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Posts by ClareAppleyard
It’s the question that gets me every single time.
“Is it safe to visit South Africa?”
Inevitably, my blood starts to boil as I brace for the next hammer blow, “Because you know, from what I’ve heard it’s very dangerous and they’ve told me not to visit”.
Who are the ominipresent “they”?
Have they ever been to South Africa?
Have they ever travelled through the many parts of our countryside?
Have they taken the time to educate themselves on our nation, or are they just regurgitating snippets that they’ve heard on the news, found on the web or overheard from some disillusioned, white, ex-South African who emigrated because “the country is going to the dogs under that black government”?
[Please, excuse my frankness, but those are often the people trash-talking South Africa]
But, despite the resounding success that was the 2010 World Cup, despite 19 years of freedom for all, despite everything, people are still reticent to visit South Africa because they deem it too dangerous, too risky, too threatening.
In my work with American tour groups, I find that the travellers have inevitably been warned (by well-meaning relatives and neighbors), not to book that package tour to South Africa, yet the groups all thoroughly enjoy South Africa and would “highly recommend it”. In the advent of travel bloggers, more and more bloggers are visiting South Africa and I have yet to hear a bad word spoken against South Africa.
Disappointingly though, despite all the positive experiences we hear about, negative media about South Africa still abounds.
Enough! It’s our job as responsible South Africans to change that.
So, I polled a variety of travel bloggers who have visited South Africa for their Top 2 reasons on Why You Should Must Visit South Africa. There were some common themes that surfaced together with some touching, heart-felt responses. Let’s hear what some of our favourite bloggers had to say….
Diverse & Spectacular Scenery
Not surprisingly, this rated highly on many blogger’s lists. Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape highlights the “jagged snow-capped peaks of the Drakensberg to expansive savannah and rugged coastlines” as an example of the natural beauty that South Africa has to offer. Africa lover Sandy Salle (Hills of Africa) echoes this sentiment as she celebrates South Africa “for its spectacular wine lands, unspoiled beaches, as well as Cape Town, which compares to a mini San Francisco!”.
Perhaps one of the most enthusiastic votes for this category came from Wandering Earl who notes “From large, vibrant cities to beautiful coastal communities, from mesmerizing wine regions to tiny towns in the middle of nowhere, and everything in between, every region of South Africa feels as if it is an entirely different country in itself.”. Nothing quite beats an African sunset either for amazing colours against wide open skies. Check out Craig Zabranksy’s amazing gallery of South African sunsets, and see for yourself.
The “Big 5” Safari Experience
Many visitors to South Africa come solely for the purpose of visiting the Kruger Park to spot wild animals in their natural habitat. “Seeing all these amazing animals in their natural environment while enjoying the beautiful landscape” was a personal highlight for Earth Xplorer J.D. Andrews and “viewing the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant & rhino) in person was a remarkable experience” for Landloper Matt Long. Jen Pollack Bianco and Cailin O’Neil both share this common sentiment, after their visits to South Africa included a safari expedition.
Sandy Salle highly recommends visiting some of our many monkey and elephant sanctuaries, all of which offer guided sightseeing tours, allowing you to get within meters of the animals. Don’t discount our offshore wildlife either, home to whales, dolphins and Great White Sharks, all off which can be spotted along many parts of our coastline.
Delicious Food and Drink
There was no shortage of enthusiastic comments regarding the variety of top class South African cuisine. Some bloggers, like The Travel Tart, raved about particular South African dishes, quipping “There’s nothing like stuffing your face with a half-loaf of bread packed with tasty curry” (known as a Bunny Chow). Cailin O’Neil was particularly smitten with our local game meats, particular “springbok and kudu” and shares our fondness for a “braai” – the Afrikaans word for a barbeque. Cape Town in particular offers a huge diversity in cuisines and, if Indian food is your flavour, head to Durban where you’ll find some of the best curries outside of the subcontinent.
