My last luxury expedition was a tour of Botswana’s premier hot destinations in 2008.
Since then I had chased adventure off the beaten track through backpacking, endless planning and plotting to make it to the next destination. Tables turned last when I embarked on a trip with SA Tourism to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Drakensberg mountains, a tour of Midlands Meander and Rhythm City studio with an opportunity to hang around with some of the actors of the popular drama. I did not travel alone but with other local journalists and e- Botswana viewers who had a won a competition run by the television station.
THE JOURNEY TO DURBAN
The journey to King Shaka airport in Durban, took the whole day as if I was traveling by a chapa (taxis in Mozambique). Air Botswana was delayed and took off late due to bad weather in Johannesburg. I was least concerned about the weather, I just wanted to arrive in Durban but more delays kept creeping up even after arrival at OR Tambo airport. The delay was more of a blessing in disguise as I was put on first class and had a meal served in chinaware instead of disposable plates in the economy class. I enjoyed the smooth flight aboard South African Airways while sipping on free scotch whiskey which my shallow pockets cannot afford.
LIVING IN LUXURY
Accommodation was provided at Woodridge Country Hotel and Spa. The hotel is located in Balgowan, in the heart of Kwazulu Natal and within the majestic mountains of Midlands Meander which is home to beautiful tall exotic trees. Wow! wow!wow! was all I could say as my eyes feasted on the breathtaking scenery of mountains covered in thick green vegetation which to me resembled a true paradise, I surely was in for a treat.
I spent my late afternoon enjoying the beauty of my ‘new found love’ as it was proving to be difficult to take my eyes off the magnificent view. Anyway I still had more days to enjoy it, I said to myself as I later joined the team alongside other travelers from Durban. I retired to bed after some fine cuisine by the hotel restaurant and enjoyed a beautiful night under the clouds at high altitude in the mountains.
A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD
My first adrenaline- rushing activity was at Karkloof Canopy Tours. Nothing beats being suspended 35 meters above the ground in a thick jungle. After a short briefing of what the canopy tour is all about. I was all geared up with safety harness equipment and ready to experience what Tarzan experiences while clinging from one branch to another during his rescue missions. It was cold and raining but that did not stop me as the rain seemed to add a spark to the adventure.
It was fun sliding on a long cable from one tree to another moving at 80 km/hr with a leather glove on my strongest hand to help me brake and not crush into supporting poles. I did slide around 8 different zip lines, which were all named according to their designs and altitude. This is surely a good sport and even those without the lion’s heart can try. One also gets an excellent view of the pristine valleys and waterfalls. The bird species cannot go unnoticed as they will also be providing sweet music to the ears while enjoys the tours. For nature loving adrenaline junkies, this is a must if you’re visiting the Midlands. It’s a pity that due to the cold wet weather some activities such abseiling and hot air ballooning were cancelled. What a big loss for us as I understand the activities also provide an out of this world adventure. But anyway, there is always a next time.
TORTURED WITH SOFT HANDS
My trip was sealed with a spa treat at the hotel. After a warm shower from the canopy tour, I could not wait to get the massage. I was not prepared for what awaited me at the spar. As I entered the room a fine young lady kindly asked me to strip naked save for my underwear and relax on the bed with my head down. I could not help but smile in anticipation of the good feeling that lay ahead as I made my naked body feel comfortable on the bed. I felt a warm towel cover my body fully from head to toe with soft music playing on the background. I felt soft oily hands moving all over my back and as she continued with her wonderful job she asked, “how do you like it?” I don’t think I answered her but I am sure sign were there to show that I was blown away. I could tell the lady was skilled with how she touched my back. I could not help but laugh as she kept on touching my back but I did apologize for my high sense of humour and continued laughing for one hour as she went on until she joined in the laughter. The one-hour body massage left me relaxed, sleepy and humbled. I surely had a wonderful time in the Midlands and will return someday for the true African charisma one experiences in this place.
TOUR OF RHYTHM CITY STUDIO
After spending time with four Rhythm city actors, we visited the studio and this was a marvel for the winners who happened to be the biggest fans too. We were lucky to be shown a scene being recorded and visited all the sets within the studio.
GAUTRAIN FROM SANDTON TO O.R TAMBO AIRPORT
The short but worthwhile retreat came to an end on Monday as we bade farewell to our hospitable hosts, SA Tourism. The journey to the airport was not buy any car or luxurious but the super luxurious Gautrain. The train is not only comfortable but efficient as we railed to the airport without worrying about traffic. As people prepare for the Easter Holidays I am not worried at all because I have just had more than a holiday in the heart of KZN. I must confess, I felt so much in love with the place and wouldn’t mind going to that paradise again and again.