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March 3, 2015
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Meetings Africa 2015 Includes Incentive Tour of South Africa's Tshwane


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By Carryn Gabriels

My two hour flight from Cape Town seemed miniscule compared to the 48 buyers who travelled from around the globe – China, England, Portugal, Poland, Italy, India – to converge at O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for a much anticipated incentive trip. 

We were met by the welcoming City of Tshwane team on the morning of Sunday 22nd February.  Shortly after a brief welcome, the delegates and I were escorted by bus to the Sheraton Hotel Pretoria where refreshments were offered together with the chance to freshen up in stately hotel rooms before the day’s events. This luxury I forfeited on account of my short journey, but the hosted buyers’ expressions and increased energy conveyed how grateful they were.

The VIPs were treated as just that. A red carpet rolled out at the entrance of the hotel invited the buyers into an assortment of vintage cars, including a 1973 Roll Royce. Chauffeured in exquisite style through the city, we arrived at the elegant Rovos Rail Private Station in Capital Park to champagne and the sounds of an acoustic violin and cello. The concept of time and reality became void at that moment. The vintage experience was exuded to the T.

Delegates enjoyed canapés and assortments of South African wines and the chance to get to know one another and exchange details characteristic to first introductions before the unforgettable  experience of the vintage steam train. Bottomless drinks and a delectable three-course meal were enjoyed on board by the now familiar and bustling group of delegates. 

The vibrant and diverse group reluctantly departed the Rovos Rail and its elegance. Excitement quickly emerged as the rest of the day’s activities included a safari drive in open-air vehicles, an Ndebele welcome and gourmet camp-style dinner in the bush hosted by Hayward’s Grand Safari, who delivered an authentic ambiance of Tshwane, Africa, and its people. 

The Zebra Lodge hosted the delegates in African themed rooms for a night of much needed rest before a 6am game drive in the Dinokeng Game Reserve. 
Known for being home to the free roaming Big 5, Dinokeng Game Reserve hosted small groups in the reserve’s vehicle through the wild in search of the Big 5. Although no lions were on parade that day, giraffes, monkeys, and a variety of buck and beasts were visible through the long grass and between tall trees. 

The charming town of Cullinan was the destination for the remainder of the day. The famous Cullinan Mine, founded in 1903, was the site of the tour and included an entertaining history lesson and a viewing of magnificent diamonds.

Although the incentive trip was nearing its end, the splendour was not. Next stop was the gigantic statue of the late Nelson Mandela in the manicured gardens of the Union Buildings of Pretoria. Delegates, in awe, each had their picture taken with the statue of the South African peace icon and former president. 

A wind-down at the Sheraton Hotel, as the trip came full circle, was much appreciated as delegates relaxed with their feet in the roof-top pool snacking on canapés and refreshments as the sun set over the City of Tshwane. Final business card exchanges occurred, conversations about Meetings Africa emerged, and brief goodbyes with goodie-bags in hand were said as groups departed in buses to their respective hotels in Sandton, Johannesburg.    


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