Monday, December 31, 2007


The Republic of South Africa

December 31, 2007

Hello one and all – finally I am back home in Durban where night has fallen and we are a mere 2 1/2-hours away from 2008! Lesotho was simply amazing in every way, shape, size and form . . . I wish that you could experience that which I have just enjoyed.

I have learned so much and so many valuable lessons from the Basotho people and as this year draws rapidly to a close, these lessons will become my pillar of strength in the new year.

Today was another very early start with and long and winding roads ahead of us endlessly traversing the rugged but aesthetically pleasing Lesotho countryside. More often than not whilst we were with in the Kingdom, I got out of the vehicle and walked alongside it taking photographs of Allen carefully negotiating the road conditions to ensure that we were safe at all times.

We came across a remote village. From a distance a thick column of smoke brought us to believe that someone’s house was on fire. I felt desperate – imagine your home burning to the ground on the last day of the year . . . seemed to make my trials and tribulations of the past year diminish in size. As we approached the village and the homestead the ever familiar ‘Sweeeeeeets’ from the kids along the roads pealed out and once at the homestead, we asked the villagers what was happening. Smiling, they told us that they were brewing home made beer for the New Year. Another WOW – imagine the punch from that brew I thought. Hey – what ever – it’s new year right and when you have nothing else at your disposal, I suppose a little rot gut would be harmless and indeed a fun way to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another! Just as long as they all don’t go up in smoke.

We challenged the road clinging to a mountain pass overlooking rivers and valleys as we descended into the valley. Then, looking up, I saw yet another long and winding road and Allen smilingly told me that that was OUR road . . . the trip up Rama Pass would put us at a very high vantage point which when we ultimately reached that point, we were standing on a very narrow saddle in very cool conditions due to the altitude with breathtaking vistas on either side of us. I have never seen such rugged untamed beauty in my life and the site will remain with me for ever. I have once more taken many photographs and they will be launched when I return to the US. I do hope that you will enjoy the experience through my lens.

There was a very uneventful border crossing out of the Kingdom and back into the Republic of South Africa and a long dusty road back to Underberg and Himeville where I had left my rental car.

The entire journey was one breathtaking moment after another and the finest way to end the year.

Saying goodbye to 2007, I cannot help but reflect back at the year just passed. I celebrated my 50th birthday which sadly was spoiled by the evil intent of another. I find it very sad when people have all the time in the world to waste trying to ruin someone else. Isn’t that pathetic? Imagine if we all used our energy in a positive way to enhance each other on this journey – wouldn’t the world be a gentler and kinder place – like where I have just been? Will we ever learn that that which we sew we ultimately reap . . . sew ill will on another and it is going to come back to you in some form or another. But that’s for people to discover themselves I guess.

We said goodbye to our CEO Michael Kerneklian who has retired from the travel industry to seek greener pastures. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

Dominik Zakrzewski has accepted the position of Director of Operations and will oversee the entire operation managing all of the Collections but specializing in East Africa and the wonderful product that we have in position there.

Joining us in early 2008 will be Eric Ord who will head up the Southern Africa Collection. Native to Zimbabwe, Eric was born and raised in Hwange and the Victoria Falls area before his family settled in East London which is my birthplace. In fact, Eric even attended Selbourne College which is where my late father went to school. He went on to explore the sub-Continent in depth and comes to us with a wealth of personal knowledge and experience. We look forward to Eric joining the growing team.

Another new addition is Alassane Coulibaly who will head up our West Africa Collection. This is especially exciting for us because Alassane is native to Mali and knows the region and all of its magnificent nuances intimately. Alassane will be at hand to assist you with exploring the western portion of the Continent and in collaboration with Eric, Alassane will resuscitate the Dakar stop-over in conjunction with South African Airways’ nightly service to Johannesburg from both JFK and Washington Dulles. We’re equally delighted to have Alassane on board and look forward to sharing his wealth of personal knowledge with you.

With much delight I have appointed Rebecca Ngotoane as our on-site Operations Coordinator in Johannesburg. Rebecca and I go way back spanning a friendship of almost 25-years. Effective April 01st, Rebecca will be our liaison person on the ground in our own suite of offices in Johannesburg from where she and her team will monitor all movement of our valued passengers across the Continent. It gives me a great thrill to welcome Rebecca back to the team – we worked together back in the day when I owned and operated The Travel Consultant in Pretoria. On April 01, Dominik, Rebecca and I will cut the ribbon in celebration of the new office in Johannesburg and of course, we will keep you informed every step of the way.

