The Splendours of South Africa

Looking to get away for the summer, most people choose hill stations. But Sushila Bokadiya had other plans, and she opted to head off to South Africa (which, you may be surprised to know, was a very pleasant 5-12 degrees in June). Read on to find out what she did on this ideal summer getaway.
 
Our trip lasted 15 days, and each one was well worth it. The holiday began when we landed in Johannesburg, where we stayed at the Sun City resort. With a number of water sports as well as a popular casino to keep its guests busy and entertained, it’s an excellent place to stay.

Later that day, we visited Pretoria, one of the three capitals of South Africa. The Jacaranda City, as it is known, has a beautiful view from the top. It was amazing to see the whole of Pretoria like that. After a night of relaxation, we were prepared for what came next, what Africa is best known for: safari!
 
We reached Kruger National Park, well-known for extensive safaris spread out over thousands of square kilometres. One can find almost any sort of wildlife, but we were under strict orders to not step outside our safari cars, and not to make any noise.
 
An African safari usually involves keeping an eye out for five impressive animals – the lion, the rhino, the hippo, the elephant, and the buffalo – famously known as the Big 5. We were lucky enough to get a clear view of a lion. Though he wasn’t very active, it was mesmerising when he did move. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘King of the Jungle’. Our guides told us that an adult lion’s roar can be heard for miles.

The end of the safari marked the end of our stay in Johannesburg, our next stop being Port Elizabeth. A major city in South Africa, Port Elizabeth is famous for the intriguing Nelson Mandela Stadium. The city is slowly but steadily attracting the attention of tourists.


 
From Port Elizabeth, we were off to Mossel Bay, a very beautiful city located near the South African shore. The waves we saw here were the biggest we’d ever witnessed. The plan in Mossel Bay was to jump from a plane from 12,000 feet in the
air – skydiving! Skydiving was an exhilarating and absolutely unforgettable experience. You dive into biting cold winds, with a view of the sea on one side and a sunset over the mountains on the other. When I was suspended in mid-air, gliding across the sky with the help of the trusted parachute, I felt like I was in heaven. In so many ways, Africa is a great place for adventurous people.

Not too far from Mossel Bay is the small city of Oudtshoorn, where we visited an ostrich farm and saw cheetahs and reptiles. We even took an ostrich ride! We saw over 100 species of reptiles, including the biggest ones – crocodiles.
In Cheetah Land, we got to interact with many wild animals, including white lions and Siberian tigers. We went into the cage of a three-year-old tiger. To my surprise, it was more fun than it was scary to sit beside the tiger and cuddle with him.


 
After Oudtshoorn, we set out for the second capital, Cape Town. On our way, we passed by Tsitsikamma National Park. There was a 1.5-kilometre bridge between the Tsitsikamma Mountains, off which people were bungee-jumping. Considered the world’s highest bungee point (and also the scariest), it was terrifying just to look down at the rocks below.
 
My son Ronak was the only daredevil to jump; he said it was something one must do on such a trip. He thoroughly enjoyed the view of the mountains and trees while he stood in the freezing wind at the corner, waiting to jump. The place even had a DJ playing jumpers’ requests in order to make things as relaxed as possible.

On the way to Cape Town, we stopped in an open area in the middle of nowhere, where we took a helicopter ride. They took us to a point where we could see just where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. The Atlantic was deep blue, while the Indian had a tinge of green. What a gorgeous sight!
 
After an adventurous few days, we finally got to Cape Town. A good night’s sleep, and we were on a cable car ride up Table Mountain, which got its name due to the natural shape it has (it was even considered for one of the Wonders of the World). The temperature on the mountain was an icy two degrees, but the view was stunning, to say the least.


Next, we went to Cape Point and hired a yacht named The Flying Dutchman to take us to the Cape of Good Hope, where we enjoyed a breathtaking view. On our way back, we saw some delightful penguins, but we were unfortunately not allowed to hold them. Just watching the penguins walk was adorable, though!

The following day, we visited Constantia Vineyards, where we learnt about the history of the oldest wine-growing area in Southern Africa. We then went to Hout Bay, where we took a boat ride to Seal Island, especially exciting because of the glass-bottom sea craft we were in.
 
Over our short, two-week vacation, we experienced so much adventure and saw so many animals. All that remains now are the lovely, unforgettable memories we brought back with us.      – as told to Saloni