Natural wonders of South Africa

Damodar Rao H K Jan 4 2018, 21:40 IST
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A view of the Boulders Beach, South Africa.

My dream to visit the land where Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid and where Mahatma Gandhi did his barristership came true last year.

Ours was a group of eight people booked through Thomas Cook, two were from Mumbai, four were from Kolkatta and my wife and I were from Bengaluru.

The South African Airways from Mumbai at 2.05 am took us to Johannesburg by 7.30 am local time. Another flight from there at 11 am took us to Cape Town by 1 pm to be met by the local guide and checked into Pepper Club Hotel.

Next morning, we visited the Hout Bay for a boat ride against the ocean currents. It was a roller coaster experience and had a view of the Seal Colony in the middle.

Later, we left for Cape of Good Hope via fishermen colony and forest conservatory which houses 3,500 species of plants. We were excited to be at the southernmost tip of South Africa about which we had read in our high school books and took pictures there.

Travelling up by the funicular, we reached the Cape point (lighthouse) and had a beautiful view of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

After lunch, we visited Boulders beach to view hundreds of tiny cute Penguins at close range. Later, we visited the vast and beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and enjoyed the nature there.

Our destination next morning was Table Mountain which was considered as one of the seven wonders of the world during 2007 to 2011. We reached the top through Rotair and had a panoramic view of Cape Town which is beyond words to explain. Later, we headed towards Camps Bay Beach with pure white sand and walked through Parliament House, Green Market, Museum etc.

We also visited the square where Nelson Mandela addressed the first rally after his release from 27 years of imprisonment. After lunch, we had one hour cruise at the Victoria Wharf.

It was time to leave Cape Town and head towards Knysna. On the way, we visited Barthelomeo Dias museum and Post Office Tree at Mossel Bay. At Knysna, we took the sunset cruise which lasted for one and a half hours and checked into Semola Hotel by night.

After breakfast next day, we left for Outdshoorn and had a guided tour of the ostrich farm. The ostrich eggs are so hard that even if we stamp them they are unbreakable. We fed the birds and also took a ride on them. We also purchased beautiful paintings done on their eggs. After that, we left for Cheetah Ranch where we were allowed to touch the domesticated cheetahs which were a thrilling experience. After lunch, we visited the Congo Caves famous for stalactites and stalagmites which is a good two km path lasting an hour and it was a wonderful sight. Early next morning, we left Knysna to Port Elizabeth to catch a flight to Johannesburg. From there we took a bus ride to reach Sun City after travelling for about five hours through the arid regions.

Sun City is a beautiful manmade city amidst the barren land with lots of greenery. It is famous for its water sports and casinos. We checked into Cascades Hotel and immediately took a safari ride to view the big five - the lion, cheetah, elephant, hippo and Cape buffalo - but were fortunate to see only a few of them. Our next day was spent in roaming around the entire city watching peacocks, golf course, beautiful lawns, enjoying water games and finally left for Johannesburg.

In the afternoon, we visited the Goldenreef City, where there was a demonstration of extraction of gold from the ores. Also, we visited the miner's museum where the household articles used by miners in olden days were preserved.

In the evening, we left for the city tour of Johannesburg covering Apartheid Museum, Gandhi Square and so on. In the night, we checked into Hotel D'oreale Grande. Finally, it was time to leave the continent with sweet memories and reached Bengaluru via Mumbai.

(The author can be contacted at hkdrao@gmail.com)

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