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Extraordinary December 2021 Newsletter

Dear Travel Partners

It’s that time of year that we reflect on the past and celebrate the arrival of a new one. This year our deep-seated hope for a new dawn is more poignant than ever before. Whether your company is collapsing or just hanging in, we all find ourselves living in a changed world and merely adapting is our daily mantra, but “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

Fortunately, all the wonderful friends and clients in this Tourism industry give us hope. So many incredible memories have been made with you all over the past year. Your kind support and constant encouragement gives us hope. Despite knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the continued pressure to grow and churn revenue as a business means it can be difficult to stay motivated. Sometimes, all we need is an extra dose of inspiration to put us back on our path for success and keep to us motivated for a new year. That’s why we know that a new year means a new chapter. I hope 2022 is an incredible part of your story. We hope you will enjoy our Extraordinary stories.

Yours in travel,
Cindy

Wishing you a happy Christmas and New Year! May it be filled with new adventures and good fortune.

LIONS OF MABULA

This year has been a truly remarkable year for the Mabula lion pride from the introduction of three new Kalahari males to the successful continuation of the pride with the birth of new cubs.

In October the cubs were successfully introduced to the pride with all three males seen actively taking responsibility of the new members. Our guides had managed to catch some amazing footage recently of the males in a battle for dominance and breeding rights with the females.

Watch Three lions fight over female: Part 1

Watch Three lions fight over female: Part 2

WELGEVONDEN WILD DOGS FIND NEW HOME IN ZAMBIA

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the eight wild dogs which were being held in the EWT Wild Dog Holding Facility have been moved to a new home in Liuwa Plains National Park, Zambia where they will roam free.

In an impressively coordinated trans-border relocation the dogs were darted and flown to Lanseria after which where they flew out to Zambia. Less than 12 hours after their initial capture, the dogs were all safely ensconced in the Liuwa predator holding facility and settling well into their new surroundings.

The males are currently being housed in a neighbouring compartment to some females relocated from Kafue National Park. It is hoped that the males and females will familiarise themselves with one another and acclimate to the area. At some point the males and females will be united and if all goes to plan, will bond to form a pack. The pack will then be released into the reserve to roam the vast plains, as part of on-going efforts to re-establish the endangered carnivores back into this reserve.

The translocation was made possible thanks to the generous financial support of Bob Kwan, and logistic funding from The Bateleurs, with technical and logistical support provided by the Zambia Carnivore Programme and Endangered Wildlife Trust. EWT would also like to thank Welgevonden Game Reserve, African Parks, Lapalala Wilderness Reserve and Artists for Painted Dogs for their involvement with this operation.

“It was Welgevonden’s privilege to facilitate the temporary housing of these enigmatic carnivores until their relocation could be made possible. In our own way we are contributing to the conservation of this species beyond our borders,” says Welgevonden CEO, André Burger.

We look forward to tracking the progress of the dogs in their new home. To donate towards EWT’s Wild Dog Range Expansion Programme please contact Project Coordinator, Cole Du Plessis, at coled@ewt.org.za.

THE CAPE MILNER SUCCESSFULLY HOSTS SKAL INTERNATIONAL CAPE TOWN YEAR END LUNCH

Recently The Cape Milner hosted the Skal International Cape Town Year End lunch for their members. The festive event went off successfully with sponsored giveaways and a delicious luncheon prepared by our skilled team.

“I would like to on behalf of ALL of the Skal International Cape Town Members say a HUGE Thank you for hosting us on the 23rd November, and for going the extra mile to accommodate us.  We had a fantastic day (and some stayed into the evening), the lunch was delicious – and the mood festive. The fact that the General Manager and Conference Co-Ordinator were there in the middle assisting with set up and waitering was really fantastic and was noticed by all that they did not hide in the background but rather put Heart & Soul into showcasing the venue – this is very rare indeed 🙂 and most appreciated.” Colleen Rens, Invites & Venues

ATTOOH TOP 10 ACHIEVERS AWARD WEEKEND AT SAFARI PLAINS

“One of the best weekends away! The rooms were incredible, extremely comfortable and very luxurious. The food was mouth watering!!!! The staff are fantastic and service was incredible!! Well done to all.”

HOPE OF TOURISM RECOVERY AS VICTORIA FALLS HITS HIGHEST OCCUPANCIES SINCE THE ONSET OF COVID-19

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate recorded its highest occupancies since the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020, with operators in Zimbabwe’s top tourist destination optimistic of a recovery following the collapse of the industry.

Occupancy across Africa Albida Tourism’s (AAT) Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites’ 98 rooms reached 33 per cent in October, with some other hotels in Victoria Falls reporting similar occupancies.

AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy said while November has historically been a softer month, December and the festive season were showing good signs of being the busiest month since the start of the pandemic with new enquiries and bookings still coming in daily.

“The forward booking pattern seems positive at this time and from the second quarter of 2022 onwards there appears to be real momentum building,” Kennedy said.

“There are, however, many factors at play across all source markets and the world, so we take nothing for granted in an ever-changing extremely competitive environment,” he said.

“We are seeing a trend of many more late bookings, with guests from local, regional and international markets, booking, paying and staying within one to three weeks.”

Guests have also been staying longer in the last six months and that trend is also reflecting in bookings, with some international visitors staying or booking for five to seven nights, Kennedy added.

The increase in occupancies comes as 96 per cent of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate staff have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as 86 per cent of Victoria Falls’ adult population.

In addition, access to Victoria Falls has been boosted with airlines flocking back to the destination. Airlines currently flying into Victoria Falls are Fastjet, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, British Airways (operated by Comair), Airlink, Air Zimbabwe and Mack Air, as well as charter airlines.

The Lufthansa Group’s new leisure airline Eurowings Discover will start flying into Victoria Falls from March 30, 2022, increasing Frankfurt to Windhoek flights to a daily service, with a Windhoek-Victoria Falls-Windhoek tag flight three times a week.

Other international airlines to resume flights to Africa include Qantas with Johannesburg-Sydney flights three times a week from January 5, while Delta Airlines has also recommenced flights into Johannesburg from the US, and British Airways into Cape Town from London.

MABULA GUIDE TRAINING PROGRAM SUCCESS

Mabula Game Lodge are delighted to announce that the first two candidates have received their FGASA qualification and have completed the Mabula Guide Training internship. The pilot program was born in 2019 from a need to address the skills gaps within the industry and to offer upliftment within the Bela Bela community. After a pause during the lockdowns last year the dynamic duo who were part of the first selection have received their offers for full time employment as Junior Guides on the prestigious Mabula Private Reserve.

The Guide internship program offers locals the opportunity to receive training and a national qualification recognised by Cathseta. The interns successfully completed the training modules and were ably mentored through the process whilst being accommodated at Mabula and offered board, lodging and uniforms.

KG (Kgagelo Kekana) hails from Polokwane Limpopo originally and has a huge passion for learning. He is thrilled with his achievement and offers gratitude to his mentor Ben and the rest of the guiding team at Mabula. KGs advice to other young learners is: “Sometimes things take a long time to happen and just keep going and eventually you will succeed”

Tshepo Loni is a local and although he originally dreamed of becoming a Geography teacher, he felt that the opportunity was too good to refuse and is determined to grow through the ranks at Mabula into a senior position. His passion is the fauna that sustains all the wildlife and wants to find a way to capture the nuggets of magic in the role of trees and vegetation. He talks about the journey “it was a tough journey to get here, coming from a humble background my proud Mother who is the lioness in my life taught me that perseverance is the mother of all success”. I plan to keep learning and eventually to attain my FGASA 3.

The program is very comprehensive and starts off with the students learning about the different areas of the lodge from reception, to housekeeping to food and beverage. Thereafter they learn about every aspect of the natural environment in a training environment that encompassed 18 modules covering everything from biomes, animal behaviour, birds, reptiles, vegetation, and guiding principles to weather and astronomy.

“The goal of the Academy is to identify individuals from the community who are passionate and show true dedication to the field and offer them an opportunity at Mabula for a formal qualification whilst supporting the country’s transformation agenda.” Comments Kim Allen the Resident Manager at Mabula. The Academy seeks to be different in the way it operates, as an institution that facilitates training for employment. It responds directly to the needs of the industry, by sourcing and offering targeted training that leads directly to employment or work in the industry.

INCREDIBLE CHEETAH SIGHTINGS HOYO HOYO SAFARI LODGE

An incredible recent sighting around the lodge with a surprise visit by a cheetah coalition of three brothers who spent some time at the waterhole in front of the lodge. It seems Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge may be a popular cheetah destination, as a female was spotted with some young cubs over the past few days as well in the vicinity.

Once female siblings have reached sexual maturity they will separate from their brothers and lead mostly independent lives, male siblings, however, will remain together as a group known as a coalition. By remaining in a coalition, the males increase their chance of hunting success as well as a greater chance of defending themselves from other predators. After the separation, males will travel until they are able to find a territory of their own to defend, this can often take a few years, travelling hundreds of kilometres in search of their own territory. Interestingly, orphaned cheetah raised in rehabilitation can be placed in non-relative coalitions, once released back into the wild these coalitions have been known to continue for the rest of their lifespan, being very successful.

The Hoyo Hoyo team are hoping to capture more of these incredible images to share soon.