“Collect Moments not Things”
I hope you enjoyed reading Part-I of my trip where I narrated about my trip till our shopping in Victoria Mall.The next day was a bit relaxed as the starting time was 10 am.We were still in Cape Town.
After a leisurely bath we took our time to get dressed and then went down for breakfast.I was delighted to find my favourite waffles(warm and fresh) and stuffed omelette with plenty of fresh lettuce and salad a healthy breakfast to begin the day, although a bit sinful with all that cream and maple syrup on the waffles.Today we were going to Cape point,Cape of Good Hope,The Ostrich Farm and Boulders Beach.We started at about 10 am on the way, we stopped at Marks Curio Shop,who are also money changers.One can exchange money here without paperwork and a better rate.I had some dollars with me( 1$ =12.10 Rand) which I changed here.The souvenir is are worth buying cheaper than the malls.Many members from the group bought souvenirs. I stuck to my fridge magnet 🙂 I am not much of a shopper, I buy small mementos as memorabilia.We left the Curio Shop at 11 am and reached the parking lot of Cape Point at 11.30.As we got down from the bus, we were warned about baboons so as a precaution,we kept all our belongings in the backpack.It started drizzling so we took out our rain wear(keep your rain wear handy at all times)On the parapet of the enclosure ,we found these black delightful birds who didn’t shy away from being photographed.These birds are very common here, we also sighted them when we took the cable car for the Table Mountain.
Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park.Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres above the sea and cutting deep into the ocean, provide a spectacular background for the Park’s rich bio-diversity. The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos,comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms.
We took the Flying Dutchman Furnicular also known as the Cape Point Furnicular ride at about 12 pm to the light house.It takes the name from the local legend of the Flying Dutchman Ghost Ship.The line runs from a lower station Cape Point Car park up an incline to the Upper light house.The furnicular leaves every 3 minutes and can accommodate 40 passengers per ride.There are two cars named Nolleth and Thomas.T.Tucker named after the ships lost in the storm.There is a single line, the cars run on electricity.Two way rides for adults is Rands 70, for children the ticket price is Rands 30 and children below 6 years can ride free.
After we alighted from the car we took a flight of steps to reach the Old Light House.The climb to the top is a bit steep but the view is breathless at each stage of the climb.On reaching the lighthouse one is mermerised by the shimmering Atlantic ocean. Cape Point is often mistakenly claimed to be the place where the cold Benguela Current of the Atlantic Ocean and the warm Aghulas Current of the Indian Ocean collide.In fact, the meeting point fluctuates along the southern and south western Cape coast, usually occurring between Cape Aghulas and Cape Point.The two intermingling currents gives the climate of Cape town and its environs Contrary to popular mythology, the meeting point of the currents produces no obvious visual effect,there is no “line in the ocean” where the sea changes colour or looks different in some way. It stopped raining and it was bright and sunny and we found the colours of the oceans different, maybe it was the sunlight creating the illusion.
It was very windy and for me it was difficult to keep my hair in place, so an advice to all you ladies with long hair tie your hair, so that you enjoy the scenery without being bothered of handling your flying hair. 🙂
We took many photographs near the light house also of the beautiful Atlantic ocean.
After soaking in the beautiful scenery and filling our lungs with fresh mountain air it was time to head to our next destination ie Cape of Good Hope.We left Cape Point around 2.15 pm and reached at about 2.30 pm Cape of Good Hope for a very brief stop we were there for about half an hour.
The Cape of Good Hope is a narrow, rocky piece of land that juts out into the South Atlantic Ocean, found in South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. The Cape of Good Hope is part of the Table Mountain National Park, and contrary to popular belief, is not actually the southernmost point of Africa, as that title goes to Cape Agulhas.‘The Cape of Good Hope’ is also known simply as “The Cape “and is known in Afrikaans a “kaap die Goeie Hoop” Cape of Good Hope is regarded as particularly important by many sailors, as it is used as a reference point when sailing to Australia or East Asia. Bartolomeu Dias, an explorer from Portugal, was the first known person from Europe to discover the Cape of Good Hope, doing so in 1488, and named it ‘Cape of Storms’. John II of Portugal, the king who commissioned the initial expedition, renamed it to “Cape of Good Hope so as to portray a more positive perspective on sailing to India.We took lots of photos in front of the board displaying “The Cape of Good Hope”.
