Welcome to the NEW 8th edition of the Curious Curator.
It’s been an interesting and often worrying start to 2019 with all of the uncertainty over Brexit in the UK, but thankfully this doesn’t seem to have slowed bookings down for Southern Africa, so I hope you’ve all enjoyed a successful first quarter.
It’s hard to believe we started our first Travel Academy back in 2006, and since then we’ve taken approximately 750 travel consultants away to experience and increase their knowledge of our beautiful country. As well as being a very educational and fun experience, we’ve also seen a few weddings as a result of couple’s meeting on our trips, as well as numerous lovely friendships blossom. We couldn’t do our academy’s without the efforts and contributions of our supplier partners, and we are very much looking forward to our next. If you are one of the lucky ones joining us this year, we’ve got a great trip in store for you and further details will be emerging soon.
Holidays to Southern Africa continue to be incredibly popular and they represent excellent value for money. We’ve seen some fabulous bookings over the past few months and we would particularly like to give a mention to the following consultants….
A booking for the longest duration in one hotel goes to Jenna Gordon from Trailfinders (Scotland). The booking included 28 nights at Pumba Water Lodge.
Best combination booking goes to Ruth Wills from Emirates Holidays UK. The booking included Twelve Apostles Hotel, Rovos Rail, Palazzo Montecasino, Ulusaba Rock Lodge and the Oyster Box.
Highest value booking goes to Michael O’Dea from Trailfinders. The booking for 8 pax included Lion Sands River Lodge and the Waterfront Village.
A booking for the longest duration in one hotel goes to Paul Jones from Lotus (Croydon). The booking included 9 nights at One&Only Cape Town.
Best combination booking goes to Layla McGowan from Travel 2. The booking included Cape Grace, The Marine, Le Quartier Francais and Leopard Hills (Sabi Sand)
Highest value Botswana booking goes to Hannah Wardle from Trailfinders. The booking included Belmond Savute Elephant Camp, Belmond Kwai River Lodge, Belmond Eagle Island Camp and Le Roo La Tau.
Highest value Madikwe booking goes to Nasreen Yousaf from Emirates Holidays UK. The booking included return private flights from Johannesburg to Madikwe airstrip and a stay in Madikwe Lelapa Lodge for 6 people.
The Safari extravaganza goes to Nicole Rettie from Trailfinders, Bournemouth. The booking included Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge, andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge, Pakamisa Private Game Reserve, Nkomazi Komati Tented Lodge and Camp Jabulani.
A well put together Garden route and Safari itinerary goes to James Davis from Gold Medal. The booking included Harbour House, Gondwana Kwena Lodge, Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa, Kariega River Lodge, De Zeekoe Guest Farm and Montagu Country Hotel. It’s great to see the knowledge of a training session with Angie has paid off!
A nice cross border booking goes to Peter Schou from Marco Polo. The booking included Ilala Lodge, Vic Falls, Zimbabwe Sundowner cruise, Tour of Falls and Muchenje Safari Lodge.
Highest value Russian booking goes to Kamila Michalska from Trailfinders. The booking included visas, meet & greet service, Moscow Motel Metropol, Moscow City & Metro Tour, Red Square Walking Tour Kremlin & St Basil, Kolomenskoe & Christ the Savour Tour, Train tickets to St Petersburg, Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, The State Hermitage Tour, Tour of Tsarskoe Selo Catherine Palace Amber room, Peterhoff Palace and Return by hydrofoil to St Petersburg.
Highest value Russian booking goes to Elona Gjoci from Trailfinders. The booking included visas, Savoy Hotel Moscow, Moscow City Tour, Red Square Walking Tour, Majestic Hotel, St Petersburg, St Petersburg City Tour, The State Hermitage Tour and a Peterhoff Tour.
Highest value cross border itinerary goes to Ewa Machnik from Trailfinders Pathfinders. The booking included The Kingdom at Victoria Falls, Tour of the Falls, Zimbabwe sundowner cruise, Muchenje Safari Lodge and Xugana Island Lodge.
Stargazing in the Karoo! click here to find out how to book this fabulous experience for your customers.
We’d like to reassure you that Zimbabwe is still open for business/tourism following the tragic events of the recent cyclone. The storm affected both Mozambique and Zimbabwe but not in areas of tourism, as it was the eastern edge of Zimbabwe and to the north of Mozambique, but we all know the damaging effects the media/press can have on visitor numbers and the knock on effect that it has on the economies of the countries affected. Please continue to support and book your customers to both countries, as there is no damage to the resorts and lodges we offer.
Two Oceans Marathon – 20 Apr – Newlands, Cape Town – Locals and runners from around the world unite for this enduring and scenic sporting event along the Cape Peninsula. If you’re not up for the 56km challenge, you can participate in the 21km half marathon as well as the fun runs and forest trails below Devil’s Peak and behind UCT. The official closing date to enter has passed, but if you’re in town, you will be able to enjoy the carnival atmosphere!
AfrikaBurn – 29 Apr – 5 May – Tankwa Karoo National Park – If you haven’t yet been to AfrikaBurn, it is one of those festivals you have to experience at least once in your life. A temporary city of art, music, theatre, costumes and tented camps is created for the week-long event. This year’s theme is Ephemeropolis, embracing a temporary way of living, so let your creativity run wild. Tickets are from ZAR1895 for the entire week.
