 7 nights for the price of 5 nihgts or stay 4 nights for the price of 3 at Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat and Matemwe Beach House.
Sabi Sands #1 Property Sold, March 28 2013
Dulini Lodge, the #1 Tripadvisor property in Sabi Sands, South Africa, has been sold to new investors and will no longer be part of AndBeyond's portfolio... this follows Matetsi, Kwandwe and Londolozi being removed from AndBeyond's portfolio over the last few months.
Chem Chem, March 28 2013
Chem Chem, a newer luxury property in Tanzania's Tarangire / Lake Manyara area, is offering 4 nights for the price of 3.5 nights (yes that is correct and we figure any savings is a savings!) This is valid to December 21, 2013.
River Club Standard Rooms Now Have Two Bathrooms, March 28 2013
All 7 standard rooms at the River Club (on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls) now have an upstairs bathroom with toilet, hand basin and shower in addition to the original bathroom downstairs which has a bath, shower, toilet and hand basin. Please note that the family room has two full bathrooms (one has an outside shower), plus a plunge pool, and the two suites each have one bathroom, as well as their own plunge pool.
New Tented on Migration Routes Trip, March 28 2013
The 3 meter x 3 meter dome tents used on the Migration Routes camping trip in Botswana have been replaced with 4 meter x 4 meter Meru tents, allowing 2 windows on each side, plus additional storage space, wooden-frame beds, a hammock and an extended shade area at the entrance with comfortable safari chairs.
Tubu Tree & Little Tubu Update, March 28 2013
While building Little Tubu and upgrading the existing rooms at Tubu Tree Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta, walkways for the entire camp are also being built. The Little Tubu swimming pool is being placed between the Little Tubu main area and room 1 at Tubu Tree. In a more private location, this pool will also be accessible to guests from Tubu Tree Camp although the bar service will be from Little Tubu.
New Child Policy for Wilderness Safaris, March 28 2013
Great news! Wilderness Safaris have decided to revise their child travel policy and will allow for a 35% discount in high season and a 65% discount in low season! The discount will apply to children up to and including 16 years of age, instead of the current 12 years. Travelers 17 years and older will be considered an adult in all countries (may stay in a room on their own or with younger siblings) and it will no longer be a requirement in Botswana specifically to be 21 or older to stay in a room alone. Private vehicles will still be required for all bookings with children up to and including 12 years of age and child rates may only be used in high season when booked into a family room.
Botswana Regarded as “Safe Haven” for Rhino Conservation Project, March 28 2013
In the first ever private game reserve donation of rhino, AndBeyond has earmarked six white rhino to be translocated from AndBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa to Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta has proven to be a successful rhino relocation habitat (Wilderness Safaris reintroduced rhino to the Mombo area in the Delta several years ago) in part because Botswana has a strong security and monitoring framework in place whereby the government helps to protect the species. After years of negotiation and planning, the translocation process has begun. Capture-and-release bomas were built in South Africa and Botswana respectively, permits obtained and various conservation initiatives set in place to ensure that the 6 carefully selected rhino arrive at their destination safely. The release of the 6 rhino is scheduled to take place in April 2013.
Selinda Explorers Camp, March 28 2013
The new Selinda Explorer's Camp, is an exclusive-use camp comprised of only 4 guest tents in the style of the early explorers. It is set on the banks of the Selinda Spillway in northern Botswana. Activities focus on getting back to nature - walking, canoeing, fishing and lounging around in hammocks, watching the wildlife come to drink in the Spillway - the very same waters where guests can also do wild swimming! Game drives are possible in the eastern sector of the Selinda Reserve, but for those clients wanting to do game drives each day we suggest instead choosing Selinda Camp or Zarafa Camp. In balance with the wild location of this camp the camp is ecologically-sensitive with 100% solar power, grey water treatment, and bore-hole water for drinking. In the camps operation, having only one group in camp at any one time, and with its activities, Selinda Explorers Camp operates at as close to zero-carbon emissions as possible with the very lightest footprint. Huge herds of elephants, buffalo, lion, sable and roan and incredible abundance of birdlife are all seen frequently around the vicinity of the camp, viewed on foot, by canoe or hammock. A separate pack of wild-dog are also seen regularly, distinct from the Selinda Pack, which usually den further east in the Selinda Reserve. The skittish animals from the former hunting days, before Great Plains Conservation took over management of the Selinda Reserve and immediately ceased hunting in 2006, have truly relaxed, allowing close quarters game viewing in the most serene manner. This is a new area of the Selinda awaiting to be explored.