There were many tourists and it was impossible to get a photograph alone at the iconic spot. As we didnt have much time and after waiting for some time decided to have one with others standing.We also climbed the near by hill.The view of the Ocean was breathtaking and we didn’t feel like coming back.After a little chiding from the Tour Manager, as we were getting late for lunch,we got back to the bus. We reached about 3 pm to a beautiful seaside restaurant known as the “Galley”
The fish and chips was a great hit.After a satisfying lunch we headed to the last sojourn of the day ie the Boulders Beach to have a date with penguins.
Boulders Beach is a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders, from which the name originated. It is located in the Cape Peninsula, near Simons Town towards Cape point near Cape Town in the Western cape Province of south Africa. It is also commonly known as Boulders Bay.It is a popular tourist stop because of a colony of African penguins which settled there in 1982.
Boulders Beach forms part of the Table mountain National Park.These penguins are also called jackass Penguins because of a donkey like sound they emit.The story of this penguin colony in Cape Town started in 1983 when a pair was spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders.The birds came to False Bay from Dyer Island.
From a pair of them now there are close to 3000 of these beauties.However, almost three decades later, Boulders Beach penguins are in trouble. Cars, people and competition for breeding sites has seen the penguins trying to nest in unsafe environments, leaving their nests exposed to both predators and the elements. Climate change has also affected fish stocks(food for these penguins) and severe weather incidences have depleted penguin chick numbers.Nearly 60,000 tourists visit this place every year.Thanks to tourism the money collected is used for the conservation of the place and the birds.The best time to visit is between 9 am – 5 pm and the ticket price for viewing the penguins is Rands 40.
We had to walk for a km or two since vehicles are prohibited to the beach. As we walked we admired beautiful houses with manicured lawns and beautiful flowers.There is a wooden walkway which is wheel chair friendly,we shrieked with delight when we found these tuxedoed black and white birds waddling around.
Near the entrance we found one of them blissfully sleeping.The flow of tourists didn’t bother it at all as it continued with its afternoon siesta.Then there were the smaller chicks waddling along with their mamas.
A little further and we were delighted to see thousands of them basking in the afternoon sun.Some emitted the braying sound of the donkey.Here you could very closely sight these cute birds.Touching them was prohibited as they might bite you.After taking endless photographs and making videos we headed back to the bus.
We walked about for five minutes when we found at least fifty birds sitting on the seashore some of us ran to have even a closer look of the birds.We were absolutely ecstatic and took selfies with the birds and the sea as the background.
Since this was the last activity of the day we had our fill watching the penguins.The sun was almost setting, sun sets around 5.30 pm here .We reached our hotel and after freshening up we had dinner at an Indian Restaurant called “Mandela Rhodes Place”. After dinner we packed and called it a day as the next day was the long drive to George through the beautiful Garden Route.
We left at 0830 hrs for George on the way we stopped at Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is a university town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. It’s surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountainous nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg.The town’s oak-shaded streets are lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries Cape Dutch architecture gives a sense of South Africa’s Dutch colonial history, as do the Village Museum’s period houses and gardens.The town of Stellenbosch dates back to 1679 and the first vineyards were planted in 1679.The Stellenbosch Wine Route was founded in 1971. It is divided into five sub-routes and is the second-oldest wine producing region in South Africa, world-renowned for its award-winning wines. Stellenbosch feels like the Western Cape’s best kept secret.A European-style town where there are no malls or shopping centres, just high streets where people spill out onto the sidewalks from the boutique stores,wine bars and coffee shops.
We drove through the picturesque driveway lined with maple trees on both sides of the road of Zevenwacht Wine Estate.Touring the estate was not in the itinerary( I would have loved it !!) so we headed to the Wine tasting Centre.The reception had varieties of wines and cheese on display.
Inside the tables were laid out with the wine glasses along with the cheese and crackers.
