Category Archives: South Africa

Knysna – In the Lap of Nature…

One of the most beautiful places to be one with nature and forget the mundane world of practicality..is Knysna, on the Garden Route.

There are two activities in and around Knysna which simply cannot be missed: cruising along the Knysna lagoon in the evening, and interacting with the fascinating ostriches of Oudtshoorn, half an hour from Knysna.

Here’s a must-see video taken by the TAB group that travelled with Namaste South Africa – from Jo’burg to Cape Town and eventually the Garden Route.

So when are you coming to Knysna? This could be a nice start… 🙂

Read more interesting South Africa posts

Or learn more about South Africa on Namaste South Africa’s home page!

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Once Upon a Time in Knysna…

When you want to savour exotic delicacies, see stunning metropolitan views, or delve into the history of South Africa, you visit Cape Town.

When you want to say “hi” to a lion which is a stone’s throw away from you, you drive to the Kruger National Park.

But when you’ve seen it all, and want to let go and blissfully do nothing as you are surrounded by heavenly natural beauty, you forget the world at Knysna…

Here’s a picture taken in this enchanting town.

knysna

Isn’t that enchanting?

Let’s see what is so beautiful about Knysna…

* The Knysna Lagoon Cruise

As you sit in your boat and stare into the serene peaceful waters, you feel strangely calm and joyful…You spot two stunning sandstone cliffs in the background standing resolute and still and admire them. Then, as you move further on, you see an oyester farm on the coast. And as you stare – you realize that this farm produces some of the best oyesters in the world. As the city of Knysna cruises past you – slowly, you see an orange ball in the distance..the sun, sinking gently into the stillness of the waters…

This is it.

knysna-picture

* The Beaches

Swim, canoe, sail, build sand castles at the Bollard Bay beach. Without the bustle of popular city beaches. Or clamber upon rocks, cool off in little pools and walk along the heavenly coastline at Brenton beach. It is difficult to find a beach where you can go beyond the frenzy of a popular attraction and actually experience the beauty of nature.

You can do that here.

knysna beach

* Knysna Elephant Park

The Knysna elephants are special: they are the southernmost elephants in the world and are part of a touching mission to conserve the elephant population of the Knysna forest.

You can walk through the Knysna forest along with the elephants. Or you can ride them. Or touch them. Or feed them. Photograph them. Connect with them.

Elephants can be warm…

knysna elephants

Why not include such a beautiful place in your itinerary?

Come, visit. Knysna’s calling.

This, might help.

Cape Town: 6 Unusual Facts

Table Mountain Cape Town

In February 2010, Forbes magazine ranked Cape Town as of the 10 most beautiful cities in the world. And that is just one of the accolades which Cape Town laps up with alarming alacrity every year. :)

With a Table Mountain, a spectacular seafront,  an array of stunning “blue flag” beaches, and the colourful houses of its Bo Kaap locality to top it all, Cape Town is without doubt a tourist’s paradise.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Cape Town that you may not have heard before!

* Cape Town is a “large” city when you look at its land area.How large? According to Wikipedia, it is 4 times the size of Mumbai! And you thought Mumbai was large? ;)

* Generally you list the average height of a city above sea level. Mumbai for example is, on an average, 14 metres above sea level. But you don’t do that for Cape Town. It’s highest point is a whopping 1590 metres above sea level while its lowest point is at level with the sea! Talk of variety… :)

* For a city of its stature, Cape Town is relatively very less dense. This means very less people live in it per square kilometre compared to other major world cities. How less? If you took the effect of area into account, there are 13 people in Mumbai for every one person in Cape Town!

* Cape Town does indeed have this knack of lapping up award after award. Can you guess how many internationally acclaimed recognitions and awards it has received in the past 2 years? Five? Ten? The correct answer is 22. ‘ One Of The World’s 5 Bluest Sky Destinations’ , ‘Africa’s Leading Destination’ and ‘City with the World’s Cleanest Beach’ are three of these fascinating titles!

* Near which city does the world’s largest individually timed cycle race take place? Which city hosts the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world? Which city has played host to the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the IPL?  No second guesses: it’s Cape Town. :)

* The Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town is unique: not for the amazing plants it has but for the huge number of plant species it has. With 2200 different kinds of plants, it has more species than New Zealand and the United Kingdom!

