South Africa – A Mystical Place

I used to dream of visiting South Africa.  I always thought of it as a mystical place full of mystery and surprise.  It has lived up to my expectations; WOW is what I have to say about my visit.

After we arrived in Johannesburg we were transferred to the Emperors Palace where we spent our first night.  Our accommodations were very comfortable, the room pristine.  I must say it is the first time we had a room without walls separating the bathroom and shower from the bedroom area.  It was very different from what we Americans are used to but it was very nice.  A word of caution be careful not to lean on the curtains thinking they hide a wall or you will be in serious trouble when you fall into the marble sink.

The Emperors Palace is a group of hotels; ours was the Peermont Metcourt that is connected to the Casino via hallways.  We walked to dinner in the casino.  There is a large variety of restaurants to choose from.  The selection of food is also varied and extremely tasty.  My husband ordered Karoo, we had no idea what type of meat this was.  It turned out that Karoo is an area in South Africa where the animal is from; we think the meat itself is mutton.  I am not as adventurous as my husband so I ordered beef cooked on a skewer.  Both meals were delicious and very inexpensive.  We spent $20.00 US for the two of us and our dinner included a wonderful African wine and desert.

Our second day in Johannesburg after breakfast we were transferred back to the airport and caught our flight to Kimberley, South Africa We were met at the airport by our guide, Steve, for the next three days with Jacels Tours.

Kimberley is the area where diamonds were first discovered in South Africa.  The diamond mine called, the Big Hole and Museum Village is in the center of town and is preserved today as a living museum of bygone days.  A very interesting place to visit!

After we had lunch at the Big Hole we departed for our three hour drive to Mattanu (Hebrew meaning Gift from Above) Private Game Reserve located in the Northern Cape Province, the biggest, safest and Malaria free province in South-Africa, approximately 58Km North West of the diamond digging city of Kimberley..  Upon arrival we met the Owner/Manager, Jacques Kriek.  We toured Mattanu after our welcome drink.  I am including a few of the pictures I took while at Mattanu.
After our tour of Mattanu we took our first wild game drive.  It was great.  We drove all over the reserve and gazed upon several different animals in the wild.  I got some great pictures and so did everyone else in our small group.  After our wild ride through the preserve we returned to the main house and enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by the owner’s wife and daughters.  After our scrumptious meal we were taken to our guest rooms for the night where we were able to rest and recuperate from a long inspiring day.

Early the next morning we had another great meal, breakfast, and then we went out for a wild game move where we were allowed to help with the activities.  This was quite an experience for us.  The owner of the reserve is a well known and greatly respected veterinarian who specializes in endangered species of South Africa.

Dr Kriek rode in his helicopter to find the two wild animals we were going to transport to another area.  Below is one of the animals called “Oryx Antelope” we captured and moved. They are the largest of the Antelope species. 

I am including some photo of our capture and move.  It was quite an experience watching the Dr. shoot the sedative from his helicopter over the animals.  Once he the animals were under the effects of the drug we were signaled to close in on them and gently maneuver them into the flat bed truck we used to move them to their new location.

Once at the new location we were given the opportunity to vaccinate the animals against diseases common to their breed.  I was the lucky one chosen to give the shot to bring the Oryx out of the anesthesia back to full function and my husband was so engrossed in what I was doing he didn’t even get a picture.  I was bummed about this dilemma.  I will probably not see another opportunity like this one again.

After our wild game safari ended we packed up our things and headed for Twee Rivieren located on the banks of the Nossob Riverbed. We were met by the camp ranger who showed us to our accommodations for the night before we met for dinner.  The facilities are lovely and clean, we saw several animals and plants in the camp and in the immediate areas. Twee Rivieren is the only camp with 24 hrs electricity (except when we had a thunder storm and all the lights went out overnight) and cell phone reception.

The next morning after our breakfast we headed back to Kimberly airport to catch our flight back to Johannesburg to make our connection to Sun City for the ASTA International Destination Expo.  We were met in Johannesburg by our motor coach transfer to Sun City, another 2 hour drive.  It turned out to be quite a long day.

