with love from the Mother City.

My loDSCN6394ve affair with South Africa started off in the year 2009 when I first set foot in this gorgeous country, and all I can say is that 7 years since, the love has only grown, and has become one of the top destinations in the world to travel to. Personally, I do feel, what made South Africa noticed by the Indian clientele was when the inaugural IPL was shifted to South Africa in the year 2009. Just for the duration of the IPL, 22 000 hotel rooms, 10 000 domestic flight bookings made and millions of rands spent on ticket, food and beverage, transport and merchandise sales. The IPL injected approximately US$100 million into South Africa’s local economy. SouthIPL SA Africa, has everything to offer for every genre of holiday that you are looking at. The must do cities for me would be Cape Town and Johannesburg. While Johannesburg has a lot to do, for me the ultimate city would undoubtedly be Cape Town.

South Africa is a multicultural nation with no less than nine indigenous languages spoken, in addition to English, Afrikaans and some Indian languages like Urdu and Gujarati. Did you know that Gandhi worked in South Africa for a number of years before returning to India?

South Africa has three capitals: Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (administrative) and Bloemfontein (judicial). The tourism industry is well established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife. Being in the industry and constantly exposed to travel, a question that is commonly asked, “which would be your ultimate travel destination be” and the answer to that would be Cape Town without a doubt.

IMG_3042Why Mother City? “In the 1930’s some unknown party wrote to the local Cape Town newspaper claiming that Cape Town was the only city in South Africa that could justly call itself a metropolis. The public took to this description and because the word metropolis is derived from the Greek derivation of meter or metros meaning mother and polis meaning city, the nickname of “Mother City” was born. Hence today we know this wonderful city as being the Mother City.”

If Cape Town is your next destination, let me take you through some of the must do sites, that you really don’t want to miss.

Table Mountain

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Dominated by the iconic Table Mountain, which serves as a backdrop everywhere in the city, it would be synonymous to Cape Town. The appeal is apparent and from the time you land in this city, tick this off as soon as you can, cause the Cape car ride to the top is subject to weather conditions, and your trip will be left incomplete if you don’t get to see this beauty. Table Mountain is often covered in thick clouds — locals call it The Tablecloth — and it’s pointless to go then as you won’t see anything. As soon as you see that it’s going to be a clear day, go to the mountain immediately! You might not have another chance.  At over 3,500 feet above sea level, the views of Table Mountain are the best in the city and taking the famous cableway up the mountain, if one of its kind experience. The view from the top is simply mesmerising and somehow words may not be able to describe the magic you will feel at the top. New Tan 100%The cable car will take you to the top, a well-traversed area where you can explore and take lots of photos. And as soon as you’ll arrive, you’ll be spellbound at being surrounded by 360 degrees of natural beauty. Keep an eye out for the dassie, a critter that looks like a roly-poly guinea pig. His closest relative is the African elephant! You’ll get some of the best pictures of your trip on Table Mountain. You might want to wear something that looks good on you. Photography-wise, keep in mind that the best views of Lion’s Head and Cape Town are in the morning and the best views of the mountains are in the afternoon.IMG_3011

Visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

At the tip of Cape Peninsula, 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, second on my list. A declared Natural World Heritage Site. Encompassing 7750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna; abounding with buck, baboons and Cape mountain zebra as well as 250 species of birds, Cape Point is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. Named the ‘Cape of Storms’ by Bartolomeu Dias (a name you will hear often if you ever visit) in 1488; the ‘Point’ was treated with respect by sailors for centuries. By day, it was a navigational landmark and by night, and in fog, it was a menace beset by violent storms and dangerous rocks that over the centuries littered shipwrecks around the coastline.

In 1859 the first lighthouse was completed; it still stands at 238 meters above sea-level on the highest section of the peak and is now used as the centralised monitoring point for all the lighthouses on the coast of South Africa. Access to this historical building is by an exhilarating three-minute ride in the wheelchair-accessible Flying Dutchman funicular that transfers visitors from the lower station at 127 meters above sea-level to the upper station.