There was a printed list with the name and the no of the wine.We tasted red and white of two varieties of each. Chardonnay & Chenin Blanc – White, Sauvignon & Merlot – Red.The Wine Sommelier(wine steward) gave us advice to the correct cheese and wine pairing. He also demonstrated the correct way of holding a red and white wine glass.He told us it is customary to smell your drink prior to the first sip as part of the tasting experience. Some wines are too dry for the consumer’s taste due to the tannic acids so swirling the glass draws oxygen from the air into the wine swirling also enhances the smell.We all felt enlightened by the knowledge imparted by the Sommelier.I picked up a bottle of each red(Merlot) and white(Chenin Blanc) and also green cheese to go with it.The white cost Rands 90 and the red cost Rands 60 and the green cheese cost Rands 80.(300 gms).After this interesting interlude, we resumed our journey to George at about 1045 hrs.
We stopped for lunch at Aloe Albertina Coffee Shop.A haven for fast Food lovers. Lunch consisted of a sandwich,slices of Pizza and a Burger with French fries and a cold drink to wash it down.After lunch we resumed our journey to George through the picturesque Garden route.
We reached our hotel in the evening around 6 pm.We were booked in Hotel Oakhurst for the next two days.
It took us roughly six and half hours to reach George.Our Hotel had an ambience of a countryside Inn with modern facilities.After dropping our bags in the room we couldn’t resist ourselves from going for a walk.We loved the wide roads and the greenery around we were in a group so we felt safe, we were later cautioned by the hotel staff not to wander off without informing them particularly at night.Although the journey was long, the picturesque route didn’t make it so tiring as it kept us enthralled through out the journey.
After that refreshing walk we changed for dinner in “Mumbai Café” the only Indian restaurant in the town. After Dinner we all retired to our rooms looking forward to the next days activity.
A Little about George –is a quiet town and here I quote our Guide Alladin “Is a town where the people sleep as soon as the sun sets, and aptly said they sleep with the chickens and get up with the chickens” – is a city in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The city is a popular holiday and conference centre and the administrative,commercial hub and the capital city of the Garden Route.The city is situated halfway between Cape town and Port Elizabeth on the Garden Route.It is situated on a 10- kilometre plateau between the Outenquia Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south.
“George has a city like infrastructure but it doesn’t forget its small town roots.”
Like most towns in South Africa you are struck by the sense of spaciousness in George –You never feel crammed or hemmed in because the streets are wide and the white buildings add to the sense of space and there is colour everywhere with lots of flowers and trees.Much of the town is laid out in city/block fashion east/west and north/South making it very easy to find your way around.The majority of the city people speak Affrikans they also speak English.The town has the largest shopping centre in the Garden Route – the “Garden Route Mall”
We left the hotel at about 9 am for Outdtshoorn where we would we visiting the Cango Caves,Cango Wildlife Ranch and the Ostrich Farm.
Oudtshoorn – The Ostrich capital of the world is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.Two ostrich-feather booms, during 1865-1870 and 1900-1914, truly established the settlement.With approximately 60,000 inhabitants.The town’s economy is primarily reliant on the ostrich farming and tourism industries.Oudtshoorn is home to the world’s largest ostrich population with a number of specialized ostrich breeding farms, such as the Safari Show Farm and the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm.
The Cango Caves are Africa’s largest show caves and one of the Seven Wonders of Southern Africa, which makes the Cango Caves the archaeological and historical highlight of the Klein Karoo.
It lies 29 km from Oudtshoorn in the picturesque Cango Valley and is situated in a limestone ridge that runs parallel to the well-known Swartberg Mountains and here you’ll find the finest drip stone caves, with their massive halls and towering limestone formations in a variety of colours.You can see the best examples of stalactite and stalgamite limestone formations.
It was originally thought to be only about 1 km long, but the caves have been discovered to extend naturally for well over 5 km – however it could be even longer, larger and more mysterious than current estimates. You can visit approximately one-quarter of the entire 5 km system of interlinking tunnels.The rest is closed for conservation purposes.
Experiencing the Cango Caves
Our first stop was the Cango caves an hours drive from the hotel.We reached at about 10 am.We were met by our Guide Johny a very interesting and knowledgeable person.
There are two types of tours- The Heritage Tour and the Adventure Tour. Heritage tour for Adults cost Rands 110 and for children it cost Rands 65.We took the Heritage tour and it took us an hour to finish the tour.As you enter the caves, you’ll be greeted by an instant rush of warm temperature and humidity. The chambers are illuminated, so you won’t miss any of the natural beauty of any of the cave chambers. The lights are switched off every 3 minutes for conservation purpose.It was pitch dark inside the cave as we were asked not to switch on our mobile lights.After a minute the lights are switched on again.