Why not end with a video as interesting as the city itself? Here it is.

Visit this page for some interesting Cape Town pictures. And if you are interested in visiting Cape Town one day, why not make a start by looking here?

In the Lap of the Wild: Kruger National Park

kruger lion

What do you associate most with South Africa?

There are no second guesses. It has to be wildlife.

And where wildlife is concerned there is no place in South Africa second to Kruger National Park.

Just for the numbers, Kruger has 114 species of reptiles, 147 species of mammals, 517 species of birds, and 1982 species of plants! We’re not talking about the number of animals or birds or plants here. We are talking about the number of species. No wonder then that the Kruger Park has more species of mammals than any other Park in Africa. In fact, it had such a huge population of elephants in 1995, that elephants were given contraceptives to reduce their birth rate!

Have a look at this video showing you what to expect at Kruger National Park.

Isn’t life in the wild beautiful?

Here are some interesting titbits about Kruger Park.

* * *

* We know the Kruger National Park is huge. How huge? Its area is approximately the same as the Indian state of Mizoram which is the same as Israel’s land area. It is literally a “wild country!”

* How old is Kruger? It was established 112 years ago by Paul Kruger. Yes, it is South Africa’s oldest National Park.

* How many Lions do you think the Kruger National Park has? The latest Census reports that there are 1500 lions, 5000 giraffes, 900 leopards, 3000 hippos and 7500 elephants at Kruger!

* Kruger has more than 13000 kilometers of roads running all through it.  The total length of roads in Israel, which has an equivalent area  is about 6500 km. The total length of roads in Mumbai is  about 1900 km. Well?

* The world’s longest ongoing research on wildlife is being conducted at Kruger Park.

* * *

In a world where we keep hearing “animal extinct” news every other day, Kruger seems like a breather.  When are you visiting? :)

By the way, you might like these reading through these  interesting “Kruger” travel itineraries. Do tell us what you think about them!

kruger lion

What do you associate most with South Africa?

There are no second guesses. It has to be wildlife.

And where wildlife is concerned there is no place in South Africa second to Kruger National Park.

Just for the numbers, Kruger has 114 species of reptiles, 147 species of mammals, 517 species of birds, and 1982 species of plants! We’re not talking about the number of animals or birds or plants here. We are talking about the number of species. No wonder then that the Kruger Park has more species of mammals than any other Park in Africa. In fact, it had such a huge population of elephants in 1995, that elephants were given contraceptives to reduce their birth rate!

Have a look at this video showing you what to expect at Kruger National Park.

Isn’t life in the wild beautiful?

Here are some interesting titbits about Kruger Park.

* * *

* We know the Kruger National Park is huge. How huge? Its area is approximately the same as the Indian state of Mizoram which is the same as Israel’s land area. It is literally a “wild country!”

* How old is Kruger? It was established 112 years ago by Paul Kruger. Yes, it is South Africa’s oldest National Park.

* How many Lions do you think the Kruger National Park has? The latest Census reports that there are 1500 lions, 5000 giraffes, 900 leopards, 3000 hippos and 7500 elephants at Kruger!

* Kruger has more than 13000 kilometers of roads running all through it.  The total length of roads in Israel, which has an equivalent area  is about 6500 km. The total length of roads in Mumbai is  about 1900 km. Well?

* The world’s longest ongoing research on wildlife is being conducted at Kruger Park.

* * *

In a world where we keep hearing “animal extinct” news every other day, Kruger seems like a breather.  When are you visiting? :)

By the way, you might like these reading through these  interesting “Kruger” travel itineraries. Do tell us what you think about them!


FIFA World Cup 2010. For The First Time in History…

March 31, 2010

africa(Image by by Martin23230, Wikipedia)

This World Cup has many firsts – and pretty interesting firsts they are. Shall we take a peek at what’s happening for the first time in history this summer?

* THE FIRST WORLD CUP IN AFRICA

The FIFA World Cup 2010, is the first ever World Cup to be held on African Soil. Africa was chosen as the host for the 2010 World Cup as part of a new policy to rotate the event among football confederations. South Africa competed with Morocco and Egypt and won hands down in the bid to host the Cup.

