Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.Andre Gide.
As a part of a Business trip, I was in Johannesburg (also known as Joburg and Jozi) for a couple of days (in October 2019) and hence got a chance to see some parts of this city.
OR Tambo Airport is the main International Airport in Joburg. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa’s busiest airport with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually.
This trip had a couple of specialities:
The main attraction that I wanted to cover was the Gauteng Lion and Safari Park.
More details in their website à http://www.lionandsáfáripárk.com
I booked my ticket for a 3 Hour Safari tour, prior to the travel date.
The ticket price was around 595 SAR. Took Cub Interaction tickets for 75 SAR. You can buy Cub interaction tickets, only if you buy the Safari tickets. Did not find any special discounted rates for the online booking.
You will have to book the trip well in advance, as the tickets/seats get filled up fast.
Gauteng Lion and Safari Park is away from the main city centre and it would take around 45min -1 hour by Car.
I booked the 11 AM Safari. They also serve some snacks and drinks during the later part of the 3-hour safari. There is a designated place for these snacks and it’s a nice place where tables and chairs are provided by the side of a river.
There are also other options like 1.5 Hours Mini Safari, Self-Drive and so on.
Wouldn’t recommend the 1.5 hours Safari, as most of the time is spend with the guides talking about the animals. You will get a chance to see very few animals in trips of 1.5 hours duration.
My expectation with African Safari was that we would be taken into a dense forest and might get a chance to see the animals in their natural habitat. This place is basically a glorified version of zoo where the animals are enclosed in very small areas of land; obviously slightly bigger enclosures than a zoo. Visit this place with an expectation that you are simply visiting a zoo.
Apart from Lions, there are also many wild animals like Leopard, tiger, Cheetah and so on.
Personally, I was upset with the living conditions of some of the animals here. There were 2 Leopards and they were kept in very small area. They hardly have some place to run around. Same is the case with Cubs. Lions at least have some space to roam.
There is a shopping area known as the 5 Dome shopping center, where there are 5 small shopping spots connected with different themes for young people, teenagers, and adults. There are tons of clothes for kids and adults, that you can buy. This is also a good place to buy some South African Souvenir’s, Fridge magnets and so on. You can also claim VAT returns for your purchase.
There are also some snack bars and a restaurant available in the campus.
The public transport in Joburg is very bad. You will hardly see any Government Public bus on the street.
The main option for transportation is Mini Van taxis. Not sure if they are safe for an Overseas Tourists. But I believe it’s a great relief for the normal citizens as they can reach all parts of the main city with a cheaper ticket.
Obviously, the sheer number of taxis on the road is a major cause for the traffic/pollution in the Joburg roads.
Some Other Places that I managed to visit were:
Tallest Building in South Africa – Carlton Tower:
From here, you gets a bird’s-eye view of the city which is really satisfying.
Carlton Tower is the tallest building in South Africa with around 50 floors. The top floor looked like it hadn’t been renovated since many years. There was graffiti and trash everywhere. No body cares to clean this place. There were very limited tourists here in this place. The ticket price was around 30 SAR (Only cash and no cards).
You can get a spectacular view of the city from the 50th floor of the Carlton Tower.
It also happens to be the tallest building in Africa, hence the nickname, the top of Africa. At 223 metres high, it doesn’t quite make it onto the list of the top 100 tallest skyscrapers but it’s the tallest structure you’re going to see in South Africa.
There is another building named ‘The Leonardo’ which is getting ready in Sandton and it will have 55 floors upon completion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Leonardo_(Sandton)
The Wanderers stadium:
The Wanderers Stadium is a stadium situated just south of Sandton.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 34,000 and was built in 1956 to replace the Old Wanderers Stadium.
The 2003 Cricket World Cup final was held at the Wanderers Stadium. This stadium also hosted one of the greatest One-day international matches, played between South Africa and Australia in which a world record score of 434 was chased down by South Africa.
It hosted matches of the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 including the first match and the final which was won by India, who defeated Pakistan.
Mandela Statue / Nelson Mandela Square (in Sandton):
This new financial district is also home to the Nelson Mandela Square with its gigantic sculpture of the first black president of South Africa. Sandton almost feels like the downtown area of any city, it is hard to think that it is only a suburb. This is a shopping mall with many of the stores being of local designers, perfect to bring home a unique piece of clothing.
Gandhi Statue / Gandhi Square:
M. K. Gandhi is a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi Square, Johannesburg, which depicts the Indian independence campaigner and nonviolent pacifist as a young man.
The square had previously been known as Government Square and was the location of the Johannesburg Law Courts where Gandhi practiced. The statue was half funded by the city of Johannesburg, with the remainder coming from private donations.
The statue is situated on a 5-meter-high plinth, and benches surround the base of the statue. The statue depicts Gandhi as he may have appeared in his time in Johannesburg, as a young man wearing his legal gown over his suit, with his cloak blown by the breeze. Gandhi has a book and is looking forward.
NOTE: Be little careful while roaming around this place, especially when you have some bags and cameras along with you.
Jacaranda Trees (Purple Petals – Late September to November):
This was one of the lottery in my trip. These Purple petals can be seen only from late September till November and can be seen across the city.
The word ‘Jacaranda’ is believed to mean ‘fragrant’ in a native South American dialect, and the trees are known for their purple blossoms.
The flowers also have an air of magic around them. South Africa’s university students believe that if a Jacaranda flower falls on your head during exam time, you’ll pass all your subjects! #Interesting belief’s, isn’t it?
Nando’s is a South African restaurant chain, specialising in Portuguese food such as peri-peri[a] style chicken dishes. Founded in Johannesburg in 1987, Nando’s operates over 1,000 outlets in 35 countries. Nandos Peri-Peri Sauce is the magical sauce that makes Nandos what it is.
Local restaurants also have a lot of items in their menu. Once, I had tried Chicken Stir Rice and I liked it very much.
The main city center is slightly scary but the Government is trying to make better townships in areas like Rosebank, Sandton, Melrose and so on.
Another important point to note is that ENGLISH is the widely spoken language in Joburg. Most of the shops close between 6-7PM.
Johannesburg doesn’t have a tourist checklist of “must-see” sights like most other cities, but there are certain things to do that are worth checking out during your visit.
If you have enough days here in Joburg, try to cover some of the below places:
I stayed in Rose Bank Crowne Plaza. It’s a large property. Its around 20-30 minutes by car, to the main city centre.
This was a reasonably priced hotel. There was a full-fledged restaurant which serves breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
The Power plugs and sockets are slightly different here. The hotel reception provided the right adapter on request.
Is this place safe to travel?
I can only speak to my experience visiting Joburg. There wasn’t any point where I felt unsafe or saw something dangerous happen. My experience was nothing but positive.
Nonetheless, the city is still dangerous. Do take the usual precautions, be mindful of where to go, especially at night and avoid showcasing wealth like walking with your camera around the neck. Also take care of your laptop bags and so on while walking around. However, crime should not be a factor to consider for not to visit this amazing city!
If you are travelling alone, you might have to use Taxi and knowing a known taxi company is very important. I had used Steven’s ‘KYM Tours and Transfers’ Taxi company on all the days that I was here in Joburg. You can completely rely on his company for your travel needs. has been in this industry for more than 15 years and will arrange you a car (mostly premium cars like Merc C class, SUV and so on). Definitely recommendable.
Also UBER has a good network here.
Subscribe to my mailing list to get latest news on your inbox!