JoBurg....To go or not to go?

Apr 26th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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JoBurg....To go or not to go?

Hello to anyone who has traveled to Johannesburg!! I have the opportunity to go this fall... due to finances and other issues, will likely be my only trip to Africa in my lifetime! Is Johannesburg somewhere I definitely want to go, or are there other more worthwhile areas of Africa that I should see instead?!? Thanks for any advice!!
lbadams is offline  
Apr 26th, 2004, 12:30 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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By "fall," I take it you mean the southern hemisphere spring. Be that as it may, I would never bother travelling to Johannesburg again except for the fact that I have family there whom I want to see, and also the fact that Johannesburg often is the destination of many flights to South Africa, so it can be used as a jumping off point for visiting other South African destinations.

As far as South African cities go, Cape Town and Durban beat Johannesburg hands down, in my opinion.

Fortunately, game reserves, such as the Kruger National Park, being a 5 hour drive away, are quite accessible from Johannesburg.

From a scenery point of view, the Garden Route, along the southern coast, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, is very attractive.

Outside of the Republic of South Africa, there are many other African countries that offer great safari experiences.

One of the most famous sights in Africa is Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River, between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Vic Falls consistently appears on most people's list of "Top Ten Things To See In Africa."

My advice to you is, if at all possible, to use Johannesburg as your staging point to visit the Kruger National Park or one of the other game reserves in the province of Mpumalanga and, if time permits, to add Cape Town and the Garden Route as well.

If you are extremely constrained by time limits, then at least try to get to a game reserve like Pilanesberg which, as far as I can tell, is close enough to Johannesburg to be visited over a couple of days or even as short a period as a single day trip.

For a very quick overview of South Africa, check out Lonely Planet's website:

The Siyabona Africa website provides good introductory information about going on safari. I know nothing about the quality of Siyabona Africa as a company. All I'm saying is that their website, which I stumbled on during a Google search, is good:

You can also visit South Africa's national parks on a self-drive basis. Here's a website for all of the country's national parks:

To find out about Kruger National Park (accommodation, instructions for getting there, map of the park, distances between camps, etc.), go to this page, and click on the relevant link:

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Apr 26th, 2004, 12:42 PM
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Never let an opportunity to travel pass you by. Johannesburg is a very big city -- are you going on business or to visit family or friends, and looking to "add on" a couple of days for pure exploration? OR, since the airfare is such a huge expense to begin with, can you extend your visit for a week or two to turn it into a real adventure? If you only have a few days, I would suggest you explore this board for posts about safaris into Kruger. While doing so, you may find your horizons expanding exponentially. Read some trip reports, visit a few websites, then come back here with some "boundaries" and you'll get plenty of "spot on" suggestions.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 04:00 AM
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Thanks for the info- very helpful! I am going with someone I know, who knows someone that lives in Johannesburg. We will be there almost 2 weeks. We plan on going to Capetown for a couple of days, and definitely plan a day or 2 trip to a game reserve. Other than that, most of our time will be spent in Johannesburg. So there will be plenty to do and see? As I said, I just don't have the financial means to ever do a trip like this again... if I'm going to Africa just once, I want to make sure it's the right place to go!
lbadams is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 04:10 AM
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Many people say JNB, but unless you mean in the heart of the city, many people live in the outlying suburbs - Sandton, Rosebank, etc. etc. And depending on how many days you'll be spending here, if your travel partner has a vehicle available or you choose to rent one, can travel around.
Apr 27th, 2004, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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In Johannesburg you can go to Gold Reef City, which depicts the place as it was during the Gold Rush, you can visit Soweto township, and you can visit the Apartheid Museum. You also can visit the shopping districts in Sandton and Rosebank, which are quite pleasant.

You can do a half day or full day trip to Pretoria, which is South Africa's administrative capital.

Another interesting day trip is a visit to the Sterkfontein Caves and nearby Kromdraai (Cradle of Humankind), where remains of early hominids have been found.

Pilanesberg is a game reserve that can be visited over a one or two day trip from Johannesburg. Aside from being quite easily accessible from Johannesburg, it has the advantage of being in a malaria-free area.

But many people consider the "real" game reserves to be the much bigger ones in Mpumalanga (Kruger National Park et al), and those in KwaZulu-Natal. The Kruger National Park is a 5 hour drive from Johannesburg. I think it would be ideal if you could take 5 days to do it (the day you drive there, the day you return, plus 3 full days in the park). But at an absolute minimum you'd need 3 days (which effectively would give you the equivalent of 2 days in the park, as the equivalent of a day would be used in driving there and back).

The lowveld areas of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland are high risk malaria areas from October through May. I suggest you do a word search for malaria here at the Fodors Africa forum, as there is a lot of good information on it. It's also a good idea to get professional medical advice well before your trip.

It takes a minimum of 3 days to do justice to Cape Town and, if you want to see the nearby winelands as well, 5 days is more ideal.

If you spend 2 weeks in Johannesburg with, as you say, a couple of days in Cape Town and a couple of days in a game reserve, that would be nice up to a point. It would be better than never having been to Africa at all. But it would not be the optimum use of a trip to South Africa, in my opinion.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Oh yes, this will help if you haven't found it already. It's a discussion thread in which Arthur posted a list of 29 things to do in Johannesburg:
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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You'll have a unique experience, especially if the person you're visiting there is a South African, not an American or something who's there on a temporary basis. You'll see the place through his/her eyes as well as through your own.

There is plenty to do in and near Jo'burg, as the replies here say. You won't be bored.

And don't assume it will be your only trip to Africa. Who knows what your finances, free time, and inclinations will be 5 years from now, or 35 years from now, or whenever? The way you put the question, it doesn't sound to me like the choice is between Jo'burg and someplace else in Africa, but rather between Jo'burg and home. If that's the case, my advice is jump at the chance and go.
Celia is offline  
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