From the entrance, a flight of stairs takes you down to the huge Van Zyl’s Hall, an amazing cave that’s 107 m long, 54 m at its widest and up to 17m in height.We were amazed to see other formations like the 10 m high Cleopatra’s Needle (estimated to be about 150 000 years old), the Organ Pipes, the Ballerina and the Frozen Waterfall.
The guide narrated interesting anecdotes about his experiences with different tourist groups.One such incident was when a lady who is in the heavier side and who took the adventure tour got stuck for 11 hours while traversing through one of the tunnels.One has to squeeze through small tunnels.She was rescued after some soap solutions were released in the tunnel.
The Cango Caves boasts a number of pioneering firsts:
1) It’s South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction. The first tour was conducted in 1891 and it’s been a favourite tourist attraction ever since.
2) It was the first to be protected by environmental legislation. In 1820 Lord Charles Somerset published the first Caves Regulation. It was the first law designed to protect an environmental resource in South Africa. It banned the collection of souvenirs and fined anyone caught damaging the cave’s formations.
3) Is the first to employ a full time tourist guide. Many of the most significant discoveries in the caves were made by its first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar, who served for 43 years, from 1891 until his retirement in 1934. He opened many side chambers and introduced thousands of people to the caves.
4) It’s the first show cave to have a radio communication system that allows the guides to communicate with the outside world via these radios.This means that anything that happens whilst on tour is communicated to the outside and any actions that need to be taken can be done within seconds making the journey even safer and more comfortable.
We finished touring the caves at 12 pm thereafter we proceeded to Cango Wildlife Ranch just 30 minutes from the Cango Cave we first had lunch at a restaurant named “Turtles”.
We were surprised to find jugs of “Chaas” or buttermilk on each table.The menu catered for Jain,Vegetarian and Non vegetarian. It was not an Indian restaurant but the food was cooked to suit Indian palate.The owner of the restaurant came to take our feedback so that she could improve on her preparations.She also showed us the Indian recipe books she uses to cook when catering to Indian Tourists(There are large number of Indian tourists during the peak tourist season).After the delicious lunch we met our guide who took us on a tour of the Ranch. Entrance to the Ranch is Adult Rands 170 and Child Rands 125.
Cango Wildlife Ranch is situated just 3 km outside the picturesque Karoo town of Oudtshoorn offering sanctuary to some of the world’s most endangered species and a haven to visitors. Cango Wildlife Ranch, is the oldest and largest Cheetah contact centre worldwide where you can see and feel a huge variety of animals including Africa’s spotted king, the Cheetah. From the slithering snake to the majestic lion, you will find all you want here. It is is home to a variety of cats such as lion and jaguar.The thrill of Valley of Ancients and Natural Encounters adds a thrill element.Learning about crocodiles is also what makes the Cango Wildlife Ranch one of the most interactive exciting tourist attractions worldwide.The Cango Wildlife Ranch is uniquely designed to comfortably host more than 40 species of animals, giving visitors the opportunity to view and, in some cases, even interact with a variety of endangered animals. At the Cango Wildlife Ranch the well-being and welfare of all animals is paramount in the promotion of conservation ethic to the valued guest(visitor).To achieve these aims, they promote the concept of Natural Encounters between the guest and a number of select ambassador species.
The entrance to the ranch itself is very impressive,you feel as if you are inside the jaws of a massive crocodile.After the group gathered we were met by an enthusiastic and very energetic lady,who would be our guide for the tour.We had to literally run to keep pace with our energetic guide.Our Tour began with Valley of Ancients a journey back in time,a place where you will follow the footsteps of ancient explorers.As we set foot on the bridge it shook violently with sounds of drums reverberating as we walked further we were in a dark alley with all kinds of scary sounds.Here we found animals living in their own environment while still interacting with humans. Our first sight was the tank filled with Malawian cichlids in the Zimbakwe Temple Ruins. Over head we spotted Hornbills and the cutest flying foxes, otherwise known as bats.
We then met Dolce and Gabbana, an African Bush Pig. Dolce is the only breeding male in South Africa, and after Gabbana was rehabilitated following a dog attack, they were introduced and a happy friendship was blossomed.
