After waiting for soooooo long, our trip was finally starting! After greetings at the SSR airport and a flight from Mauritius to Johannesburg, and another to Cape Town, we arrived at our final destination at around midnight and reached the hotel at 1 a.m. Rooms and keys assigned, we finally went to bed.
That day was so enriching. It was an introduction to the city of Cape Town (Kaapstad in Afrikaans), located on the southern tip of South Africa. First we visited the Geological and historical museum of the city where we got acquainted with the tribal past of South Africa. The exhibition gave us a clear and vivid image of pre-colonial Africa through prehistoric exhibits and of the history of the various ethnicities that South Africa homes, namely the Bantu, the Khoi and the San. Mike, our great guide, never missed a chance to give us more details on what we saw in the museum. Shortly after, we were introduced to the South African fauna with stuffed animals arranged in realistic mimicry of real-life and in their natural environments.
The second highlight of the day was Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The view was astonishing and we all tried to capture the best of the scenery. Also, we were amused by the dassies, adorable little mammals scurrying here and there. It was quite sunny but the heat was bearable as the altitude afforded a brisk and cool wind.
Finally, we went on to visit the Castle of Good Hope a former fort built by the Dutch East India Company in the XVIIth century, still alive with the memories of the Anglo-Boer war and the African tribal leaders who had been imprisoned there. At some time, we were ushered into a former torture room for prisoners of war.
The Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) was a conflict opposing the British Empire and two Boer states (founded by the Dutch) – the South African Republic and the Orange Free State – which had been annexed to the Empire but later sought independence. British arms and Boer uniforms were notable museum exhibits.
Later in the afternoon, when we went out for dinner, most of us stood agape at the Canal Walk mall, which was gigantic! For some shopaholics it turned out to be a cakewalk to locate their shops, whereas for others it was not that easy.
And another morning waking up at the hotel! Even though the breakfast was still the same, being together was the most important. This day was full of visits and photo shootings (yep we love this). The journey started at Camps Bay with an amazing view on the beautiful sea and the Twelve Apostles mountain chain. We were then driven along the steep wall of a cliff from where we could see Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak. After going along this scenic track, we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope; the view was outstanding and worth the exhausting walk up to the lighthouse atop the hill. A mound of stone next to the building offered a thrilling view on the southernmost tip of the continent. Yet it is unknown to many that, according to geologists, the two oceans truly meet at Cape Agulhas.
We then proceeded to Cape point where we saw the red-beds and experienced the same brisk air which filled our lungs and whipped at our clothes. Finally, we paid a visit to some adorable penguins at Boulders Beach. The latter part of the day was spent shopping gaily at Canal Walk.
We drove through vineyards and fields of olive trees to reach the Aquila Park which is located on the outskirts of the city. The guttural static-riddled voice of Mike continuously fed us information on the landscape but, having had to wake up early (5am) this morning, his voice had been more as a lullaby to us. As the houses and buildings were being replaced by vine-lands and protective hedges of pine trees, we proceeded towards the cloud-capped mountains, all set ablaze by the dawn. At some point we saw children wearing different school uniforms leaving their townships to go to school.
We were then engulfed in the 4km-long Huguenot Tunnel (named after 18th century French Protestant immigrants) bored through the mountain chain. After a few minutes of darkness, we rediscovered the same imposing landscape. We kept perusing those impressive wrinkled granitic mountainsides, whose grey-white boulders and green valleys were in some places torn by crevasses.
The safari turned out to be wonderful. We encountered many trademark animals of South Africa: elephants, hippos, rhinos, springboks, Oryx, giraffes, lions and much more. The park was also very scenic with its vast beige hills stretching far across the savanna and reflecting the light of the scorching sun. The guide was very friendly and passionately shared his vast knowledge of animals with all of us. Aquila Park offered us a really lovely day of exploration, eating, and, for some of us, souvenir shopping!
At 8:30 we left the hotel for the Cape Town Science Center. Some sighed at the prospect of more studious activities whereas a few looked forward to it. As we were being driven around the city, pupils sang and played blackjack and other card games at the rear of the van.
We were first introduced to the history of photography. Various cameras were exhibited to emphasize the evolution of our ability to capture reality from Ibn al Haitham`s Camera Obscura (invented during the Islamic Golden Age) to the Holga Camera (1980), the latest camera on display.