Singita Serengeti House Opens, February 18 2013
Singita Serengeti House, an exclusive-use retreat designed for families and friends, has opened in the 350,000 acre Grumeti Reserves to the west of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania. Located on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill the house offers breathtaking vistas of the endless, open plains of the Serengeti. The interiors, done by Cécile & Boyd’s, are complemented by a relaxed, unpretentious ambience and generous service. The house accommodates 8 guests with 2 suites in the main house and 2 further guest suites on either side of the main house. These are connected by pathways from a central pool deck with a 25 meter rim-flow lap pool. There is also a private tennis court, horse-riding, mountain biking and archery. Rates are fully inclusive of a private vehicle for game drives, a private guide, house host, chef and dedicated house staff, all meals, beverages, laundry and valet service. In high season rates range from US $8,500 per night for 1 to 4 guests and in low season from $6,800 per night for 1 to 4 guests.
Little Tubu To Open, February 18 2013
Opening June 1, 2013 in Botswana's Okavango Delta Little Tubu Camp will have its’ own main area and pool and the same activities as Tubu Tree Camp will be on offer. It will have 3 rooms with a total of 6 beds.
Rhino Poaching in South Africa, February 18 2013
According to the latest figures documented by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs a total of 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2012. The total of rhino deaths in Kruger National Park alone amounted to 425. The North West, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal provinces lost 77, 66 and 59 respectively. New rhino massacres have already occurred in 2013, and the numbers are climbing.
Tubu Tree Camp to Grow, February 18 2013
Tubu Tree Camp is growing to 8 rooms including a family room which will have a small lounge area linking the 2 tents, each with its’ own bathroom.
Zimbabwe Elections July 2013, February 18 2013
It looks like presidential elections in Zimbabwe may occur in July of 2013... we will be monitoring the campaign process and update our website as things progress.
New Mozambique Visa Requirements, February 18 2013
Mozambique has changed its regulations requiring international tourists to obtain a visa before travelling to the country. Previously single-entry visas could be purchased upon arrival at the Mozambican border. The new regulations apply to citizens and nationals of all countries except citizens of Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as they do not require an entry visa when traveling to Mozambique for tourism.
New Serengeti Camp, February 18 2013
Asilia Africa will open a new camp - Olakira Lamai Camp - in the Lamai Wedge for the period of July 1 through October 31, 2013. The camp is a joint venture with AfrikaAfrika. Consisting of 8 tents, with the same look and feel as the current Olakira Camp, Olakira Lamai Camp will open on the site of AfrikaAfrika’s Serengeti Mara Camp. The camp will be operated and owned by Asilia. The Lamai Wedge area (wedged in between the Mara River on the south, the Kenyan border to the north, and the Siria escarpment to the west) is a spectacular wildlife and scenic area and widely recognized as “the honeypot” of the Serengeti. The camp offers an ideal base for viewing the migration with easy access to river crossing points.
Pafuri Camp Closed From Flooding, February 18 2013
Two weeks ago a large low pressure system moved through Botswana and northern/eastern South Africa, causing heavy rainfall and high river levels in many areas. The Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers came down in flood and unfortunately Pafuri Camp sustained a substantial amount of damage as a result, making it inoperable. Sadly Pafuri Camp will remain closed for the rest of 2013 and future plans are up in the air.
Duma Tau Getting New Pool, February 18 2013
The new pool at Duma Tau is scheduled to open at the end of March 2013.
Table Mountain Annual Closure, February 18 2013
Cape Town's famed Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company will be closed for annual maintenance from July 22, 2013 until August 25, 2013.
British Airways Ends Dar Es Salaam Flights, February 18 2013
Effective March 31, 2013, British Airways has cancelled its direct flights between Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and London.
Global Entry Program, February 18 2013
US travelers who travel internationally should look into joining the ‘Global Entry’ program. It is a relatively new (2-3 year) program introduced by the customs and homeland security types, and is designed to facilitate the quick entry of ‘trusted’ US citizens back into the US after international travel. All major passport control entry point now have ‘Global Entry’ kiosks over to one side thus no waiting in line. You go to this magic machine, let the scanner read your passport, then put the four fingers of your right hand on a fingerprint scanner, and presto, you are issued an special entry pass. You then go to the luggage carousel and collect your bags, then look for the special ‘Global Entry’ exit, thus no waiting in line with your bags as you go out.
Little Oliver's Camp, February 18 2013
On July 1 Asilia will open Little Oliver’s, approximately 1km downstream from the current Oliver’s Camp. Consisting of just 5 luxury, en-suite tents, each with both an indoor and outdoor shower, the camp will be entirely self-sufficient with its own communal dining area, kitchen, guides and vehicles. The intimate size of this camp makes it ideal for groups of friends or family who want to take it on an exclusive basis; however tents can also be booked on an individual basis.
