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An experience with nature at Kosi Forest Lodge

Kosi Forest Lodge, owned by Isibindi Africa, is located in the unspoiled wilderness of KwaZulu-Natal and is the only private lodge in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. This eco-tourist haven is situated off the beaten track in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a proclaimed World Heritage Site that boasts unrivaled biodiversity and exquisite beauty.
The focal point of the entrance to this beautiful sand forest lodge is a massive Zulu Podberry tree. The lounge, dining room and bar all strategically open up onto a large wooden deck surrounding the tree which offers breath-taking views of this ecological sanctuary.

The lodge comprises eight enchanting bush suites, each accessed through a natural corridor of giant Albizia and Podberry trees with white beach sand underfoot. These suites are neatly tucked away in the forest and are built in such a way that they provide guests a private and intimate experience with the peaceful surroundings and the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of the enchanted forest, undisturbed.

The en-suite bathrooms flow outdoors into a reed-enclosed boma, offering an “Out of Africa” indulgence where ancient Milkwood trees replace the ceiling and stepping stones and smooth sand make up the floor.

An experience with nature at Kosi Forest Lodge

The lodge offers family accommodation in the form of a suite comprising two separate chalets, each with en-suite shower, basin and toilet. These chalets are linked by a short walkway and also share a common outdoor boma bath and shower.

The lodge aims to create as small a carbon footprint as possible and it runs almost completely electricity-free. Gas appliances are used in the kitchen while a small generator powers energy-frugal LED lights in each of the suites. The evening’s light is provided by old-fashioned paraffin lamps and flaming torches bordering the pathways of trees light the way to the dining area. Here, visitors can enjoy a three-course meal, with organic vegetables sourced from the locals, by candlelight in the lodge’s boma.

An experience with nature at Kosi Forest Lodge

Guests can make use of the crystal clear pool which overlooks Lake Shengeza while enjoying the throngs of birds in the trees overhead and grunting pods of hippo just metres away. This region is a birder’s paradise, and with over 420 species recorded in the area, the lodge allows for some exceptional bird watching.

Kosi Bay is a water wonderland of lakes ranging from seawater to fresh water and is the cultural capital of the Tsonga Tembe Kingdom. Guests can experience the beauty of this unique eco-system of intertwined lakes, streams, ancient forests, and grasslands either by canoe, motorised boat or on foot.

Adventurous activities

The lodge offers activities such as guided canoe trips which include a picnic and walk to the Bhanga Nek, a six-kilometre stretch of pristine beach on the Indian Ocean. Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy snorkeling and 4x4 excursions to the Kosi River Mouth – known as “the aquarium” because of the clarity of the water and abundance of fish species.

An experience with nature at Kosi Forest Lodge

There is also an opportunity to participate in early morning or late afternoon guided walks through the Raffia Palm Forest – these magnificent trees can tower up to 16 metres in height and their leaves can reach an astounding 25 metres in length. Here, one might catch a glimpse of the rare palm-nut vulture – the only fruit-eating vulture in the world. Guests travelling to the lodge between mid-November to mid-January will be able to witness the moving centuries-old ritual of giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles making their epic journey back to their birthplace to lay their eggs. Between June and September, guests will be able to watch humpback and southern right whales migrate northwards along the coast.

The Myayiza Initiative

Guests at Kosi Forest Lodge will be pleased to know that their stay contributes to making a positive and lasting impact on the local communities through the Myayiza Initiative – a joint venture between the indigenous Myayiza community and Kosi Forest Lodge.

The Myayiza Initiative created temporary jobs during the building of Kosi Forest Lodge and permanent jobs for the on-going operation of the lodge. It also generated opportunities for countless small tourism-focussed businesses and initiated the building of a mobile clinic providing the local community with access to medical assistance. The lodge also supports the community by purchasing a supply of locally-made products for its curio shop.
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12/21/16
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Top 5 travel experiences for young people in 2017

The No Regrets List, consisting of the top 20 travel experiences as voted for by over 5,000 youth, showed that the number one experience for 2017 is to bathe in Iceland's Blue Lagoon. The survey, conducted by travel operator Contiki, was aimed at 18-35 year olds worldwide.
While creating the list, Contiki also wanted to understand the motivators behind why young people travel, and what type of experiences they want out of life. To learn about new cultures was the strongest motivator, however 74% of respondents indicated that social experiences were the most valuable, ahead of cultural, culinary, intellectual, adrenaline and spiritual.

Top experiences varied greatly by destination, indicating that Millennials – and their younger cousins, the Post-Millennials (those born after 1995) – were searching for unique experiences that would create lasting memories, regardless of whether these were in Paris or Peru.

Top five experiences

1. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Those landscapes and that awe inspiring natural light show make Iceland a winning destination. Silica, Algae and Minerals are all active materials in the lagoon making it a natural skin regime, whilst the water temperature hovers around a balmy 37-40 degrees. If you think the idea of bathing with 50 other people at one time is a bit gross, don’t – the water is self-cleansing, renewing itself every 40 hours.

