If you have been considering a holiday in South Africa then now is the time to make it happen!
The South African Rand, the local currency has in the last few days slumped to an all time low against major currencies like the US Dollar, the Euro and the British Pound.
For the international traveller, what this means is that South Africa has become cheaper overnight and offers value for money second to none!
Seize the day I say and get exceptional value to a destination that is still best described as:
A world in one country!
To add to that, we are offing 10% discount of any travel itinerary offered on our web site.
Choose from Short Breaks, full length tour or we will gladly mix and match or tailor make something to suit your interests and requirement
In the words of the great Nelson Mandela: " Now is the time"
Just a quick note to tell everyone that rather than clog up our blog page, we have created a dedicated page to important travel updates and travel advisories and it can be found here
In Africa, those of us in the tourism industry are certainly kept on our toes! It is hard to stay abreast of all the rules, regulations, changes, updates that just keep on coming. I suppose it is to be expected from what is still a relatively young industry. We live in the hope that logic will prevail! Here is a list of recent regional travel updates we feel are important to convey. Some are good, some are unfortunate and some well ...... I reserve comment for now:)
Please mail us to let us know if you find this kind of information useful and whether we should make this a regular post at: firstname.lastname@example.org
KENYA / TANZANIA
MEETING TO DISCUSS TOURISM RIFT SCHEDULED
Officials from Kenya and Tanzania will meet on March 31 to discuss a bilateral agreement that prohibits tour operators from each country accessing the other country’s tourism attractions and airports, Dr Joyce Mapunjo, the Permanent Secretary for East African Cooperation Ministry, has advised. The rift between the two countries has been on-going for a number of months. In December last year, an agreement seemed to have been reached when Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Phyllis Kandie, agreed to temporarily lift the ban while awaiting negotiations with Tanzania in the beginning of February. However, in the absence of communication from Tanzania, Kandie reinstated the ban on February 6. In reply, East African Cooperation Minister, Harrison Mwakyembe, told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that Tanzania would inform all tourists to use airports other than Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi for the time being to avoid any inconvenience. However, tour operators don’t foresee the rift between the two countries impacting on tourism. A spokesperson for the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators told Tourism Update that although the situation was unfortunate, it was business as usual between Tanzania and Kenya. “Tour operators can still bring tourists to Nairobi or other towns in Kenya, only not to the airport,” she said. Lance Zackey, Rove Africa, adds that most clients tend to opt for fly-in packages, especially when they see the cost, issues and time involved in cross-border travel between Tanzania and Kenya. “Kenya needs to wake up to the fact that tourism to the destination is still not great and that it is still getting over the issues they faced last year. Putting restrictions in place such as this means that clients are going to skip Kenya altogether and go with the easiest and least expensive option of then flying into and out of Tanzania either via NBO or directly into DAR or JRO.” - we will keep you posted
NEW HAND LUGGAGE REGULATIONS
Airports Company South Africa and airlines will roll out a campaign from February 2 at all SA airports to enforce hand luggage regulations.
The campaign will inform and educate passengers and travel agents about the prescribed restrictions and the impact on travellers.
The hand luggage allowance is as follows:
Economy-class passengers are allowed one bag plus one slimline laptop bag. Business/ first-class passengers are allowed two bags plus one slimline laptop bag. Handbags are considered part of a female’s wardrobe and not as hand luggage.
Slimline laptop bags must be of a size and thickness specifically designed to carry a laptop and charger. Bags capable of carrying other items such as documents and clothes are not permitted.
No bag should exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm (total dimensions of 115cm) or weigh more than 7kg per bag. Bag weight may vary according to airline specifications.
If hand baggage does not comply, the passenger will be referred back to the check-in counters to check in the baggage as hold baggage. Extra fees may apply, as per each airline’s guidelines.
The enforcement of this programme will be led by airlines operating at Acsa airports and supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
CHILD POLICY AND UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATE
A new immigration law is coming into effect on 1 June 2015. Please note that this law was originally meant to come into effect on 1 October 2014, however, after engaging stakeholders on the matter, the Department has granted the postponement of the two particular requirements -- the unabridged birth certificate and written permission, to 1 June 2015.