We’re equally delighted to have long time associate Ed Ewert working alongside us this coming year. Ed was a former passenger turned Africa Fundi and will be heading up our photographic safari to Zambia in November – be sure and review our Zambia Collection where you will find a link to Ed’ site where you can view his masterpiece photography at leisure – perhaps you’d like to join Ed’s Photographic Safari which promises to be most informative and enjoyable. Soon, Ed will start blogging the progress and let you know the inside details via THE ‘KH’ LIST!

That wraps up the new appointments for the time being but be sure that there are more developments on the drawing board that will surprise you as I announce them.

To my past team, my current team and my growing team, may I extend my personal warmest wishes for a wonderful 2008? Thank you for unending tolerance and understanding as we evolved through project metamorphosis, changed the entire look of our website and the masterful hand of Joe Ruoto our IT Manager, and as we stand on the threshold of a new year, my sincere thanks to all of you who have traveled to Africa with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA. So many fools have tried to clone our business model and failed . . . I think that they ought to spell clone clown! That of course my personal opinion – each to his own!

I wish you well, joy, happiness and peace throughout 2008 and remind you that is Africa is on your radar in ’08, talk to us, the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC established in 1994!

As always, my warmest African wishes to you from Sunny South Africa where there are only 3 hours left to 2008.

Good night and Happy New Year!

Kenneth R. Hieber

P.S. – I am off on safari on Jan 02 for 4 nights . . . I will indeed try my utmost to Blog the journey as it proceeds but if not, look for a slur of day-to-day Blogs when I return to Durban and before I travel to Johannesburg where I will meet with Rebecca and familiarize myself with the area once more. Many stories coming up before I return to what I believe is a cold and snowy New York City – and pay particular attention to my Blog on January 02 regarding the barn swallows of Mount Moreland.

For further information on this Safari or any other Safari in the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Collection, visit us on the web at

The ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC. remains committed to Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism.

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via

Sunday, December 30, 2007


The Kingdom of Lesotho
Southern Africa

December 30, 2007

WOW – does not adequately describe the Kingdom of Lesotho! You simply have to see it to believe it. Roads do not ‘exist’. So often I have heard complaints about the road conditions in Kenya to and from the Maasai Mara National Park . . . in my opinion, compared to the infrastructure of Lesotho, Kenya’s roads are like the I95. Let that not deter you however from considering a visit to this magnificent place.

Leaving the Sani Top Chalet, we were confronted with a seemingly endless journey toward Mokhotlong (the distance is not that great but appears to be so due to the road conditions . . . there is no way you can drive at a high speed) which was once billed at the remotest village in the British Empire.

My childhood memories surface at seeing this village. My mother once told me a tale about her Uncle Loed who once owned a Trading Post in Basutoland as the country was named when ruled by the British Empire. I imagined what life must have been like then and if indeed my great, great uncle Loed traversed these roads with his wares. As a little girl, my mother told me how excited she and her siblings were when Uncle Loed would come and visit them in East London for always, he would bring all of them sweets. Immediately, I became aware of passing by remote villages from which bare foot little children would run waving and yelling ‘Sweeeeets’ as we passed by. My driver/guide, Allen, is such a gentleman. Traditionally Zulu, Allen was always so kind to the children and told me that rather than give them sweets (candy), he always carried a selection of fruit to hand out for fruit he said would be better in the long run on the children’s teeth – medical facilities are dreadful in the Kingdom and toothache in a remote village must be unbearable.

The amount of people we gave lifts to en-route were un-countable. I find it hard to pass a stranger on the side of the road who needed to be transported from one remote village to another, which journey could take an entire day despite the fact that the villages were geographically close by. The terrain and winding roads does not make for an easy ‘walk’ from one spot to another. And so rather than see someone standing in the blistering sun waiting for a taxi to ‘perhaps’ pass by within a couple of hours, I told Allen to simply help people as we traversed their beautiful country. Always, we were thanked profusely! Its little random acts of kindness I believe that enhance our lives.

Still I am enamored by the blankets of alpine flowers all over the show as well as the popular wild flower I am so familiar with, the cosmos, which buds in gentle pastel colors. Everywhere you turn there is another WOW. Just the moment you think that you have see it all, there is yet another breathtaking vista that makes you look twice and then simply stare.

Allen pointed out several shepherds along the way. These are children aged about 14 years old who are sent out into the mountains to tend the family’s livestock of cattle, angora goats and sheep. These boys are so young and so isolated for periods of up to 8-months at a time that I cannot help but wonder what on earth happens to these children should they become ill in such remote conditions. Who is there to take care of them, who can they turn to, what on earth do they do? They cannot abandon the herds to seek medical assistance and even if they could, getting to a Medical facility does not provide instant assistance . . . I learned that even if you ‘make it’ to a Clinic, there is no guarantee that a doctor will be available – sometimes the doctors do not turn up for months at a time.