March through to May is a great time to visit South Africa as the peak crowds have dispersed, however there are many other reasons this season is fabulous:
- The weather in Cape Town is just about perfect. Not too hot and not too cold and no wind to speak of
- The grape harvest begins in the Cape Winelands and the leaves start to turn giving the mountains and valleys a beautiful golden glow
- On the Dophin Coast the humidity of summer has gone and you’ll enjoy beautiful sunny days with temperatures in the mid 20’s
- The heat of summer has also dropped in Gauteng and the area around Johannesburg is waiting to be explored. Expect pleasant days in the low 20’s with cooler crisp nights
- The vegetation in the Kruger National Park has begun to thin out, making it easier to spot wildlife whilst on safari. Warm days mean comfortable game drives, while the superb lodges are highly atmospheric with open log fires to cosy around and keep the evening chills at bay
Not just the largest land-locked city in the world, Johannesburg is also the wealthiest province in the country and is home to an estimated population of more than 4.9 million people. While Joburg is unique in nature and design, there is a city in the states that shares its name with South Africa’s City of Gold. The town of Johannesburg in the state of California (USA) was in fact named by the town’s founders who happened to be gold miners working in Johannesburg (South Africa) during the gold rush. Having made enough wealth off the land of Africa, the miners returned home and established the small town of Johannesburg where today an estimated 200 people reside.
Please take note of the following renovations and closures. For further information, please get in contact with our product team.
Auberge Burgundy will be redoing the cupboards and bathrooms in 2 standard rooms at the back of the garden. They will be adding universal plug points in these rooms as well as improved lighting. They will also redo the bathroom in the Right suite and Middle room (main house). The gallery under Room 16 (a standard poolside room) and 17 (Poolside suite) will undergo remodelling and they will sound proof room 17’s floor. This will result in a lot of construction and noise during the day. Work will be ongoing between 22 April 2019 until 31 July 2019 .
The Palace of the Lost City (Sun City) will be carrying out soft refurbishments between April 2019 until 30 June 2020. During this period, the quality of our guests’ stay will not be compromised and any noise will be kept to a minimum. The only disturbance to any guest can come from drilling that would happen on a Monday morning, however this work will only be carried out between 11:00 and 14:00. The drilling is to install the new hairdryer in the bathroom and to then mount the television to the room wall. Only 5 rooms per week will receive a soft refurbishment.
aha Rex Hotel will be closing their swimming pool the next few weeks to repair cracks (dates to be confirmed). This notice was dated 20 March 2019.
Amakhala Hlosi Lodge will be closed for renovations from 22 May 2019 to 09 June 2019.
Shamwari Sarilli Lodge will be closed from 26 August until 04 September 2019 (incl.) for soft refurbishments and renovations.
Fancourt Hotel Golf Course Maintenance
The Hollow Tining of greens is an essential part of most golf course maintenance programmes. Please take note of the Hollow Tining dates for 2019:
Outeniqua Montagu Links
13 – 18 April 2019 – Solid Tining, 07 October 2019 – 13 October 2019 – Solid Tining, 24 April – 06 May 2019 – Hollow Tining,
26 August 2019 – 01 September 2019 – Hollow Tining, 25 September 2019 – 07 October 2019 – Hollow Tining
**The golf courses will take approximately 2-3 weeks to reach prime condition following the Hollow Tining
Grand Roche will be closed again this year from 01 – 30 June 2019 for annual maintenance.
andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge will be closed from 11 January 2019 – 30 June 2019 (incl.) for room upgrades.
Belvidere Manor will be closed from 17 May- 10 June 2019 (incl) due to general maintenance.
Protea Hotel by Marriott® Kruger Gate will be adding an additional 38 rooms with 3 suites to the property. The Bar, Restaurant, Reception, Lounge, Pool Area and Kitchen will also be undergoing upgrades respectively. Work has commenced and the anticipated completion date has been scheduled for December 2019.
Shutdown of the Rail Network 2019 the National (Trains) Operations Centre has informed all rail operators of a total shutdown of its network. This involves the rehabilitation of the rail line between Kimberley and De Aar. The Shutdown will commence on 06 August and will reopen on the 12 August 2019. During this shutdown, no rail operator (passenger or freight) will be allowed thoroughfare on these lines. The shutdown will not only affect the route between Kimberley and De Aar, but also between De Aar and Bloemfontein. The Blue Train can therefore not be re-routed via Bloemfontein. As a result of this necessary shutdown, we regret to inform you that the following Blue Train departures will be cancelled:
- 05th August 2019, Pretoria to Cape Town
- 08th August 2019, Cape Town to Pretoria
They can offer one of the following alternative dates – these are subject to availability
Pretoria to Cape Town
- 12 August 2019
- 19 August 2019
Cape Town to Pretoria
- 01 August 2019
- 15 August 2019
- 22 August 2019
- 24 August 2019
- 29 August 2019
Don’t forget to look at our agent website for all of our latest free night and long stay offers available. Now we are officially out of the high season there will be many special promotions on offer.
Red Carnation Hotels expand into Botswana: Mountbatten Limited Group recently acquired Botswana’s Xigera Safari Camp situated in the Okavango Delta. Since the acquisition it is now being operated by Red Carnation Hotel Group (previously it was run by Wilderness Safaris). They will be turning this camp into a 5 star luxury lodge which will be ready in June 2020. The Group’s CEO, Michael Tollman, said in a recent interview that they have a history of turning ordinary properties into extraordinary iconic properties and Xigera would not be an exception. He said: “We are going to create something that will be globally recognised as the best camp in Botswana,” adding that he expects the upgrading to be complete in the next year and a half. He said the camp will be iconic and tourists will be tripping over themselves to visit it. Tollman said they are not looking at budget when carrying out new designs of the camp, saying they gave architects their vision and will work on it to create an iconic camp. Watch this space…
New African Bush Camps property opens in Zimbabwe: Nyamatusi Camp in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe opened its doors on the 1st April. Click here to see a wonderful video of how the camp was built.