Under the new law, all minors (children under the age of 18 years) will be required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry.
Why is it happening? This is being done to curb human trafficking. According to the Department of Home Affairs, 30 000 minors are trafficked through South African borders every year. 50% of these minors are under the age of 14.
When the new immigration regulation comes into effect on 01/06/2015, it will be the responsibility of passengers to ensure their children have the correct documentation or risk being denied boarding. The new law will be enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air) Although airlines and travel agents are doing everything to keep passengers informed, ultimately it will be passengers’ responsibility to know what is required of them. In all cases an Unabridged Birth Certificate will be required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa ... they will not be allowed to travel without it.
In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
Children travelling with only one parent
When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than 3 months old from date of travel.
NO YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION REQUIRED
Following an announcement at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Friday 30th January 2015, the SA Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, removed the requirement for proof of Yellow Fever vaccination for travellers between Zambia and South Africa, with effect 31 January 2015.
BETTER FLIGHT ACCESS
Proflight Zambia and South Africa Airways (SAA) have signed an interline agreement that will enable passengers to travel easily across the networks of both airlines with a single booking.
Under the agreement, customers will be able to make joint Proflight Zambia-SAA bookings and will be issued with a single combined ticket. This will enable seamless connections to and from Proflight’s domestic destinations: Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone, Mfuwe, Solwezi, Kasama, Lower Zambezi, as well as its two international routes, Lilongwe in Malawi and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It will enable Proflight customers to book flights to 57 destinations within the SAA network, and for passengers to travel more easily to provincial destinations throughout Zambia.
The Zimbabwean government announced on January 19 that it would start levying VAT on tourism with immediate effect. The tax applies to payments for accommodation by foreign visitors to Zimbabwe. The new Statutory Instrument was gazetted late on Friday, January 16, and publicly announced on Monday. Tourism Update reported on Tuesday morning that VAT had not been passed, but it was passed subsequently and is now in effect. All bookings made prior to the announcement are to be kept at the old rate.
The new Zimbabwe / Zambia Kaza Uni-Visa was laiunchedon the 28th November 2014
The Governments of the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe are pleased to announce the launch of the Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) UNIVISA on 28 November, 2014.
The KAZA UNIVISA is a common tourist visa for the SADC region which shall be piloted by Zambia and Zimbabwe for six (6) months. After the pilot period, the UNIVISA is intended to be rolled out to three (3) other countries in the KAZA region – namely Angola, Botswana and Namibia. More countries in the SADC region are expected to join in the UNIVISA initiative at the later phase.
During the launch on Friday the 28th of November the Zimbabwe / Zambia border crossing (between Vic Falls and Livingstone) shall be closed from 06h00 to14h30 (Please note that should your guests be affected by this closure, Wild Horizons will contact you directly). The UNIVISA will be effective once the border re-opens and will be administered at eight (8) ports of entry as follows:
The UNIVISA will be issued at a standard fee of US$50 – where credit card point of sale facilities are not available at port of entry it is recommended that clients have US$50 available for payment.
Validity – the KAZA UNIVISA will be valid for 30 days as long as you remain in Zimbabwe and Zambia and clients can cross into Zimbabwe/Zambia as frequently as they like within the 30 day period.
(If the UNIVISA is obtained at Victoria Falls and you cross over to Zimbabwe at Kariba or Chirundu or vice versa the visa shall be valid) It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips through the Kazangula Borders – it will not be valid if staying in Botswana overnight, in this case you would need to purchase a new Visa. The UNIVISA cannot be extended however you can buy a new UNIVISA (up to 3 per year).
Citizens from 40 countries listed below shall be eligible for the KAZA UNIVISA obtainable at the eight (8) ports of entry as stated above.
Britain (UK) New Zealand
Cook Islands Puerto Rico
Czech Republic Russia
Finland Slovakia Republic
France Slovenia Republic
Clients will be directed to the dedicated counter where the special visa shall be issued – the visa is for holiday purposes only and not for business purposes.
If someone wants to enter Zambia or Zimbabwe whose Nationality is not listed above then normal (current) specific Zambia /Zimbabwe visa / entry requirements apply.
All current visa processes for both countries are still available and in operation however generally the UNIVISA will be more cost effective & efficient for a tourists requirements.
Please note during this pilot phase clients entering from Namibia, Malawi and other Botswana borders will not be able to purchase the Univisa – the Univisa is ONLY available at the 8 ports of entry previously mentioned.
NO NEW CASES OF REPORTED IN LIBERIA
9 March 2015 - No new confirmed cases of Ebola were reported last week for the first time since May 26, 2014, WHO announced. During the week, 277 samples were tested by the five operational laboratories in Liberia and none of them came back with positive results for Ebola. If the country passed through the requisite 42 days with no new cases reported, the end to Ebola transmission could be declared, said WHO.
I recently returned from my annual marketing trip to the USA. And what a time to visit! The weather was gorgeous, from West coast to East I had timed it perfectly. In fact I only saw rain on my last day in New York. It didn't start out that way I must say:
I arrived into San Diego in early September. As my client collected me from the airport he shared some bad news: He told me that my timing wasn't great as tropical storm Norbert, which was about to be upgraded to hurricane status, was heading up from Mexico and was scheduled to make landfall in San Diego the following day.
Now where I come from, as in Cape Town, at the Southern tip of Africa, we don't get extreme weather. All I have ever seen of hurricanes is on television and the image of this fast approaching hurricane that flashed through my mind was not a pretty one. And it gets worse: On the day I was supposed to collect my rental car in downtown San Diego, the storm was supposed to be at its peak. I had visions of the little roller skate I had rented, being swept off the highway and out into the Pacific Ocean with all hands on deck!
My hotel, The Marriot in La Jolla was one of the taller buildings in the area, so it offered me a great vantage point from which to scout for Norbert. I wondered how safe I was going to be up on the 11th floor with nothing between Norbert and I. I arrived in my room and immediately flicked on the weather channel. It confirmed that Norbert was indeed approaching San Diego! I looked out of my window with its birds eye view of the whole area but all I could see was blue sky in every direction. This I thought, was where the saying came from: the lull before the storm! I kept flicking channels to keep up to date with Norbert's movements.
But as I flicked through the many TV channels, I started to notice something which added to my sense of unease. Yes, all of the weather channels confirmed that Norbert was approaching, but it seemed that a much bigger storm was brewing and this time it was closer to my home.
Small alarm bells started sounding in my ears. As I flicked onto any of the many news channels, two international stories were dominating. The spread of two horrific viruses. One the Ebola virus which had reached epidemic proportions in West Africa and another virus, of a different type, the spread of terror in the form of ISIS like wild fire through parts of the North Africa and the Middle East, but showing signs of making landfall in a number of countries including in all likelihood, the United States.
My phoned beeped. It was 4:30pm and time to get ready. That evening I had been invited by clients who had travelled with us to Africa, to join them at their home for a US style bar-b-que. I had eagerly accepted as apart from them being lovely people, I was also intrigued to see how the American bar-b-que compared with our preferred way of cooking, over hot coals in what we call a "braai"
But now as the evening approached, I wondered if they should have called it off due to the approaching storm? I checked the TV again and it seemed as if all channels were saying that the weather would only change the following day, so I was feeling comfortable that we would at least be safe until then.
It turned out to be a glorious evening. We sat outside as we did with them in Africa and reminisced and bar-b-que'd and drank some wine on a breathless and balmy Southern California evening. Not once did the subject of the approaching storm come up, until eventually, when I couldn't hold back any longer, I dropped the bomb and said: You do know that hurricane Norbert is going to hit San Diego tomorrow..
There was a pause. Then, Katie chuckled, Eugene smiled and the kids carried on sorting through the pictures from the Africa trip. Clearly I was missing something. Katie then explained that warnings of this type were common at this time of year, but that in the 25 years they had lived in the area, that not one of the storms had really affected them. Maybe some wind and rain, but nothing serious and in fact they would love some rain as they had been going through a drought in the area for some time.
So you can imagine how that made me feel. Okay, a bit dumb, but mostly it was relief! What really dawned on me was how easy it is just to accept what the media is saying as reality. I could have cancelled going to the bar-b-que based on what I had seen on television, but I trusted that as locals, that my hosts would have been a few steps ahead of me and that was the truth! The following day, nothing happened.