2. See the Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramids of Giza clearly define bucket list goals. Built over 5,000 years ago, the oldest and largest of the pyramids is the Great Pyramid, the only surviving structure of the seven ancient wonders of the world. This is nestled on the west bank of the Nile and on the fringes of the expansive Sahara Desert.

3. Walk the Great Wall of China

Weighing in at a staggering 21,196 kilometres long and with over 2,300 years under its belt, the Great Wall is the world’s most awe inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture, built by multiple dynasties to protect different territorial borders.

4. Chill out on the beach in Byron Bay

Golden expanses of sand, chilled back hippy vibes and hands down some of the best food in Oz – this is Byron Bay. Spend your morning kayaking the mangroves while dolphin spotting, cycle on over to Tallows beach for secluded beach experiences, then end the day watching the sun set from the vantage point of the lighthouse.

5. Learn how to make pizza in Italy

Pizza and Italy – two words that have been synonymous with each other since, well, forever. Get to grips with the country’s most famous export (soz pasta, you’re a close second) with a hands on cookery lesson, taught by the experts themselves – the locals. Learn to knead your dough just the right way, dollop on the perfect tomato sauce, and season with all the cheese and basil you can dream of.
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12/4/16
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In line with a new ruling by the South Africa Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Comair has announced that customers with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone may not board aircraft operated by Comair Limited in Southern Africa, including British Airways and kulula.com.
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Mashaba takes aim at e-tolls, cadres and cycle lanes

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has promised motorists they can stop looking over their shoulders over e-toll payments. There would be "no co-operation" between Joburg metro police (JMPD) and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) on e-tolls, he said, adding that he had "a commitment from the JMPD that there will be no harassment of our motorists about outstanding e-toll payments". Mashaba made the announcement during his inaugural council speech in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Mashaba is also focusing on cleaning up the city's finances, vowing to crack down on city officials who cost the city R5bn in fruitless and irregular expenditure in the previous financial year. "We will conduct a forensic audit, targeting expenditure and tenders that have raised suspicion. Hear me and hear me well, there will be no slaps on the wrists, there will be no quiet departures or golden handshakes. Those found guilty of corruption and fraud will go directly to jail," he said.

The mayor also said he would break large tenders into smaller pieces and cut out middlemen who sub-tender to smaller parties, to curb corruption.

Also in his sights is what he sees as the city's unnecessary spending, particularly on the much-touted bicycle lanes and for marketing and advertising. "I was concerned to note that R70m has been set aside over the next three years for the development of bicycle lanes around our city. I intend putting a halt to this project. When every road in Johannesburg is tarred, maybe then we will look at bicycle lanes again," said Mashaba.

He said the city will not be spending money on lavish parties and self-promotion, and Johannesburg's political leadership should be ashamed that it had spent more than R156m on marketing and advertising. Of that, R56m went to communicating the end-of-term performance of the outgoing administration, said Mashaba.

He also said that, contrary to criticisms, that he did not understand the plight of the poor, he would ensure the Johannesburg government was a pro-poor government.

Among the raft of changes to be implemented by Mashaba's administration are:

• A review of the boards of city entities to ensure maximum performance and clean governance.

• A skills audit to ensure employees have the skills needed for their jobs. "The days of cadre deployment are over," Mashaba said.

• Longer working hours for Pikitup to make sure the city centre is clean.

• Shift changes for the Johannesburg metro police department to ensure by-laws are enforced.

• Cutting the response time for burst pipes and leakages to two hours after they are reported.
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Is business travel ready for the sharing economy?

While the sharing economy is redefining leisure travel, it is currently not suitable for business trips. According to Corporate Traveller, although the sharing economy - which includes services like Airbnb - helps fill infrastructural gaps while also lowering prices, it should not be considered for business travel just yet because of the complications related to paperwork. The sharing economy may be redefining leisure travel, but it is currently not suitable for business trips.

“When booking through a travel management company such as Corporate Traveller, you make one call and the rest is taken care of. Services usually cover every aspect of travel costs – from flights and other transport to accommodation, meals and additional costs incurred during, for example, a traveller’s hotel stay. We’ve got payment arrangements with hotels and other preferred service providers, which means we take care of all the costs and send our clients one invoice that covers everything,” says Raylene Pienaar, Corporate Traveller general manager.

“In a sharing economy environment you might end up with several invoices and expense claims, which will lead to more paperwork and less time for important tasks,” adds Pienaar.

Pienaar says sharing economy platforms currently make it very difficult to budget for, and manage, expenses on business trips because travellers often have to pay for services as and when they make use of them. “It may also be difficult to separate expenses that are incurred on a personal basis from those that need to be covered as part of the business trip,” she cautions.

Pienaar says while sharing economy platforms are widely lauded for bringing down prices, it could represent a false economy when it came to business travel. “Travel management companies negotiate rates according to the amount of overall business provided to certain hotels, which means that even clients with small travel budgets benefit from special rates,” says Pienaar.

She says using sharing economy facilities could also leave some companies in trouble. “The agreed process for approving the travel costs incurred will also be disrupted as the traveller is booking items individually instead of through a central point within the company,” says Pienaar.

