ATQnews.com joined the delegates from Nigeria and Ghana media, Travel Agents and Tour Operators who were invited to participate in this year’s SA Specialist Hosting. This trip was to give us the opportunity to discover the splendour, fascinating cultures and traditions of South Africa and its people.
Day 1: Arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at 5:10am & 6:20am respectively
We had a safe landing at the OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, with this aroma of welcome to an experience; you can feel it in the air that something great is cooking. A quick introduction was done between Nigerians and Ghanaian tour operators and journalists. Here is Sonto Mbonambi with her team Samke Lorain and Seghiti. Sonto in South Africa actually means Sunday, wow…I have a name sake now, when next you see me just call me Sonto and I will answer you.
Quickly we gathered for a group photo with the statue of late ANC president Oliver Tambo. This statue at OR Tambo International Airport shows his return to South Africa after 30 years in exile.
Tambo, an anti-apartheid activist, was the African National Congress’s first president, serving in the position from 1967 to 1991. He died on 24 April 1993. Tambo would had celebrated his 102nd birthday this year, on 27 October. The statue was part of the OR Tambo centenary celebrations that are being held across the country under the theme “Life and Legacy of OR Tambo”. The 2.5m statue stands in the International Arrivals section of the airport. It depicts Tambo’s arrival at the airport after 30 years in exile. It shows Tambo stepping down from the last two steps of an aeroplane, waving with his left hand; in his right he holds a briefcase.
After much photos (selfies) we all converge at the bus station for take-off to Mount Grace Country House & Spa.
After a long drive from OR Tambo International Airport, we had our first stop at The Maslow Hotel for breakfast “oh yes I mean our first stop for breakfast”, before leaving for our destination.
Woo, this is Didier Bayeye – Market Manager for Africa & Indian Oceans at Sun International, a South African turned Nigerian, we hugged and the next thing he says was “You owe me so many pictures from Akwaaba African Travel Market”, …you are right sir, I respond.
This Maslow hotel is a 4 star hotel and it offers the best facilities for travellers of all types. As one of the ultimate business hotels in Sandton, Johannesburg, located in the central business district of Sandton, the Maslow Hotel, Sandton is 10 minutes’ walk from Nelson Mandela Square and Sandton City Mall. This hotel is a four-star hotel aimed towards business travellers looking for accommodation in Johannesburg.
African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa
Oh Mount Grace, this hotel brings me closer to nature, right from the entrance of the hotel, I love the greenish grass floor and trees giving me this chilled weather deep down to my skin with chirping sounds from Crickets.
We were spoiled in this amazing luxury of time where we relax, recharge and rejuvenate at this award-winning Mount Grace spa. I am not a spa fan though, when others were running to the spa, I was busy catching little sleep in my room before the call for dinner.
Mount Grace is settled in a charming country setting with views of the Magaliesburg Mountains, African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa, Signature Collection is a peaceful and comfortable departure.
Mount Grace Country House offers guests timeless hospitality and soothing spa treatments in their beautiful spa. … This Gauteng spa in the Magaliesburg Mountains is just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg making it perfect for a weekend retreat.
The spa has 18 treatment rooms and offers over 15 different facials, body wraps and massage treatments. As a relaxing harbour the spa focuses on providing guests a place where they can relax.
Day 2: Adventure, History & Tourist Attraction
I have only slept for few hours and the rays from the early morning sun crept into my room, oh my God I have over slept, without much ado I quickly dashed to the bathroom for a shower.
While getting ready I glanced through my phone to check the clock. This is 6:30am, I opened the window blinds and checked the time again. This is South Africa in long day and short night. This level of brightness in Nigeria is like 8:00am. To explore this moment I visit the restaurant for my breakfast and to my amazement everything is set.
First Stop – Sterfontein Caves where life began
Sterkfontein is a set of limestone caves of special interest to Paleo-anthropologists located in Gauteng province, about 40 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Muldersdrift area close to the town of Krugersdorp. Within the Sterkfontein Caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. It represents one of the world’s richest fossil sites.
In late 1890s gold miners dynamited the Sterkfontein caves in search of limestone which they converted into the quick lime required for processing gold. In year 2000, Sterkfontein Caves was declared World Heritage Site.
The tour of the Sterkfontein Caves start above ground and then takes us deep into the caves; lots of history behind this caves.
The activities in these Caves runs every half an hour and seven days a week.
