My Durban & Mpumalanga Experience With South Africa Tourism – Part 2

While in South Africa to explore their tourism attraction sites, I shared part of my experience and promised to give you the concluding part of the awesome experience this week.

Here we go! But before I proceed, let me make a quick correction from last week’s write –up. There was a mix up with the Mandela Capture Site. I start this piece with my experience at the Mandela Capture Site in Howick. There is more to be said about it.

The Mandela Capture Site

It is quite a distance from Durban to Howick where the Mandela Capture Site is located. It was an hour drive from where our hotel is located.

You know how it feels like travelling to a place for the first time; you always feel it’s far. However, our tour guide named Sbu said it’s a stone throw away prior to our visit.

Now we arrived at the venue – I mean the exact spot that Nelson Mandela was captured several years ago and kept away from the public for 27 years.

As narrated by our tour guide at the site, Ayanda, prior to Mandela’s arrest on August 5, 1962, the then South African apartheid government had unsuccessfully tried to arrest him for 17 months.

What was his crime? He helped in organising the mass industrial action by Africans in May 1961 to protest against apartheid and the proclamation of South Africa as a republic.

My understanding was that, Nelson Mandela was courageous to have hidden himself from the apartheid police for several months. This earned him the nickname, ‘Black Pimpernel’.

As it is said, every day for the thief man and one day for the master, luck, however, eluded him and on August 5, 1962 – two decades before I was born, the later first black President of South Africa was arrested.

On that fateful Sunday, Nelson Mandela’s life changed. He was arrested in Howick in KwaZula-Natal posing as a chauffeur with fellow comrade, Cecil Williams in the passenger seat. After series of trials, he was sentenced to prison for 27 years.

To mark and celebrate the 50th anniversary of his incarceration in 2012, an impressive steel sculpture and a centre was established to give credence to the historical significance of the spot.

The sculpture was designed by Marco Cianfanelli with 50 poles to symbolise the 50th Anniversary of his arrest in Howick KwaZulu-Natal.

Canelands Beach Club

After that memorable experience at the Mandela Capture Site, our next stop was the Canelands Beach Club. Also about 30 minutes drive from our hotel. It’s a 4-star hotel with a restaurant and has a sea view as well. It has a very beautiful scene especially in the night.

When we got to the venue, the place was quite dull and boring but there was a DJ dishing out some classic old tunes.

Trust West Africans, especially Nigerians, they love to make merry at the least opportunity and that was what happened when within some few minutes of our presence, the hitherto dull audience were jamming to the songs.

Tiwa Savage blessed the microphone by performing two of her songs on her R.E.D album.

Durban July Experience 

The Durban July is the biggest horse racing event in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa which is held annually on the first Saturday of July every year. Started in 1897, it is South Africa’s premier horse racing event and currently offers a purse of R4.25 million (app. US$288,000).

I’m not a horse fan but the Durban July was one of the highlights of the trip. Our host wanted us to have that incredible experience so I obliged and I must say, I didn’t regret.  However, it wasn’t exclusively about horseracing, there was a fashion segment as well.

Red carpet for a horseracing event? Exactly! There was actually a red carpet where patrons in crazy outfits had their photographs taken.

We were not able to see the horseracing; instead we made our way to the VIP Lounge to party. It was windy and chilly but the party had to go on. The Durban July Experience was awesome and I wish everyone will get the opportunity to be part of it.

Bye Durban, Hello Mpumalanga

It was really difficult to bid farewell to Durban and say hello to Mpumalanga (Zulu for “the place where the sun rises”) is a province in eastern South Africa, bordering the nations of Swaziland and Mozambique. It embraces the southern half of Kruger National Park, a huge nature reserve with abundant wildlife including big game. The province’s iconic Blyde River Canyon, among the world’s largest, is known as a green canyon because of its subtropical foliage.

We arrived in Nelspruit Airport in Mpumalanga looking forward to other awesome experiences. At Mpumalanga, we stayed at the Protea Hotel Hazyview. It has scenic views over the Sand River Valley. It’s 1.2 km from Route 40, 8.3 km from Hazyview’s Blue Haze Mall, and 20.7 km from Kruger National Park.

We were welcomed with food and drinks. Each member of the delegation later was massaged (sorry no happy ending) followed by dinner. Protea Hotel Hazyview served the best of Swazi cuisine and traditional BBQ meals. I must confess that, my best meals on the trip were at this hotel.

Elephant Whispers 

As the name indicates, Elephant Whispers is basically about elephants. Last year, I was at the Sanctuary in Gauteng so I learnt a lot about elephants. 

I didn’t have the courage to feed the elephants last year but this time around, I mustered the courage and took some photographs with them.

God’s Window 

Don’t go about searching for God’s Window anywhere in the world. The right place is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, located in the Drakensberg.

I also learnt that the place featured prominently in the plot of the 1980 cult film, The Gods Must Be Crazy. Near the end of the movie, the Bushman character Xi (played by Namibian bush farmer N!xau) travels to God’s Window.

It is believed at God’s Window, you get closer to God in a divine manner.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

When you are told that the next place to visit is Potholes, you will probably smile and wonder what the hell that is.

Of course, we have potholes in Ghana, a lot for that matter, so why am I interested in the one in South Africa?

Bourke’s Luck potholes are not the potholes that we know, they are not man-made, they are a Nature Reserve. Sustained kolks in the Treur River’s plunge pools have eroded a number of cylindrical potholes or giant’s kettles, which can be viewed from the crags above. It was named after a local prospector, Tom Bourke, who predicted the presence of gold, though he found none himself.

The pedestrian bridges connect the various overlooks of the potholes and the gorge downstream. As an acrophobia, at one end, I wondered how the pedestrian bridges from one end to the other were erected.

The Three Rondavels

The experience was wrapped up with a visit to The Three Rondavels; three round, grass-covered mountain tops with somewhat pointed peaks.

They resemble the traditional round or oval rondavels or African homesteads quite closely, which are made with local materials. They are also called the Three Sisters, though this confuses them with a similar threesome visible from the N1 road in the Northern Cape, very far to the south.

Bonfire

The last day was very tiring after visiting Elephant Whispers, God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and The Three Rondavels. We had our last dinner in Mpumalanga. After there was a bonfire night where we are entertained by a group of dancers.

According to their leader, the dancers were put together to keep them away from the streets and out of trouble. Monies they get after performing to various peoples are used to pay for their school fees. They are drawn from various parts of southern African.

They entertained us with a special song for the Nelson Mandela Day which falls on July 18. They then asked us to join them, which we obliged. We showed them that Ghanaians and Nigerians can dance too.

I want to say thanks to South African Tourism (SAT) and South African Airways (SAA) for this opportunity once again!

By Ebenezer Anangfio

This piece was published in my column in Graphic Showbiz on July 11, 2016. Watch out for the photos and videos of the trip in our next post on this topic!

The Mandela Capture Site

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