That in itself of course prompted me to ask Allen about the HIV statistics in the Kingdom but he assured me that in comparison to other African countries, the rate of infected people is relatively low. Perhaps due to the tight family unit which is created by the Basotho people? In their culture, disobeying ones elders is unheard of!

Finally we made it to our lodge in Mashai way after sunset having received directions from a man named Freddy who told us that despite the fact that he owned a farm, there were no jobs in the Kingdom and living conditions were very hard indeed.

Allen and I have settled in for the night in our Unit at the Lodge for a restful night with the promise of an even more breathtaking day to come. Can it get better I wonder. Well, we’ll see and I will let you know what I can when I can bearing in mind that once more, we are so high in the mountains and so remote from any form of communication that I only have small windows of opportunity to write to you – but I will do my best and until then, good night from the Mountain Kingdom in the Sky!

Kenneth R. Hieber

For further information on this Safari or any other Safari in the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Collection, visit us on the web at

The ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC. remains committed to Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism.

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via

Saturday, December 29, 2007



DECEMBER 29, 2007

Warm Greetings to you!

As I begin to write, I do hope that my window of opportunity to be able to Blog this letter and send it out to all of THE ‘KH’ LIST members remains as such that I will be able to remain in contact. I am writing to you from the Roof of Southern Africa, Sani Pass – 2,873 meters above sea level, just inside the Kingdom of Lesotho. Here, there is a sense of incredible isolation from the rest of the world! The vistas coming up Sani Pass (named after the San people) are simply breathtaking. As you wind your way up the pass from the valley below on an unpaved gravel road (not unlike Lombard Street in San Francisco with its twists and turns), one cannot help but think just how lucky we are living in a country where we have everything at our instant disposal.

The Basotho people of Lesotho have very little at their disposal and have to rely on walking with their donkeys down this incredible long and daunting pass to a Trading Post in the valley below in order to buy and sell.

As I stand up here looking at the mist rolling in blocking the view of the valley floor, I realize more and more with each visit back home to Africa, that this truly is an incredible Continent with so much to offer the intrepid traveler.

There is a sense of calm in the crisp alpine air and for as far as I can possibly see, the terrain around me is covered with by a multitude of magnificent plant and bird life species in such abundance – unlike anything else I have ever experienced. It is quite astonishing. The surrounding area is dotted with Basotho huts each uniquely designed to withstand the blistering summer conditions as well as the severe winter conditions when I am told the entire area is blanketed in snow.

I have seen many photographs of this remote landlocked Kingdom in the sky and always, I have noted the color of the sky – a very intense blue which at first, I thought was as a result of airbrushing photographs. Not so – the sky is so intense that it leaves you breathless both literally and figuratively due to the elevation above sea level!

My journey started from the port city of Durban this morning. With a self-drive vehicle, I made my way up the N3 motorway to the town of Howick (just outside of Howick stands a small monument marking the precise spot where Winston Churchill was apprehended when he was a foreign correspondent during the war and ironically the spot where many years later, Nelson Mandela was arrested for treason against the South African Government of the time) and onward to Underberg and Himeville in the Southern Drakensberg area which has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site.

In the valley below nestled at the end of a long tree lined driveway, I met my hosts at the magnificent Moorcroft Manor Country House, a 5-star establishment very tastefully appointed and indulgent in sheer luxury. Undoubtedly, this fine property will pop up in our developing Collection in the months to come. You simply have to see it to believe it!

Back to the point before I loose all communication – Sani Pass is majestic in every way and worth a visit. My journey continues into the Mountain Kingdom from where I know I will have no form of contact what so ever and so in signing off, may I take this time to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. May 2008 be a stellar year for you in every way and if Africa is on your radar screen sometime in the year, keep watching my (in-frequent) communication as my journey continues both here in the Kingdom of Lesotho as well as up to the Elephant Coast in KwaZulu/Natal and what I anticipate to be yet another wonderful experience, a game safari and the luxury Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve.

Thank you for your very valued support in 2007! Look for great things to come in 2008 and again, if Africa and specifically Southern/South Africa is on your radar, do know that your journey would be incomplete without a sideline diversion to Durban and particularly Moorcroft Manor Country House and the Kingdom of Lesotho (even if your time permits only for one night at Moorcroft and a trip up Sani Pass)!

As always, with my warmest African wishes to you!