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Why is the Cape of Good Hope in Africa called so?

The Cape of Good Hope is a headland on the Atlantic coast side of South Africa. It is known for its spectacular scenery. 20131005_163401It was originally named the Cape of Storms by Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias ( a name you will hear often) in 1488. It was later renamed, by King John II of Portugal, the Cape of Good Hope because of the great optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East.  Don’t forget to click your mandatory picture at the Cape of Good Hope in your backdrop, or the famous lighthouse, with countries pointing in different directions.

Head to Robben Island

For those who are big on history, then visiting the former political prison on Robben unnamedIsland is a must do for sure. A former inmate personally guides you around the prison. It is both sobering and inspiring to learn first-hand about South Africa’s first black president especially from other people who actually knew him. Hear their stories and sit in the same exact cells where prisoners who fought for their rights were locked away. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for 23 years. This is yet another piece of South Africa’s history, and it doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

See the Boulders Beach penguins

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Boulders Beach remains the only place in the world where one can get up IMG_3285.JPGclose to African Penguins. Penguin viewing is made easier by boardwalks that lead visitors across the beaches. See the most adorable penguins ever, and somehow when you see them almost like in a herd, they seem to look even more adorable. Home to thousands of African penguins. Visitors can properly view them from a raised boardwalk, while still giving the massive colony their personal space. Widely known as the “jackass” penguin, you’ll know where the African penguin’s second name, for its donkey-like bray. A warning, Don’t try to take a photo too close to a penguin — they bite

Wine and dine in Stellenbosch

If you are big into wines, then you don’t want to miss this one. Spend a day in the gorgeous wine country of Stellenbosch and Paarl Valley, enjoying some of the Cape Winelands’ famous wines along with historic towns and scenic drives. It’s an ideal day trip for wine lovers as well as anyone who can appreciate the area’s history and dramatic beauty.

South African wine has a history dating back to 1659 with Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town. Access to international markets leads to new investment in the South African wine market. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centres at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. One of the most world-renowned wine regions is only a 45-minute ride outside of Cape Town. There are hundreds of privately owned vineyards in and around Stellenbosch, which is famous for the mountains and valley that are often blanketed in fog. The world-class wine can be sampled for just R60-75 ($4.40-5.50) a tasting.

Pose for a pic in colourful Bo-Kaap

Walking distance from the city centre is the colourful Cape Malay (Muslim) neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap, the former quarters of the city’s slave population. However, as time passed, the neighbourhood grew, and various communities have called it home. Nowadays, the Cape Malay population reside in the vibrant neighbourhood. Don’t feel shy walking through and taking photos; the residents are friendly and used to having their homes photographed and posted on Instagram. Pose for photos in front of the bright orange, green, pink, blue, and yellow houses.

Seal Island

IMG_3099Just 30 minutes off of the coast of Hout Bay, one will find Seal Island or Duiker Island. Visitors to the area can take a boat trip out the island; that acts as a sanctuary for a colony of Cape Fur seals and many water birds; including Kelp Gulls, Black Cormorants and Hartlaub Gulls. if you are fond of street shopping, this is the place where you may find some time, just before you board your boat to the island.

See Cape Town from a Helicopter

IMG_3379Cape TowInfraredn is one of the best cities to see by helicopter, if not the best. if you thought Cape Town is gorgeous, then nothing and I mean nothing will prepare you, for this simply stunning bird’s eye view of this beauty. Cape Town is a spectacularly set city, and a helicopter ride will show you new views of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, the 12 Apostles, lots of beach towns, and that unmistakable stadium. The Tour covers the immediate area surrounding Cape Town, toward the 12 Apostles and back. Highly recommend looking at the forecast and booking your flight for the best weather day possible. For the best light, go in the late afternoon.

