Optimistic: Imogen Heap recently visited South Africa, taking with her some memorable experiences. Picture: Jeremy Cowart

Of late South Africa has attracted a stellar array of musicians, and Grammy Award-winning Imogen Heap recently numbered among the talents visiting our shores.

Many first-time visitors may have interesting opinions about our country, often based on wildlife documentaries or news reports, which they may find themselves revising pretty quickly once they set foot on African soil.

When asked about any of her preconceptions, Heap says: “I knew I’d be seeing lots of beautiful scenery, which I did, and that I’d be encountering some animals bigger than myself (I’m six feet tall) but I wasn’t sure in which order. It turned out to be the giraffes first! They happen to be my favourite. Something about their heads in the clouds, like the animal kingdom’s periscope!”

She also carried away some highlights during her visit, when she had time out between shows. Heap adds: “Singing and dancing with Vicky (from Vicky’s B&B in Khayelitsha) and some local kids (some hers, some not). We got four-part harmony throughout a corner of the township. It was great fun!”

Another highlight included a stay at Shamwari, which she described as being friendly, relaxed and unpretentious. Heap says: “It’s peaceful, unless you’re trying to organise a live webcast in the back of a Jeep after dark. I loved the barbecue, which was delicious around the fire. Both guides we had were really great too – passionate. I loved the rehabilitation centre and its sheep therapist, which is looking after a baby white rhino.”

Her visit wasn’t without memorable incidents, be it impersonating giraffes with her boyfriend, or an encounter with an owl at 3am, which she describes as having left her in awe.

And, like many visitors, she will return home to tell her friends about our nation. Heap concludes: “South Africa is a beautiful country that’s been through the most incredible journey with divided-but-coming-together peoples. There’s much to learn from and much to hope for. I look forward to seeing the country continue to move in fruitful and peaceful futures.”

See: www.imogenheap.com or www.thebubbletank.org - Weekend Argus