Moving forward, we said hi to Malcolm and Lyons, two marabau storks They live side by side to two endangered cape vultures nesting against a rugged cliff face.
Next stop is the exotic and unusual Lemur Island, depicting the Madagascan environment. Here, the rare Madagascar Ring-tailed Lemur shares its home with a group of flamingos.The lemurs were playfully swinging and not to be outdone were the beautiful Flamingoes strutting their stuff with their pink plumage.
Pygmy Hippo Village takes us into the heart of Africa to meet Hilda and Herbert, two pygmy hippos. Weighing about 250 kg they aren’t small, and when yawning those teeth look sharp and dangerous. However, according to our guide these hippos have a lot of heart and are cherished by staff and visitors alike.
The spotted neck otter is another African animal to grab the limelight at Otter Waterfall.Playful and friendly we watched a few otters frolic in the cascading waterfall like energetic children.
Since it’s winter the Nile Crocodiles are basically comatose. They are aestivating, which is kind of like hibernating, where they are inactive for long periods of time and they slow down all of their bodily processes.
These terrifying creatures can live between 70 to 100 years and weigh anything between 225 and 550 kilograms!.For the adventurous there is Crocodile cage Diving allowing you to get close with these scary scaly predators.
Cheetah land completes the tour with a raised wooden walkway allowing you to have a birds eye view of sleek hand reared cheetahs, playful white lion cubs, proud adult lions and gorgeous white tigers.
Showcasing many animals from many places around the world, the Congo exhibit is a show stopper, reminding us that Africa too has many unique and exciting animals.After a marathon tour it was time for the much awaited Natural interactions.We bought the tickets for the interactions with the Cheetah.One can interact with Adult Cheetahs,Cubs and lemur.To get up close and personal with the Cheetahs you have to lighten your pockets – Adult Rands 240 and Child Rands 175.
Four people are allowed into the enclosure together, before entering,our hands were sanitised. Bags were not allowed,there are lockers to keep your bags and belongings.We were given instructions like not to talk loudly or disturb the animal in any way,which body parts of the Cheetah can be touched ie the back and head.We should keep our hands off the stomach and the face.Excitedly we entered the enclosure with two trainers and a photographer.The photographer clicked photos from our Camera/Phone and his own Camera.I went first and I was lucky to touch the beautiful spotted Cheetah thrice,The photographer took lots of photos.
The members of the group who did not interact watched us from the raised wooden walkway.We checked the photos clicked by the photographer on the computer kept in the reception.Though they were good the charges were quite high.We were happy with the clicks from our phones.We returned to the bus after our little adventure(Greater adventures were awaiting us at Mosel Bay) Animatedly we narrated our experience to the members who did not participate in this amazing experience.
We now headed to the Highgate Ostrich farm.The Highgate Ostrich Show Farm is an located 10 kilometres south of Oudtshoorn.
This large farm specializes in the breeding of Ostriches and is open to visitors providing specialized information about the various stages of the birds development, also an opportunity to visit young offspring and an ostrich pen.We were met by the guide who first introduced us to the male and female feathers,next he described the anatomy of an Ostrich.He explained how the feathers are harvested.Next we moved into the workshop where we found skilled workers who displayed their skill to make a duster in a minute,We admired the colourful feather boas.Next we visited the showroom where we found beautifully painted Ostrich Eggs and products made out of the eggs like table lamps.
After this we had an exciting time,feeding the Ostrich.
later we experienced some emotional moments holding the chicks.
After this we proceeded to the Ostrich Pen where we found about a dozen of these amazing birds. In the centre was an Ostrich and next to the bird were steps for you to climb,the bird had a seat, kind of a saddle.One by one we sat on the bird and happily took photos with the massive bird.I felt a bit guilty thinking about the poor bird who had to bear the weight of all of us, to give us some moments of thrill.The children in the group rode the birds watching was definitely exciting must have been thrilling to ride the birds.To ride the bird your weight should be less than 60 kgs although many of us qualified but we could not ride as the restriction was only for 8 riders, so to be fair to everyone the tour manager decided that the chance be given to the kiddos..I sure wanted to ride but maybe next time I will travel alone to enjoy the ride.
After an exciting day we reached the hotel at 7 pm, dinner was again in “Mumbai Café”. After dinner we called it a day. Next day was full of adventure and excitement.