We then proceeded towards a wide array of scientific displays, ranging from cognitive games to a gyroscope. Afterwards, we were ushered into an adjacent room to attend a science show. The presenter performed tricks with various gasses, including butane, to demonstrate principles such as suction.
After this stimulating visit, our next stop was the Ostrich Farm. Not only did we see a variety of ostriches but we also learned a lot about their anatomy and behaviour. Some of us were brave enough to feed them or sit on an ostrich’s back to take pictures. The museum visit was followed by a nice lunch which, for many, consisted in ostrich burgers.
We then headed to the Lagoon beach where we spent a lot of time taking pictures, enjoying the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean and the amazing view. Some of us went jogging with Mrs. Shimjee.
The rest of the day was spent at the Canal Walk shopping mall, where we had dinner. We then headed back to the hotel to have a long night`s sleep.
In the cold morning of the fifth day, we left the warm hotel hall and got into the van. This would be the highlight of the trip: Robben Island, the iconic prison where Nelson Mandela was detained, only to be freed 27 years later, triumphant and hailed by the crowd. It was however cancelled due to bad weather conditions. But hopefully (and to the greatest joy of our shopaholics) we stayed at the V&A Waterfront! After that, the teachers took us on a visit to the City Center and hence we walked, and walked, and walked, till we finally visited a museum named The Slave Lodge and went around an exhibition about the history of slavery in the country. After the Lodge, we visited the Company’s Garden and walked back to the Waterfront after having had a drink and cake at a charming café.
We headed for the Rugby Museum which neighbours the V&A Mall. There we discovered a wonderful interactive exhibition about South African rugby. We hence learnt that, from its humble beginnings in 1861 when Canon George Ogilvie first introduced the sport in the then British colony, it grew to become a national albeit strongly segregated sport during the XXth century. Since the end of Apartheid in 1994 however, rugby has been a unifying force in South Africa and remains central to its national identity.
After lunch we went off to the paintball field, where we would be split in two teams for four rounds. In the end, the final round was won by the black team, resulting in a par.
Throughout the game, one could sense the adrenaline as the bullets were crisscrossing the air and ricocheting on the rusted car chassis in an atmosphere of frenzy, accompanied by shouts from the players in need of cover or by the wounded.
It was a tantalizing experience despite minor wounds (which were after all part of the fun) and was the perfect way to celebrate a last time as our trip drew to a close.
For all of us it seemed, this week had passed all too quickly… It was Sunday already and we were already getting back to Mauritius. We got up at 3am (SA time) and reached Mauritius at 4pm (MU time). Upon our arrival at the SSR airport, last pictures of the trip were taken, followed by tender reunions with our beloved ones and that was it. We had to let this trip become a great remembrance.
This experience was amazing and will always be remembered as one of the best moments of our school years! We got closer to each other, learned how to live without our parents for a while and learnt about a wonderful country. Of course this would have never happened without some people. And so we would like to thank our parents, Mrs. Shimjee, Mrs. Hennebert and the school for making this trip possible!
Video of our trip in Cape Town :
Nous souhaitons remercier les parents :
M. Bumma, le père de Manisha Bumma en 1ère S, qui nous a offert 2 repas pour notre Tombola dans ses restaurants Namasté Soflo et Stonegrill Trianon.
Les parents de William Liu Man Hin (3e SA) qui ont fait livrer, à l’hôtel à Capetown, des bouteilles d’eau et des jus de fruits pour pour tout le groupe et pour toute la durée du séjour.
M. Narrainen, le père de Shyla (3eSA) qui nous a offert les t-shirts ( 3 t-shirts différents pour chaque élève, y compris les 2 profs).
Merci beaucoup !!
Text: Kaveesh Megraj Naggea and Yahodaren Sawmynaden
Photos: William Liu Man Him, Dooshina Oolun, Emmy Ko Yum Chun, Sophie Ponton, Yashodaren Sawmynaden, Arnaud K/Nell, Isee Parthonnaud and Summaya Ramsaye
Video: Arnaud K/Nell, Isee Parthonnaud, Summaya Ramsaye, Kim Nadar and Hugo d’Hotman de Villiers