Kenneth R. Hieber

P.S. – got some great shots on the way up! If this continues, I will most certainly share the experience with you by way of my regular slide-shows on our website

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


December 11, 2007

New York, NY

At a Press Conference in New York City today, 2AFRIKA INC, Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber announced that his company was undergoing an obvious ‘change’. ‘Since its incorporation in November 1994’, Hieber told the media, ‘Supposed Travel Professionals have tried to clone 2AFRIKA’s Business Model unsuccessfully and have lead the American traveler astray with a word play on the 2, the K, the 4, the C etc. and effective immediately, 2AFRIKA, INC. will be referred to as THE ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA – the one Company that has kept Africa affordable for 13-years’.

Amidst a thunderous applause, Hieber unveiled the BEAUTY & MYSTERY OF AFRICA in its new format boldly striding territory where others fear to tread by announcing daily departures from the United States. ‘Whilst we will still operate one scheduled departure per month for the less adventurous traveler, we’ve structured this Safari to operate daily for couples, small groups, families etc.’, he said.

Hieber believes that the era of setting standard departures has passed. In our ever evolving world where travelers have limited time, Hieber believes that his home should be available when it suits the traveler and not the schedule.

With pride, the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC. launched the BEAUTY & MYSTERY OF AFRICA Safari at an astonishing starting price of only $2,745 per person including air from the U.S. ‘Keep your eyes and ears open,’ said Hieber ‘for this is merely the beginning. Soon you’ll come to understand the true essence of the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC.’ at which point, the Press Conference which was held in the Corporations generously appointed Conference Center drew to a close.

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via

Monday, December 10, 2007


Hello Dominik,

Just wanted to drop you a short note to tell you we had a great time on our Safari. I am sending some photos of our Safari. I hope that you enjoy them.

Our driver was great! His name was Dominik also he did a great job for us. We got to see all of the ‘Big 5’ we saw two Leopards. Most people do not get to see any. I even spotted one of the leopards myself. The accommodations where great as well as the staff! Each of our hotels where very unique in their own way! I would recommend 2AFRIKA to anyone that would want to go to Africa.

Dominik I would like to find out about a trip to Egypt sometime this summer. I think that we would be looking mid-year sometime. Let me know what you can put together for me. There could be more people than just my wife and I.

Thank you for putting together our trip to Africa.

J & B

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via

Saturday, December 1, 2007

2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber with an update monitoring the grounding of Nationwide Airlines


01 December 2007 – 4:45pm (ZA)

On behalf of Nationwide Airlines, I would like to apologise to our customers and the travelling public who have experienced inconvenience and distress since Friday, the first day of the busy summer holiday season.

The entire management team and staff have been working around the clock to resolve the crisis with the aim of resuming normal flight operations as quickly as possible.

So far we have had to cancel more than 90 flights serving Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Mpumalanga, George, Livingstone and London-Gatwick. This has impacted about 9,000 travellers.

While our services are disrupted, our ticket-holders have the option of re-booking or obtaining full refunds.

Since establishing Nationwide Airlines in 1995 I have regarded the safety of our passengers, staff and equipment as my top priority. Safety is not negotiable, has not and will not be compromised in any way.

As part of our ongoing safety programme, in 2006, we underwent the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). IOSA is an audit of the management and control processes of an airline based on exacting standards developed in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO - the UN body which sets global standards for civil aviation) and regulatory bodies including US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Transport Canada and Europe’s Joint Aviation Authority. It is one of a number of measures designed to ensure high levels of safety.

Nationwide passed this audit and received its IOSA certificate in April.

After several requests, last night we received a communiqué from the South African Civil Aviation Authority specifying its concerns. In the main, the CAA’s concerns relate to the administrative systems in our AMO. The CAA has not raised any concerns that relate directly to any of our aircraft.

Most of these issues were raised by the CAA after their initial audit in September following which we implemented the necessary remedial actions. At that time, we undertook to submit a thorough action plan to the CAA before the close of business on 30 November 2007, ie. yesterday. As promised, we sent this action plan to the CAA yesterday for its consideration.
In addition, we have also advised the CAA of the various improvements and enhancements we have made to our AMO over the past three months and other steps we have taken to ensure the continued integrity of our operation.

