Weekend Wrap: SA’s largest dam nearly full, #WorldWildlifeDay and visa-free travel for Americans to end

2017-03-05 17:50 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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conservation, wildlife, wildlife conservation

Cape Town – If you’ve been too busy celebrating the first weekend of autumn over the past weekend, good for you.

But the workweek draws near, and it’s best to get schooled on the latest and most important travel news that happened in the past couple of days.

Here you go.

SA’s largest dam nears full capacity

Most of South Africa’s summer rainfall areas are delighting in the recent rain, and according to the South African Weather Service, speaking to OFM in the Free State, the water levels in SA’s biggest dam – The Gariep Dam – were expected to swell over 100% during the weekend.

While the Gariep nears full capacity, the Orange River which feeds the dam is also running high. Video footage taken on Friday, 3 March, show the Orange River gushing over the iconic Augrabies Falls in the national park, with Park officials expecting the river to flowing 500m3/s on Sunday, 5 March.

WATCH: Gushing Augrabies Falls is every travellers' dream, Orange River set to rise even more

Several border posts have also been closed due to the heavy rain up north. The Department of Home Affairs confirmed at Platjan, water has been covering the nearby bridge since 24 February 2017 and travellers are not able to cross the border due to the high levels.

SEE: ALERT: Botswana border access affected due to flooding in Limpopo 

The Namibian border crossing pontoon at Sendelingsdrift also had to stop operations due to very high water levels the Orange River.

The Vaal Dam, as well as the Grootdraai and Spitskop Dams were already overflowing last week, as the Department of Water and Sanitation had to open two sluice gates, optimistically estimating that the country could recover from the recent droughts within the next two to three years.

You can see the weather for the week ahead here: Weather Update: Rain, extreme heat leads SA's first autumn week

SA team breaks ‘World Record for biggest rain dance’

Speaking of the weather, local radio broadcast favourites KFM went to the extremes over the weekend during the #HuaweiKDay celebrations to ‘make it rain’ in the Western Cape.

The team performed their famous Rain Dance together with the 15 000 attendees, saying on Saturday that they think they “broke some sort of record with this one”.

One day later, KFM posted to Facebook claiming that they officially “broke the record for the World's Biggest Rain Dance”.

Regardless of whether the record is one for the books, South Africans around the country are holding thumbs with KFM that the Western Cape will see some rain in the week ahead…

You can check out the dance here –


US Tourism in the line of fire

Reciprocity is the name of the game when it comes to visa regulations it seems, as seen in SA's new New Zealand travel regulations as well as the new call to end visa-free travel for Americans in parts of Europe. 

On Friday, the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans, after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa. 

If passed, the European Commission will implement an act to bring the change into effect, after which Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months, The Independent reports.

The move highlights again the controversial Muslim country travel ban from Trump, as the US Travel Association on Thursday, 2 March, said the Trump administration's immigration policies are hurting tourism.

The non-profit industry organization said in a statement that there are "mounting signs" of "a broad chilling effect on demand for international travel to the United States."

SEE: Trump slump? International tourism to US slacking down


SA’s bittersweet contribution to World Wildlife Day

On Friday, 3 March, the conservationists and wildlife-lovers across the globe celebrated World Wildlife Day 2017 under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices".

While the DEA has been slammed by global conservations for a handful of controversial and shocking draft regulations and proposals, the move to include a younger generation into wildlife conservation has been welcomed.

SEE: #WorldWildlifeDay: 4 Major Wildlife crises in SA, where is the DEA? 

A proudly South African ambassador, Samson Moyo, also flies the flag as one of the Top 10 Global Finalists in the World Wildlife Day 2017 photo competition for his incredible photograph of a chameleon. 

Samson Moyo, South Africa 

SEE: PICS: SA photographer finalist in #WorldWildlifeDay youth competition 

The competition, themed “Through young eyes”, invited young people aged 10 to 24 from around the world to submit their photos of wildlife as a way to highlight their vision and use their artistic talents to galvanise other young citizens in the protection of wildlife.

Sylvester the lion ROARRS it up

An icon of wildlife and how public participation can aid in wildlife, Sylvester the Lion is a beacon of hope for wildlife in SA.

This weekend, again, Sylvester wowed crowds in his new home – Addo Elephant National Park – as video footage of him giving a loud and proud African wild cat ROARRR went viral on social media.

Gerhard Catharina Kuzuko‎ shared the footage to the official to Sylvester The Karoo Lion Facebook group, saying it was the “first time that a roaring Sylvester has been filmed and shared”.

Check it out  -

#FindYourEscape in the Weskus

No one region in our diverse country is quite the same, but the iconic West Coast, or Weskus as the locals call it, must be one of the most unique places SA has to offer.

While the water is icy cold, it creates a hub for some of our most delicious seafood - simple yet delicious fare like mussels, snoek and 'kreef', or West Coast Rock Lobster.

In springtime, for a fleeting moment, visitors get a glimpse of the iconic Namaqua flowers - one of the most incredible and miraculous natural wonders there are to see in SA.

If you’re looking for the very best guide for your next West Coast escape, we’ve got everything you need from accommodation stops, foodie spots, things to do and places to see.

Sign up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter for more wanderlust ideas and the guide to making your travel dreams come true.

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#FindYourEscape in SA's iconic West Coast