Cup visitors enchanted by South Africa

17 June 2010

The world’s attention is focused on the southern tip of Africa as the greatest football showpiece plays itself out on the fields and in the streets of South Africa. But once the final whistle has blown on 11 July, it seems as though a lot of happy fans will be coming back to the country.

They’re interested in the diverse holiday opportunities offered by game parks, beaches, and the different sights and sounds of South Africa.

As both Spain and Switzerland opened their World Cup accounts at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, with Switzerland grabbing a surprise win, the fans from both camps had been soaking up more than just the football extravaganza.

‘Durban is perfect for me’

Raul Spreafico is in town to support Spain. It is his first visit to any country in Africa, and he is very excited to be in Durban. He enjoys travelling the world – and says that being in Africa is one of his highlights.

“I’m not much of an extremist,” says Spreafico. “I enjoy the calm and serenity of nature, so Durban is perfect for me.”

Pontius Meier, clad in an all-red outfit in support of his Swiss team, says Durban “is the place to be right now … For the past week I was staying at African Sunrise Lodge, and I enjoyed the phuthu breakfast and home-grown fruits. Tomorrow we are going to scuba dive at Ushaka Marine World Aquarium.”

Pontius’s friend James said: “It is my second time in South Africa, but I have never been to Durban before. The beach is marvelous, and it reminds me of the Spanish Riviera.”

Kruger National Park

Despite being in awe of the impressive arch that spans across the Durban stadium, it seems some of the Swiss fans have found their new favourite destination further north – toward the renowned Kruger National Park and the famous “Big Five” of lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino.

“The first thing we did was visit the Kruger National Park,” said Swiss brothers Ferdinand, Marcus and Rowan Kirsten. “We heard so much about it and we wanted to see for ourselves.”

For Stephane, a travelling fan from Switzerland, it was “incredible to be surrounded by wild animals, even though I didn’t get to see the lion, but other than that the people have been friendly.”

Others plan to head to the mountains, as well as to the country’s pristine beaches.

Coastal areas

“We came from Johannesburg and spent two nights in the Drakensberg Mountains, and from here we hope to see the coastal areas of the country, especially Cape Town and Port Elizabeth,” said Mikel Goldacena from Spain.

For some of the visiting fans, this is not their first trip to South Africa.

“I used to work for a construction company back in 1974 and came to work in South Africa. I am amazed by the transformation since then,” said Berner Roland from Switzerland.

“South Africa has done well for itself with this World Cup. I am proud to see so much change,” added Roland, who said he will “definitely be back here in South Africa soon”.

Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee