At some point in our lives many of us dream of grabbing a backpack, getting on an airplane and setting off on an adventure. And what better place to go do that, than in South Africa, which was selected as the No. 1 adventure destination of the year in the VirtusoLuxe Report 2018. From whale [...]


South African adventure brought closer to home


Pic courtesy Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safaris

At some point in our lives many of us dream of grabbing a backpack, getting on an airplane and setting off on an adventure. And what better place to go do that, than in South Africa, which was selected as the No. 1 adventure destination of the year in the VirtusoLuxe Report 2018. From whale watching, hot air balloon rides, to shark cage and croc cage diving, trekking in the forest and much more, this was the world that we were introduced to at the South African Tourism Road Show 2018.

The event was put together by the South African High Commission, on February 9 with representatives of 30 South African tourist companies. Its main focus was to learn how different packages could be designed to fit the needs of Sri Lankan tourists. Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager of Tourism South Africa explains that the aim of South African Tourism is to provide their visitors with the best possible packages, in the easiest manner – the website has been set up for this purpose.

“There are 60,000 registered products in South Africa and over 3000 activities, which means it doesn’t matter what your client wants to do or what his/ her budget is, we can help.”

The interactive website shows the best way to plan a trip and get the maximum return out of it. It would then match up the client with the perfect provider. According to Hanneli, these quality providers (tourist operators) are all members of South Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), selected following a careful screening process. “In other words if they’re a member of SATSA you can comfortably do business with them.”

The website also directs you to the different ways in which one could explore the country, which could be by car, train or air etc.

“How badly do you want me to scare him?” Tracy Weeks from ‘TTQ Leisure Group’ asks Hannali, with a mischievous grin, to which the answer was “give it your best shot.”

Tracy explains that she had selected products to fit the desires of Sri Lankans, according to what’s available in South Africa. “It’s all about letting that person take that extra step forward,” she tells us.

Pic courtesy Ocean Odyssey

Her company features a ‘vet safari’ where you work on Tracy’s game reserve and conduct actual procedures on an animal, under professional guidance. “If we’re working on a lion, you would come and work with me and you’ll be in charge of taking its temperature, as opposed to just being on safari,” she tells us.

Tracy’s company also offers sand boarding and shark cage diving and if you wanted, you could even swim without the cage, she explains. For this one would have to undergo a special diving course.

Sri Lanka is one of those few countries where people travel with many generations, Tracy observes, adding that her company strives to ensure that everyone in the family gets to do what they want.

“For me it’s not the budget, but it’s to ensure that everyone travelling, experiences something that makes their heart beat just a little bit faster.”

Bill Harrop is the operator of hot air balloon safaris and has a fleet of six balloons that can give you an exciting aerial view of the beautiful countryside bordering Gauteng and the North West province of South Africa.

But if you’re looking for something more, he also offers other exciting packages, such as special game viewing balloon safaris etc. The balloons fly every day, weather permitting. An average trip would last you about an hour. For more information on packaging and pricing log on

We were also introduced to the Cango Wildlife Ranch located in Oudtshoorn, South Africa, which is also the ostrich capital of the world.

The Ranch houses over 90 species of animals, which are mostly endangered or threatened. Their primary focus is to connect people with nature and help them understand what these animals face and what can be done to rectify it. They offer a variety of exciting activities and all the funds generated from this go towards their cheetah preservation foundation.

The ranch is also home to the world’s first crocodile cage diving, which altogether promises a different experience. Check them out on

Finally we speak to Evelyn Pepler, the owner of ‘Ocean Odyssey,’ a company that offers an unforgettable marine adventure in the beautiful seaside town of Knysna.

She tells us their activities include a close encounter whale watching operation and also other eco-based boating activities.

“During the winter whale migration season, we take our guests on excursions out through the Knysna Head in search of migrating whales and other marine life,” she explains. During the summer their marine eco-tours follow a similar route and this time one could observe a variety of marine life which includes the Indo-pacific Humpback dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins and pelagic birds etc.

Their latest exciting addition to the company features twelve ‘Go-Now’ electric bicycles, which Evelyn guarantees, makes exploring Knysna fun and exhilarating.

So if you’re planning on ticking it off your bucket list, South African Tourism offers a seamless process to plan your trip according to your budget and get the best value for money.

Useful travel tidbits
VisaIt takes around five to eight days to obtain a South African visa. As long as you can prove that you have a flight ticket, a reservation and show that you have the means to take care of yourself whilst in South Africa, there’s no reason why your visa will be declined.Some guidelines from
Hanneli Slabber*Road travel is encouraged. “It’s very easy to drive in South Africa and Sri Lankan drivers’ licences are allowed as long as it says in English that it is a driver’s licence and it must have a photograph and an expiry date.”The biggest problems the authorities have encountered with Sri Lankan drivers in South Africa is speeding. The speed limit is at 120 km per hour in the outskirts and 60 kmph in the city. “And most drivers don’t seem to realize that you can get to 120 kmph very quickly.”*Seat belts are compulsory in both front and back seats.*The law in South Africa is that if you rent a car, they have to give you 24 hour assistance.  Furthermore the car rental place would programme your GPS for you. The lady in the GPS is referred to as the ‘Lovely Veronica”.*If you decide to travel by air, you’d find both Domestic and International flights in the airports, so there’s no need to move from airport to airport.*A sim card costs less than a rupee in South Africa. But you won’t have coverage in:A) high profile restaurants, because a lot of them have blockers. “When you’d come in they’d ask, if you’re expecting a phone call, you say yes and hand them your phone. When it rings a staff member would answer it and inform you that there’s a phone call at the lounge for you.”B) Game parks: “We’re protecting the rhino, so we don’t want you to upload pictures of the rhino, because that will disclose its location.”South Africa is also following the global shift of becoming more responsible citizens of the earth. “We are striving to be more responsible and sustainable in everyday life.” Bottled water for instance incurs a charge as opposed to tap water which is free.”*Finally pick out a graded hotel because a grade guarantees that the premises are clean, secure and the staff are well trained.

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