Here’s the magnificent Johannesburg stadium:

johannesburg stadium

* THE FIRST ‘MAN OF THE MATCH’ CHOSEN BY FANS

For the first time in the history of the World Cup FIFA won’t choose the man of the match for any World Cup game. You and I will. Fans all over the world will text their choices or submit them online during the game. And the man who has the highest votes from “us – the people” wins! Interesting? You bet.

* THE FIRST FAN SURVEY

There have been surveys before but none of this kind. CapeInfo.com has launched an online survey to better understand football fans all over the world. Why aren’t they coming for the World Cup? And if they are coming, what will be their travel itinerary? What are their concerns about the World Cup? How aware are they about South Africa? And the questions go on and on.

The results will be available online for everyone to see.

I don’t really understand the point of the survey but maybe it will help the organizers understand the point of view of audiences the world over. This might help in better organization of future events.

* THE FIRST ‘$ 400 MILLION PLUS’ PRIZE MONEY EVER

How much is the total prize money for this year’s World Cup? Take a guess… :)

A million?  10 Million? A 100 million perhaps?

Its $ 420 million. The highest ever prize money to be awarded in the history of sports. It is also an increase of 60 percent over the last World Cup’s prize money.

Everybody who participates wins a prize. In fact, each team exiting at the group stage receives $ 8 million!

dollar

* THE FIRST COMPLETE VIDEO GAME SIMULATION

The same players with the exact same faces. The same stadiums. The same crowd. The same sounds. It’s so real – you’re stumped.

For the first time since football was first played, a game that simulates the World Cup down to the smallest detail has been launched. EA sports has launched the 2010 FIFA World Cup Video Game.

The 199 teams that took part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will be in the game.

Players can play against other players through online gaming services like Playstation Network or XBox Live or they can play against the computer.

Here’s a video about this game:

* THE FIRST WORLD CUP IN 3D

Movies in 3D are amazing. The effects seem so real! What if the World Cup action was brought to you LIVE in 3 D? How may “Wows” would you shout out?

This time 25 of the World Cup games are going to be filled using 3D cameras.  The Sony Corporation has arranged for these special cameras.

Whatever else we may be unsure of, what we cannot deny is this is going to be a fascinating World Cup in South Africa. What say you?


For Those Who Think Soccer Fans are Crazy

March 29, 2010

In a world where Soccer is the dominant religion, there exists a small minority of “nerds”, “geeks” and simply “I don’t want soccer” weirdos who aren’t exactly awaiting the World Cup in South Africa. I am one of them. :)

This year, however, for people like us, there IS something to look forward to in South Africa. It’s the Knysna Oyster Festival.

This festival, which will be held from July 2 to 11, 2010 (yes, despite the World Cup!) promises interesting events like the Navigation Drift Dive Challenge ( a scuba diving adventure), The Night of a 1000 Pictures ( a fascinating photography exhibition), the Wade Bales Wine Festival , the Geo Oyster Geocaching Competition (a fun adventure involving navigating around the Knysna basin), a Forest Marathon and hoards of other food, wine, adventure and sports events!

And guess what, Knysna Tourism has been working with its members to ensure that there will be accommodation available at reasonable rates over the period of the Oyster Festival! This means that despite the sky rocketing prices because of the World Cup – you will still be able to find reasonably priced hotels if you make it to the event. Cool.

Here’s a video of the Mountain Biking event in the festival. Enjoy. :)

If you love to experience new cuisines and fine wine, you might also love reading through this food and wine write-up!

Ah, there is still hope for the world. ;)


75 More Days: The Stadiums are DONE.

March 27, 2010

A Reuters report on March 26, said South Africa has declared all 10 World Cup Venues to be ready for the FIFA 2010 event. A FIFA inspection tour was held and all is well with the stadiums that will host the biggest event ever held in Africa.

Here’s a video that tells you about each stadium!

I found three very interesting facts about the stadiums.

* The Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg is the largest stadium in Africa. (That’s something.) It has the capacity to seat 94000 spectators. Interestingly, this is where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after being released from prison.

