With its powdery beaches, dramatic landscapes, lush mountains, thrilling safaris, star-studded sky and lively cities, South Africa is a dream come true for all the travelers. With a lot of beautiful places to explore and a plethora of adventure activities to take part in, there will be no shortage of activities in order to keep you busy during your vacation. Yes, there may be petty crimes and high rate of corruption, but the rich history, spectacular wildlife and the breathtaking landscape makes a trip to South Africa extremely popular among travelers from all over the world. This is the ultimate South Africa travel guide to help you plan the perfect vacation to this beautiful country. Continue Reading
At The Heart of South Africa At the heart of South Africa lies Johannesburg, an exciting and cosmopolitan city that is brimming with history and culture. So why is it only viewed as mere stop off for passengers on their lengthy journeys across the country? My advice would be to leave the terminal and go out to explore all that South Africa’s largest city has to offer.
If it’s an education you’re after, look no further than the Apartheid Museum in Gold Reef. With a series of twenty two exhibitions, the museum takes visitors through the complete history of the country’s dark past, from the beginning of the apartheid regime in 1948 to the release of Nelson Mandela in 1994. This is a must on any trip to the city. The nearby district of Soweto is also well worth a visit to further an understanding of the apartheid system. On 16th June 1976, Soweto was the attention of the world’s media as mass protests took place against the government’s policies. With twenty three deaths and extensive violence, this event will be forever embedded in the country’s memory. Today, Soweto is home to The National Nelson Mandela Museum. Made out of the former house of Nelson Mandela and full of his personal artefacts, it is no wonder that this is one of the most popular museums in the whole of South Africa. Residents of Soweto conduct private tours of the museum.
So Johannesburg provides tourists with a stark reminder as to the country’s dark past. But what about the present? Nowadays the city is considered as the business capital of the country; high risers dominate the skyline. Eating places in Johannesburg are also second to none. For an authentic, South African experience head to Moyo in Zoo Lake. Ostrich Bebe and fillet khuzwayo are their signature dishes. Moyo also offers fantastic live and authentic African music to accompany your meal. In Johannesburg you are likely to hear some Kwaito songs (a genre of music that derives from the city). For something a little quieter, look no further than The Grillhouse in Rosebank. With attentive service, classy décor and the best steaks around, this place is not to be missed. Or how about something exotic and colourful? Coco Bongo is the place to be. Enjoy fine wines, royal rib racks and delicious cocktails before you dance the night away to upbeat, live music.
Johannesburg is home to some of the best shops and shopping malls in the country. For upmarket clothes shops head to the Sandston shopping centre or Nelson Mandela Square. However, for a glimpse into authentic South Africa, Rosebank Flea Market is the place to be. Carvings, textiles, ceramics, hand made jewellery, spices and local food are all at your disposal. It’s perfectly acceptable to engage in a good haggle too.
With so much history and culture, it’s clear that Johannesburg is far more interesting and enticing than Johannesburg International Airport. So be adventurous and explore all that this fantastic city has to offer.
Written by Hannah Copues
Before visiting Johannesburg I was bombarded with mixed opinions about my prospective holiday destination. Those who enthusiastically divulged about how the metropolitan city represented the heart and spirit of South Africa certainly had an impact on my decision. Whilst the negative opinions were certainly important at the time, on reflection, they seemed far too ridiculous and illogical to have even taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the positives outweighed the negatives and I decided to risk Johannesburg’s fearsome reputation of being dubbed a city full of coyotes with guns. To put your anxious minds at rest, let me reassure you, that on my visit, I neither faced conflict or gun-fire. I’d go as far to say to you’d be at more risk of violence in a metropolitan city like London.
The kind and welcoming locals certainly hold their majestic city in high esteem. Being the capital of the vastly wealthy Gauteng province and the largest city in the country, the friendly beings proudly referred to it as ‘Joburg’, ‘Jozi’ or ‘Egoli’. I was informed that these endearing names translated to ‘the city of Gold’, which certainly seemed iconic since I was residing in the world famous, yet uniquely South African Gold Reef City. Just 8km from the centre of the city, I was lucky to have experienced the contrasting elements this diverse city has to hold. With a vast array of activity at the palm of my hand in the stunning and modern resort, I could also explore the cultural and characteristic city in more depth. Whilst there are domineering skyscrapers around every corner, this is also intermingled with the more traditional and characteristic 19th century architecture. The African muti shops and markets combined with the traditional Kwaito music electrifying the picturesque streets heightened the historic ambience. I certainly got the best of both worlds!
