What do people who know every corner of South Africa have to say about it?
Namaste South Africa founder Subhash Motwani has visited South Africa on a few occasions. Here are extracts of his interaction with someone interested in visiting South Africa. If you are planning to visit South Africa, you’ll get a few ideas…
What is so amazing about South Africa?
South Africa was closed to the world since 1991 you see, and so your expectations are unpredictable. That’s why it is so exciting to explore. There’s some wildlife in South Africa that you cannot see anywhere else. There are amazing cities, and hospitable, friendly people. There is Johannesburg – where people generally fly in, when they fly into South Africa. Around Jo’burg there are national parks, and game reserves. Just three hours drive from Jo’burg is Sun City – the Vegas of Africa. It’s a fantastic place to go with your family or on a honey moon – because there is an entire complex full of interesting experiences. There is a beach right inside Sun City and there’s a water park called the Valley of Waves. And very near Sun City is Pilansberg, you can even spot the big five of wildlife! Pilansberg is a malaria free zone and even has hot air ballooning facilities. Then there’s Cape Town- one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Very few cities have a mountain and the sea next to each other. Rio de Janeiro is the other city I know of which has this unique combination. Stunning beaches, loads of history – because of the apartheid regime and I have not even talked of the garden route…I want to keep talking but I’ll stop and say – read the travel diaries here – to further savour the aroma of South Africa!
South Africa sounds interesting. Now suppose I do want to go to South Africa– what is the best time to visit?
You are going to the southern hemisphere and India is in the northern hemisphere – so the weather there is exactly the opposite of the weather here. In December and January, we have winter (hardly any winter in Mumbai ) it’s summer in South Africa. The good thing is that it doesn’t get extremely hot because of its strategic location at the tip of the African Continent. There are many cities on the sea front, and Johannesburg – though not on the sea front is also cool because it is located at a higher altitude. I will say, January and February are perfect for visiting South Africa. You can experience ambient temperature until July. In August, it does get cold, and the September and October are pleasant again. It’s a nice place to visit during the time we have summer holidays here in India. Of course, this year, going to South Africa in June can be expensive because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ah! Football fever. There’s hardly 6 months left for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. What’s your favorite team?
In most world cups, there is some European or South American team dominating the scene. Amongst South American teams, I like Argentina and Brazil for their flair- and amongst the European teams, Germany and Spain seem to be exciting.
But Subhash, which will win?
(Smiles) Of course, the team which is good on that day will win! It’s too early – you are asking me this in January. Whichever team has the momentum and confidence at that time will win. Because Brazil and Argentina can be good on any day even though Argentina didn’t have a cakewalk entry into the world cup. Italy being the defending team can also win. Of course Germany and Spain are there too!
What’s really different about Namaste South Africa?
Most Indians like to visit Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia etc Now these are of course wonderful destinations, but I think there are also other interesting and relatively unexplored places like South Africa that offer fascinating experiences! The concept of Namaste is telling people about these fascinating places, drawing them into the magic of the place, and parallely providing them with the warm and caring ambience characteristic of India.
Namaste South Africa is about showing Indians the wonderful places in South Africa, asking them to delve deep into it…And then providing them with warm, customized packages for the places they like.
I read your travel diaries where you wrote about your interesting experiences in South Africa. Tell me one interesting experience that you had in South Africa.
One of the most interesting experiences in recent times was going to see the Miss World Pageant in Johannesburg! I mean, it is something you see on TV right? In reality, it looks different. But witnessing this award ceremony for the most beautiful woman in the world – was an enriching experience.
Another interesting experience I had was listening to the apartheid-stories of the pre-apartheid days. When I visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent a huge chunk of his time in prison, and the Apartheid Museum, I couldn’t help being moved by the struggle against racial discrimination that took place here. I had a chat with a person who fought apartheid– which you can read here.
I think, whenever you visit a country, it is fine to visit Bollywood locations and stunning beaches as most of us do, but knowing the history of the country, experiencing the conditions the country faced in the past as it evolved – can give you a small inlet into the soul of the country…And that is a different experience.
Most of us know about the magic of Cape Town Subhash, and that South Africa is heaven for someone interested in spotting wildlife. But tell me, are there any interesting places, which most of us don’t know about?
There are lots of such places. Close to Johannesburg – you can pet a lion cub. That’s nice. Then close to Cape Town, you can pet a cheetah! Along the garden route, you can feed an ostrich in the ostrich farms there.
You can ride an ostrich also right? I saw some pictures of people doing it.
Well, I like animals and I wouldn’t do that.
Whale watching is also interesting. Then there is shark cage diving where they put you in a cage and you descend down in the water at a finger’s distance from real sharks! And did you know that the highest bungee jumping site in the world is in South Africa? Then there are one of the most luxurious resorts in the world here – places where you can have a personal beach and play golf next to the sea! Another fascinating thing to do – is to watch a cricket match in South Africa if it’s happening during your trip. The ambience is different, and the atmosphere is relaxed – but cricket is cricket….
Another thing. How far in advance should you plan a trip to South Africa? How much time does the visa proceeding and all take?
A minimum of 4 weeks of planning is necessary, I feel. It will take 5 days for the visa to be processed. Also, the earlier you book, the better air-ticket deals you get.
And are there other countries you can combine with South Africa?
Well, one must-visit place is Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you have your flight connection via Dubai, Nairobi or Cairo, you could stay at these places for a day and have a historical and wildlife based experience en-route to South Africa. For first time visitors, I would recommend visiting South Africa on its own combining it with only Victoria Falls. Repeat visitors could combine South Africa with Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius. All these countries are well connected from Johannesburg.
So well, if I am this guy who wants to have an amazing holiday but is still deciding where to go – what’ll you say to me?
If you have the budget, I’d say go to South Africa. Take 10-15 days off – those many days are required to do justice to the country. Expect the unexpected. Other people who have visited the place may tell you “This is WOW, or that is WOW!” But this I will tell you, when you see South Africa with your own eyes, you’ll definitely comeback with new experiences no one had told you about. In fact when you come back, you might end up thinking – ‘When shall I go again?”
I am already excited. “If you have the budget”, you said. What’s the budget required?
If you can go backpacking, 100-150 dollars a day is enough. But then there are 1000 dollars a day experiences too!
It’s upto you. However – I’d say Rs 6000/7000 a day is the starting point.
Your budget must of course be over Rs 1 lakh to be fair with a destination 8 hours 15 minutes away from India.
Hmm. So that was Namaste Founder and Fundi ( An expert on South Africa) Subhash. Doesn’t South Africa sound exciting – at least something you can think about?
We also interviewed the South African Consul General asking her what she thought of the 2010 World Cup, Bollywood and South Africa’s hidden attractions!
Talking about South Africa is difficult without mentioning wildlife. With the big 5 animals, and the Kruger national park – there’s too much you can’t miss. Here’s a chit-chat with the Giju Varghese , Head- Business Development South African National Parks.
|The key man of South African National Parks talk about how his passion for nature lead to his working for South African National parks and more…|
Subhash went on a game drive, and there he caught up with a game ranger. What’s the life of a game ranger in South Africa who lives amongst the wild like?
|A day in the life of a game ranger.|
Apartheid marred South Africa for a long long time. A survivor of those times is Noor Ibrahim who founded the famous district six museum to remember the lives of the people who fought hard against apartheid.
|The founder of the district six museum tells us about the black days of apartheid and his own touching story.|
No matter what you’re thinking, isn’t South Africa interesting? Call us, and we can discuss more.