Monday, September 2, 2013

Skukuza Airport set to “Take Off” in March 2014

SA Airlink is expected to launch direct flights to Skukuza Airport in the Kruger National Park from March 2014.

Rodger Foster, SA Airlink’s CEO, said: “In terms of the arrangement, Airlink will provide daily scheduled airline services linking Skukuza with Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, and via these hubs and our partnership with South African Airways, together with it’s Star Alliance carrier’s global networks, to the rest of the world. Lion Sands will provide hospitality and retail services at the Skukuza airport and Federal Air will supply feeder and charter services carrying passengers between Skukuza and the game lodges in the region. Federal will also provide links from Skukuza to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to feed our onward flights to Livingstone in Zambia and Vilanculos in Mozambique.”

SA Airlink plans initially to offer daily flights from Cape Town and a twice-daily service from Johannesburg with flights from King Shaka International to follow. The flying time from  Cape Town directly to Skukuza will be 2.5 hours and from Johannesburg directly to Skukuza 50 minutes. The Embraer 135 regional jet and Avro RJ85 regional jet aircraft will be used for these routes. Exact configurations will be advised nearer the time.

This will certainly have a positive impact on your client’s safari experience as they will have direct access to the lodges without paying the current private charter rates. NB: SA Airlink is part of South African Airways.

"Tucked Away Places" - Malindi, Kenya

Our second “Tucked Away Places” feature is Malindi, a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. Access is via a scheduled flight from Nairobi direct to Malindi on Kenya Airways, or via Mombasa.

Our top hotel in the area is without a doubt Hemingways Watamu.
Maybe it’s the location - right in the middle of the pristine white sand beach of Watamu; perhaps it’s the big game fishing - one of the top destinations in the world for this sport, or maybe it is the nine miles of alabaster sand which extends in front of the 76 bedrooms - every one with a view of the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
This sophisticated beach resort is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The outdoor restaurant is the ultimate setting for savouring the freshest seafood.

There’s plenty to do here - relax at the poolside bar of the resort working your way through the extensive cocktail menu; play a round of golf on the nearby world class course, Vipingo Ridge; learn to kite-surf; get your PADI certificate or take a sunset dhow cruise on Mida Creek. We often get asked for a beach & bush combination and this area combines ideally with a safari in Tsavo East Game Reserve, just two hour’s drive away.

The Blue Train expands its service to Durban

The world-famous Blue Train is set to stretch its rails to include scheduled trips to Durban from Pretoria and vice versa later this year.
According to The Blue Train‘s executive manager, Hanlie Kotze, the Durban route was due to clients’ requests and will allow guests to enjoy a ride through some of the region’s most picturesque landscapes while enjoying the legend that is The Blue Train..
The inaugural trip from Pretoria to Durban is scheduled to take place on 20 September 2013, with the return trip departing from Durban on 22 September 2013. This is a one night trip on the train combined with a 2 night extension at Zimbali Lodge.

Day One:
13h00:                    Register and check-in at the Pretoria Station Lounge
Boarding starts and butlers usher guests to their suites. Guests enjoy pre-departure snacks and drinks on The Blue Train in the Non-smoking Lounge Car.
15h00:                    The Blue Train departs Pretoria Station for Durban
Dinner on board over two sittings - Remember, dinner is an elegant affair and men are requested to wear a jacket and tie and ladies elegant evening wear.

Day Two:
06h30 – 09h30         Breakfast served (first-come-first-served basis).
10h00                     The Blue Train arrives at Durban Station

There is an additional trip planned for November 2013 and then approximately 4 departures in 2014. Alternatively, for groups, the Blue Train is available for charter purposes. The train can sleep a maximum of 82 passengers.

Spotlight in Madikwe Private Game Reserve

Our operations team paid a recent visit to Madikwe Private Game Reserve to get a good understanding of the area.
  Madikwe is situated in the North Western Province, along the Botswana border. It is 750 km square (75,000 hectare) of reclaimed farmland, established in 1991. It is the country’s 5th largest game reserve and specialises in wild dog, but has all the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). Madikwe encroaches on the Kalahari Desert, and is very dry. Access is by road; it is a four hour drive from Johannesburg and 2 hours from Sun City, or air, with Federal Air offering scheduled charters. Our team flew up with Federal Air departing from Johannesburg at 12h00 to Madikwe, with the return flight being at 13h30 every day. It is a mere one hour flight from Johannesburg. There are two airstrips. The Western Airstrip is basic and can accommodate maximum a 12-seater Caravan, the other being the Eastern Airstrip, which is tarred and has a building for arrivals, with toilet facilities. It can also take a maximum 12-seater Caravan. There are over 20 lodges in the area, some are privately owned by corporates or for personal use only. 

Most of the group-friendly lodges are located in the East, with the furthest lodge being 35 minutes transfer from the airstrip. In fact combining Madikwe Safari Lodge (20 suites), Makanyane Safari Lodge (8 suites), Madikwe Hills Safari Lodge (10 suites), Mateya Safari Lodge (5 suites), Jamala Royal Safari Lodge (8 bedrooms), and Molori Safari Lodge (5 suites) one could get a total of 56 rooms in close proximity to each other.  Etali Game Lodge (8 rooms) and Jaci’s Camp (16 rooms) could be used for overflow.

This is a non-malaria area, a definite plus! The team were very impressed with the quality of the lodges, most of which are luxury 5* properties. More importantly the quality of the game viewing has improved considerably. Madikwe Game Reserve is without doubt establishing itself as a renowned safari region, to rival the Sabi Sands and other Kruger National Park lodges.

It is possible to do joint dinners if the group is spread over more than one lodge, but this is dependent on final numbers, lodges chosen and weather conditions