We are regular visitors to Johannesburg as our daughter’s family resides there, though thanks to the Covid pandemic, this time we visited South Africa almost after 3 years and meeting our daughter’s family after 2 years, her last visit being during Christmas just before the Pandemic set in.
Now that her children are of slightly more manageable age, this time our trip and stay was not restricted to Johannesburg; in fact, she and her husband had arranged a weeklong road trip to three of the most cherished destinations in that country.
We started in two vehicles- being driven by my daughter and her husband, loaded with all the provisions required by a large family for one week. No stay was in a Hotel and therefore, all the cooking was to be done ourselves for which all the provisions were required, the proposed destinations being remote in the finest sense. Our first destination was Bush Camp, some 400 odd kilometer from Johannesburg, closer to the South Africa’s major city of Bloemfontein. The camp set up by a wildlife aficionado is spread across acres and acres of wild bush forests that are home to several wild beasts – more prominently Lion, Leopard, Giraffe, Zebra and antlers. The cabins built in the midst of forest, of course protected by fences, had just about bare essentials. The meal cooked on wooden logs that also served the purpose of bonfire under starlit open sky with chilling cold was an unforgettable experience. Two nights at this location especially meant a whole lot to the young kids, who had a whale of a time in sighting animals at their wildest best. Of course, a visit to Bloemfontein next day, which was around 70 kilometres from the camp site exposed us to a well planned, neat and clean city with a colonial overhang, with large white population.
After two nights of adventure, it was time to leave for the hills of Drakensberg. This journey too was more than 400 kilometres and the stopover at foothills provided a scenic views of the mountains that had just seen snow having melted away paving way for lush greenery. Colonial type of cottages, golf course, wineries, plantations, all lent an aura of awe to this place. Just behind the mountains lies a small independent country Lesotho. Two days at Drakensberg included freewheeling visit on mountain trails and mandatory wine tasting at a few wineries. The place is like heaven on the earth, with the countryside having the same quaintness and beauty that’s comparable to Switzerland.
Other 300 kilometers drive took us to the port city of Durban. Actually, I thought Durban was like any other old port city – congested, busy, business like. But I was proven totally wrong. It actually turned out to be as beautiful as the famous Cape Town, if not more. It’s terrain is hilly and from the top of the hills, the sight of clear blue waters of Indian Ocean is panoramic to say the least. And while I was told that climate of Durban was akin to my home city Mumbai, also a port city, Durban during our brief stay was quite chilly, windy and overcast. The city has a large Indian diaspora and Chatsworth Centre in Durban looked like any other Indian mall with restaurants and shops having Indian lineage and connection. Had wonderful food at an Indian restaurant and beautiful beaches, city centre and casinos made Durban a complete tourist package.
Drive back to Johannesburg from Durban, a good 600 kilometers stretch, was another pleasure and it was good to be back after a memorable weeklong tour of this beautiful country of South Africa comprising nature, wildlife, sea, beaches, mountains and well appointed cities of Bloemfontein and Durban! No amount of thanks to my daughter and her loving husband for taking all the pains, including long drives, would be sufficient. And of course, the company of our cute grandsons to our entourage only made the journey more memories!