Today I felt it was going to be an extraordinary day what with experiencing two adrenalin rushing adventures – Shark cage diving and Sky diving.We had to reach the White Shark Africa office in Mosul Bay at 7 am, it was an hours drive from our hotel in George.We all got into the bus and after collecting our packed breakfast we settled in for the long drive.There were skydivers for the morning slot and 4 of us for Shark Cage Diving.We were booked for the afternoon slot for Skydiving.
Shark Cage Diving – Get Up and Close with White sharks
Great White Sharks have always fascinated humans for various reasons. Perhaps it is their imposing size, their graceful beauty,perfectly adapted to their environment, patrolling our oceans since the beginning of time… Their powerful predatory behaviour instilling pure fear in our hearts… or perhaps it is the mysteries surrounding this spectacular shark that beckons us to come closer and closer…..
The Tour Manager and the Guide dropped us at the Office of White Shark Africa.White Shark Africa is a world leading shark cage diving, filming and conservation company.They are the ONLY cage diving permit holder in the Mossel Bay area. Cage diving is the best way to view White Sharks with the least amount of human interaction.
The activity cost is Rands 1750 with breakfast.After collecting our passes,we were briefed and a short film was shown to us regarding the activity.We were instructed to wear swim wear or shorts so that we could get into the wet suits easily.(Don’t forget to carry a change of clothes and other essentials like a body lotion and comb).We were also asked to carry our passport since we were entering the harbour and the police might check.After a nutritious light breakfast.I limited myself to the delicious fruits like Plums,Avocado,Kiwis,Srawberries,Raspberries & Dates(I have never eaten a sweeter kiwi than the ones I ate here) the breakfast was not very lavish there were sandwiches,cup cakes and chocolates along with tea and coffee.Later we all walked to the Boat that was going to take us to kleinbaik harbour.There were 16 participants and there were also kiddos who accompanied their parents.They remained in the deck looked after by the other participants while the parents got up and close with the sharks.The boat anchored at Dyer Island and Shark Alley.
There is a seal island close by where hundreds of seals were lazing around.After anchoring the leader and his associates threw baits which happened to be a huge tuna head and chicken blood(Blood attracts sharks).A black cloth was tied to a big stick and was being dipped in the water.On asking the leader he told us this gives the shadow of a seal.(Sharks hunt seals) After 15 minutes the first shark was sighted and slowly more joined in.The first group wore their wet suits and were lowered in the cage.(The Cage was already in the water).Instructions on how to hold the cage and where to put your foot was already given to the participants.
Inside the Cage
While the ones who were down were enjoying their encounters, we from the top could also see them but not so closely.After fifteen minutes they were out and it was time for the next six to go in. I was in the second slot of the cage as I lowered my body in the water I almost screamed as the water was very cold.(Its winter here,water must have been about 5 – 6 degree.You have to put your entire body inside the water except the head,when the instructions are given heads down, you have to put your head inside the water and OMG they are just next to you touching the cage(You can actually touch them but its forbidden, if you are caught doing so you will be pulled out immediately).The cameras are inside the water filming everything and another person monitors on the computer.We dipped our head and turned left and right according to the instructions and once we saw three of these majestic creatures together it was such magnificent sight !! . A bigger Shark lunged towards the bait and finally took the bait to relish it.Deserved it !.
The Shark taking the bait excellently shot by Dr Jain
Some amazing shots of the encounter were clicked by Dr Jain who was in the first batch and was watching from the top(a member of our group)As we were wearing goggles which was covering our nose we had to breathe from our mouths,while breathing most of us gulped the salty water.The salty water made some of the ladies nauseous.We also waved for the camera.In between we were asked if we were okay and though I was shivering and my teeth chattering I yelled “Yes”. I wanted to continue watching these fascinating creatures.All good things come to an end and it was time to come out.We quickly changed and had some juice and chips.After the last batch of participants finished we headed back to the shore and then to their office.Unfortunately due to some net connectivity problem we could not view the video, so the video was sent on our email.The quality of the video was not good so I didn’t pay(Rands 350) and download it.The time taken for the activity was 3 hours.We were in the boat at 8 am and reached back at 11 am.The bus picked us up at 12 pm.The Sky diving was scheduled at 1 pm. Meanwhile the members who were not into adventure got a chance to see the museum and shop at the Mall.Two kids from the group proceeded to do the Canopy/zipline and two girls went for the daring Bungy Jumping.The location for these activities is a three hour drive from Mosul bay so they hired a cab and after a fantastic experience returned to the hotel in the evening.We were dropped at the Sky diving Venue at 1 pm.
