The Pilgrimage

Some people are of the opinion that you should never go back to a certain place and retrace a childhood memory. I totally disagree, because that is exactly what I did today, and I loved every moment of it !

The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, opened its gates in 1899 and has since been consistently ranked in the top 15 zoos of the world.

Even on a drizzly cold May Day, hundreds of families enjoyed nature in the midst of suburbia. From squeals of delight in the penguin enclosure to the solitude  in  Africa’s largest walk-through aviary, the Zoo caters for every need.

The 85-hectare gardens with approximately 6 kilometers of walk ways, got a bit crowed at lunch time, and the golf cart traffic I found slightly irritating.  Fortunately I was there at 8.30, so for about an hour it felt like I had the whole place to myself.

Still my favourite things after 45 years…

The pink flamingos were positively the most exotic birds to my 5 year old eyes, and still are.

The imposing cast iron fountain looms large in my childhood Zoo. Now I am aware that this Victorian masterpiece stood on Church Square from 1906 -1910.

The 4 life size female figures symbolise : Commerce, Art, Science and Literature. Presented to the Zoo, by a hero of mine, the indomitable Sammy Marks.

The regal and graceful cheetah impressed me then, and still does.

The elegant, gentle giant exuding brute strength woed me then, and still does.

Even in the 1960’s the hyaena enclosure was not the most popular and still seems like that today, allowing me an up-close and personal moment, with this powerful animal.

My life long love affair with birds started then, and how could  it not, with such an imposing selection, from African spoonbills to the Spotted Eagle owl.  And for a mere R200 you too can adopt such an owl for a year.

The R55 entrance fee also covers the Aqaurium and Reptile park.

This definitely  is the closest I ever want to be near any shark, ragged tooth or not.

A raging Apies river flows through the gardens, and I loved crossing it via the various suspension bridges.

No visit to the zoo is ever complete without stopping at any of the many primate encloses. Entertaining then, and maybe even more so now !!

I vividly remember outside the entrance gates, rows upon rows of curio sellers on the side walk, then my first joyful introduction into Ndebele beadwork.  Today I spoke to 70 year old Katie Tlou, who has been selling her handiwork here in Boom Street since the early 1960’s. I buy 3 strings of colourful beads, just as I had wanted to do back then.

I had thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Zoo today. Maybe I should do this more often.

Need to know more ?


About tshwanetourist

freelance journalist, accidental tourist, avid sports fan, Mercedes Sosa convert
This entry was posted in Culture, History, Journal, Local, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Pilgrimage

  1. jumpingpolarbear says:

    Awww the penguins are cute :).

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