South Africa is well known for its world-class wines, something that Keith Jenkins is particularly passionate about. The Stellenbosch & Franschoek regions in the Western Cape are home to many award-winning wine-farms, so be sure to add this destination to your itinerary. And, if you prefer your tipple a little sweeter, be sure to sample Amarula, a cream-liqueur made from the fruit of the Marula tree. It’s exceptionally delicious, very South African and very, very addictive as Craig Zabransky discovered when he attended the World Cup in South Africa in 2010!
“It will change your life”
At a first glance, I thought The Explorateur’s comment about a visit to South Africa being a life-changing experience was a little bit of a cliché. But, as I received more and more responses along similar lines, I began to realize that she had a point. The Explorateur is well known in South Africa, and she found the “real” South Africa when she chose to break out of the “safety” of her hotel and took a tour through Soweto, a local African township. From meeting a tour guide who was imprisoned during the Apartheid era, to being musically serenaded by school children in tattered clothing, The Explorateur discovered that when you look beyond the surface of South Africa, “you’ll gain a whole new perspective on yourself and what’s important”.
Kirsten Alana recalls shared a similar experience, “I remember standing on Vilakazi Street in Soweto and thinking that if two Nobel Peace Prize winners could come from one such humble street, surely nothing was stopping me from changing the world.”
South Africans have long been recognized as some of the most hospitable people in the world, a fact graciously acknowledged by both Keith and J.D. If volunteering is close to your heart, you’d do well to pay attention to Sandy who notes, ”South Africa’s volunteer opportunities are some of the most humbling and rewarding experiences to be had and allow families, individuals, groups and couples to immerse themselves in the local culture, whilst providing locals with the gift of upliftment”.
Perhaps the last word in this section should go to Matt Long, who, like many bloggers, discovered that South Africa really does get under your skin. He says, “Before I first visited South Africa I was warned that the ‘bug’ would grab hold and not let go. Everyone tells me that I’ll love every location I visit, so I didn’t think a lot about it. This time was different though and by the end of my adventures in South Africa, I had indeed caught that mysterious bug. South Africa enjoys a unique mix of qualities including staggering beauty, a rich culture and people so kind your teeth hurt. These and many more factors coalesce and truly do become more than the sum of their parts. A special magic is created that doesn’t just ensure a great trip, but changes at a molecular level turn any trip into a personally transformational experience. Before you accuse me of extreme bouts of hyperbolic imagery, just wait. Visit South Africa for yourself and then, and only then, can you tell me that I’m wrong.”
Are you ready to book your trip to South Africa now?
Sincere thanks must go to all the travel bloggers who shared their heartfelt thoughts on South Africa. Please, keep spreading the positive news on our amazing country.
It’s been just over a year since I joined Twitter and it’s been a fascinating journey so far. As an entrepreneur you repeatedly hear about how you should have a presence in Social Media – Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and, of course, Twitter.
For some reason though, I resisted Twitter until, in July last year, I volunteered to “investigate” it from a business perspective (for both my diamond and travel businesses). I’d heard about all these people (mostly life and business coaches, admittedly) who had generated a significant number of clients via Twitter. However, I couldn’t get my head around how you actually met people on Twitter and it really wasn’t something that I was focused on accomplishing.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Within a relatively short period of time I had tapped into a network of fellow travel lovers and was actively communicating with new friends around the world. You meet and connect with one good person, who connects you to another good person, who connects you to another good person and so it goes.
My travel friendships started to span the globe – from Mexico, Canada and the USA to Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand – to name but a few. I learnt the value of re-tweeting valuable information and started to recognise when I made a valuable contribution – and when I did not.
It became clear that behind Twitter there were real people – people that were interested in where you lived and what you did and cared enough to enquire as to how your day was going. And I cared about how they were doing and how their weekends had gone.
Then, in June 2010, South Africa hosted the Fifa World Cup.
Suddenly, we had visitors descending on South Africa by the plane load and they were looking for advice and recommendations and suggestions and guidance and we could help them. The first Twitter friends I met in person were not South Africans, but a set of intrepid explorers travelling overland from Berlin to South Africa for the World Cup. The Amateurs Africa guys are truly inspirational and it was a privilege to have been able to help them out.
