Durban Delights!

April 20, 2010

durban seafront

We often talk of Cape Town and Johannesburg, but Durban may just be that hidden gem we’ve forgotten about. With the largest Indian population outside Asia, the largest Shopping Mall in Africa, and a fascinating Aquarium – Durban is a cool place!

Lets take a peek at some fascinating “Durban” facts.

* Take a guess at how many Indians Durban has. A few thousands, you said? No. 6 Lakhs is the number. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which means Durban has more Indians than Jammu and Dehradun! And it has more Indians than there are people in Atlanta and Las Vegas. Well?

* Durban has Africa’s largest Marine Theme Park – the uShaka Marine World. The cool thing about this “aquarium” is thatย  a spectacular sea wreck has been recreated here! And to add to that there are also some mind numbing dolphin shows. uShaka Marine World also boasts of a huge quantity of water: 7500 cubic meters of it! This much water could sustain an average Indian for a whopping 320 years. Interesting? Here’s a picture!

uShaka Marine World

* Durban’s Indian connection has been there since, well quite a long time. Where did Mahatma Gandhi set foot, when he came to South Africa in 1893? No prizes for answering – Durban. He also lived here with his wife Kasturbha for more than 19 years and espoused the causes of the Indians here. Durban pays tribute to the great leader today with a statue at Phoenix Settlement. There is also a street named after Mahatma Gandhi.

* What does Durban have to do with sports? Everything. Many games from the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup were held in Durban. Durban then played host to the ICC Twenty-Twenty Cup in 2007. And then came the Indian Premier League in 2009! And yes, it is one of the venues for the FIFA World Cup, 2010. ๐Ÿ™‚ Are you coming?

* Durban is pretty “empty” when you compare it to cities like Mumbai and Delhi. In one square kilometer, there are 15 times as many people in Mumbai as in Durban! How many people do you generally see in one glance at a railway station in Mumbai? 100? In Durban you will see 100/15 = 6 people!

Isn’t Durban fascinating? You might like looking at an intriguing Durban Tour here.

I’ll end with an event that hardly any Indian will ever forget. It happened in Durban. It was stunning beyond doubt.

Yuvraj Singh, hit 6 sixes in an over at Kingsmead in Durban. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s the video. Enjoy.


Cape Town: 6 Unusual Facts

April 13, 2010

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

With a Table Mountain, a spectacular seafront,ย  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 6 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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

* 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… ๐Ÿ™‚

* 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 Worldโ€™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?ย  No second guesses: it’s Cape Town. ๐Ÿ™‚

* 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?


Do you KNOW the Big Five?

April 10, 2010

Talk of South Africa and you have to mention the Big Five: the Lion, the Elephant, the Leopard, the Rhino and the Wild Buffalo.

These 5 animals rule the game reserves of South Africa. And yes, no game drive is complete without seeing all of them.

Here’s an interesting video about the Big Five.

Wouldn’t it be a thrilling experience to cruise past them in your jeep, stopping when you wanted?

Let’s look at each of these fascinating animals in detail.

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THE LION

Weight: About 170 kg. (About twice the average man’s weight).

Diet: Carnivorous diet. Lions are opportunists. Theyย  can eat the remains of an animal someone else has killed. They can also hunt and eat animals ranging from the a small hare to a huge African buffalo.

Life Span: Around 16 years in the wild.

What’s so interesting about lions?

A lot! For example,

* The roar of a male lion can be heard up to a distance of 8 km! If you live in Mumbai, that means a lion roaring at Mumbai CST can be heard at Mumbai Central!

* Interestingly, lionesses do most of the hunting and bring the prey home. Lions mostly chill out! And guess what, the lionesses wait for the lions to finish eating the food they bring and then consume only the left overs! Add to all this, it is they who have to bring up the lion cubs….. A case for lioness empowerment, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a lion…

lion africa

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THE ELEPHANT

Weight: 4 to 6 tons. ( Half the weight of an 84 passenger school bus!).

Diet: They graze and also uproot trees and and shrubs. And how much do they eat? 300 Kgs a day. That is about 130 times the food an average man eats in a day!

Life Span: 60 to 70 years.

What’s so interesting about elephants?

* An elephant herd comprises almost entirely of female elephants and their young ones! The male elephants leave the herd when they are 12 years old and then never come back. Many male elephants roam alone after mating…

* Elephants drink about 190 litres of water a day. That’s equal to the amount of water I use everyday to bathe, wash clothes and dishes, clean my house, shave, and do everything I can! Wow.

African Elephant

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THE LEOPARD

Weight: 70 Kg. (I am amazed by the VAST difference in weights amongst the Big Five. The leopard weighs as much as you and me while the Elephant weighs 60 times your weight!)

Diet: Carnivorous. It eats small animals and medium sized antelopes.

Life Span: 20 years.

What’s so interesting about leopards?

* Leopards are staunch advocates of living alone. So much so, that they actually fight any other leopard they accidentally encounter! However, they do sometimes hunt with their mate.

* Leopards have a special ability: they can hang upside down from trees! It is interesting to watch a full grown leopard do that though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s a leopard posing for Namaste South Africa by the way.


leopard

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THE RHINO

Weight: 1 to 2 tons. ( The weight of an average car.)

Diet: Leaves, buds and shoots of plants is what a species of Rhino called the Black Rhino eats. The White Rhino eats grass. But yes, all rhinos are veggies.

Life Span: 35 to 40 years.

What’s so interesting about rhinos ?

* Well, we all know that the elephant is the largest land animal on earth right? We’ve learn that since childhood. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ever wondered which is the second largest land animal? Our good old white rhino.

* Rhinos have lived on this earth since the last 50 million years. That’s way more than other animals like lions. And of course about 50 times older than man, who’s been there since about a million years. ๐Ÿ™‚

rhino africa

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THE AFRICAN BUFFALO

Weight: 900 Kg.

Diet: Grass, grass and still more grass! And some leaves at times. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Life Span: 16 Years.

What’s so interesting about buffaloes?

Yeah, that’s what you might be wondering. Buffaloes? What’s amazing about buffaloes? But, you see, these are not our good old Indian buffaloes. They are African buffaloes –ย  different creatures altogether.

* The African buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous of the Big Five. Why? Because it is so unpredictable! It gets nervous when not in a herd and attacks at the slightest provocation. And yes, once injured or attacked it NEVER forgives. Some buffaloes have been known to follow hunters who attacked them till the very end…

* Buffaloes have 4 times the strength of an Ox. And if you didn’t notice the statistics, they weigh four times a lion!

What’s this one thinking?

african buffalo picture

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So well, when are you coming to South Africa? You might like looking at this fascinating page that tells you about some wild tours!

Here’s dedicating this entry to the Big Five!


In the Lap of the Wild: Kruger National Park

April 3, 2010

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.ย  The total length of roads in Israel, which has an equivalent areaย  is about 6500 km. The total length of roads in Mumbai isย  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.ย  When are you visiting? ๐Ÿ™‚

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


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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Taj, Cape Town is Now Open!

March 25, 2010

There’s now another Indian Connection to South Africa (apart from Namaste South Africa ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) – 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 andย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! Acclaimedย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