Being in the travel industry it brought me back to the reality of the current Africa situation and the "what if" people in the US were to judge Africa by what they see on TV? More devastating will be the economic effect on the entire continent if people stop travelling to, trading with, investing in Africa as a result of what they see happening in isolated areas.
The reality is that Africa is vast and the areas that have been affected are tiny.
Here is a map to show the Ebola situation graphically. Mali has been included, but there have only been two deaths there as of the 13th November 2014
We hope and pray for a speedy resolution to the epidemic of Ebola and the disintegration of terror groups like ISIS, but more importantly to the virus that spreads quicker than both which is that of the negative perceptions that are affecting all of Africa’s fragile economies.
Come and visit. We are Edge Travel a locally based tour operator offering tailor made travel solutions to Southern and East Africa
Until next time, safe travels
I have been designing and operating travel itineraries to Southern Africa for over 16 years. I have spent time on safari in
many regions on my own, with family, with clients, as a guide, as a tour leader and as a client myself.
It still gives me a real thrill to see what a profound and often life changing effect an African safari can have on a visitor.
And that got me thinking: The world is big and for the travel enthusiast, there are many “jaw droppingly” gorgeous travel destinations to choose from. So what is it about an African safari that makes it so special and has people coming back time and time again?Obviously, seeing animals in their natural habitat is in itself an unbelievable experience. Also, many of the safari camps are so beautifully designed and decorated with accommodations, cuisine, etc that are out of this world. Add the people, the staff and game rangers encountered who are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. Oh and of course, the natural beauty of many of the safari locations - just breathtaking.
BUT there is something else. Something "below the line" that is at play.
Many people are visibly moved and sometimes overwhelmed by their safari experience. Many experience it emotionally. I have had people sobbing uncontrollably for no apparent reason on a number of occasions out there in the beautiful African bush.
It begs the question: So what is it about an African Safari that moves people?
Some believe that it is the “rawness” or freshness of Africa that sets it apart from other destinations. I am sure that is a
factor, BUT after many years of pondering this question, it all clicked on a recent sales trip to the USA. It was while driving on a 7 lane highway in a rental, with 4 zillion other people between Long Beach and San Diego, in
California. Daunting it was, but that was when it dawned on me.
This is my take: In a world that has been tamed and manipulated to suit our human "needs", an African safari offers an experience in an environment that is real and beyond our control. We need that. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger and we need to know that. It is not safe to believe that we control the world and all that happens in it.
Money does not make the world go around. The world will continue revolving long after we have left.
In our modern world and specifically in what we term "First World countries", most people live in a largely man made
environment, a material world which has been constructed on top of what is the real world - a concrete jungle!
As a result and without even being aware of it, people end up disconnected from the real world. Primal instincts like survival have become economic, not actual. Pursuit of groceries at a shopping mall using money as our weapon is how we hunt.
Production of consumer goods and service delivery has evolved and have become the driving economic force that in many respects defines our very existence. We have achieved amazing things but in many ways, we often work against rather than with the forces of nature to achieve our goals. Our natural world is bearing the brunt of this approach. But that is another story :)
Africa levels the playing fields. On safari, you very soon become acutely aware that you are a visitor and this is the animal’s domain. You observe, you respect, but you do not judge nor try and intervene. There are scenes of both immense beauty and sadness, but we let it be. The Animal kingdom teaches us a lot about ourselves and about how
things in this world have a symbiotic relationship. Every living organism needs every other living organism. We all need each other, from ants to elephants.
Through simple observation from the back of a safari vehicle or on foot, with the guidance of a safari guide this becomes
glaringly obvious. Safari awakens something that may be buried, but it is part of our very make up, our instinct, our soul! This realization, this connection, this is the thing that hits home and moves people.
Take care and if you would like us to tailor make a life changing safari experience for you, please email me at: email@example.com
Until next time
I have just returned from an island paradise!
No, I am not talking about the Carribbean, The Maldives, Mauritius, Zanzibar, The Seychelles, or even Bazaruto.