My choice to stay in the resort was certainly a brilliant idea. Affordable, astonishingly exciting and extremely beautiful, it suited me, my partner and our kids. There was something for all of us and we were never stuck for choice! However, I would definitely not forget the smaller and less intense accommodation options available in the city and its stunningly scenic suburbs. I would highly recommend these comfortable and inviting Bed and Breakfasts or privately owned hotels to anyone!
Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the holiday was the Gold City theme park. Holding an abundance of adventures, we were all drawn into the sequels of delight. The heart race boosting rides come highly recommended to all of you adrenaline junkies, but not so to those with a nervous disposition. With over 30 monster rides to choose from, I promise that your days will certainly be thrilling and intensely high pace. Whether it’s the Miner’s Revenge or the Tower of Terrors you journey, you’ll be experiencing a ride of a life time…..with a fear factor of TEN!
For those of you who do not feel the need for speed, fear not. On some days, escaping to the family orientated animal farm-yard, 4D theatre or Amphitheatre was a relief. Similarly, if you your body is aching from all that excessive physical activity, the luxurious spa experience if right at your fingertips. If you’re worried about the kiddies, there is even a highly acclaimed nursery onsite and a hub of organised activities for the older children staying in the resort. Therefore, there are no valid reasons to why you shouldn’t pamper yourself or escape with the partner for a delicious evening dinner in one of the resorts exquisite restaurants.
If these options aren’t appealing enough, why not try the Lyric or Globe theatre? I became slightly addicted and accustomed to the luxuriously styled 1100-seat beauty. Reminiscent of the opulence of the world’s great opera houses, with its plush fittings and rich atmosphere, we became observers of Comedy acts to Broadway musicals night after exhilarating night. With historical attractions, exciting activities and luxurious accommodation swarming around us, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful get-away. You soon forget about those guys with gun rumours!
By: Bradley Fink
Having planned to backpack up through Africa, I arrived with a friend named James via London to the beautiful city of Cape Town. After having coffee at the airport, we took a taxi to Stellenbosch, where 8 spectacular hectares of wine farm sat below the Helderberg Mountains. This was the Auberge Rozendal Wine Farm. At the back of the farm there was a guesthouse with 16 en-suite rooms. A lady gave us the key to one of these, and settling in we napped for a bit, showered, and then the two of us went to dinner at the manor house on the estate. Over a delicious, home-cooked meal, a farm worker named Stephan told us of some sights to see heading inland. Then we took a bottle of wine to his cottage, where he showed us some photographs, his maps of the country, and a route going east to Johannesburg.
On the following day we drove into town for our inoculations (Typhoid, Hepatitis, and Yellow Fever). We were also given malaria pills to be taken every seven days. Then we drove with Stephan into Cape Town, up to Table Mountain, and around to Camp’s Bay. In the city we walked down Long Street, looked into some bookstores for information, bought two new mats for our sleeping bags, and at noon we drove back to the farm. On the way we passed a township of tin shanties and huts, where Stephan said that there are over one million African refugees. He said that they have all come to look for a better living, and instead they are just living crammed together like that. There are no jobs for them here, no means for an education, and many of them are growing desperate. Back at the farm we talked of South Africa, which Stephan said is more racially divided than anywhere else he has been.
“It’s not just tension between blacks and whites,” he said.
“It’s between the Zulu and the Xhosa, the Sotho and Shona. There have been tribal differences here for thousands of years.”
When I suggested that with time things may change, Stephan shook his head.
“There’s no end to it,” he said. “One child is taught to hate another. If you knew the history you would understand the futility of it. It’s a wonder there is any stability at all.”
After lunch we went to Sommerset West to look for a car to drive the fifteen-hundred kilometers to Johannesburg. At a rental agency we were offered a safari jeep for five thousand Rand (725 USD), plus the price of petrol, which we decided is much too expensive. Stephan suggested that if we look around we might find something cheaper in the city.