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Travel to South Africa
Nidarshana Saikia Das
Most of us will couch-up, munch on all things edible, swear or scream at every hit and miss from the precincts of our living rooms, but I know at least a handful, who will be right there in South Africa to catch the action live and boost the morale of our cricket team.
The climate around this time of the year, the South African event gurus assured, is the calmest and for reasons very similar to what made Mr. Modi (IPL Commissioner) chose South Africa (cost and logistical “ease”, all controversies apart), made us check out that ‘extra window’ to its tourist attractions. Of all the venues, the mention of Johannesburg and Cape Town got us wishing we were there too.
 
So much at Cape Town, so little time
Strategically positioned lacing two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean and with an iconic mountain strip right in her center, Cape Town is the place to be if South Africa is what you want to see.
  1. The Table Mountain (elevation: 1,086 m or 3,563 ft), coated in rugged wilderness and unique wildlife (Table Mountain National Park) can leave hikers and rock climbers sated with choices. Start early for the mountain top from one of the many approach tracks, and catch the last cable car down. Lately, the national park is promoting night stays on the mountain top while hiking a world-class trail from Cape Point to the City Bowl.
  2. The warm waters of Indian Ocean and the freezing Atlantic, along with the beaches are Cape Town’s ubiquitous favourite. Horse ride through flocks of birds at the Noordhoek Beach, watch sunsets clinking champagne glasses at the celebrity studded Clifton Beach, spend a day at the very scenic Llandudno Beach, sea-surf at Glen Beach, walk around in your birth-suit (dare you!) at the nudist Sandy Bay (also a major spot for gay tourists).
  3. The Castle of Good Hope and the Robben Island (World Heritage site where Nelson Mandela and many other political leaders were imprisoned during Apartheid).
  4. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with its fragranced, sculptured gardens, African medical herbs and over 9000 species of flora is a must-visit for nature lovers, along with one of the world’s largest landscaped aviaries, The World of Birds (Hout Bay).
  5. For a quick bite at sea-adventure get diving at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Not exactly made of your multi-hued coral reefs and swarms of sea-fish, this half hour diving escapade still promises undulating thrill as a diver guide swims you through ragged tooth sharks, bull rays and turtles.
  6. Binge on seafood with some great wine, at the restaurants at V & A Waterfront and the area around Long Street. The exotic include zebra and ostrich meat delicacies. And if you loved the South African wine, Cape Town is the best place to bag in a few bottles.
  7. Watch penguins frolic in their natural habitat at the Boulders beach. Come September and you can even see tiny penguins hatching out of their eggs.
  8. Shopping jaunts at the Green Point Flea market are a must for the best priced curious and mementos.
Feel the pulse at Johannesburg
Fondly called Jo’burg or Jozi, its media-hyped image of a crime capital, along with it being S. Africa’s economic powerhouse, may sound a little repulsive at first for a regular vacationer, but once you are there – you will not be disappointed. Here is how to make the best of your Jozi stay:
  • Joji isn’t quite an adventure enthusiasts dream come true, but for some water and air sports you can check out Northcliff and Hartbeespoort dam (surrounded by the Megaliesberg mountains). For wildlife adventure, the Pilanesberg National Park and Lion park are good. Play with the cubs, feed the giraffe and if you get too fond of the place, you may even stay back overnight in semi-luxurious tents. Hikers mostly pick on Melville Koppies (exciting wildlife en route).
  • Bargain hunters dig for anything from native African batik, crafts and curious to fashionable clothes at the Bruma Flea Market, Bryanston Organic Village market, Market Theatre Flea Market and Rooftop Market (Rosebank Mall).
  • Foodie haunts include Melrose Arch, Parkhurst, Sandton, the South (for its Portuguese cuisine), Melville and Chinatown in the CBD (Central Business District).
  • Beer-bellies would love the SAB-Miller Beer museum tour with 2 free drinks in the pub at the end.
  • A heritage dip can be best had at the Lesedi Culture Village (with Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele tribal homesteads) as you binge on varieties of African cuisine or even stay back for the night for the closest hand on experience.
  • A few attractions we found totally worth your time: a trip to the Cradle of Humankind to unravel the history of humanity, jaunt at the Sun City (famous entertainment and casino complex), visit the Aparthied Museum for a harrowing look at South Africa’s apartheid, walk down the lanes of Jacaranda City lined with purple blossom-bedecked trees, catch a bird’s eye view of Africa from its tallest building Top of Africa (Carlton Center) and head for Kyalami to watch the South African Lipizzaner (exotic breed of horse).
Factoids
Capital
     Pretoria (Executive),
     Bloemfontein (Judicial),
     Cape Town (Legislative)
Currency 
     Rand (ZAR);
     1 ZAR = Rs. 5 (approx.)
Time Zone
     SAST (UTC + 2)
Alerts
  • S. Africa has one of the highest HIV infected population in the world
  • The north-eastern areas of the country (including the Kruger National Park and St. Lucia and surrounds) are seasonal malaria zones. The peak danger time is just after the wet season from March to May.
  • If you wish to refer to South Africans of African origin, “black” or “black South African” is still considered appropriate, instead of “African American”.

    
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