Fantastic. From Durban’s skyscrapers to the natural forests of Limpompo, to an energetic game of paint gun EDGAR R. BATTE recounts his fun-filled trip to South Africa.
The adventure spirit in us will always want to manifest, only stopped short by flight still within us. The urge to arrest these fears is all that makes for the most meaningful adventure.
So, being handed a gun on a midmorning of a summer Thursday could have been a frightening moment but turned out to be one of the most exciting adventures I have attempted.
My travel writing had opened an opportunity for me to be part of an international media group on a familiarisation trip down in beautiful south thanks to South African Tourism.
From cosmopolitan Durban, characterised with skyscrapers, adventure parks, including the beautiful Ushaka Marine Park, we headed out on a road trip to the natural forests of Limpompo countryside.
The tarmac was smooth and stable enough for one to take some photographs, or even a video. It only got rough and ragged as we manoeuvred through the stony hills that led us to an assembling point.
There, we were split into groups, some in green, others in orange overflow wear, similar to the ones adorned by your mechanics. I was selected to represent the orange ‘warriors’.
There was headgear for protection because the guns that were about to be given to us actually shot bullets, not the copper ones but painful on the skin.
The artificial bullets left a mark too. Anyway, before we went out into the forest to enjoy the game, it was all too exciting to be dressed like toy soldiers, what with attire that was only less of army green.
The ‘bad blood’ could wait, members from either teams took moments to pose before cameras and phones, to capture memories that cemented friendships that continue to be nurtured in WhatsApp groups through chats and sharing moments in our respective countries.
The guides took us through the drills, explaining to us how the guns work and why it was crucial to dodge the bullets. I only learnt later, behind ‘enemy lines’ that the bullets are painful and leave a shame mark as it spills on the ‘army uniform’.
Just like in real life confrontation, when we reached the forests, we had to hide from our opponents, behind trees. We would only partially manifest ourselves to take a shot.
Believe you, me dodging a bullet when you are an amateur at ‘warfare’ is inevitable. Many of us came out ‘decorated’ with spats of bullet colour and for the while it lasted, the fun in playing paintball was so fulfilling, perhaps more so for the memories of bringing out the childhood ‘hide and seek’ game on another level altogether.
As it all went on, I mean the ‘fighting’, the guides kept around and were in the forest with us to neutrally give tips to both sides. In the end, it did not matter which side had beaten the other.
What else to do when in SA
Explore Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park Game Reserve. It is one South Africa’s oldest and largest leading game reserves, famed for its rhino conservation programmes. You will learn about the rhino’s, life and other facts and also how they are conserved. There are guides who will walk you in the open savannah and woodlands of the reserves.
Take a trip through Durban
If you are a lover of clean beaches, find some in Durban and within walking distance from the main roads, and your hotel, if you choose to book along the coastline. Durban is one of SA’s top cities for its vibrant nightlife, a variety of adventure packages, including the exciting marine life excursions of dolphins and sharks.
Visit and learn about vineyards, wine
South Africa is a country known to be one of the world’s leading producers of fine wine, so a visit to its leading vineyards will be a rewarding expedition because many have lasted through centuries. You will travel within and also get to taste wines as you get knowledge on what makes one brand over another. You will also get to appreciate the process that goes into making the wine.