New Mozambique Safari Option, February 18 2013
On July 1, 2013 Asilia will open Kubatana Camp in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. The story of Gorongosa is an inspirational one: the park has rebounded extremely well following Mozambique’s civil war and in recent years has once again become a great safari destination. It is a beacon of hope for African conservationists; the restoration project is seeing continued success in its aim to return the park to its status as one of the finest in Africa.
Great Plains Conservation Wins Safari Awards, February 18 2013
Great Plains Conservation was a three-time winner at the prestigious, annual Safari Awards held in London on January 30, 2013. Not only did they win "Best Safari Accommodation Group in Africa" they won "Best Safari Property in Southern Africa" and "Best Safari Property in Africa" with Zarafa Camp in Botswana. Zarafa Camp in Botswana is the crown jewel of Great Plains Conservation. Great Plains Conservation CEO Dereck Joubert says,"Winning at the Safari Awards is important to us at Great Plains Conservation especially because we are still a young company. Getting acknowledged by a respected organization like the Good Safari Guide sends a signal to us and our staff that we are on the right path. We aren’t there yet but the direction is being acknowledged, and I can see the difference in our teams as they stand just a little prouder and try just a little harder as a result. I see staff helping one another to improve because of this new Corps d’ Esprit”. The Safari Awards come on the heels of industry and media recognition, including the Andrew Harper Grand Award 2013, Robb Report, Relais & Châteaux membership and Forbes' The Hotel Detective's "Top 10 Luxury Hotel Rooms of 2012". The camp uses 100% biogas from waste food for cooking and to heat tents, to make the camp one of the greenest on the planet. It is the second year that Great Plains Conservation has won Best Safari Accommodation Group in Africa. This award helps cement the company's ethos of conservation tourism: 100% of all profits made by the group through tourism are put back into conservation and community projects.
Zambia Adjusts Currency, January 15 2013
The Zambian Kwacha has been "rebased"... in short they have decided to remove 3 zeros form the currency to make it easier for people to understand and to avoid having to carry around large carrier bags full of money. It is not a ‘devaluation’ and the currency and economy remain stable. The Kwacha now sits at around 5 to the US dollar. It will fluctuate a few points each way over the months but you can use K5 : $1 as a rough rule of thumb.
2012 Wildebeest Migration Looking Back, January 15 2013 -
Usually, the massive wildebeest herds migrate from the Serengeti in mid June/July, heading north from Tanzania into Kenya and the Masai Mara. In 2012 however, the pattern changed, with the wildebeest and attendant herds of zebra arriving to Kenya late and in patches. The first groups trickled in during late July. Why so late? The main reason why the wildebeest migration was late in both the Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara was purely as a result of the delay in rainfall (change in weather pattern). For instance at the beginning of June, in Central Serengeti, it was still raining heavily and this slowed down the movement of wildebeests to the North. They stayed there for over a month only surging to the North at the beginning of July, when they reached Nyamalumbwa area. Grassland burning in the Mara triangle redirected the herds north along the river leading them to avoid crossings near the new Mara Bridge. In October the world’s largest migratory group of animals made their return trip to the Serengeti.
Devil's Pool Closes For Season, January 10 2013
The Devil’s Pool on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls closed as of January 4th due to high waters. It will reopen later in the year when waters are low enough to swim.
Masai Olympics, January 10 2013
The inaugural Maasai Olympic Games were recently watched over by Olympic champion and 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, and former 800m World Champion Billy Konchellah. There was a time when in order to prove their manhood and attract the girls a Maasai warrior had to kill a lion. Today, in the Maasailand of southern Kenya, Maasai groups do not hunt lion and instead compete against each other to high-jump, Maasai-style on the spot; throw spears (javelins); run 5000m and emulate Mo Farrah and doing the unorthodox Mobot move; throw their traditional rungu at targets; and sprint 200m and pull a lightning bolt celebratory pose. The rewards for the Maasai, other than finding potential mates, include sponsorship to train in Kenya's high-altitude training camp of Eldoret and then compete in the New York Marathon, win educational scholarships, a stud bull, and to meet their heroes and fellow Maasai David Rudisha, Billy Konchellah and Ruth Waithera Nganga. Instead of hunting for lions these Maasai are competing for trophies of a very different sort, bringing respect, pride and esteem. "The Maasai Olympics is the first time I am aware of that the Maasai leadership of an entire region has proposed to take lion killing out of their warrior culture after 500 years, making it an actual taboo and providing athletics instead as an alternative warrior activity." Tom Hill, Maasailand Preservation Trust
Singita's New Mara River Camp Opens, January 1 2013
Singita Mara River Tented Camp has opened in the Lamai triangle, the northernmost tip of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. This camp – a contemporary take on the classic East African safari – offers a pared-down approach to the quintessential Singita safari without compromising on any creature comforts. With 16 beds surrounded by 98,000 acres of untouched wilderness, each tent offers priceless solitude, peace and sheer luxury of space. Conceptualised and designed by Cécile & Boyd’s, the attention to detail in the camp is breathtaking – even unexpected. Original work from talented young African designers and craftspeople celebrates the best of contemporary African design and inspires guests to see local creativity in a fresh, new way. High season rates are US $1,275 per person per night (01 – 15 January, 1 June – 31 December) while low season rates are US $950 per person per night (16 January – 28 February, 15 – 31 May). Children age 12 years and over are welcome. Realistically this camp is at its best (for wildlife viewing when the migration comes through) during the months August through October... the camp is closed during March and April.