I am talking about a hidden gem or more like a string of pearls, the Quirimbas Archipelago, in Northern Mozambique. A collection of 32 Indian Ocean islands located a few kilometres offshore on the edge of the warm Mozambique Channel. These islands stretch for about 200 kilometres from just North of Pemba in Mozambique, until just South of the Tanzanian border.
The area is an untouched island wonderland with beautiful warm azure water, white sandy beaches, warm air, abundant sea life, great food and excellent fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.
Our dilemma: With 32 islands in the chain, which one were we going to choose to visit??
The solution: We decided to choose them all and go by boat!
We chartered a beautiful 47 foot Leopard catamaran (considered by many to be the Rolls Royce of cats) out of Pemba, with skipper and crew, for a full week with the intention of exploring this pristine string of islands at our own pace. It
was a family holiday with 8 in the group spanning 3 generations. The youngest being my 7 year old and the eldest, my father, about to turn 80. We wanted an island holiday that had something for everyone and one where you could be as
active or inactive as you wanted.The trip was in a word “magnificent” This destination is the epitome of a dream island vacation and our choice to go by boat was spot on. It was relaxing beyond belief. Everything was laid on, so we didn’t need to lift a finger unless we wanted to. The crew moved around the boat like little elves, cooking and cleaning, serving drinks, but always relaxed and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble. Even laundry was taken care of.
As a family vacation, it pushed all the right buttons. There was something for everyone and all of the time. At any point you could be:
Reading, sleeping ,eating, drinking, kayaking, fishing, sun tanning, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, waterskiing, watching a DVD, sailing, photographing, shell collecting, lying on a beach, visiting an island lodge, trading with local fisherman, checking out the stars, playing board games in the lounge or on the rear deck
Our plan was to follow a basic itinerary with a large amount of flexibility built in. John the skipper mapped out a basic course and gave us all the options. By all accounts, the further North from Pemba you go, the better it gets. We were prepared to go with the flow, see as much as we can and stop whenever we feel like it. We would generally island hop during the day and make sure that we were in a nice spot by nightfall so that we could anchor and spend the night in a calm and pretty area.
The islands range from permanently inhabited to completely uninhabited. Generally, the larger islands with access to fresh water would be permanently occupied while the smaller and more remote islands tend to be either uninhabited
or have small groups of fishermen who use the island as a base from which to fish. Some of the islands are privately owned or have beautiful lodges which are run as hotels where people can come and stay. Access to these lodges is
generally by small aircraft, anything from a 4 seater Cessna 206 to a 12 seater 208 Caravan. The lodges generally have there own boats that guest would charter to go fishing and or diving. Most lodges or resorts are run on a similar principle where your accommodation, meals and non-motorised water sports are included. Drinks, scuba diving, deep sea fishing you pay for. This is another advantage being on the boat i.e. the daily rate includes all motorised water sports, scuba diving, fishing and equipment and includes all meals and soft drinks. The only thing you pay for is your alcoholic beverage. And instead of paying a premium for drinks, you simply send a list of what you want on the boat
and John will purchase it and get it on board before you arrive and only charge a 10% fee on top of the cost of the drinks. That is a big saving right there.
As you head North from Pemba, away from the madding crowd, there is soon very little sign of human habitation and the only boats around are traditional dhows and dugout canoes. The coastline starts off as quite rugged with rocky cliff faces which are testament to the prevailing sea current and sharp drop of the continental shelf. There are many bays and peculiar rock formations but soon these give way to white sand and turquoise water as we approach the 1st islands of the Quirimbas. From here it just gets better and better.
The main reason why the Quirimbas is still pristine is that logistically (and financially) it is quite a challenge getting there. This will change pretty soon I am sure as the massive gas reserves that were recently found off shore in Mozambique are in this the Northern part of the country. There is massive oil extraction happening in the same area. So if you are
planning on going, my advice is to go soon, before it is discovered and by nature, exploited and commercialized by the masses. While we were in Pemba, we heard rumours that 500 US families would be moving there in the next few months.
I will talk about Pemba a bit later. Pemba is currently the northern gateway to the Quirimbas. It is accessible by air but the options are limited.