Aquila Game Reserve

The Kruger Park is South Africa’s most popular destination. No trip to Africa is complete without a safari to experience Africa’s wildlife. The Kruger Park is Southern Africa’s largest game reserve and offers excellent wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities. Kruger is about 1800 km’s away from Cape Town,

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There is one direct flight Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (located near Nelspruit, just outside the Park)a day, however if you don’t want to travel too much and just want to experience and African safari, then not too far away from Cape Town, situated at less than 2 hours drive from Cape Town you have Aquila Private Game Reserve, offering big 5 safaris two hours from Cape Town, offering half day / full day / overnight (or even fly in!) safaris which can be done in the comfort of one of their 4×4 game drive vehicles, on horseback or even quad bikes if you’re feeling a little adventurous.

Explore the V&A Waterfront

New Tan 100%Cape Town isn’t the kind of city where you fight your way through tourist crowds — but the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is easily the most touristy place in the city. You can shop for anything, enjoy a variety of restaurants, ride the Ferris Wheel, visit the aquarium, take pictures of Table Mountain if the weather is cooperating, visit museums, jump on a harbour cruise, and get some gorgeous sunset views.

Other options recommended in and from Cape Town

Cage diving with the great white sharks

World’s highest bridge bungee, 216m from Bloukrans Bridge

Enjoy the scenic and gorgeous drive through the Garden Route

Visit the Cango Caves and Ostrich Farm

Stay at Wilderness in Oudtshoorn

Safety in Cape Town

Cape Town is a city where you should have your guard up. Unfortunately, this would be the only hindering factor, to an otherwise near complete destination to visit. This wouldn’t be one of the destinations I would recommend to be strolling around alone, and later in the evening, would be an absolute no. It is always recommended to be travelling in groups rather than solo in these parts of the world. Even at the airport, you will have a lot of people offering assistance, make sure to decline them politely, failing which, they may keep your baggage as ransom. Know that you will always be approached by people, requesting you to spare a change or so for them and will often follow you if you don’t give them money. This happens throughout South Africa. Don’t be scared. Just continue walking and ignoring them and they will eventually leave. Use UBER (Uber Black) in Cape Town as they tend to be extremely reliable Get a SIM card with data. You will require a passport for the same to have it registered. Lock up your valuables in a portable safe in your hotel room. Money change, requires a physical passport to be produced and they charge commission, therefore it is advisable to change consolidated amounts rather than small amounts.

Best times to travel

The best times to visit are the cusp months, October and November, springtime in South Africa, or from December to February when the days are at their longest and warmest. Winter from June to August tends to be rainy and cold.

Summer – December-February, 14.9°C-26.5°C

Autumn – March-May, 9.4°C-25.4°C

Winter – June-August, 7°C-18.1°C

Spring – September-November, 8.7°C-23.5°C

 

Recommendations for  Cape Town accommodation

Ultimate Luxury

OneandOnly Cape Town

Table Bay

Great Location and property:

Westin Cape Town

Southern Sun Cape Sun

Good Hotels at decent prices

Strand Tower

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So Finally with all this information, ladies and gentlemen

ITS TIME FOR AFRICA?

Shukran Jordan

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There is no mistaking the fact that Jordan is a kingdom that is immersed in history and culture, dating back to the ancient civilization. From the moment you step into this country you will realize the disadvantages of living in a digital and social world unlike the traditional world that they had left behind for us. All around are remnants of ancient civilization long since passed, yet they still remain stamped into the very fabric of this amazing kingdom and etched into the soul of the people who live here.