* The Mbombela Stadium near Nelspruit is unique – it has 18 giraffe shaped roof supports! That is not all: the spectator stands have also been painted in zebra colours! And where is the stadium located? Very near the world famous Kruger National Park. No wonder it is wild. :) Here’s a picture by Chris Onderstall:

south africa wild stadium

* The Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg is unique too – the outside of the stadium has been designed to look like an African pot! The cladding and colours are such that there seems to be fire under the African pot. Cool. :) Another fascinating feature of this stadium’s design is that no spectator in the stadium will be more than 100 metres away from the action.

It’s 75 days more to go…:) And then the action will begin.

Click here to learn a bit more about the country that’s hosting it all.


Taj, Cape Town is Now Open!

March 25, 2010

There’s now another Indian Connection to South Africa (apart from Namaste South Africa ;) ) – Taj, Cape Town. On March 20, 2010, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces announced the opening of Taj, Cape Town. Yes, the famous ‘Taj hospitality’ can now be enjoyed by Capetonians and visitors to South Africa!

Lets look at some interesting facts about this new hotel:

* On the very day of its opening, all its 177 rooms have been booked. That says something about the credibility of the “Taj” brand.

* The five star hotel has been built at a cost of R500-million with contributions from Taj, Tata Africa and Eurocape.

* The hotel is located near the city centre and  has been built around two historic buildings. It took 2 years of construction and renovation of the historic buildings to build the hotel.

* The hotel offers 11 different types of rooms – all unique in their own way. There are Heritage rooms in the newly restored buildings and Tower rooms that provide an exquisite view of the Table Mountain. There is even a Presidential Suite which has 2 bedrooms, a massage and steam room, a fully equipped kitchen, office, gym and a top floor deck!

* As part of its introductory offer, The Taj, Cape Town is offering a special R 3500 (USD 474) room for two people including breakfast.

Here’s a video about the hotel.

I would love to stay in the Taj, Cape Town. :) What about you?


5 Things About South Africa That’ll Make You Say, “Wow.”

March 24, 2010

We’ve always known South Africa is amazing. That’s not the question. But did you know…

1 That South Africa has penguins?

Boulders Beach in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa has about 3000 penguins which can be observed from close quarters!

The first pair of penguins was brought here in 1982 and after that there has definitely been no looking back.

Here’s a picture of one these intriguing creatures.

2 That you can pet Cheetahs in South Africa?

Now we’ve always known South Africa is a treasure trove of wildlife. That’s no secret. But petting ?

Near Cape Town, there is a place where you can pet and caress a cheetah for a small fee! Here’s a picture of Namaste South Africa founder Subhash with a cheetah.

pet a cheetah

3 That South Africa’s premier city Cape Town has been rated the “World’s best city” by Telegraph?

Yes, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a table mountain right next to its stunning waterfront.

But who would have expected it to beat Sydney and San Fransisco in the race for the “World’s Best City”? But that’s that! Acclaimed  London Newspaper Telegraph says its the best.

Here’s a picture of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

south africa table mountain

4 That South Africa has the world’s best hotel?

The Singita game reserve, near Kruger National Park, was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveler). Cool!

5 That South Africa has a bar constructed right inside a tree?

The Northern Province of South Africa is famous for baobab trees. And Tzaneen in this province has an entire bar located inside the tree. How does it feel inside this bar? I haven’t really been to that bar, but it must be fun!

Here’s a baobab tree by the way.

baobab south africa

South Africa is enticing.

Until next time, Good Bye from Namaste South Africa. :)


What’s With the World Cup!

With only 41 days remaining for the FIFA world cup, the fever has obviously gripped half the planet.

How can we at Namaste South Africa remain unaffected? ;)

Here’s a wonderful video based on the World Cup theme song.

I love the lines – “For the love of the game, we keep on flying.” and “No matter the outcome, we will be victorious.”

By the way, here are some interesting World Cup facts that Namaste South Africa dug up!

* The host team automatically qualifies for the World Cup. So it doesn’t have to participate in the World Cup qualifiers. However, this year’s host – South Africa is the first host team since 1934 to participate in the World Cup qualifiers!