By far the easiest way of getting to Pemba is with SA Airlink from Johannesburg non-stop, which is approximately 3 hours. They currently fly twice a week as in Wednesdays and Saturdays JNB POL SA 8204 at 11h00 arriving 14h00 and POL JNB SA 8205 14hh25 arr 17h30. but the price of the ticket is almost double that of flying with LAM, Mozambique Airlines. you can get to Maputo and then it is a further 2 hours 20 minutes on LAM (Mozambique Airlines) to Pemba. If you fly with LAM, the flight is from Johannesburg to Maputo where you change aircraft (sometimes) get off the aircraft, go into the airport terminal, clear customs and then get back onto the same aircraft or a different one (which was the case
with us) and then fly on to Pemba. LAM as an airline is fine, even though the joke still stands that LAM stands for “Late and Maybe or Lost Around Mozambique), we found them to be more than adequate even though there could have been a bit more communication at times. They use a brand new Embraer 190 or Boing 737 – 200 between Johannesburg and Maputo and then just the Boeing 737 between Maputo and Pemba. getting there is the via Maputo
Now let me say, that having 500 US families moving into Pemba may not be such a bad thing! Pemba is a town that is in drastic need of attention!! It is in a total state of disrepair! It might have been the most beautiful city in the world as its location on the edge of the world’s largest natural inland and tropical bay is an idyllic setting BUT, as is the case with
so many African cities, it is clear that: “It is broken” Nothing works, it is in a state of chaos, it is hot and oppressive, litter lines the potholed streets, spaza shops line the streets with all the muck just deposited on the road site.
Taxi’s look like they come straight out of demolition derby and it is just a very sad place to be!
Starting from the airport: The airport building is cute when you land, but very quickly turns into a stress filled and unpleasant experience. The international arrivals area is about the size of a shoe box. Everyone is crammed into this non
air-conditioned area. They want you off the tarmac for safety reasons, but there is no room in the terminal building. If you are lucky enough to get a trolley, you can barely manuvour it as the area is so small and jam packed with people. Then there is man in uniform controlling your exit from the terminal and once out they don’t want to let you back in, even if you were about to pass out due to the lack of fresh air, heat and claustrophobia. Another joke was that once you have manouvered your trolley to the exit door, a distance of about 3 metres, there were steps leading to the outside, so you had to take everything off the trolley and carry it down onto the sidewalk. When we arrived back at the airport 8 days later, this is what we found on the 23rd of December,
After we managed to extract our luggage (which all arrived, even with the aircraft swop in Maputo which we were impressed with), from the conveyer, we made it out into the warm yet fresh air of Pemba.
The trip from the airport down to where the yacht was moored takes about 15 minutes and takes you through the ramshackle streets of Pemba. Our driver really had to negotiate his way in some sections to avoid landing in one of the many large pot holes in the roads. Once down by the sea however, that all changes and we could see Pemba Bay stretching out for miles in a massive circle. John the skipper pointed to where we would be spending our first night, a small bay in the distance called Londo which is in a sheltered section with stunning Baobab trees and a wonderful coral garden. Perfect for snorkelling. Dandelion our beautiful floating hotel was majestically anchored and waiting for us a few 100 metres offshore. We were collected by Tuca, John’s deck hand in the tender, a rubber duck (Zodiac) with a 30hp Yamaha outboard and transported to the boat. Once on board we were welcomed by Isabella the hostess who had laid out some much appreciated ice cold drinks and some tasty homemade snacks.
We were shown to our cabins of which there are 3, plus the skippers cabin, all which are en-suite. The cabins are neatly laid out and functional. As they are situated in the pontoons of the catameran, there is little more than space for a double bed, some shelves and a bit of cupboard space. There is a step up onto the beds. The en suite bathroom has a hand shower basin and a toilet. More than adequate, as long as you are not a heavy person. There is an electronic bilge pump for flushing as well as for draining the shower after using it.
The room has a skylight / hatch that can be opened at night and which has a mosquito net if necessary, but it does restrict air flow. There are a number of portholes around the room.
There is also air conditioning throughout the boat, but it is a bit of a Catch 22 situation as you need to run the engines to run the air-con and then there is the noise factor to contend with. We chose to do without, but many also chose to sleep outside on the deck as it was very warm in the cabins and just so beautiful outside. There is no shortage of space on the boat.