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Petra, the world wonder, is without a doubt Jordan’s most valued treasure and greatest tourist attraction. The Treasury is merely the first of the many wonders that make up Petra. You will need at least four or five days to really explore everything here. As you enter the Petra valley you will be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this place and its outstanding architectural achievements. Petra dating back to possibly as early as 300 BC, the archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert and capital of the Nabatean Kingdom.IMG_3806 Accessed via a narrow canyon called Al Siq, it contains tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning its nickname, the “Rose City.” Perhaps its most famous structure is 45m-high Al Khazneh, a temple with an ornate, Greek-style facade, and known as The Treasury. Much must have been written spoken or described about this colossal masterpiece but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing will prepare you for what lies ahead, the beauty of this has to be seen in person to truly understand it. A heads up to get there early if you only have a day, and ensure you wear comfortable shoes and keep yourself hydrated to beat the heat. It is also recommended that you go there with a licensed guide.

Petra_by_Night,_JordanThey do have Petra by night which is even more gorgeous, Petra by Night runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week, starts at 20:30 from Petra Visitor Centre and delivers you back by licensed guide to the Visitor Centre around 22.30pm. Cap of a very tiring but eventful day with another sumptuous meal, cooked in the sands. This was definitely a highlight for us, staying at the gorgeous Mariott Petra , to watch a video of the delicious cooking, you may visit the below link on my Instagram page.

I must warn you, you may feel extremely jealous. If you insist, don’t say I didn’t warn you. https://instagram.com/p/BQIByGbgd_M/

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Home to the local delicacy humus and I can assure you, that you haven’t really had humus, if you haven’t eaten it here. Food is a religion that is second to none here and meals are not meals but they are a gastronomic experience, savoring each morsel as a step towards heaven. With every passing meal, I couldn’t conclude which meal was more orgasmic than the other. Doused in olive oil, lemon, and spicy pepper and chili, this heavenly mixture can leave your taste buds wanting for more. These menus are a staple diet in most of the restaurants and you won’t have to walk miles before you find one. Special mention of the rustic interiors that make you want to go back in time and relive them again.

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The most awaited moment had to be at the end, making it, the absolute icing on the cake. 14516538_10157636638405165_5357470989481957912_nAt 400 meters below sea level making it the lowest point on planet earth, the Dead Sea will make you feel more alive than you ever have. Float like a cloud in its mineral-rich black mud water body which is used for therapeutic and cosmetic 14522760_10157636638600165_893319922591025449_ntreatments. The sheer alkalinity makes it impossible for any marine life to survive, giving it the name, the Dead Sea.

 

Don’t forget to carry your magazine to click your mandatory picture as your trip will not be complete without that capture. This has to feature on everyone’s bucket list.

After spending only a couple of days and not even seeing a tenth of what Jordan has to offer, this trip of mine ended sooner than I imagined. Like all good things must come to an end, this trip of mine, kept me wanting for more. Not seeing Petra by night, is something that left my trip incomplete, but then again Jordan will leave you like that, just to ensure you come back one more time. To complete this journey, I must return to see the abundance that this country has to offer. Go chase your dreams, don’t let your dreams be just dream.

     Hotel Recommendations (links embedded)
Marriott Petra Petra Marriott Hotel

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Marriott Amman Marriott Amman
Marriott  Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa

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Wadi Rum Night under the Stars

To gift your loved one, a once in a lifetime experience, spend a night under the stars in Wadi Rum in a luxury tent and spend a night that you may never forget.

Must Do

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Petra World Heritage Site

A picture in front of The Treasury

Local Restaurants and Humus

Dip in the Dead Sea

Ballooning in Wadi Rum

Mount Nebo

Should you require any local assistance in Jordan, my recommendation goes to Tyche Tours

In the end a BIG gratitude to our partners who made this unimaginable journey possible.  A  big shout out to the Marriott Group and Tyche Tours for opening the doors to this heavenly destination. Shukran Jordan, Inshallah we shall meet again.


Disclaimer

Images like Petra by Night, Ballooning in Wadi Rum and the Night of the Stars have not been clicked by me. The purpose of using these images was purely for reference purposes, to give my readers a preview of what they can expect or rather to entice them. The pictures are not added to take credit of someone else’s images or mislead anyone.