We had our stop for lunch break at Maropeng Hotel, after much climbing and crawling through little holes that only a three years old child could walk though, I bet you this lunch is very much needed to regain our strength before visiting the Cradle of Humankind Museum.
The Cradle of Humankind, this is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng, according to science it is celebrated as the place where humankind originated. It is here that the first hominid, Australopithecus, was found in 1924 at Taung in the North West Province by Professor Raymond Dart of the University of the Witwatersrand. And is one of the major tourist attractions in South Africa.
The Cradle of Humankind area boasts 13 excavation sites that are recognised as national heritage sites, both internationally and by the South African Heritage Resources Agency. For those wanting to experience the birthplace of humankind first hand, the official visitor centres for the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves, are within an easy hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
After listening to our tour guides of Sterkfontein Caves and the Cradle of Humankind, I begin to love history again…this guys are vast in this South Africa history thing.
Lots of experience in the Museum e.g., the unforgettable underground boat ride, games and many more.
The day was wrapped up with a dinner at Askari Game Lodge & Spa, located on the Plumari Africa Game Reserve in the Magaliesberg. Nice meals, drinks, this people “South African Tourism” can kill someone with fun and food. This is a conclusion of the saying “all work and no play”, I think we have worked hard for the day and this dinner is to revitalize the body system…let me come and be going to my bed.
See you guys tomorrow
Day 3: Zip Line at Guateng, Ama Swing Swing Zip Lines
Our first adventure for day three was Zip Line; wao! I have longed waited for this experience, I have seen this so many times only in pictures and videos, but was really going to have a feel of it.
The adventure begins with groupings of 7 or 8 persons in a group to make four different groups. With a short briefing about what we are about to embark on and signing of indemnity form (at this point I was scared) before wearing our gear and marching out to the first Zip Line stand.
We made 7 different slides with different heights of the Zip Line measuring 2m to 14m and it all comes with different experiences. Adventure in South Africa is something you must look forward to if you are a lover of tourism. It was a fun, fun all the way.
Just after the breath taking Zipline experience, we settled down for another yummy and tasteful lunch at The Windmill Restaurant, Hartebeespoort.
Seafood is served, yummy! Yummy!!
This is serious, I have never had a seafood meal this irresistible, and I had to use my fingers instead of the cutleries. The prawn was just right on point, the potato chips I made sure not a stick is left and the fish I did the best justice to it; I was glad I used my fingers from the start.
No forming here at all oh.
…I think am ready for the next phase in this trip….. Thank You South African Tourism for this great experience.
We have had a great feel of food and attractions that Johannesburg has in stock for me, yes I don’t feel like leaving, but necessity is laid on us to leave, Cape Town is calling on me.
We touched down in Cape Town, the Mother City to continue the adventure and the taste of it delicacies.
Window seating has been my best slot whenever I am travelling, just to capture moments like this. A view of Cape Town from the Aircraft window.
Day 4: Our Advent into Cape Town the Mother City
Our Advent into Cape Town the Mother City was a dream I have been looking forward to come true. This city I must confess has this thing I tag the “sexy look”, yes it’s so captivating with nice structures painted in white and lovely roads. A little introduction of our Tour guide Mr Jerry Matthew who gave brief history lesson about Cape Town, my eyes are glued to the edifices yet my ears belongs to Mr. Jerry who goes on and on about Cape Town; he has a great knowledge of The Mother City.
Straight we drove to Big Wheel V & A Water Front for a soft cruise. It’s a 40-meter observation wheel featuring 30 air-conditioned, enclosed cabins for sweeping views, giant observation wheel that offers a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of Cape Town, and the surrounding area from the vibrant.
There is a whole lot of activities going on here, tourism is a BIG GAME in South Africa, I can imagine the amount of cash coming out from Big Wheel; Paparazzi everywhere, it’s an experience having to ride inside it and then we settle for another Seafood lunch before taking off to our destination.
Finally here comes Cape Town Marriot Hotel Crystal Towers, I can see, Touch and feel the sexiness of this hotel. I have slept in many international hotels but the sophisticated touch of this hotel rooms are out of this world.
While am yet adoring my room with selfie pics there comes the call for dinner with a surprise from South African Tourism, we were driven to a Nigerian Restaurant (whao) where we can eat our long desired meals (Nigeria Dishes), you can imagine the next thing we all did (a shout of amazement) hailing our host.
Tomorrow holds a lot for us in Cape Town, our mother land according to Jerry Matthew our Tour guide..