Sky Diving – Be in the Clouds and feel like a Bird
We were booked for Tandem Sky Diving. Tandem skydiving or tandem parachuting refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected to a harness attached to a tandem instructor.The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through free fall, piloting the canopy, and landing.
After we were dropped at the skydiving Office we had to complete the necessary formalities like filling in the details like height,weight etc and later we had to sign the indemnity bond.As soon as the registrations were done,we got into our jump suits and the entire group was given instructions.There are three steps for the jump.
- When you reach the door cross your hand over your chest and put your legs out
- The position to be taken during free fall(Take the Banana position ie chest out legs folded at the back touching your Bums.
- While landing you have to put both your legs up basically to give room to your instructor to land.
We found our names along with the instructor on the screen.My instructor was Gerald a muscular guy with big tattoos on both arms.He took a video recording asking my name and other small talk.Later he put the harness on me and once again revised the steps.He was so reassuring that I was immediately comfortable and the doubts had immediately vanished.We were waiting for our turn when the weather became bad and it was announced that the activity might get cancelled.Disappointed we sat down,but I think I was destined to do this, the weather improved and soon we were inside the plane..
Its a twelve seater plane, as soon as we got in Gerald attached the harness to himself and put the Flexi goggles on my eyes.Now we were like conjoined twins and had to walk like penguins to the plane door.Shouts and screams and pumping up the adrenalin- that was the mood in th plane.It took about 20 mins in The Cessna 182 to reach 10000 feet.We flew over the scenic Mosul Bay and had a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Outeniqua mountains and beautiful beaches! But I am sure all of us were thinking about the jump ! and didn’t notice the breathtaking views.
When Gerald yelled “Are you ready Reena ?” I yelled “Yes”( There was lot of noise of the plane) but my heart was hammering so fast I could almost hear it.He told me we are going to jump in two seconds,I had prepared myself mentally but when I reached the door that second, before jumping I felt like running away but you cant you are harnessed.When the cold air hit my face I said to myself this is it and I jumped effortlessly and took the banana position,the fear that I felt I left in the plane.I felt as if I was sucked into a vacuum, and I was falling at about 200-240 kph for about 50 secs My hair was flying and my clothes were flapping and I felt as if my skin was quivering.The thrill and excitement of the free fall is indescribable.After the parachute opens its all so quiet. I was so engrossed with the experience that the instructor tapped me twice, now we could leave our hands and I felt like a bird,Gerald told me to look at the left as the cameras were on the left.I told Gerald how much I was enjoying as soon as I told him he took me in a roller coaster, spinning and stalling.It was mind boggling I saw lush greenery down and houses which looked so tiny.
Enjoying the Spins
After enjoying the spins Gerald told me we will soon be landing and he would tap me to take the position.
As soon as he tapped I took my position ie putting my legs forward,and in no time we landed.The Landing was so smooth I was expecting a jolt.
That is the way a skilled and experienced instructor lands you.It took about 7 minutes for the parachute to come down So the total experience was of roughly eight minutes.After landing there was another video recording of my experience I told him how much I enjoyed and that this one is ticked off my bucket list.He removed the harness and after thanking him I made my way back with a lifetime experience.The Tour manager collected the certificates and the photos and videos were emailed to us.The cost of the activity with video is Rands 3600.Every penny worth it !
When I sat in the bus I realised I had skipped lunch and had a very light breakfast, but I didn’t have much appetite I nibbled at my packed breakfast which I had left in the bus.I had noticed a woman eating from the dustbin near our hotel and realised there is poverty here too.I didn’t want to throw the packet so I asked the driver if I could give it someone he called out to a man and the man accepted it gratefully.After reaching the hotel I had a good soak in the bathtub washed my hair as it was a total mess and was ready for dinner at Mumbai Café.After dinner a small get together was organised at the lounge of the hotel where most of the group members enjoyed wine and danced.For me I hit the bed as it had been a long day.The next morning we were flying to Johanesberg.
