South Africa – A mystical place

I used to dream of visiting South Africa. I always considered it 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 arriving in Johannesburg, we were transferred to the Emperor’s Palace, where we spent our first night. Our accommodation was very comfortable, the room was immaculate. I must say that it is the first time that we have 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 drapes thinking they hide a wall or you’ll be in serious trouble when you fall into the marble sink.

The Emperors Palace is a group of hotels; ours was the Peermont Metcourt which is connected to the Casino through the corridors. We walked to dinner at the casino. There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. The food selection is also varied and extremely tasty. My husband ordered Karoo, we had no idea what kind of meat it was. It turned out that the Karoo is an area of ​​South Africa where the animal is from; we think the meat itself is lamb. I’m not as adventurous as my husband, so I ordered beef cooked on a skewer. Both meals were delicious and very cheap. We spent $20.00 US for the two of us and our dinner included 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. Our guide, Steve, met us at the airport for the next three days with Jacels Tours.

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

After having lunch in the Big Hole, we set off for our three-hour drive to Mattanu (Hebrew for gift from above), a private game reserve located in the Northern Cape Province, the largest, safest, and malaria-free province in South Africa, approximately 58 km to the north. West of the diamond digging town of Kimberley. Upon arrival we were met by the owner/manager, Jacques Kriek. We toured Mattanu after our welcome drink. I am including some of the photos I took while in Mattanu.
After our tour of Mattanu, we took our first wild ride. It was great. We drove throughout the reserve and saw several different animals in the wild. Got some great photos and so did everyone else in our little group. After our wild ride through the reserve, we return to the main house and enjoy a wonderful dinner prepared by the owner’s wife and daughters. After our delicious meal, we were escorted to our rooms for the night, where we were able to rest and recover from a long inspiring day.

Early the next morning we had another great meal, breakfast, and then headed out for some wild game 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 respected veterinarian who specializes in endangered species from South Africa.

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

I include some photos of our capture and transfer. It was quite an experience to see the Dr. shoot the sedative from his helicopter onto the animals. Once the animals were under the influence of the drug, we reportedly approached them and gently maneuvered them onto the flatbed truck we used to move them to their new location.

Once in the new location we had the opportunity to vaccinate the animals against diseases typical of their breed. I was the lucky one chosen to give the injection to make the Oryx fully functional again from the anesthesia and my husband was so engrossed in what he was doing that he didn’t even take a picture. He was discouraged by this dilemma. I probably won’t see another opportunity like this again.

After our wild game safari ended, we packed our things and headed to Twee Rivieren, located on the banks of the Nossob River. We were greeted by the camp ranger who showed us to our accommodation for the night before meeting for dinner. The facilities are nice and clean, we saw various animals and plants in and around the camp. Twee Rivieren is the only campsite with 24 hour electricity (except when we had a thunderstorm and all the lights went out overnight) and cell phone coverage.

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

Our hotel accommodation in Sun City was 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 there were wild monkeys that would break into rooms if a door or window was left open or unlocked. They were imps, we saw them climb up the outside of the hotel and into the rooms on the upper floors where the windows were open. They would take food out of the mini-fridges.’ It was a lot of fun watching them.

During the conference we learned about the surrounding areas of South Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, 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 with 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 many elephants, tortoises, zebras, wild boars, bungee jumping, zip lining, ocean surfing, fishing, visiting local tribes, walking, riding a donkey cart, visiting historical sites.

Don’t miss Cape Town; Cape Town’s unusual exquisiteness makes it one of the most striking cities in the world. Cape Town enjoys stunning beaches, as well as the extraordinary Table Mountain that can be seen from anywhere in the city. The restaurants are comparable to the big restaurants in big cities like New York or France, as are the wines. Cape Town is one of Africa’s major ethnically diverse cities and is known for its social tolerance.

To the east of Cape Town you can visit the Winelands with its spectacular views and beautiful mountains. This area is known for its past culture and history with several excellent examples of characteristic Dutch structural design dating back to the 17th century. Winelands includes quite a few regions with their own wine tasting tours.

Knysna is a municipality at the center of South Africa’s impressive Garden Route. Knysna lies between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean. Knysna designated the beloved city of South Africa, a pleasant and friendly place with much to see and do. There is a large lagoon ideal for water sports and the adjacent forests are great for walking.

Durban’s “Golden Mile” is a series of beaches protected from sharks by nets and patrolled by lifeguards around the clock. This is prime surfing terrain, but it also has plenty of room for swimmers and surfers.

Shopping: Victoria Indian Street Market in Durban has a large Indian population, their ancestors being laborers transported by the British to work the sugar cane fields in the late 19th century (much like a young Mohandas Gandhi). The Indian street market is a fascinating and busy place that is home to mosques and temples, with an abundance of shops and delicious foods.

The most extraordinary shopping area in Cape Town is the Canal Walk. The shopping sanctuary with its architecture showcasing designs from the Orient and the Renaissance houses more than 350 shops, restaurants and theatres. Canals meander outside reflecting Venice. You can buy almost anything here, from clothes, toys, attractive household items, books and jewelry.

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’s very spicy, being a mix of Dutch and a mix of Oriental and East Indian mixes, all fused with colors and flavors that are definitely African based. Don’t miss out on seeing, feeling and savoring this exceptional Cape Town experience. South African cuisine is not to be missed.

South African wine region

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 best time to watch game is in early spring (August to October). Southern right whales are best seen off the coast from mid-June to late October, and humpback whales from August to December.

Diving is usually at its peak from April to September, as is surfing; however, one can participate in these activities at any time of the year. The flowers are best displayed 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 the states of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, spring and autumn are prime for hiking, as summer tends to be very hot. If you enjoy the beaches, summer is the pre-eminent time to do so; however, everyone else will be there too. KwaZulu-Natal’s beaches are warm and sunny, even in the dead of winter.

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