We hosted a Mexican partner of a Twitter friend, a lady from New York whose flaky friend had let her down at the last minute with regards to accommodation, a lovely couple from our travel company corporate head office and met up with other fantastic Twitter connections for dinners, coffees and drinks.
Friendships had moved from cyber-space to the real world. We had faces to put to tweets, voices to put to faces and communications extended to Skype, Facebook and email. Firm and lasting friendships were established in a relatively short space of time.
Shortly after the World Cup ended, we wanted to investigate a trip to New York for a business venture. Thanks to our Twitter travel friends, we were faced with the possibility of walking straight into a supportive environment in a city we’ve never visited before. We had an offer of accommodation from the New York friend who had stayed with us during the World Cup. Some great people have organised a “Travel Tweet-up” for the first night that we arrive in New York where we’ll get to meet people with whom we’ve built firm online friendships. We’ve been invited to a cocktail party, hosted by a Mexican tourism authority, thanks to our Twitter friends. We’ve been invited to a post-Central Park run breakfast thanks to a running club we’ve connected with.
We don’t have to spend a single moment worrying about where to go, what to do, where to eat and what to experience – thanks to our extended Twitter travel network. Whilst some may think that this is neutralising the adventure of visiting a new city, for this trip, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re thrilled to be able to connect with so many people that we’ve developed social media relationships with.
It’s now possible to have a friend or a number of friends in a city or country before you visit there – a friend who will help, guide, recommend and advise on a level previously unseen. Sure, you can pick up a guidebook, Google a restaurant, Trip Advisor search a hotel and Travel Channel a country. But with Twitter, you have a man (or woman) on the ground. Build a great relationship and you’ll have a travel friend for life.
I know that after this trip to New York, when it comes to our next holiday, I’ll be chatting to my Twitter friends to see who we can visit, where we can stay and how we can connect.
It’s been a wonderful travel journey so far – long may it continue.
South African officially celebrates the start of Spring each year on the 1st September. Sometimes, the weather gods play mean tricks on us and serve up a Spring day that is, well, far from spring-like. This year, the day lived up to its billing as we celebrated the start of spring with warm weather, blue skies and blossoming flowers.
Each year, to celebrate the advent of Spring, a local wine club (The Cellar Rats) hosts a Spring Wine Festival, and this year’s festival took place on Sunday 5th September in blazing sunshine at “The Old Mill”, on the banks of the beautiful Magalies River. This annual festival is held to raise funds for the Woodlands Preparatory School, situated in Magaliesburg, South Africa.
With a nominal entrance fee (R80/$11) per adult entry, which includes a complimentary wine tasting glass, you get to sample over 600 wines from 110 wine farms. Each wine farm is represented by its own stall and once you’ve found a wine (or two, or three) that you like, you can then buy individual bottles or order crates of wine from a particular farm. In the interests of safety, a designated driver for each family/car is allowed into the venue for free.
The event is family and child-friendly with an abundance of scheduled children’s activities, including jumping castles, water slides and zorb balls. Soft drinks are on sale, as are picnic baskets, prego rolls, boerewors (traditional South African sausage) rolls and BLT sandwiches. For those with classy tastes, you can even buy oysters and champagne! Live singers provide some great background music (even if you do start to see some karaoke parallels!).
Whilst the majority of the stalls are wine stalls, a small number of deli suppliers also exhibit their wares. With delightful tastings of pomegranate salad dressing, lemongrass-infused chocolate balsamic drizzle, Morroccan Zing (perfect with some Camembert Cheese), lemon-infused olive oil and olive tapenade to name but a few, it was a foodies feast.
This is a South African wine festival worth adding to the diary for 2011, so keep an eye on the official Cellar Rats Spring Wine Festival page for updates for next year’s festival.
Yes, it’s true. The South Africans are going to be heading to New York City for 5 fun-filled days of shopping, exploring and tweet-ups.
Oh, and we’ll be eating too – we can’t wait to dig into all the great NYC cuisine we keep hearing about and, more specifically, the food trucks! Can you say yummy?
