Meet South Africa

Tourism South Africa hosted an event in Soho last night. Promoting South Africa as a holiday destination the event, titled Meet South Africa, celebrated the unique qualities of Mzansi as well as offering a digital taste of home.
Walking into the venue the first thing I noticed was the unmistakable smell of bunnychow. The delicious dish well known to us ‘Saffers’ of a spicy meat and vegetable mix served in a hollowed out loaf of bread was being freshly prepared and served by Original Bunnychow, complete with cardboard rabbit face masks. It was literally a ‘heerlike’ taste of home.
Displaying IMG_3226.JPG
Vegetarian bunnychow!
A few feet away was the bar, serving Savanna cider, Windhoek Lager as well as wine from the Uitkyk and Beyerskloof estates. Across the room a wall decorated with buck heads was next to a ‘chill zone’ complete with bean bags and inviting hammocks. Above this area was a plain wall onto which a video was projected showing famous landmarks and gorgeous scenery.
Displaying IMG_3219.JPG
I wanted to take these home
The sounds of home were supplied by a DJ and a photobooth gave us instagrammers a chance to have any photos we posted with the ‘lovesouthafrica’ hashtag printed out.
Displaying IMG_3204.JPG
The piece de resistance was hiding behind a black curtain. Edging our way into a queue there were three booths. We were given a chance not only to try the 4D experience that is Oculus Rift, but we were given a five minute holiday back home. The display was incredible. As I placed the goggles over my face and the earphones were placed on my head, I heard the man assisting me say ‘Don’t forget to look behind you’.
This device is amazing. It immerses you into the world on show with it’s 360 degree display that moves with you. It is like watching a film, but being able to step into the screen and interact with the characters. The experience started by immersing you into a safari park with a game ranger waving at you. It was very hard not to instantly wave back. Remembering the advice to look behind me, I turned around to find an elephant standing right behind me, literally right behind me. This time I did reach out to try touch it.
Displaying IMG_3230.JPG
Immersed in Oculus Rift
The five minute experience was a series of short clips showing some of the best bits of home. All filmed from a ‘point of view’ perspective it felt scarily real. From paragliding over the ocean, shark cage diving, kite surfing to sitting on Boulders Beach as cute penguins waddled towards you.

Tourism South Africa achieved the desired effect, if the homesickness that welled up inside was anything to go by. It was a wonderful introduction to those who have never visited our shores and celebrated all the good stuff of home. Time to book some plane tickets! 
Displaying IMG_3220.JPG
We just had to join in