They include:
· The appointment of a new Accountable Manager for the AMO at the end of October.
· The appointment of a new Planning Manager and a new Reliability Specialist.
· All life-limited components – including all safety/emergency equipment were checked and found to be within their limits
· Updating our component life-monitoring data capture software with greater audit capabilities
· The establishment of a Corporate Quality Department to exercise quality management across every aspect of the company, including maintenance
· Labelling of our grease guns to provide clear indications of when they were last filled and the batch information of the specific grease
· Introduced a new system for checking the personal tool boxes of engineers after each aircraft’s maintenance check instead of once per month
· Disposal of unserviceable electrolyte battery cells in a controlled manner
· New storage and issuing arrangements for distilled water (used for batteries)
· New storage and record-keeping procedures for batteries
· Verification of all aircraft Release for Service certificates and the correction of one certificate which was found to have been incorrectly completed

On the 23rd November 2007 and following inspections by the SA CAA of our Aviation Maintenance Organization (AMO), the license for the AMO was renewed and issued.
From the 23rd November until the 29th November 2007 no further inspection was performed by the SA CAA, nor were we advised of any concerns on the part of the CAA.
Subsequently, the suspension of our AMO license on the 29th November late at night, and thus the grounding of our fleet came as a total surprise. Only following the suspension of our license on the 30th November, did the SA CAA inform us that they apparently had certain concerns relating to maintenance work conducted subsequent to the issuance of an Airworthiness Directive as issued by the authority on the 9th November.

As a result, allegations have been made in various media reports that we have fitted ‘bogus’ or ‘pirate’ parts to our aircraft. These allegations are totally false.

Certain rumours have surfaced which we would like to address. Whilst technical, the following information is complete and accurate.

· On the 7th November whilst departing from Cape Town, Nationwide Airlines lost the number two engine on one of the Boeing 737-200 aircraft. As a result of the incident the SA CAA promulgated an Airworthiness Directive (AD) which called for a “Non Destructive Testing (NDT)” inspection of all the engine mountings and attachment bolts. The SA CAA also required that all operators of the B737-200 verify if all the previously issued FAA AD’s and Boeing Service Bulletins (SB) had been complied with.
· This South African AD was carried out on Nationwide 737-200s and detailed confirmations were provided to the SA CAA on completion of each aircraft. During an inspection of the records it was noted that the technician who signed-off the AD on the last aircraft did not enter the part number and serial number of one of the cone bolts on the required form. When this was brought to our attention, we immediately issued an instruction for the removal of that particular cone bolt. On inspection of the cone bolt we noted that half of the serial number and part number were no longer visible under normal light as the indelible ink could no longer be read, however under a bright light, the full part number and serial number could be identified by the footprint of the ink into the metal. This cone bolt was taken to the SA CAA and shown to the relevant inspector. We also produced the relevant records of the NDT inspection for this cone bolt. As a result, a replacement cone bolt was installed to prevent any further confusion.
· In 2005 we purchased a new hydrostatic bench test for the purpose of testing our oxygen bottles. This test bench was inspected and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority with the necessary certification issued. During our September 2007 audit we were informed that the CAA should not have originally certified this test bench without it first being certified by the Department of Labour. As the CAA had approved this installation, we were not aware that further approvals were required. As a result, the CAA suspended our ability to certify further testing on this unit until such time that we had achieved conformity with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This we accepted and discontinued the use of the test facility pending approval from the Department of Labour. After the aircraft incident of engine separation, we had a further full inspection of the AMO by the SA CAA. During this audit it was brought to our attention that our corrective action was not deemed satisfactory as we had not recalled the bottles which had been tested during the previous two years prior to our certification being suspended. It should be noted that our action plan submitted to the authority at the time of the audit was accepted – this did not call for the recall of such bottles. Subsequently, the bottles that had been certified by hydrostatic test bench were withdrawn from service.
· Nationwide does not use “pirate” parts. We only purchase and use legitimate aircraft components from authorised suppliers with the required release documentation.
· IATA has not withdrawn Nationwide’s membership to the association. It has simply suspended our participation in its billing and settlement programme which is a mechanism for exchanging money between airlines – this is normal protocol in such circumstances and does not represent abnormal activity by IATA.
· Nationwide is not bankrupt and has not filed for liquidation. We are a financially secure and sound company.

With regard to our engine separation incident of 07 November 2007, we have been informed that the preliminary report from the University of Pretoria (Metallurgic Facility) found a recent fatigue crack which caused the failure of the aft primary engine mount and thus the engine separation. I would like to place on record that this bolt was by no means a ‘bogus bolt’ as reported in the media. We are in possession of all relevant NDT records which substantiate the correct testing of all our bolts at the time of engine installation. Our bolt failure is not an isolated incident. This is the 6th Boeing 737 (including major US airlines) which incurred the same problem resulting in the number two engine separation.

Nationwide makes a vital contribution to the South African and regional economy, providing much-needed airlift capacity for people and goods and supporting trade, tourism and economic development. We remain committed to serving our customers and the region with safe, reliable and affordable air transport.

Issued by:Vernon BricknellChief Executive Officer, Nationwide Airlines

If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via