So, what’s the deal? The fabulous Davina Toale and myself will be in New York City from Thursday 16th September to Tuesday 21st September and we want to meet and connect with as many travel and running friends as possible. Yes, that means YOU.
We’ll be staying in Queens with the marvellous Nidhi (@Nids2102) and, when we’re not shopping for running gear, exploring food trucks with Greg (@culverlake), sweet shops with Laurie (@scenebylaurie), having a beer with Christel (@raisethatglass) and Kirsten (@kirsten_al) or par-tee-ing with Jan (@lisajanPA), we want to have some fun with you, our Twitter friends.
We don’t have anything even remotely as organised as a tweet-up at a particular time, day and venue – not knowing NYC from a bar of soap, I’m quite willing to let a NYC local come forward with some suggestions here.
These are the travel tweeters I know of in New York that, if they’re in town, we’d love to connect with – if you know of anybody cool that’s not on this list, please let me know and we’ll add them. Who wants to join in the fun?
- Your name here?
Let’s get some comments and suggestions going here on who is going to be in NYC, or wants to join us in NYC and let’s get this Par.Tee started!
See you soon!
Most people have the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx on their travel bucket list. We certainly did, so when the opportunity arose for us to have a brief stop-over in Cairo on the way back from a European holiday, my partner and I jumped at the chance.
We calculated that 2 nights would be sufficient to see the major sights and sounds and, through our local travel agent, we found ourselves booked into the Oasis Hotel in Cairo, a mere 10 minutes drive (even in Cairo traffic) from the Pyramids. Included in our booking was a guided tour of the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities with our own personal transportation and tour guide.
Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
The Oasis Hotel is one of the more popular hotels amongst Westerners and at a first glance, it’s easy to see why. It is set amongst beautiful lush and land-scaped gardens, a far cry from the hustle, bustle and dust of the main road outside the hotel. Rooms are laid out in a resort-style and the hotel boasts a tennis court, a swimming pool and 8 restaurants and bars. The only problem is that with the exception of the Italian restaurant, they all serve off an identical menu. Bar and restaurant service is, to say the least, somewhat lacking.
The biggest limiting factor for us was that the Oasis Hotel is so far removed from central Cairo that it is almost impossible to get out and explore the night-life of Cairo, which we were just dying to do. Unfortunately the limited Oasis Hotel shuttle service, the crowded roads, opportunistic taxi drivers and the sheer safety factor of being two women meant we missed out on our own exploration of night-time Cairo. The Oasis Hotel is convenient for visits to the Pyramid and Sphinx only.
The Pyramids of Giza
The only remaining wonder of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza were built over a period of 20 years, using only 3 months each year during the wet season. Although the three pyamids at Giza are the most famous and the most visited ones, there are currently 119 exposed pyramids in Egypt. The Giza pyramids comprise the Great Pyramid (or the Pyramid of Cheops), which currently stands 137m high (originally 147m prior to losing it’s original casing), the smaller Pyramid of Khafre and the smallest of the three pyramids, the Pyramid of Menkaure.
Whilst the pyramids are certainly impressive from an architectural perspective, we were left feeling massively underwhelmed by the experience. Maybe it was the hundreds of buses and thousands of tourists, all milling around the front of the Pyramid of Cheops. Perhaps it was the aggressive whistle-blowing of the policemen as they frantically yelled at the tourists who dared to climb up the first step. Or it may have been the ever-present touts and salesmen, following you around and shoving t-shirts, fake papyrus and trinkets under your nose.
Eventually, in an attempt to escape the maddening crowds, we moved away from the front of the pyramid, where everybody congregates and made our way round the side. It was a different world – far less people, sun in a perfect spot for photographs and it allowed us to get up close to the pyramid without a whistle being blown in our ears. Irrespective of which side you walk to though, you’ll never escape the camel-ride salesmen. Talk to them at your peril.
