Kimberley tram STILL not operating
At the time of writing (June 2011), the Kimberley tram was not operating, and, when I enquired with Tourist Information, it appears that it has been out of commission for the past year. This is at odds with the information provided by the otherwise excellent and reliable Kimberley website - see URL below - confidently (but incorrectly) states that "After two years out of service, the Kimberley Tram, one of the city’s historical features, is back in operation since June 2010".
This will be a real disappointment for nostalgia buffs and families with children who had been looking forward riding what I believe to be South Africa's only operational tram route. It is also a pity as the tram is an integral part of the late 19th century feel that Kimberley projects so well.
Whilst I appreciate that it is not necessarily possible to buy spare parts for a vehicle that is over a century old 'off the shelf', I would question whether it should really take what appears to be three years to manufacture spare parts, even if they have to be specially machined. In a town which appears to have such an impressive commitment to developing tourism, this would seem to be a major oversight, and one which I hope that they will rectify as a matter of priority.
The vastly improved Kimberley airport
Kimberley has a long and proud history of aviation, including the following South African 'firsts' (with thanks to the Kimberley Meander magazine):
1911: The first public flight in the first South African built aircraft
1913: The first airplane accident
1913: The first ten pilots in the South African Defence Force
1913: The first pilots in the South African Aviation Corps
1931: The first night landing by a pilot
1931: The first airport to offer 24 hour services
1931: The first municipal rest house and aerodrome in Africa
1934: The first National Air Rally
Despite this proud aviation tradition, Kimberley airport up until the middle of last year was a dive, with dilapidated decor, appalling toilets and an overall air of dinginess and neglect. However, one of the happier legacies of the 2010 World Cup has been a general facelift for South Africa's airports, and as a result, Kimberley airport is now a pleasant place to transit through.
Flights to and from Kimberley tend to be concentrated in the early morning and evening to cater for the vast majority of travellers who are coming down to do business, either in the mining industry or with provincial government. If you are flying out in the evening, be warned that the one shortcoming in Kimberley's otherwise excellent tourist signage is signposting to the airport from the city centre, and it can be easy to take a wrong turning en route. In general, Kimberley is a pretty peaceable place, so I doubt that this error would result in anything more dangerous than you missing your flight, but best be warned so that you can plan accordingly!
On the "endless" stretch from Kimberley ....
... watch out for speed traps.
The streets are rather good and straight. Although at times these endless stretches may invite you for faster driving, observe the speed limits because police controls are all around with laser pistols checking on speeding cars.
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