JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Distant Guide Journey to the ‘City of Gold’
Welcome to Jozi!
Johannesburg is the ever-changing heart of South Africa. You’ll land at the lively O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa’s busiest airport and the main airport for the city. The liveliness of the airport alone will give you a taste of the vibrancy awaiting you once in the town core. Lavish Sandton, shopping in Rosebank or cultural Soweto, it all starts here.
The easiest and quickest way to get into Johannesburg from the airport is to hop on the Gautrain. Instead of sitting in traffic, this train is an easy 25 minute ride from the airport to Rosebank, Sandton and Parktown. Get off at Sandton to arrive in South Africa’s wealthiest neighborhood and the home of the richest square mile in the continent. If you’re checking into Hotel Saxon, you’re in the right place.
KEEP CALM, GO SHOPPING
Let’s shake off that jet lag and get you exploring. The largest stock exchange in Africa (12th largest in the world) is at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton. Sandton also hosts the 6-meter high Nelson Mandela Statue at Nelson Mandela Square. This landmark honoring the former president welcomes you to the many shops inside the building behind him.
Along with Sandton City, this area has become the shopping capital of the continent. If none of the hundreds of shops catch your attention, Gallery on the Square will pull at art lovers.
An afternoon of shopping and art gazing will be sure to work up an appetite. Luckily you’re not too far from the country’s best restaurant at Athol Place. We say it’s time to treat yourself to a culinary journey of this top restaurant’s everchanging menu. Feel free to spend the rest of your night relaxing - you deserve it.
Morning and Afternoon
A PIECE OF HISTORY
You’ve ended your night on a lull, now let’s start your day off with a bang. Your jet lag will thank you for sleeping in just enough to catch brunch at the Saxon. Head to Qunu for their Sunday brunch for a much needed boost of energy before heading out to Jozi.
Now that your tummy is happy, head 20 minutes north to Constitution Hill in Parktown. Not only will you get an impressive view of the city, you’ll also gain a little insight into Johannesburg’s history, making this a great place to get your footing. Take your time to explore the surroundings including the famous Old Fort prison buildings where Mandela and Gandhi were held. The Constitutional Court building has stunning artwork on display and is free to explore.
THE TOP OF AFRICA
If you had your camera handy for the views at Constitution Hill, don’t put it away just yet. The Top of Africa at the Carlton Centre is the spot to be in order to nab a spectacular 360 degree view of the golden city. Tip: views towards the northeast at sunset are particularly stunning. If listening to live jazz while sinking your teeth into delectable pork belly is your jive - The Orbit is your answer
If you’re looking for a traditional South African breakfast, think London. South Africa has had centuries of European rule so a typical ‘English Breakfast’ or coffee and toast is common.
Now, let’s get your mind and body centered before getting on the go. Join in on morning rooftop yoga at Yoga Works. If you’re afraid of heights, not to worry - yoga classes are available throughout the city so you can combine your morning stretches with a view.
The Apartheid Museum is just a short distance from the Jozi city centre and is one of the city’s main attractions. South Africa has had quite a turbulent past and this stop will catch you up to speed.
While apartheid may be steeped in a sordid past, taking your time to explore the museum allows you to really take in all that the informative and interactive exhibits have to offer. This museum is known to be a little heart-heavy, and it definitely brings South African history to life.
If you’re on an emotional rollercoaster from your recent historical visit, hopping on a real coaster will let you focus on how far this city has grown. Thrill seekers will love the chance to end the day on one of South Africa’s biggest and tallest rides - but those with a fainter heart will find tamer rides to lull the mood.
While you’re in the area, Back O’ The Moon, established in the 1950s, is a great spot to feed your hunger after a day of literal ups and downs. Choose between seafood or aged steaks while jazz soothes you into the night.
Most people who come to Africa, anticipate the chance to see wild animals up close and personal in their natural habitat. Today’s the day! You’ll head to the ‘Nearest Far Away Place’ to see if you can spot all members of the big 5. This adventure is perfect for a carhire to drive you through the safari.
Grab yourself a suitable car for a scenic drive from Jozi to Krugersdorp. If you want to get a head start on your day, pack some breakfast to munch on while you marvel at the sights on your 50 minute journey to the Cradle of Human Mankind Heritage Site. The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is our first stop and entry fees are payable when you arrive.