By now it was clear to us that our tour guide was really just running through the motions and wasn’t really too interested in what was on the agenda. It’s a short drive from the pyramids to the Sphinx and, once we had parked we joined the queue of tourists slowly making their way towards the entrance to the Sphinx, taking care to side-step the sales touts once more. The Sphinx has been made out of sandstone, the oldest geological rock in the area and, as history has it the Sphinx was carved to represent the best possible combination of man and beast; the strength of a lion and the wisdom of a man.
The block of sandstone from which the Sphinx was carved was not large enough for the entire 23m height of the monolith, so the head of the Sphinx has been carved from limestone. A protective beard was carved to shield the neck of the Sphinx from the brutal desert winds (bearing in mind that the neck was the vulnerable join between the resistant sandstone and the eroding limestone), but this was supposedly removed by the British at some stage.
Like the pyramids, the Sphinx is characterised by a constant stream of tourists, queueing to get their photo taken in front of the Sphinx, jostling as they attempt to be photographed with no other tourists blighting their shot. There is a constant stream of people rushing up, having their photo taken, and then being hustled off to the next stop on their tour. ?Never in our lives have we felt like such cattle, being shuffled from one photographic opportunity to the next.
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
It was at the Egyptian Museum that the photographic opportunities eventually dried up. No photographs are allowed to be taken inside the museum and indeed, I was reprimanded by a policeman for attempting to take photographs of some of the artefacts in the museum grounds. This is where our disillusionment with Cairo really set in – we were stopping at displays that were of interest to us, reading the limited information provided on an artefact when our tour guide, who was marching ahead of us, abruptly turned round and informed us that “this is no way to see the museum” and that we had to hurry up if we had any chance of seeing what we had to see.
And, in that sentence, we can summarise our issues with guided tours – you get to see what the tour guide wants you to see; not what you want to see. Egypt, unfortunately, is one of those places where you are best with an English-speaking organised tour, rather than attempting to negotiate language, costs, traffic and corrupt police officials on your own. However, an organised tour comes with it’s own pitfalls.
Yes, we saw the artefacts recovered from King Tutankhamun’s tomb, including the famous gold mask, ornate jewellery and other items. Yes, we paid an extra 100 Egyptian Pounds to enter the Royal Mummy Room, where 9 mummies are currently on display. But we were left with an overall feeling of disappointmet, almost like Egypt has sold it’s soul for the sake of tourism. Tour guides rattle off facts in a rote manner and show very little interest in what you, the paying traveller, wishes to see.
Thus, by the end of our first day in Cairo, we were starting to feel a little disillusioned. We’d been shuffled from pillar to post like cattle and we were beginning to wonder just what all the fuss about Egypt was about. Had we left Cairo after our first 24 hours, we could happily have never thought about returning. Our next blog post will tell you just what changed our minds.
Every #MexMonday, we’ll be bringing you a fabulous vacation get-away to Mexico. This week, our featured get-away is to Nuevo Vallarta, a residential and resort community in the state of Nayarit. Popular with visitors from both the United States and Canada, it is situated just 20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta.
Join us for a 5 night stay at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos beach resort and spa from the 23rd – 28th November, 2010 and save an unbelievable $1,863 off the best available online price by paying only $297.88 per person sharing (5 nights).
Your vacation includes:
- 6 Days & 5 Nights at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos Beach Resort & Spa
- Deluxe ocean view studio room accommodations with 2 queen size beds
- Round trip airport transfers
- Free golf at the Vista Vallarta Golf Course (cart required, $49 fee)
- Tatewari Spa discount
- Must have a valid passport
- Must book your own airfare into Puerto Vallarta airport (PVR)
The all-suite Villa del Palmar Flamingos Beach Resort and Spa is located in Nuevo Vallarta, approximately 5 miles north of Puerto Vallarta International airport and 7 miles north of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Featuring a lagoon-style pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, non-motorized water sports, activities and a supermarket. Dining options include the Bella Vista Restaurant and the Pizza Bar serving the pool areas. This resort offers 117 ocean view accommodations, all with furnished terraces.
The great Pyramids of Giza are well known to be the last remaining wonder of the ancient world and millions of tourists flock to Egypt each year to gaze at the massive structures. The impact of ancient Egyptian culture has spread far and wide and, thanks to the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30BC, even Rome has its own pyramid.
