INDABA 2013: Africa’s top travel show

INDABA 2013 meetingsTrip Report by Keith Holshausen, Lazy Lizard Travel LLC

Even though I grew up in Southern Africa, every visit ‘home’ is filled with excitement from the moment I step onto the South African Airways flight in JFK, to the first sight of the rising sun and that unforgettable orange glow as we wing southwards.  SAA is an award winning airline with three South African airports ranked the best in Africa which are also currently rated higher than any American airport (Skytrax survey).

INDABA is owned by SA Tourism and attracts some 13,000 delegates with 750 exhibitors.  At INDABA you can discover all the latest travel products available and window-shop for travel opportunities, as well as network in an industry that thrives on connections. I squeezed in 38 meetings in three days not to count the various ‘sundowners’ and cocktail events that go with the territory.  Show organization is top notch and the service and efficiency is undoubtedly ‘first world’ but with a delightful flavor of Africa.  May is a perfect time to be in South Africa as you get to experience Autumn at its best.

Numerous African countries are represented, including the hearty Southern African contingent of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique (not forgetting the host country, South Africa) to the East Africa clan of Tanzania and Kenya with a special contribution from the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion.

The South African Minister of Tourism was also visiting INDABA as tourism is a leading earner of foreign currency, even overtaking gold exports.  They say that one job is created for every 12 foreign arrivals in South Africa.

No visit to INDABA would be complete without a few ‘site inspections’ and the travel industry is always ready to showcase their splendors.  I traditionally visit the game reserves in the Kruger National Park area and my sightings of leopard at Mala Mala this year were breathtaking to say the least.  I then dropped in at Kapama Private Game Reserve which stretches over 30,000 acres and has four sophisticated bush camps.  In Cape Town the Table Bay Hotel on the waterfront boasts stunning views of Table Mountain and you are also pampered with exceptional service.  The scenic Cape Winelands have been described by many overseas wine experts as the most beautiful in the world.  The Cape wine industry dates back to the 17th century with the Dutch settlers and French Huguenots.  My wife’s ancestors were wine farmers and settled their Paarl estate ‘Den Soeten Inval’ as far back as 1688.

So next time you are looking at your ‘bucket list’, I strongly suggest you write in Africa and perhaps even write it in twice.

Hamba kahle….travel well.

Cape Town Fall

Fall in the Cape of South Africa is a spectacular time of the year to visit.
The weather is that jewel clear warm sunny late summer type of weather and its hard not to find yourself unwinding with it.  I am in sandals and sorry I didn’t bring my shorts! After arriving at the clean and modern Cape Town airport, we went straight down to the Waterfront to enjoy fresh fish and chips for lunch.  We sat outdoors, watching the sight-seeing crowds milling around and all the pleasure boats and yachts heading out on an oily calm sea.  Not a breath of wind. It is amazingly clean and neat.  Very Pier 39-ish.

After lunch we headed past the tour boats and shops towards the cruise ship terminal and the lovely Table Bay hotel.  Ever “on the job”, I asked to be shown around the hotel and we had a fantastic tour – very professionally done and I am most inclined toward that beautiful hotel.  It is connected to the big shopping mall via a marble walkway so in bad/windy/rainy weather there is no problem at all in getting out and about and enjoying time at the eclectic shops in the mall. 

The rooms at Table Bay all have gorgeous views, either of the ocean and Robben Island in the middle distance or of the iconic Table Mountain, and are spacious while defined by understated luxury.  We were told while there, that the gleaming white yacht moored outside is owned by the “sixth richest man in the world” – but I have yet to research and see whom it is!  It was about the size of a Seaborne yacht so no small price tag!

Family room at Table Bay
We left there and wandered through the waterfront area enjoying the sights and sounds (plenty of seagulls here!) and visited two other hotels – the Victoria & Albert and the Cape Grace.  The V&A is actually an imaginatively refurbished 2-story warehouse.  It used to store the luggage for the old P&O Liners that called frequently in Cape Town on their World Journeys half a century ago!  It is very elegant and has a unique and comfortable character reflected in the painted brick and steel of its building. 

The Cape Grace is a little walk from there to the other end of the waterfront.  Again views of Table Mountain dominate the rooms that look towards land while other rooms overlook the working harbor and ocean beyond.  A gracious hotel with creative use of décor – look up at the chandeliers to see silverware arranged in a most artistic and comical way!  Both this hotel and the One & Only across the marina have private yachts moored outside which guests can hire (complete with crew) to explore the surrounding shore.

The Radisson Blu deserves mention here too as one of a number of luxury hotels with an enviable position poised at the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  The hotel boasts a wide verandah running around 2/3rds of the hotel with comfortable outdoor seating inviting guests to linger.  This is exactly what we chose and over a delicious margarita, we watched the day turn slowly to evening as it does in this most southern African city at this time of the year.  Sophisticated sundowners this time!  With the fresh ocean breeze, crashing waves on the rocks and wharf surrounding us, and catching up with old friends – life doesn’t get much better!   


Sophisticated sundowners on the Waterfront


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