TRAVEL? When, where, who, How? Dr Dawn Gould

TRAVEL is an interesting word. When first heard a picture forms in one’s mind of visiting far away places either by land, sea or air.  A journey, possibly exciting, to look forward to.     But the word travel can also be somewhat subtle. In other words a little more difficult to define. Different people might have a quite different understanding of the word.

Consider how in earlier times, possibly to survive, people from the north of the African Continent began to move southwards eventually reaching the eastern coastal areas of Southern Africa. Later they would travel towards the so called Highveld – area situated at high altitude – adopting a life of cattle farming.  Around the same time as these tribal people were changing directions so too were the Khoi people. They tended sheep and cattle constantly driving them towards new pastures either the eastern or western Cape whereas the San people were hunter gatherers who dispersed over a wider area of the sub continent.

After the late 15th century more and more travellers began to arrive at the Cape as a result of the opening up of the Atlantic sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Dutch, in 1652, set up a refreshment station for passing ships on their way to the East.  In 1688 French Huguenot refugees arrived at the Cape and 1795 the English took over the Cape for a short period and then by 1806, these persistent travellers, would govern for many years to come.  Captain James Cook the explorer aboard the Resolution arrived and lay at anchor in Table Bay on 29 October 1772. He sent a sailor to inform the Dutch governor of their arrival seeking refreshments and further asked permission to survey Table Bay.  They were offered all the assistance needed.

Later Russian ships on their way to their distant Asian territories began to arrive and for short periods would lay at anchor in Table Bay or Simon’s Bay either to take on food or for repairs.  Some, before their ship left the Cape, managed to take a quick look around Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain and visiting the Groot Constantia wine farm. Others reached small inland villages.  Years later some of these travellers wrote memoirs of their visit –  Ivan Gonchanow, Yuri Lisyansky .

Today many thousands of people from all parts of the world travel to South Africa to visit the  game parks, to view the Spring showing of the many wild flowers, to enjoy the various sea side resorts.  They will also see and mix with the various cultures brought to this country by so many travellers.   These diverse travellers, who over centuries, have created the present country known as South Africa.  A country that is well known for the warm welcome extended to all those who travel distances to visit.