Our hotel accommodations in Sun City were the Cascades hotel.  We stayed in a suite that was very comfortable and quite nice.  The meals were excellent.  Outside our room and everyone else’s were wild monkeys who would break into the rooms if a door or window were left open or unlocked.  They were little devils, we watched them climb the outside of the hotel and break into rooms on the upper floors where the windows were left open.  They would steel food from the mini-refrigerators’.  It was quite amusing to watch them.

During the conference we learned about the surrounding areas of South Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, the Garden Route (wineries), Western Cape, North Cape, Northern Cape, and Eastern Cape.  We also learned about the spa industry in South Africa.  We were treated to another game safari and local entertainers.  The food was excellent and we were treated very well by our hosts.

Places to See:

South Africa is a very diverse area.  You will have the opportunity to see lots of elephants, land turtles, zebra, wild boar, bungee jump, go zip lining, surf in the ocean, fish, visit local tribes peoples, hike, ride a donkey drawn cart, visit historical sites.

Don’t miss Cape Town; the unusual exquisiteness of Cape Town makes it one of the most eye-catching cities in the world. Cape Town enjoys stunning beaches as well as the extraordinary Table Mountain seen from anywhere in the city. The restaurants are comparable to the great restaurants in major cities such as New York or France, and so are the wines. Cape Town is one of the principal ethnically varied cities in Africa and is known for its social tolerance.

East of Cape Town one can visit the Winelands with their dramatic vistas and beautiful mountains.  This area is known for its culture and past history with various superb examples of characteristic Dutch structural design dating back to the 17th century. The Winelands include quite a few regions with their own wine tasting tours.

Knysna is a township in the center of South Africa’s stunning Garden Route. Knysna lies between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean. Knysna designated South Africa’s beloved town, a pleasant and friendly place with lots to see and do. There’s a great lagoon ideal for water sports and adjacent forests are grand for walking.

Durban’s “Golden Mile is a series of beaches sheltered from sharks by nets and policed by life guards throughout the day. This is major surfing terrain but has plenty of room for swimmers and body-surfers too.

Shopping: Victoria Indian Street Market in Durban has a large Indian populace, their forefathers were laborers transported in by the British to labor in the sugarcane fields the end of the 19th century (as was a youthful Mohandas Gandhi). The Indian street market is a busy fascinating place housing mosques and temples, with an abundance of shops and scrumptious foodstuff.

The most extraordinary shopping area of Cape Town is the Canal Walk. The shopping shrine with its architecture showcasing designs from the Orient and the Renaissance is home to more than 350 stores and eateries, and theaters. Canals meander outside that’s reflective of Venice. One can purchase most anything here from clothes, toys, attractive home goods, books and jewels here.

Wedding Ceremonies are held here over the pool at Mattanu Private Game Reserve

Food and Drink: 

A great South African dish is Cape Malay.  It is very spicy, being a blend of Dutch, and a mixture of east Indian and oriental blends, all fused with colors and flavors’ that are definitely African in foundation.  Don’t miss the prospect to see, feel and taste this exceptional Cape Town experience.  The cuisine throughout South Africa is not to be missed.

South African Wine Country

Best Times to go:  South Africa is a year-round destination so the time of year you visit depends on what your travel plans are. The finest time for game watching is early spring (August to October). The southern right whales are best seen off the coasts from mid-June to the end of October, and humpback whales from August to December.

Scuba diving is usually at its finest from April to September, like wise is the surfing; however one can partake of these activities any time of year. Flowers showcase themselves best in August and September. River rafting is always best at the end of winter; and in summer (late November to February) in KwaZulu-Natal.

In Mpumalanga and Limpopo states, spring and autumn are unsurpassed for hiking since summer tends to be very hot. If you enjoy the beaches, midsummer is the preeminent time to do so; however everyone else will be there as well. The beaches of KwaZulu-Natal are temperate and sun-drenched, even in midwinter.