Visit to New Castle and Durban

All Engogo Photos
All Durban Photos
My leave plan at office has been simple ... I was taking the Thursdays and Fridays off for the weeks that Janani is here. So I was getting three such long weekends - One was planned for "New Castle and Durban" next one for "Cape Town" and the last one for "Places within Johannesburg - which essentially means shopping".
So Week 2 - was for New Castle and Durban. I researched and searched out this "not-so-well-known" place in the middle of nowhere near New Castle - Engogo River Water Lodge. Set in the scenic surroundings of Drakensburg Mountain ranges, reaching this place was a bit tricky; actually driving to the place I was thinking if I had not chosen a wrong place. Once we reached the place, all my apprehensions faded away and I was struck by this wonderful feeling of awe. This place has by far been the best place I have ever been to ...
Three beautifully built cottages by the side of a river stream which is passing by the valley with a beautiful backdrop of the Drakensburg Mountain ranges. The continuous sound of the water flowing added to the beautiful environment. Room was cozy with all amenities (a fireplace also !!) and a fully equipped kitchen - no room service, only self service - so we had brought things so that we can cook and eat there. With no cell phone coverage, we were completely cut out from the world and it was a wonderful feeling. We took a scenic walk by the side of the riverstream and on the way back walked through the shallow portions of the stream. The water was cold but was it fun wading through it. The ambiance in the night was also out-of-the-world. We left the place next day morning with fond memories of being in a place like paradise. And I must repeat that it is by far the best place that I have ever visited.

The drive to Durban was very scenic and beautiful. Durban is a place which is highly populated with people of Indian origin. Durban is the land of beautiful "warm" beaches and Bunnychows. Bunny chow is a slang term for a South African fast food consisting of a loaf of bread, with the inside scooped out, and filled with curry. I had heard about the Gounders Curry – which is very famous for its Bunny Chows in Umbilo, Durban. We tried the veggie Bunny chow there; was nice but too spicy for me so I let Janani do most of the eating.

We visited couple of beaches there in Durban but I feel the highlight of Durban was the visit to the uShaka Marine World. It was again a place that I would have never seen anything like that in India. uShaka Marine World is a theme park which is comprised 4 sections, uShaka Sea World, uShaka Wet 'n Wild, uShaka Beach and uShaka Village Walk.

Of the four sections the best one was the uShaka Sea World where we spend most of our day. It is the 5th largest aquarium in the world containing sea creatures ranging from small sea horses all the way through to sharks and dolphins. The Aquarium is built to look like an old ship wreck. There are also Four very unique things that we/I experienced there.
  • The Shark Cage Experience - where we (yes Janani also did this one !!) were lowered into the shark tank in an acrylic cage to view these magnificent predators of the sea swimming around us.
  • Snorkel Lagoon give me an opportunity to swim with the fish in the aquarium. Geared in a buoyancy vest, a mask and snorkel, I snorkeled among colourful fish species - and the feeling was completely out of the world. I snorkeled throughout the pool seeing strange fishes swimming with me. I also had some sharks like fishes in the bottom and i tried to keep away from them. Janani was watching me swim with the fishes from the viewing galary in the aquarium.
  • Ocean Walker Experience. is where I took a walk among the sea’s beautiful creatures; such as rays, sand sharks, tuna and dorado. It was also bit scary as a stingray was nibbling away on my back for few seconds before a diver came and got it off my back. :-O ...
  • The dolphinarium - the largest dolphin stadium in Africa - where we saw a beautiful dolphin show. The Dolphins showed off their skills and synchronised activities that left us wanting more at the end of it.
We skipped the uShaka Wet 'n Wild as this was a waterworld themepark similar to the one in Sun City. The Village Walk was designed in an African theme consisting of Restaurants, cafes and other shops - resulting in some shopping experience.

The 4 day visit which started out scerene, peaceful and beautiful ended on a thrilling, and exciting note. I was happy that I had seen somethings that I had never seen in my life. :)


Poornima said...

i can imagine the situation in which sting fish rubbing ur back..adrenalin wud have raised..the same experience me and janani get when we go near dogs! tat a punishment fo u caz u've made the hell out of janani come out when u drive close to "maadu"...

I think i should have some standard appreciation comment ready...which i cud post even before u publish a new post!

sari sari..come down...gravitational force still

Hariharan said...

Aahaaaaaaa !! Now a stingray and a maadu/dog etc is at the same level aa !?! Roumba over aa teriyalai aa !?!?

Thanks for the appreciation ... :) .. I am still grounded !! :)

One more would come in a week's time !! Cape town on the way !!

Anonymous said...

I run South Africa Travel Online and by some coincidence in January our blog of the month was for somebody who travelled to Ingogo as well.

I thought it would be good to showcase our readers to another writeup of the area, so have linked to this post from our travel newsletter (scroll to bottom). The good news is this means you're also in the running for blog of the month.

Keep up the great writing.

Hariharan said...

Hey !! Thanks a lot ... That is quite an honour !!

I am glad you liked the post ... :)

Steve Hayes said...

Someone who saw your post said I might enjoy it, and I did, and I thought you might find mine interesting to9o -- see Childhood memories: Ingogo 1948 | Hayes & Greene family history

SA Travel Online said...

Hi Hariharan

I mentioned a little while back that you're in the running for blog of the month, and I'm happy to say that we've chosen this blog entry as our travel blog of the month for June (click link to see your blog and other blogs highlighted during June, as well as previous winners this year). This means you're in the running for travel blog of the year.

Good luck!

Hariharan said...

Thanks a lot ... :) ... I am really happy that I made it to the "Travel Blog of the Month" ... This is itself quite an achievement and encouragement for me ... Thanks again ...