On the morning of 26 July 41 intrepid scholars accompanied by 4 eager members of staff set off for Gauteng. The tour itinerary was designed to include as many disciplines as possible,as well as provide a number of unforgettable life experiences for the boys.
The first “life experience” was very much evident on our arrival at Rosebank Backpackers in Johannesburg when the boys found themselves packed like sardines in to dormitories . The (cold) casserole and ( hot) rice further enhanced our opinions of life in the big city! After dinner we headed off to the Wits Planetarium where our galaxy is projected on to the dome-shaped ceiling above our heads. Various planets, constellations and stars are highlighted and explained to us by an experienced astronomer. What was particularly interesting was going outside and viewing Saturn through a telescope. ( Venus was visible to the naked eye).
The following morning we headed off to The Apartheid Museum. This world renowned museum provides a vivid account of the brutality of apartheid as well as “the surging energy of the struggle”. If the boys did not have an understanding of this country’s recent past and where we are today as a nation, they will now. Hopefully another valuable life experience…
Across the car park is Gold Reef City, a visit that was highly anticipated by all. Despite what the boys might otherwise insist, their shrieks emanating from such (terrifying) rides as ” Anaconda”, “the Jozi Express” and “The Golden Loop” could be clearly heard by Mr Collier, Mr Nyar and Mr Faure-Field who preferred the more sedate option of a leisurely stroll around the park. (Mrs Erasmus, to her credit, showed up the boys on how to deal with the rides).
As the sun set we headed off to our base for the next 3 nights: Maropeng in The Cradle of Mankind. Spacious dormitories, meals that more than met our requirements and wide open spaces makes The Maropeng Visitors’ Centre a perfect base for a tour group.
After a Sunday morning breakfast we set off to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre near de Wildt. We were all awestruck as we were just a fence away from cheetah, brown hyena and wild dog. Stroking a cheetah in the hall afterwards was a highlight although some boys
kept their distance (possibly they feared they might become cheetah food. In its defense the cheetah had no intention of departing from its (preferred) diet! Lunch was spent at a small shopping mall near Hartbeespoort Dam; the boys’ spending power was an immediate boost to the local economy!
Some much needed free time on Sunday afternoon provided all with the chance to recharge batteries. After dinner a hearty bonfire provided a source of warmth from the bitterly cold wind.
Monday morning was a journey through the Maropeng Visitors’ Centre. This World Heritage site tracks the progress of humanity from when the earth was first created millions of years ago. Interactive activities and numerous displays allows the visitor to follow the evolution of mankind. The visits ends with a display explaining the problems the world faces today and how we as individuals can contribute to the survival of our planet.
In the afternoon we visited another World Heritage site, The Sterkfontein Caves. It was here that “Little Foot”, the world’s most complete fossil of an early Hominid, dating back some 3,4 million years, was found. “Mrs Ples”, dating back some 2,1 million years, was another famous fossil found in this area. A tour through this massive complex of caves was enthusiastically met by the tour party.
The evening was spent packing, playing table tennis and enjoying final moments together around a massive bonfire under a sky twinkling with stars.
Tuesday morning: the long journey back to reality began…
Here are a few comments from some of the boys on this tour:
Keaton Korevaar and Steven Scates, Year 12: ” A lot of fun yet very educational”.
Luc Montgomery, Yr 11: “An awesome experience and well worth it!”
Jeremy Gounden, Yr 9: “I thoroughly enjoyed this tour as the sole purpose was not merely academics but also to make new friends and gain new experiences. We have learnt a lot in the past few days all the sites have been interesting ands informative. I think it was actually fascinating to visit the sites rather than learn them from a textbook, therefore we will never forget!
Compiled by: Mr Faure-Field