Day 5: Into The Wine Land
Wine Tasting! Wine Tasting!! Wine Tasting!!! Live in Cape Town
It was a day to taste the wines from the masters, South Africa is known as one of the countries producing the best wines in the world. We drove down to Franschhoek Winelands where we tasted 7 different types of wines: Brut, Belle Rose, Ratafia, Chenin, Rose, Moscato and Zinfandel.
At this point I had to apply the method I once heard from my boss (Mr. Ikechi Uko) about how one can sample lots of wine but won’t get drunk. Ummmm I think someone wants to hear, (ahahahaha) any way the wines tasted very great.
Yeah the trick worked, i did not get drunk neither did anyone in the group. It was wine tasting by the way and not drinking to stupor. We also had a tour of the vineyards…yes if you can recall that type of vineyards the Holy Bible talked about. It was just exactly the same, South Africa, South Africa…Cape Town, now i know why you are called the Mother City, the originality of everything about South Africa came from you, you hold a lot to make me come back here again…These memories will last forever in me.
We closed the day with a dinner at Southern Sun which happens to be one of my favourite hotel brands in Lagos. We did a facility tour of the Cape Town hotel.
Day 6: Action Adventure, Family Activities, Wine & Dine.
We have a surprise for you was the wakeup call from our host. Hmmm the last time I heard about a surprise was when we were taken to a Nigerian Restaurant in South Africa.
This time I wondered what the surprise will be. I soliloquised then I dashed out of my Sexy Room to join the others in the bus.
We were driven straight to City Sight Seeing Cape Town….(Hop On – Hop Off) was written on each of the double decker buses and these caught my attention. Where is my camera? I asked no one in particular.
After much city sight-seeing, we settled for a cool Picnic Lunch at Muizenberg Beach, where we had some fun at this historic beach.
Muizenberg is a beach-side suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. It is situated where the shore of the Cape Peninsula curves round to the east on the False Bay coast. It is considered to be the birthplace of surfing in South Africa and is currently home to a surfing community, centered on the popular ‘Surfer’s Corner’. This is a small town outside Cape Town and one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. A largely untapped tourist spot.
Day 7: A visit to The Table Mountain
My long awaited number 1 tourist attraction to visit in South Africa finally came through after two failed attempts because of the weather. I am talking about the Table Mountain.
This is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to get to the top. The Last time I saw a cable car like this was in Obudu Mountain resort, Cross River State. This Table Mountain i was told is the most iconic landmark of South Africa and it is in Cape Town the Mother City.
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park.
It is the most iconic landmark of South Africa. It is also the country’s most photographed attraction and its famous cable car took millions of people to its top. It is much more than a scenic photograph background or a place from where you can take a breathtaking photo of Cape Town.
Getting to the top of it gave me the best views of the city, from there I could see the Basket Stadium, and this view is amazing, am talking about the New 7 natural Wonders of the World. From this Mountain you have a view of the Robben Island where the eminent Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for years.
We had to take some amazing life time photos, please these photos are not Photoshoped, they are real photos.
A call to go, “really!!! Do I want to leave” if you ask me; I don’t want to go, but hmmmm I don’t want to be deported, let me come and be going.
We drove to another area of Cape Town, Bo-Kaap; it is formerly known as the Malay Quarter in South Africa. Bo-Kaap is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town. It may be one of the most photographed areas of the Mother City, but brightly painted houses and quaint cobbled streets aren’t the only reasons to visit the Bo Kaap. Bo-Kaap was for decades the home of Muslim and oldest mosque in South Africa is found in Bo-Kaap.
While in Cape Town, make it a duty to visit Bo-Kaap.
Day 8: What a Happy Ending on Harley Davidson Motorcycles
The straight way of getting to the airport was far beyond our comprehension; coming of Marriot Hotel and we were greeted by these 27 Power Bikes from Harley Davidson Motorcycles. South African Tourism (SAT) really want us to have this experience to the full; Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa decided to make the “icing on the cake” very experiential.
While we enjoy a splendid airport arrival on Harley Davidson Motor Cycles, our luggage would go by the bus, it was indeed a beautiful and awesome experience! This is another first know-how for me!
To my charming and sexy room in Marriot Hotel, to all my SAGHANERIAN (South Africa-Ghana-Nigeria) friends; I can’t start mentioning names now; it was fun having to meet with you all.
Its does not end here my SAGHANERIANS, the networking and selling of South Africa continues – Let’s stay in touch.
South Africa, I am not saying goodbye…noooo not at all, I am definitely going to see you very soon
By Sunday Onen, Atqnews.com