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Thrills of the wild

Thrills of the wild
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My holiday to South Africa was a power-packed thrilling experience but 15 days were not enough to explore the place to my heart's content. Mira Pawa...

My holiday to South Africa was a power-packed thrilling experience but 15 days were not enough to explore the place to my heart's content. Mira Pawar wildSouth Africa is the only country which has three capitals. Pretoria - the administrative capital which lies 35 miles from Johannesburg, Bloemfontein � the judicial capital 233 miles from Johannesburg and Cape Town � the legislative capital 800 miles from Johannesburg. I was fortunate to have visited all of them.
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I reached Johannesburg on a mid December morning at 4.30, all excited and eager to discover the culture and history that made South Africa a land of great prospects. Post lunch, I set out with my host to explore the nearby shopping areas. South Africans love to shop and also sell products. They hawk at traffic signals, on the road side, inside minibuses parked alongside the road and along the thoroughfares. They sell everything from fruits, sweets, sculptures, home furnishing and many more. Something that got my attention in one of the malls was the exquisite tableware. I have never come across such pewter cutlery. This particular cutlery I was told is sold only in South Africa. It had cheetahs in different poses crafted on the handles and looked absolutely stylish and chic but out of my budget. After giving up the idea of buying pewter cutlery, it was time to move on to Nelson Mandela Square, but could not enjoy the milieu for too long as the shops closed down at 6 pm. A feeling of disappointment set in, but then the thought of having visited three places in a day was quite exciting.
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A trip to South Africa is considered incomplete if a visit to wildlife reserve is not made, declared my host. So we visited a Game Reserve in Bela Bela about 125 miles from Johannesburg. The Reserve was a 12,000 hectare malaria-free zone and home to abundant wildlife including various species of birds and the world famous Big Five. A worthwhile sight in the Reserve was the lions tracking their prey during the early hours of the morning when they actually don't seem perturbed that the rangers drive past them and carry on with their pursuit. Also spotted other animals like zebras, giraffes, bison, elephants, rhinos, ostriches and jackals. If the Game Reserve was exciting, the drive to Cape Town- 800 miles from Johannesburg, was even more exciting. Every tiny village we stopped to break journey seemed utterly fascinating. We drove for hours at a stretch through the Cape Wine Route, the longest wine route in the world. On reaching Cape Town we visited the Table Mountain at 1,085 meters height and the only way to get there was in a cable car. From the Table Mountain, we had a full view of Cape Town and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. We also managed to visit the Cape of Good Hope. At the Cape point, it seemed like standing at the edge of a rock jutting into the Atlantic. On our return to Johannesburg, we stopped at a village called Karoo, an absolute barren landscape where the main means of income is rearing sheep for wool and meat. Karoo meat is considered the best in South Africa. The last stop before concluding the trip was Stellenbosch -the second oldest western settlement in South Africa, well known for its architect, oak trees and university. The vineyard was a must visit and we definitely didn't miss the opportunity. The trip was over but the memories continue to haunt and beckon me to visit this mesmerising place once again.
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