It’s a good thing you hired a car for this adventure, as The Rhino and Lion Reserve is a self-drive facility. If you prefer a more authentic experience, there are guided open jeeps where you can see Kruger Lions and buffalo without limits. Whatever you’ve opted for, you’re sure to be awe-struck observing the over 30 species of game including cheetahs, hippos, and antelopes who live on the reserve. For a more eco-friendly approach, 90-minute walking guides can be booked in advance. This gentle stroll will have you up to date on bird calls, plants, and South African history.
If gawking at majestic animals has worked up an appetite, the on-site Boma Restaurant overlooks the pygmy hippos and has a variety of classic favorites like burgers and steaks to hold you over until your next set of activities.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the animals, head over to the Animal Creche, where endangered and orphaned cubs will hop at the chance to pose with visitors. Or instead, take it easy with the swans at Waterfowl Park. Then, head over to the Predator Camp to try your hand at feeding lions and cheetahs in the Wild Dog enclosure.
You don’t have to end your adventure here. If you’re in the mood for more exploring in Krugersdorp, take a night tour at Wild Cave Adventures. Better known for being an Amazing Race detour challenge, visitors can be one with the bats as you climb, descend, and explore both above and below. Start in the Bat’s Cave for your required crash course on caving. With your adventure meter full, you can now take a drive at your leisure back to Jozi.
For a delicious morning treat, head over to Cafe de la Creme in Melville for a smooth cappuccino and stacks of tempting banana pancakes. This bohemian suburb is known for being home to artists but better known for its friendly residents so be sure to bring your smile to breakfast. After breakfast, you won’t be too far from 27 Boxes, a market space made out of old containers. Here you’ll find art, antiques and unique items.
If you don’t want to spend all day at the market awaiting their Wednesday night event, Melville has other vintage stores and second-hand bookshops to explore. These spots will ensure you leave with one of a kind souvenirs. Check out Love Books at the well-known Bamboo Lifestyle Centre for a special selection. There’s no slowing down now, keep letting your creative energy flow at August House. This art house is a workspace for over 50 independent pan-African contemporary artist. Don’t let the exterior fool you, while it may look like a normal residence, there are exhibits and open studios displaying the stunning work of local creatives.
INDIA IN AFRICA
Johannesburg has a lively Indian community and the Oriental Plaza is the best place to experience Jozi’s cultural mix. You’ll soon be headed near the South African suburb of Fordsburg, which was destroyed during the apartheid. The plaza was built as a compensation to those who lost their businesses during the turmoil. Now, the plaza is bustling with over 300 shops to experience from fabrics to spices. Don’t forget to stock up on Indian snacks at The World of Samosas before heading to Fishmonger for fresh sea bass.
No trip to South Africa or Johannesburg is complete without a must-do cultural trip to Soweto. Soweto is just about a half hour’s drive from Johannesburg, so grab a muffin and a coffee and let’s go!
This Jozi suburb is home to 1.3 million South Africans. It’s easiest to grab a taxi to head up to this cultural site as many locals use taxis everyday as a main method of transportation so be ready to squeeze in and make some friends!
Welcome to the heart of Soweto! This neighborhood is a mix of classes and lifestyles. Here you can see how South Africans truly live. Smell the aroma erupting from the open air markets, join in on a minimalistic soccer game. or try your hand at haggling with a vendor for a snack before exploring on. The Nelson Mandela House (an official landmark in the area) details the life of the famous president, and Kilptown is the oldest settlement in Soweto along with the birthplace of the Freedom Charter.
Wander the famous Vikazi Street, the only street in the world to serve as home to two Nobel Prize winners. Don’t hesitate to chat with locals about the area - they’ll be happy to tell you.
This is a great time to get your tastebuds on some traditional South African dishes at Vayos on Vikazi. Gaze at the lusciously green trees from your table as you savor dishes like Kasinyama and Mokopu. No need to rush, your ride back into central Jozi is only a whistle-hail away.
Let’s not make good-byes any harder by soaking up the last bit of Johannesburg before departing. We recommend getting organized for your flight home ahead of time in order to avoid the rush back to pack up your belongings before fleeing to the airport. Fourways Farmer’s Market in Sandton houses some of the freshest, local produce and foods so you can get a last taste of South Africa before heading out. This market won’t be as hectic as some others in the city so you can take it easy before the dash to the airport. Grab some locally grown veggies and some baked goods before lazing under beautiful Jacaranda trees for a picnic. You can pack whatever’s leftover for snacking on the plane.