South Africa now the World Cup dust has settled.

With the World Cup now come and gone, I think few people – South Africans included – understood the full implications of what an event of this size meant to the country – and the brand “South Africa”. In the months preceding the World Cup, South Africa was largely a building site, and any reference to the event was to do with high pricing and logistical complications. Now that it is over – and has been an overwhelming success – we can finally look back and assess the legacy of the World Cup, particularly from a tourism point of view.

The infrastructural benefits – while largely restricted to the large cities – are immediately apparent in the vastly improved road systems and airports, meaning access and transfer times have been improved.

The largest impact I feel from our point of view is the successful implantation of the high speed train (Gautrain) from OR Tambo International in Johannesburg to Sandton (Pretoria will be completed as part of phase 2). Launched days before the World Cup, it covers the distance in 12 minutes in fast, world class comfort and arrives in the heart of Johannesburg’s tourist areas. New hotels have sprung up to service the Gautrain stations, and it is going to change the way we sell the city, as previously many clients opted for airport hotels to beat the notorious Johannesburg traffic. Now the best restaurants, outdoor squares and shopping are within an easy ride. We will be sending out comprehensive info in the next few weeks on this – how we will include Gautrain tickets for clients, how transfers to hotels will work and feedback on the plethora of new hotels that have opened in the Sandton/Rosebank areas.

Durban too has seen a remarkable resurgence during the World Cup period, driven primarily by its iconic stadium a stone’s throw from the beach, and a R350 million beachfront boulevard, running for 5 kms from harbour side restaurants, along the best beaches the city has to offer and passing restaurants and bars en route, all the way to the stadium. With no less than 6 boutique hotels opened in the last 4 months, it also has opened the door for more creative hotel offerings which were sorely lacking in the past. Again – watch out for our comprehensive Durban mail out in the weeks to follow.

The World Cup has monopolised the tourism industry in South Africa for over a year and has absorbed much time and energies. With it behind us, we can now anticipate the benefits of the improved facilities,  transport links and ultimately the exposure of South Africa as a destination.

Copyright © New Frontiers Tours & Travel

Our Intrepid Traveller; a client’s account of Africa part 7

11 TO 13 JANUARY This morning you will be transferred by road and boat to Mvuu Lodge for a stay of three nights.

Leaving the Park we saw yellow baboons (caramel colored instead of the darker brown), Meves’s Starling, Eastern Paradise or Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah?, Glossy Ibis.  Got to the Shire River about 12:30 and had a 45 minute boat ride to the Mvuu Lodge in the Liwonde National Park (Mvuu means Hippo).  Along the way were White Breasted Cormorant, Blue-Cheecked Bee-eater, huge bull African Elephant, Hippos, Hippos, and Hippos, Cattle egret on the hippos, White Heron, Squacco Heron, African Skimmer and some of them skimming!, yellow baboons.

After lunch of fish and chips, set out for a game drive:  Pied Wagtail, Bushbuck, Warthog, Longtailed Glossy Starling, Impala, Great White Egret, Wood Sandpiper, Malachite Kingfisher, Cape Turtle Dove, Banded Mongoose, Red billed Hornbill, Marabou Stork, female Kudu, Red billed Hornbill, Knob billed Duck, female Sable Antelope from a distance, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Red Billed Hornbill, Woodland Kingfisher, Forktailed Drongo, juv. Redbilled hornbill, Bearded Woodpecker, Arnott’s Chat, Woodland KF, Warthogs and Impalas at sunset, Spurwinged Goose flying thru the sunset, Sunset, croc in the water at sunset, and night drive was Courser, Square tailed Nightjar, Black tailed Scrub Hare, Hippo out of water to eat, white tailed mongoose.

They have fireflies!  Don’t know what they call them here, but lightning bugs, they seemed to be!  And I had 2 friendly pale geckos in my room.

Ah, yes, my room!  There are two comfy chairs and a hammock on the porch overlooking a side tributary of the river.  There is a huge king sized bed in the middle of the room enveloped with mosquito netting, a table on either side, a drum to bang on if I need room service (after dark a staff member to come and get me), a desk and chair, and in the other corner is half a dugout canoe which is serving as a closet.   Behind this room is a bathroom with thatched roof, a toilet,  huge rain shower head over a tub, and two sinks.  Water is filtered and safe to drink.  There is a door out of the bathroom with a wooden 2’ wide slatted walkway which leads to another outdoor shower, which I used this morning.  Also in the bath is another half of a dugout for shelves.  My rooms  have solar-powered lighting and hot water.

I was feted to crocs splashing and eating all night long in my little tributary!   And about 4 a.m. some birds with a VERY loud noises were happily awakening everything in the Park (Hadida Ibis ? spell) .  About 5:30 a small troop of monkeys happily hopped across my balcony.

The Lodge is inside the park and is not fenced off from the animals so at night we have to be escorted to dining room and back to our individual lodge.  The Park is mainly Mopani tree vegetation (Mopani means butterfly and the leaves are shaped like butterflies).  The Park is 538 sq. km. and inside the park is a 47 sq. km. Black Rhino Sanctuary.  There are less than 10 leopards in the park, and less than 100 hyenas.

Dinner:  mushroom crepes with lettuce and tomato and cucumber.  Pork chop, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, cauliflower, chilies, onions, carrots and cabbage.  Lemon pie for dessert.