Quality and safety unverified

Another disadvantage is that companies can’t verify beforehand the quality of the accommodation and transport they are booking. “We only use certain rated hotels and transport companies which mean you know what facilities you’re going to get. When booking elsewhere, business travellers might end up in a noisy guest house or a room in someone’s house where they won’t necessarily have the privacy and workspace they need,” adds Pienaar.

But noise may be the least of a company’s worries. When it comes to business travel, companies are responsible for their employees’ safety, and there are risks associated with using providers that can’t be verified. Corporate Traveller only uses pre-approved suppliers, ensuring travellers’ safety at all times.

She says sharing economy platforms could also jeopardise companies’ data security. “When booking through a travel management company, you keep your business’s credit card details in one place, minimising data security risks. In the sharing economy, you share your details with several different service providers,” concludes Pienaar.

Exploring ways to take advantage of the sharing economy

However, Pienaar said that while the sharing economy was currently not suitable for business travel, that may well not be the case in the future. She said Corporate Traveller was exploring how to take advantage of the sharing economy for the benefit of customers. “Our teams in the US and Australia are investigating how to improve some of the paperwork hassles that come with the sharing economy. We want to see how we can streamline administration to make it more viable as a business travel tool,” says Pienaar.
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Major brands survey sees Comair at the top for business travellers.

British Airways and kulula.com (operated by Comair) took first and second place, respectively, in the Domestic Airline: Business category of the 2016 Sunday Times Top Brands survey.

It's an accolade which spokesperson Shaun Pozyn says underpins the value offered by the airlines in the Comair stable and which is consistently rewarded by their customers' loyalty.

“Accolades like this are very encouraging, especially in a tough economy, when business and business travellers need to maximise value for their money. It’s also a good indicator that customers recognise not only our brands but the operational efficiency that allows us to offer competitive fares,” Pozyn adds.

He notes: “The Sunday Times Top Brands survey is prestigious and authoritative, so winning this category makes us very proud. It’s a useful benchmark of the high standard of our airline’s offering, management, and staff.

“Customers know when a brand values them and their business. That’s why recognitions such as this is a great indicator of how we are performing. Leadership, integrity, and innovation are fundamental to success in our business and these enduring relationships are a testament to the commitment of the airline’s teams to those qualities."

Pozyn points out that this year marks the 70th anniversary of British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com’s holding company, Comair Limited, and the 20th anniversary of Comair’s franchise agreement with British Airways. “An essential ingredient of our success has been on building strong, lasting partnerships, such as our franchise agreement with British Airways, which offers the Executive Club Frequent Flyer Programme for business travellers.

British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com were placed second and fourth respectively in the Top Domestic Airline: Consumer category. The Sunday Times Top Brands Awards polls are conducted through a customer survey, allowing them to make personal and honest choices about which brands they rate most highly.
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Gauteng Tourism earns kudos for prudent financial management:

The Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) has extended its record of excellence in financial management with yet another unqualified audit opinion for the 2015/16 financial year, the Office of the Auditor-General announced this week. This is the third straight unqualified audit opinion with no findings that GTA has received.
Gauteng Tourism earns kudos for prudent financial management
An unqualified opinion implies that the Auditor-General has satisfied himself that GTA’s financial statements are free of material misstatements and accurately reflect its financial position. GTA also got similar opinions in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years.

GTA CEO Siphiwe Ngwenya thanked staff for making it possible to attain yet another unqualified audit opinion. “This is no mean feat and attests to the fact that we, as management and staff, take sound corporate governance seriously,” he said.

“Without the support and leadership of MEC Lebogang Maile and the strategic oversight by the Board of Directors, this achievement would not have been possible.”

Prudent financial management has become even more important against the backdrop of dwindling budget allocations and government efforts to eradicate corruption. “The obtaining adverse economic conditions portend a fiscal squeeze that requires of us to use whatever resources at our disposal wisely while ensuring maximum impact of our programmes," Ngwenya added.

"We are happy to be contributing positively to the objective of Premier David Makhura’s administration to achieve clean audits across all departments and government entities. Clean audits will go a long way in ensuring prudent financial management across all levels of government.

“In addition, we are particularly happy that the kudos from the Auditor-General crown a year in which we took gigantic strides in executing our mandate of growing the visitor economy in the Gauteng City Region. We are encouraged by the fact that the tourism sector has regained its traction despite the tough global economic environment.”

International visitor numbers rose 16.8% for the months of January to April 2016 versus the corresponding period last year. When tourism performs well at national level, Gauteng benefits enormously as a leading provincial destination.

Enquiries: Barba Gaoganediwe, Spokesperson Gauteng Tourism
0834467844 barba@gauteng.net
@Barba_G74 on twitter
124 Main Street, Marshalltown
Johannesburg
www.gauteng.net

About the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA)

GTA is the official destination marketing agency for the Gauteng City Region. Its mission is to effectively, efficiently and professionally grow the visitor economy and enhance visitor’s experiences by: branding, marketing and promoting tourism in Gauteng; bidding for and hosting mega, major, significant, local and community events; and providing and managing visitor information services.
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