Inspection Visit to South Africa
Vaughan Voyage’s Guest Diary
Our West Walian partners at Vaughan Voyage will be bringing a strong, passionate and vocal contingent with them as they join us in South Africa next summer. In Scarlets heartland, rugby flows in the blood while Welsh song is embedded deep in the soul.
That’s why their very own, Daniel, accompanied us to the Rainbow Nation back in February to ensure everything was perfect for his loyal and partisan supporters.
In our very first guest diary, Daniel gives us a little insight into the trip and what to expect in South Africa 2021.
From Jo’burg to the Bush
We all have our own preconceptions of South Africa. I was no different! Excitement, trepidation and anticipation kept me occupied on the 12-hour flight. We arrived at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to be delighted and amazed!
Welcoming you to International Arrivals at the airport is an imposing bronze statue of anti-apartheid activist, and ANC’s first president, Oliver Tambo. The statue depicts Tambo’s arrival at the airport after 30 years in exile – a stark reminder of the country’s tumultuous history.
With no time to waste, and a huge tick-list to get through, we ventured off to the symbolic Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg, for a quick walking and working lunch. To those of you joining a Vaughan Voyage excursion for the very first time, I’m a notorious fast-walker and would encourage every one of you to invest in a sturdy pair of comfortable walking shoes!
The hustle and bustle of Nelson Mandela Square was the perfect introduction, colourful, energetic and a huge melting pot of sights and sounds. Exactly what you’d expect from a bustling city! After some hotel visits in and around the square we enjoyed an early evening drive to the magnificent Pilanesburg National Park ready to set up camp for the evening.
When I say ‘camp’ what I actually mean is to lay my head in four-star luxury! Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge is a thing of beauty, the perfect place for us to unwind after a busy old day. The Lodge boasts meticulously groomed poolside gardens and offered an early insight into the beauty that was still to come!
Pilanesberg and Sun City
It turned out that chilling by the pool hadn’t been included on the itinerary for the inspection visit so it was a 5.30am start for us on day two! Now if you’re getting up at 5.30am you want to make sure that it’s for a good reason. Safari! A drive through the National Park provided us with views of zebras, rhinos and lions, amongst others. We’ve all seen the nature programmes and marvelled at seeing these creatures in the wild but there’s nothing quite like actually seeing them in the wild!
Safari was followed by more hotel visits in the area before visiting Sun City for lunch. The Vegas of Africa didn’t disappoint with its hustle, bustle and endless casinos. One thing I will say about South Africa, and this was evident after only a day and a half in the country, there is definitely something for everyone!
We hit the road in the afternoon, popping in the four-star Centurion Hotel and famous namesake international cricket ground opposite, to break up our journey to Eswatini. We crossed the border in the early evening, continuing our journey to Lobamba and the Lugogo Sun Hotel for the night where we watched the Wales v France Six Nations match in the “Sportsman’s Bar”.
Vaughan Voyage crossing borders
Following a hearty breakfast, we were given a tour of the magnificent Royal Swazi Golf Course and facilities and despite it being a rather damp and dull morning the views and surroundings didn’t disappoint!
An hour coach transfer towards Manzini followed, to a river to begin our white-water rafting adventure. I avoided any arguments with the water until the very last section of the run. Completely submerged. What a rush! This may not be on everyone’s bucket list but if there’s even a tiny bit of you that’s keen be sure to take up the chance. We certainly earned a delicious meal and that’s what we had, with a few pints of local beer, at the superb House of Fire – the premier festival venue in Eswatini.
To cap off a thoroughly enjoyable day, the locals insisted on finding and playing the Scarlets v Southern Kings game in the bar for yours truly. A lovely gesture, but a little embarrassing as my beloved Scarlets thumped their South African counterparts! We crossed the border and headed to Durban the next day, bumping into a few crocs and hippos along the way.
Catch up with Episode 2 of the MSG Lekker Lounge, starring international prop rivals, Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira and Adam Jones.