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ekscrunchy Feb 19th, 2015 12:01 PM

Cannot believe my good fortune to be on the cusp of booking third trip to Southern Africa, beginning in Johannesburg. Planning to stay at The Saxon. Had thought of two nights/two days stay, but wonder if I am shortchanging what appears to be a fascinating city that I have just touched very briefly in the past.

Hoping to hear from any fans of the city....what would you do there to fill three days? Looking for any tips apart from Apartheid Museum which is on my list....

Also love to hear restaurant ideas....areas conducive to walking around and exploring?

Anyone stayed recently at the Saxon?

Many thanks.

Odin Feb 19th, 2015 01:26 PM

Have been to JNB at least 6 times, most recently two weeks ago. We enjoyed a self drive visit to Pilanesburg with lunch at Bakubung or another game reserve, a visit to Sun City for curiosity purposes as it is certainly no Vegas. Lion & Rhino Park, hot air balloon trip at Magaliesburg & nearby Elephant Sanctuary, Lesedi tourist village, Maropeng to name a few places. Restaurants in Sandton City can be quite good.

christabir Feb 19th, 2015 06:57 PM

We visited the Cradle of Humankind and the caves last time we were in Joberg. We liked it a lot - just get better directions than we had! We stayed there overnight and it was very nice, with good dining. If you are in town on a Sunday, you can see a performance of the White Lippizaner Stallions. I am a big fan, and my husband puts up with it for me. This was my favorite place to see them (only in Vienna, Slovenia and Joberg, as well as sometimes they go on the road) as it was very laid back and after the performance you can hang out in the barn area and meet some of the riders/horses. I know, it's not something that everyone would enjoy, but I loved it! If you are interested in a Soweto tour, use a good guide. Someone here may have a recommendation.

Enjoy your planning. Fortunate for sure!!

DarrenHumphrys Feb 19th, 2015 10:27 PM

Howzit all,
Great recommendations above.
Soweto - we always use Joe Motsogi of JMT Tours for our Soweto experiences. Joe is the real deal and was involved in the resistance to apartheid and, just as importantly, has been a key player in the rejuvenation of Soweto since the fall of apartheid.
Inner-city - we use the services of Jo Buitendach of PAST Experiences. Jo offers wonderful (and safe) walking tours of the inner city. If you're in Jo'burg on a Sunday, head down to the market at Arts on Main in the inner city.
Happy travels,
Darren Humphrys

Ozarksbill Feb 21st, 2015 09:04 AM

Ditto as to Soweto tour incl. Mandella house. Wonder what the somewhat new Soweto shopping center is like. Yes, we think the Cradle museum mentioned is outstanding and also there is a related nearby cave ( For something different an evening at Shangaan village:

Here's several nice Jo'burg restaurants: and

kellyee21 Feb 25th, 2015 10:47 PM

So exciting to be planning another trip. We moved to Joburg over a year ago and are very happy here. Earlier today I answered another post about what to do here so I am sure if you click on my name you will find it.

I haven't stayed at the Saxon so can't help there but I have heard good things about it. As for restaurants, we have found that unfortunately they just don't measure up to what you find in Cape Town and surrounds (and I think we have corresponded before about Cape Town dining for one of your previous trips) but there are some good options. Probably the best of those that I have tried is The Eatery JHB in Parkmore:

They have a limited menu as they change often and use mostly local ingredients. I was there with a group of french people and everyone loved it. It will run you about 250 ZAR pp or so for 3 courses without wine, very reasonable.

We have also just been to the recently opened Cafe del Sol Botanico in Bryanston which was quite good though a bit pricey for a lunch but I believe the menu is the same for dinner. We went for lunch and it was over 800 ZAR for 2 (2 starters, 2 mains, 1 dessert and a couple glasses of wine each). They are the sister restaurant to Cafe del Sol in Olivedale which also gets great reviews but I haven't been yet.

The top 2 places that I want to try but are currently out of my price range are 500 at the Saxon and The Cube Tasting Kitchen so you may want to check those out. Cube wasn't licensed for wine etc but i think that has recently changed.

