Cathay Pacific

Close encounters with nature in South Africa

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 August, 2006, 12:00am

Eight Hong Kong students left for South Africa on Tuesday on an eight-day trip that will offer a unique cultural and educational experience in the sprawling wilderness.

The International Wilderness Experience, co-organised by Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, is aimed at young Asians who are involved in voluntary work.

Launched in 1994, the annual programme offers a valuable opportunity for participants to learn more about South Africa and its people, while enjoying the country's spectacular wildlife and scenery.

The Hong Kong students, aged 17 and 18, together with 34 young people from South Asia, will take part in a wide range of activities during the tour.

These will include attending workshops on conservation, going on a wildlife safari and visiting a nature reserve.

They will also help local farmers and paint the walls of a school.

The delegates will live in Botshabelo Historical Village in Middleburg, a two-hour drive from Johannesburg.

Organisers said this will give them a chance to mingle with people in the area and learn about their traditions.

Botshabelo, meaning 'place of shelter' or 'sanctuary', is a nature reserve with a rich history. It was originally a farm and its quiet and unspoiled surroundings make for an ideal place to relax.

The Hong Kong delegates said they were excited about the journey.

Chan Ka-wing, a Form Six student at Wong Shiu Chi Secondary School in Tai Po, said getting a close look at South Africa's wildlife would be a thrilling experience.

'Living in a crowded city, the wild animals we see are mostly at the zoo or colourful images in books. I look forward to seeing them in their natural environment and learn some valuable lessons about nature,' Ka-wing said.