Retire at the Cape – My trip to South Africa
Contributed by Ritu Jain
“My body may not be young, but the youth in me is still alive.
I may have dedicated myself to others, but the life is still mine.
Enough of paying for others, now it is my time”
Having wrapped up my daughter’s wedding a few months ago, I was finding it difficult to concentrate and keep myself involved, a sense of purpose was lost and time galore. A break from routine was desperately needed; therefore I and my husband contemplated a vacation.
We wanted to go to a laid back destination which coupled luxury and personal attention and soon suggestions started pouring in from my children and friends. Many options were explored before we zeroed in on South Africa. Enticed by everything that the African Lands had to offer, the only task left was to identify an organizer.
Well known service providers offered personalization, no more than their printed brochures; however we were fortunate to come across #SelfieTales, a group of travel enthusiasts specializing in personalized and group tours for travelers of my age and beyond to whom we listed our necessities and they crafted an itinerary impeccably suited to our preferences and tastes.
The visas were overseen and we headed to Johannesburg sooner than we anticipated.
Lured by the images of the Gold Reef City and its numerous recommendations, we demanded our booking to be done at the theme park hotel. With youthful energy, we tried our luck at a Casino, knocked down some pins and educated ourselves with an underground gold mine tour.
The capital city of Johannesburg had little else to offer; therefore we headed to the Sun City where an early morning game safari at the Pilanesburg National Park was scheduled for a day later. A chilly breeze accompanied us on the four hour safari through the jungles of Pilanesburg, where we encountered the African Elephants, Rhinos, Giraffes and Zebras, however the big cats eluded us.
Sun City is a huge resort with artificial beaches, palace of the lost city, golf course and casinos to indulge in. A couple of days are adequate to unwind and appreciate the place and we did precisely that before embarking on the tour of the cape which was worth every moment we spent.
We had our flight booked direct from Sun City (Pilanesburg International Airport) to Cape Town which spared us a few hours and a drive back to Johannesburg, an alternate which was not offered by any other travel agency we contacted. The airport terminal is a beautifully done building covered with bamboo straw, aptly merging with the surroundings, a pleasant change from the glass facades throughout the world.
Our stay at Cape Town had been meticulously arranged and on the first day after having a hearty breakfast we headed for a tour to the Cape Peninsula. The tour encompassed the white beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, the cape point, the botanical gardens and a visit to Hout Bay, a colony of the seals; nonetheless what stole the show was a visit to the Boulder’s Beach. I always thought penguins were only found in Antartica or in stuffed toys, yet there I was, nestled between these charming creatures basking on the sunny shorelines of South Africa, giving glimpses of the Happy Feet.
For the following day we had opted for a tour of the Vineyards, and it was an experience to be cherished. Passing through expansive vineyards and Wineries, we savoured more wines than we could have ever imagined. It was wine for the bus, wine for the tour, wine for the lunch and some wine for the shopping. We had believed that we will taste every wine on offer, but better senses prevailed because what was on offer was more than what I could have devoured. Tipsy turvy we reached the hotel and slept as if there was no tomorrow.
Finally the day came, what I had been waiting for. It was a day to relax and for me it was a day for shopping. I had been sulking for not getting enough time to satiate my shopping desires, thus when the time came, I made a point not to waste it. Dollars had been exchanged for Rands and I discovered some of the best bargains in the country in clothing and footwear. South Africa is an excellent destination for shopping; it has some of the finest things and at very reasonable prices, a fantasy for any shopaholic and a reason enough for me to return to the country.
The time in Cape Town came to a close and we headed to our next destination, Knysna. We opted for a luxury bus as we wanted to see the Garden Route and at the same time avoid self driving. An 8 hour road trip was comfortably managed as we reached the bay town. Our stay was reserved at the Marriott hotel on the Waterfront and the view from the room was stunning.
Despite being given the option of visiting the ostrich farms and cango caves in Oudtshoorn, a recommended tourist getaway, we decided to enjoy the African coastline and instead head to Plettenberg Bay, a 65 km road trip from Knysna. Visited for its Waters, Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve, Kayaking and Whale Watching, Plettenberg Bay is a fascinating location; although, we preferred to sit by the coast and enjoy some beer in the sun.
All good things have to end and we agreed to make it memorable with something special, we hired a Boat Cruise and traversed the lagoon with the sun hiding behind the horizon and the winds blowing across our faces, sailing across the Knysna Heads and understanding the Knysna history. The cruise was accompanied with drinks and dinner and it was an amazing evening in the serene waters of the Indian Ocean.
The next say we packed our bags and headed to the nearby George Airport for a flight to Johannesburg and later to India. The vacation in South Africa was one of the finest I have had in a long time and it offered everything from wildlife, beaches, adventure, lagoons and shopping. The trip may not have been possible without the meticulous planning done by Selfie Tales and I would like to thank them for it.