Roman magistrate Caius Cestius was one of the many administrators and soldiers who descended on Egypt during the Roman conquest and he was so impressed by the pyramidal tombs built for Egyptian Pharoahs that he demanded his own pyramidal burial tomb in Rome.
Built between 18BC-12BC, the Pyramid of Cestius is faced in slabs of white marble and is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome, thanks mainly to its incorporation into Rome’s city walls. Measuring 100 Roman feet (29.6m) square at its base and 37m high, it forms a wonderfully unusual land-mark amongst the typical Roman architecture and buildings.
An inscription on both the east and west flanks of the pyramid dedicates this land mark to “Caius Cestius, son of Lucius, of the gens Pobilia, member of the College of Epulones, praetor, tribune of the plebs, septemvir of the Epulones”. The interior burial chamber of the tomb was discovered in 1660, and was found to be decorated with frecoes, but no visitors are allowed inside the tomb.
Bordering the Protestant Cemetry (or non-Catholic Cemetry) in south-central Rome, near Porta San Paulo, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius is easily accessible by travelling to the Piramide station on the “B” (blue) Metro line. Just two Metro stops past the Colosseum, at Piazzale Ostiense, it can easily be incorporated into a sight-seeing tour on the same day you visit the Colosseum.
The non-Catholic Cemetry is accesible via the entrance on Via Caio Cestio and entrance is free, but donations are appreciated upon leaving. We recommend visiting the Cemetry to get the full view of the Pyramid and the inscriptions and to get some great photographs of one of the world’s non-Egyptian pyramids.
As travel-lovers and people who love the opportunity of 5-star travel at 2-star prices, we joined one of the fastest growing internet travel companies to take advantage of what I found to be, quite frankly, ridiculously priced holidays and vacations around the world.
However, there are always a few cynical and skeptical people out there, some of whom have been burnt somewhere along the line, or even just some who are used to paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises or Carnival Cruises. After all, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars for a cruise that we are paying $49 for, there must be a catch right? I mean, do you have to scrub decks or wash dishes or cuddle up with the anchor at bedtime?
We recently added one of these $49 cruises ($186 all inclusive of port fees & taxes) to our calendar for January 2011. Our allocation of 280 cabins on a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Cruise Line Fascination sold out rapidly. It was so popular we’ll be adding another one to our calendar within the next 60 days.
Check out our calendar of forth-coming cruises and vacations and join in the fun as we travel the world. Find out for yourself that it is possible to take a $49 cruise!
The 2010 Fifa World Cup, hosted by South Africa, has successfully come and gone, leaving in its wake jubilant Spaniards, disappointed Dutch (and Germans, English, French and Italians) and more flags and scarves than we know what to do with.
So, be honest now, what were you really expecting of South Africa?
Were you disappointed that you didn’t spot any mud-huts in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town? Did you bring your camera as you hoped to catch on film the lions and elephants strolling past your B&B accommodation? Or perhaps the stab vest you invested in was left gathering dust in your suitcase?
I say all this in jest, but the truth of the matter is that very few visitors to our shores knew what to expect when they descended on South Africa in the week leading up to the opening game on the 11th June 2010.
The naysayers predicted doom and disaster, crime and chaos, murder and mayhem. The stadiums wouldn’t be finished in time, power outages would happen in the middle of major games, buses would plunge off cliffs and cars would disappear into cavern-sized potholes – you name it, the press guaranteed that it was going to happen.
We even had that fine bastion of British journalism, The Daily Star, warning English players and fans of an earthquake in Cape Town, “An expert has predicted the country is almost certain to be hit by a major natural disaster. And it could strike during this summer’s footie tournament. Dr Chris Hartnady has singled out Durban and Cape Town as the areas most likely to be hit by a quake. And that is bad news for England’s stars, who are set to face Algeria in Cape Town on June 18.”
