South Africa - A Mystical Place

South Africa - A Mystical Place

It was always my dream to visit South Africa. Throughout my life, I have envisioned it as a mystical place filled with mystery and surprises. WOW is what I have to say about my visit; it has lived up to my expectations.

When we arrived in Johannesburg, we were transferred to the Emperors Palace, where we spent our first night. The accommodations were very comfortable, and the room was immaculate. We had a room without walls separating the bathroom and shower from the bedroom area for the first time. It was a very different experience from what we Americans are used to, but it was very enjoyable. Be careful not to lean on the curtains thinking they conceal a wall. If you fall into the marble sink, you will be in serious trouble.

The Emperors Palace is a group of hotels; we stayed at the Peermont Metcourt, which is connected to the Casino via hallways. We walked to the casino for dinner. There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Food selections are also varied and extremely tasty. My husband ordered Karoo, but we were not familiar with the type of meat. Karoo is an area in South Africa where the animal is from; we believe the meat is mutton. Because I am not as adventurous as my husband, I ordered beef that was skewered. Both meals were delicious and very affordable. Dinner for the two of us cost $20.00 US and included a wonderful African wine and dessert.

South Africa - A Mystical Place

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 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 and inspiring day.

Early the next morning we had another delicious meal, breakfast, and then we headed out for a wild game move. 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 transporting to another area. Below is one of the animals called “Oryx Antelope” we captured and moved. They are the largest Antelope species.

Here are some photos of our capture and move. It was quite an experience watching the Dr. shoot the sedative from his helicopter over the animals. Once 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 newly acquired 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 anesthesia back to full function. 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 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 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 turned out overnight) and cell phone reception.

South Africa - A Mystical Place

The next morning after our breakfast we headed back to Kimberly airport to catch our flight back to Johannesburg. We made 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 a long day.

Our hotel accommodations in Sun City were at the Cascades hotel. We stayed in a suite that was very comfortable and nice. The meals were excellent. Outside our room and everyone else’s were wild monkeys who broke into the rooms if a door or window was left open or unlocked. They were small 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 steal food from the mini-refrigerators. It was 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 South Africa’s spa industry. We were treated to another game safari and local entertainers. Our hosts treated us very well.

Places to See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Africa - A Mystical Place

Food and Drink:

A very popular South African dish is Cape Malay. It is very spicy, being a blend of Dutch, and a mixture of east Indian and oriental blends. This is fused with African colors and flavors. Don’t miss the opportunity to see, feel and taste this exceptional Cape Town experience. South African cuisine is not to be missed.

South African Wine Country

Best Times to Visit: South Africa is a year-round destination so the time of year you visit depends on your travel plans. The best time to watch games is early spring (August to October). Southern right whales are best seen off the coasts from mid-June to October, and humpback whales from August to December.

Scuba diving is usually at its finest from April to September, as is surfing; however one can partake of these activities at any time of year. Flowers are at their 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 is very hot. If you enjoy beaches, midsummer is the best time to go; however everyone else will be there as well. KwaZulu-Natal beaches are temperate and sun-drenched, even in midwinter.

I continue to expand my knowledge taking various Travel Industry Specialization courses with follow-up trips to enhance my education. I am accredited with Niche Cruise Specialist, Princess Cruises Commodore, Peru Specialist, Certified Sandals Specialist, Couples Specialist, Hawaii Specialist, South Africa Specialist, Botswana Specialist, South Africa Spa Specialist, Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialist, Tahiti Tiare Specialist, and a Disney Specialist.

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