It was a two hour flight from George to Johanesberg,the last leg of our tour.We landed at 12 pm at OR Tambo International Airport,Johanesberg.Our guide for the day was waiting for us outside the Airport.After our bags were loaded in the bus and after we were comfortably seated the city tour of Johanesberg started.
Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement. Its sprawling Soweto township was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s former residence is now the Mandela House museum. Other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation include the somber Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex.
Our First stop was Nelson Mandela’s home,12th avenue, Houghton estate,Gauteng.We could only take pictures from outside and admire the beautiful trees on both sides of the road.After this we passed by many important buidings and the bustling local market which looked like the crowded markets of Mumbai.On the pavements were hawkers hawking their goods.Another similarity I noticed were the hawkers selling their goods at signals.There were colourful stalls selling street food.Our next stop was the Constitutional Court a former prison complex.
The Constitutional Court
The Constitutional Court of South Africa is a supreme constitutional court established by the Constitution of South Africa. It was originally the final appellate court for constitutional matters.
We toured the court took some pictures, we also saw the miniature version of the Nelson Mandela sculpture
The larger version is in Durban, the work is made from 50 steel charcoal columns that create Mandela’s head when viewed from a certain angle. The front of the sculpture is a portrait of Mandela, it has vertical bars which represent his imprisonment,” said Cianfanelli. – the creator of the Sculpture.We collected a copy of the constitution book while making our way out of the court.We also visited the infamous prison no 4 where the black prisoners were imprisoned.This is the prison where Gandhiji and Nelson Mandela were imprisoned.We also saw the prison where the white prisonor’s had a comfortable stay.It had happened to be Africa Day so there were preparations for celebrations in the evening.
It was now time to have lunch and we had a delicious lunch in Tawha an Indian restaurant.After lunch we continued with the city tour.Our last stop for the day was Gandhiji’s Statute in Gandhi Square.
It was indeed an emotional moment for us Indians to take a photograph with the father of the Nation.
At around 5 pm we checked in Hotel Aviator which was in the Airport complex.While waiting for dinner in the lounge we found many groups from different parts of the continent had come to participate in the programme organised by Arts and culture department of South Africa as part of Africa Day Celebrations.We took some photographs with the participants.Later we proceeded to have dinner at Emperor’s Palace of Dreams.The Emperors Palace is conveniently located alongside O.R. Tambo International Airport.The resort is a combination of timeless elegance and pure excitement.
Emperors Palace caters to every whim with luxurious accommodation in four matchless hotels, a superb health and beauty spa, an outstanding casino, the finest dining options, world-class conference facilities and spectacular entertainment choices.We had dinner at “Taste of Mumbai” after dinner we browsed at the many shops and Casinos.
Some members again tried their luck and they were lucky 🙂 Today was the last day so we decided to click a group photo.
After dinner when we returned to the Hotel we found the Africa Day Celebrations was still going on in the hotel. We were standing and watching when we were invited to take a seat.Some members joined in the energetic dancing.
After having a peek into African culture and dance we chatted for sometime as it was the last day of the trip,thereafter we headed to our rooms.It was now time to do our final packing.
Our flight was at 1345 hrs since we were in the airport complex there are shuttles available we took the one at 0945 and reached at 1000 hrs.After checking in we browsed and shopped in the duty free shops.The flight was in time we landed at 2045 at Sechelles,our connecting flight was at 2210.We landed on time in Mumbai at 0415 hrs AND bidded farewell to our new friends after a very adventurous trip and memories to cherish.I reached home at 0630 hours with a hot cuppa narrated my wonderful experience to my family members.I thank Seventh Sky Tours and Travels for an excellent itinerary, Alladin and his wife Washeela and Mr Jameel for providing valuable guidance and assistance during the tour.
I ‘d rather look back at my life and say “I can’t believe I did that” , than say “I wish I did that”
Tips to travel
- Carry woollens if you are travelling during winters
- Rainwear as the weather changes very fast
- Pack essentials not your entire wardrobe,its good to travel Light
- Ready to eat snacks as sometimes you may have to travel for long hours
- Carry a smile and give a lease to your adventurous side as this is the place to enjoy adventures which is less expensive compared to other countries.