* Zakumi is the official mascot of the World Cup. He’s a leopard with green hair. :)

Where does Zakumi’s name come from? ZA is the internationally used abbreviation for South Africa. And ‘kumi’ means ’10′ in different African languages. “South Africa ’10 ” is what Zakumi represents!

* The match ball for the World Cup has been named Jabuliani. Jabuliani means ‘bringing joy to everyone’ in the language of the Zulu people. Here’s a picture.

soccer ball jabuliani

* The number 11 plays a fascinating role in this World Cup. The World Cup ball is the 11th World Cup match ball manufactured by Adidas. The ball features 11 colours. There are 11 official languages in South Africa. And the World Cup will start on the 11th day of June and end on the 11th day of July!

* This is the first time ever in history that the FIFA World Cup will be held on African soil.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Would you want to learn more about South Africa – now that the “World Cup” is being held there? Then you might like this page which lists the most amazing places to see in South Africa.

5 Things About South Africa That’ll Make You Say, “Wow.”

We’ve always known South Africa is amazing. That’s not the question. But did you know…

1 That South Africa has penguins?

Boulders Beach in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa has about 3000 penguins which can be observed from close quarters!

The first pair of penguins was brought here in 1982 and after that there has definitely been no looking back.

Here’s a picture of one these intriguing creatures.

2 That you can pet Cheetahs in South Africa?

Now we’ve always known South Africa is a treasure trove of wildlife. That’s no secret. But petting ?

Near Cape Town, there is a place where you can pet and caress a cheetah for a small fee! Here’s a picture of Namaste South Africa founder Subhash with a cheetah.

pet a cheetah

3 That South Africa’s premier city Cape Town has been rated the “World’s best city” by Telegraph?

Yes, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a table mountain right next to its stunning waterfront.

But who would have expected it to beat Sydney and San Fransisco in the race for the “World’s Best City”? But that’s that! Acclaimed  London Newspaper Telegraph says its the best.

Here’s a picture of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

south africa table mountain

4 That South Africa has the world’s best hotel?

The Singita game reserve, near Kruger National Park, was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveler). Cool!

5 That South Africa has a bar constructed right inside a tree?

The Northern Province of South Africa is famous for baobab trees. And Tzaneen in this province has an entire bar located inside the tree. How does it feel inside this bar? I haven’t really been to that bar, but it must be fun!

Here’s a baobab tree by the way.

baobab south africa

South Africa is enticing.

Until next time, Good Bye from Namaste South Africa. :)

South Africa Beckons!

Are you bored with traditional holiday destinations? Are you thinking of visiting a new place this year – something fresh – something that’s different from the usual travel rush and will take your breath away?

Enter South Africa.

Though not the most visited destination in the world, South Africa has such an interesting array of activities to offer that it could be one of tourism’s best kept secrets!

Located on the southern tip of the African continent, South Africa is about 40 percent the size of India. It is the most developed of all African countries and is even hosting the FIFA World Cup in June this year. Its premier city, Cape Town has been called, the “Best World City” by London Newspaper Telegraph (December 2008). Cape Town is one of the few cities in the world with a table mountain right next to a magnificent waterfront! South Africa also boasts of the Kruger National Park, one of the best wildlife parks in the world that is famous for its Big Five – the Lion, the Elephant, the Leopard, the Rhino and the Wild Buffalo. Then there is Sun City, often referred to as the Las Vegas of Africa. And the beautiful Garden Route where you can pet a cheetah, feed an ostrich or cruise along surrounded by the silence of a lagoon!

With beaches, animal adventures and luxury resorts – South Africa is a place that deserves to fill up your holiday. Why not give it a try this year?

An interesting information source on South Africa, especially for Indians is www.namastesouthafrica.com – Your Indian Connection to South Africa. The site has loads of info on what places to visit in South Africa, travel diaries of people like you writing about South Africa and also hordes of fascinating South Africa packages!  These tour packages range from ‘must-visit’ general tours, to special Wine, Golf, Luxury, Romance, and even Wildlife tours. It also has mini-tours which you can combine to make your own interesting tour. Do visit www.namastesouthafrica.com if you want to explore South Africa more.