The Dandelion is self sufficient, meaning that once at sea, she can generate her own power, has a de-salinator, so can make her own fresh water, an ice maker, fridge, freezer, washing machine and can run all electric appliances, laptops, charge batteries, etc. She has a sound system and music can be played throughout the boat and even has a 32 inch LCD TV with DVD player if you are bored. Not that that is likely, but if you have kids, it might be a nice novelty and also great to see pictures and movies that may have been taken during the day. John is also able to show the navigation maps, depth, fish finder and routing on the TV screen which is great so that everyone can see where they have been or are going.
On that note, the boat has state of the art navigation equipment and safety equipment and the Leopard Catameran is known to one of the safest ever made. It has a double fibreglass skin and has only a 1.2 metre draft. She also has replaceable keel strips, which is a really novel idea. She is also equipped with diving and fishing equipment, details of which will be contained in a spec sheet at the end of the article.
As the wind was light most of the time we spent most of our time motoring. When on occasion, the wind did pick up enough, John would hoist the sails and cut the engine. It was awesome to be under sail on the graceful Dandelion. We were however grateful that the wind was light as the sea conditions remained calm for pretty much the whole week, except of course when we planned to leave the lea of the islands and spend the day in deep water doing some serious fishing. Anyway, it was not to be, so we stayed closer to shore as we had a few on board including myself who don’t have the best sea legs .
Fishing off the Quirimbas:
Whenever we would travel, we would have 3 to 4 rods out the back with either feathers or Rapala’s trolling at various distances. All the boys and my 12 year old daughter are keen fisher folk, so it was great to have the opportunity to do this type of clean fishing while travelling and the rest of the party didn’t feel like they were being dragged on a fishing trip. It
wasn’t long after we left Pemba that we hooked our first fish. There was great excitement and it was all hands on deck as Sean, fought and landed a nice Wahoo (King Mackrell). It was about 8 kilograms and gave a great account of itself. We decided that this was to be our lunch. We picked up a few more fish of different size and species on this morning (which we let go), but eventually decided to bring the lines in as we weren’t making very good progress in getting to our destination as we kept on having to stop the boat to fight a fish. Not a bad complaint I must say. Over the next week we would fish in pretty much the same way. Not intense, but it was happening without us turning the trip into a fishing trip and everyone, even the non- fisherman had a chance to catch a nice size fish. Isabella filleted and prepared the Wahoo in two different ways. One fillet she prepared on the gas bar-b-cue at the back of the boat and the other fillet she did wrapped in foil and baked in the oven. Both were fantastic, but the one done on the bar-b-cue comes close to the best piece of fish I have ever tasted. That one fish fed everyone and there was plenty left over.
I was in the water within 5 minutes of arriving on the boat. The water temperature was magnificent! About 30 degrees C and maybe 5 degrees either side of that as we travelled. The water is very salty and this adds to the buoyancy factor. I found it great when snorkelling on the surface, but it was hard work when diving down to get a close look and some of the smaller reef fish. The water and the sea life were just so beautiful that you could not get enough of it. Also, during the day the temperature was in the mid 30’s (90 – 100 degrees F) and humidity high so we would cool off as often as possible. Getting into and out of the water is easy with the two pontoons running right down to water level and there is a
retractable step that is lowered into the water whenever we stopped. There is a hand shower as you get out of the sea, so we would rinse the sea water off before getting back onto the main deck. Although we brought deck shoes, we found
that bare feet gave the best feel and traction was not a problem
.The reefs vary in quality. As the locals rely on fishing for their survival, areas that are accessible by foot at low tide show signs of degradation on the inhabited islands. This is becoming more of an issue and will be the subject of another blog coming soon.
Things that we did not see:
Pirates, mosquitoes, dangerous sharks and jellyfish, pollution, crowds, sad faces
Animals we saw at sea: Turtles, dolphins, flying fish, reef fish, game fish, sea birds
Game fish we caught:
Wahoo, barracuda, King fish (various), Small eastern Tuna, Rainbow Warrier. We only kept 3 fish, all which we ate. Tuna made delicious sushi and the Wahoo we grilled on the bar-b-que and OMG was it good!!!
If you would like to hear more or would like to take such a trip, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time