[the irony here is that I studied Structural Geology under Professor Hartnady at the University of Cape Town and he’s the least likely man to make such a bold statement, given his vast knowledge of South African geology. I wouldn’t put mis-quotations and creative editing past The Daily Star team.]
Franz Beckenbauer, Pele, Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness and even prominent local journalists all expressed concerns about South Africa’s capability to host a successful World Cup final.
Speaking to a Dutch football fan at one of the games, we discovered that Fifa had allocated 20,000 tickets to the Dutch Football Federation, but only 8,000 of these tickets were bought by fans. The remaining 12,000 weren’t sold, a matter that was put down to negative Dutch press publicity about South Africa. The Dutch that did take advantage of the tickets loved South Africa and nobody reported experiencing any of the problems that the press had predicted. Indeed, they were left wondering exactly where the Dutch press were getting their information from regarding South Africa.
I spoke online to a German fan who was not able to come to South Africa because of the exorbitant prices – exorbitant because the German media cajoled the public into believing that South Africa was a hot-bed of crime, violence and aggression and that the only safe place to stay was the “security oasis” of Sun City (not known for its cut-price accommodation or for its proximity to any of the German games).
We made friends with Americans, Australians, Dutch, Mexicans and British fans and all of them reported that they loved South Africa. Concerns about bringing camera and lens equipment to South Africa and to the stadiums faded and fans left here with potentially prize-winning footage of players, stadiums and fans; game parks and wildlife.
Not a single person we spoke to had experienced any crime or had reason to be afraid at any stage. All expressed how hospitable, friendly and helpful native South Africans had been. All that visited Cape Town were in awe of its beauty and natural wonders and those that were fortunate enough to visit our outstanding game parks reported phenomenal sightings of leopards, lions, elephants and other big game.
Yes, there were times when things didn’t go according to plan – the park and ride facilities at some stadiums was poorly organised; traffic flow to and from stadiums could have been under better control; there was the farcical situation of national aircraft carriers not being able to land at King Shaka International airport in Durban before the Spain – Germany semi-final due to parking of VIP private jets; there were wild-cat strikes by bus-drivers and security staff at stadiums; but nothing that would make a visitor return home to his country and tell friends and family not to ever visit South Africa.
And, as for the vuvuzela, it is here to stay. Having been exported en masse by departing fans and having been stocked on shelves in American Wal-Mart and British Sainsbury’s supermarkets, you can guarantee that you’ll be hearing the tuneless drone of the much-maligned plastic horn for years to come.
The celebrities have come and gone, the players have come and gone and the Spanish came, saw and conquered. There were no stadium power failures, no collapsing of stands, no murder or abduction of tourists – and no earthquakes or other natural disasters. Sepp Blatter gave us a score of 9/10 for the 2010 World Cup, commenting that this would be a “cum laude” score for a university doctorate.
South Africa 2010 ranks as the third most successful tournament ever, with a total stadium attendance of 3 094 366 (an average attendance of 49 670 people per game, or a 93% full rate). The only tournaments to have been more successful are USA ’94 (with 68 991 people per match totaling 3.58 million spectators) and Germany ’06 (52 491 people per match totaling 3.36 million spectators).
All that is left is for South Africans like us to keep promoting this beautiful country of ours to travellers like yourself – take the trip and experience the beauty of Cape Town, the spectacular Wild Coast (where you will see mud huts), the awe-inspiring game parks and the sheer warmth and hospitality of local South Africans.
We promise you a holiday to remember.
Did you visit South Africa for the 2010 World Cup? We’d love to see your comments below on how you enjoyed it!
South Africa is known as the “Rainbow Nation” and, when you see the diverse selection of colours and creeds within South Africa, you’ll know exactly why. We’re a country with 11 official languages and home to a flag with 6 colours. Indeed, when you see the South African flag lined up with all the other flags of the participating World Cup nations, you’ll see just how colourful our flag really is.
With over 500,000 visitors to our shores for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, our country has been awash with colourful fans from other nations – from the bright orange of the Dutch, to the yellow of Brazil and the red of Ghana, this has indeed been a celebration of colour. Let us toast the colourful fans who have graced our shores!