Village Visit ex Vumbura Plains / Little Vumbura, January 1 2013
Guests staying at Vumbura Plains or Little Vumbura in Botswana's Okavango Delta can, in 2013, visit Gunotsoga Village. The village tour is US $80 per person which goes directly to the Okavango Community Trust. Access is by helicopter at additional cost – about 15 minutes flight each way – and guests are accompanied by a guide. Please note that on weekends, the school is closed, and as a sign of respect to the chief and his village, ladies must wear a skirt (knee length or longer) for this visit – no trousers, shorts or short skirts. This should be booked in advance.
No Pool at New Duma Tau Camp, January 1 2013
Please note that there is no pool at the new Duma Tau Camp in Botswana.
Okavango Water Levels Drop, January 1 2013
It’s that time of year again when the water levels in Botswana's Okavango Delta and southern African rivers drop, prior to the main rains arriving and the natural cycle when the summer rains further north gradually make their way through the system. In Victoria Falls the level of the Zambezi is usually back to normal by February, while the Okavango waterways start filling up again by April. This impacts activities as follows:
The Victoria Falls - the level of the Zambezi river drops quite considerably from September through to about December – being at it’s lowest usually in October, November and December. This results in a good portion of the Eastern cataract, the part of the Falls viewed from Zambia, consisting of little rivulets only and in some places, no water at all. To avoid disappointment, it is important that guests staying in Zambia book a tour of the Falls on the Zimbabwean side (which means additional visa fees) or a helicopter flip over the Falls. Normally from January the water levels start to increase.
In Botswana, at Xigera Camp, boating is limited due to low water levels – some areas are still accessible, some are not. Mekoro trips from camp and game drives are still on offer. At Banoka Bush Camp in Botswana's Delta mekoro or boating activities are now not available due to current water levels. In the Linyanti area the channel backflow areas are drying up and water levels are dropping. Savuti are still doing the boat trips from camp, however, the canoeing has come to a stop for the time being. Duma Tau continues to offer boating or barging from camp and Kings Pool is making use of the Queen Sylvia barge.
Kulala Desert Lodge Closing for Refurbishment, January 1 2013
Originally scheduled to be closed from January 10 to April 5, 2013 the building process has been shortened and new closure dates are January 15 to February 28, 2013. The plan is to build a bigger swimming pool, work on the kitchen and laundry areas and refurbish the furniture.
Banoka Airstrip Now Open, January 1 2013
Banoka has a new airstrip 15 minutes from camp. Guests will no longer have to do a long road transfer ex Khwai! Hooray! The new airstrip is 1.3 kilometers in length and can take aircraft up to 5,700 kilograms (King Air / Pilatus PC12s).
Abu Camp on Special, December January 1 2013
Abu Camp in Botswana is on special through March 20, 2013 at the same rate as Little Mombo - US $800 per person per night. This is 70% off high season rates! Woah!
Federal Air Stops Kruger - Mozambique Flight, January 1 2013
Federal Air will no longer be operating any Vilancoulos scheduled flights from January 15, 2013.
Botswana Bans Commercial Game Hunting for Sport, January 1 2013
Animals rejoice! The government of Botswana has officially banned hunting wild game for sport beginning January 2014. Confirmed by His Excellency the President in his recent State of the Nation Address, the government of Botswana has decided to indefinitely suspend commercial hunting of wildlife in public or controlled hunting areas beginning January 1, 2014. President Khama explains that with the growing concern about the sharp decline in wildlife populations subject to licensed hunting, it was only a matter of time that this decline pose a genuine threat to both the conservation of Botswana's natural heritage as well as the long-term health of the tourism industry. Realizing that the shooting of wild game purely for sport is no longer compatible with the national commitment to conserve and preserve local fauna, existing hunting zones will be converted into photographic areas beginning January 2014 and safaris will continue sustainably.