Some neighborhoods you might want to look into for walking around (daytime) and having lunch are:

Maboneng with Arts on Main and Market on Main (market on Sundays). I really enjoyed House of Baobab for traditional African food (much better than Moyo which is very touristy and just ok food in my opinion)

There is also 44 Stanley which is located in a former warehouse district. There are some quirky shops and some restaurants in a lovely courtyard. I really like Salvation Cafe and wrote about it on my blog:

One more great area is 7th Street in Melville for wandering in the shops and lunch. My favorite of those that I have tried is Lucky Bean

There is outside dining and sometimes live music.

I hope that gives you a few ideas, let me know if you have any other questions, I am glad to try and help.

Odin Feb 26th, 2015 12:58 AM

The steaks at the Bull Run at the Protea Balalaika are very good and Piccolo Mondo at the Michelangelo in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton City is very good.

ekscrunchy Feb 26th, 2015 05:00 AM

Thanks to both of you! (Should I say "Howzit?")

I am so excited about this trip! I think we will stay 3 nights in J'Burg and I expect that I will have many more questions as time comes closer to departure (this is not until NEXT year!!)

Ozarksbill Apr 1st, 2015 10:22 AM

In addition to Apartheid Museum and Soweto tour and Kruger Park I would second an excursion to Cradle of Humankind and there is a cave in the area where they may be still exploring for ancient remains. We did crawl through it. Also north of Jo'burg is Blyde Canyon and the old mining town Pilgrim's Rest with lunch at Royal Hotel. And here's something interesting: dance/drum performance and native food at Shangana Village

Ozarksbill Apr 1st, 2015 11:02 AM

Oh my, I see I responded twice...sorry.

Lolazahra Apr 1st, 2015 07:04 PM

Joberg is one of my favorite cities in the world! While I am also a big fan of Capetown, I'm always sorry when folks bypass it during their travels in SA. I second all the suggestions mentioned above and just want to add one more that I was recently told about.

It's Liliesleaf Farm, which was the farm used secretly by African National Congress activists in the 1960s and was the location where many prominent ANC freedom fighters were arrested, leading to the Rivonia Trial.

It's now turned into a fascinating and vivid living museum. I was so pleased to visit and was shocked that I had not heard of it or that no one had suggested it during previous trips. It's an excellent addition to the apartheid museum.

Oh, one more -- the Hector Pieterson museum in Soweto to learn about the Soweto educational uprisings against Bantu education laws. Fascinating and around the corner from Mandela's House and great food too.

Have a fabulous time!

Ozarksbill Apr 2nd, 2015 01:02 PM

Well, chipping in once more...yes in Soweto the Hector Pietersen Museum indeed worthwhile and outside is the place marked where the lad Hector was killed in a 1976 student protest. This was sparked by objections to learning in the Afrikaan language instead of English. In the museum are photos of the struggle and casualties. And not far away is Regina Mundi church where people sought can see bullet holes in the ceiling and a chunk out of the altar as the police forced their way inside and also a gallery of pictures. Finally I'll mention Rosebankk, quite a shopping center in Melrose with shops spread out and a Hyatt Regency.

A unique dining plaqce we liked: Moyos near zoo lake. Nice little place is Mike's Kitchen in the Parktown location where we ate outdoors. For Thai food try Soi. We lodged in Akuwaiseni guest house in Melville. You will note high walls and barbed wire with secured entrances for residences here...and nearby a guard posted!

DebitNM Apr 11th, 2015 07:26 PM


ekscrunchy Apr 28th, 2017 06:04 PM

Back again with a question about areas in the city where we can walk around and visit some galleries and interesting local shops (not chain stores that we can find in other cities). Not so much interested in glitzy malls but more in up and coming neighborhoods. I've read about Parkwood and its galleries....would that be a good area to start?

DebitNM Apr 29th, 2017 08:56 AM

Melrose Arch area; we stayed at the Fire and Ice Protea hotel and loved the area.

tjhome1 Apr 29th, 2017 09:28 AM

Hi, As well as the Apartheid Museum can I put a huge recommendation in for Constitution Hill and the guided tours there which add hugely to the experience. You get to see the old cells and an idea of the appalling conditions that prisoners were subjected to. You then end the tour with a look at the new Constitutional Court which is fascinating and the hope for the future is such a contrast to the desperate atrocity of the adjacent old prison. In my view the very best use of time that any visitor to Johannesburg can make.

In terms of restaurants we loved DW 11-13 and the Cube Tasting Kitchen.

ekscrunchy Apr 29th, 2017 11:11 AM

Thanks, all. I would like more information on the areas to wander around and look at galleries and interesting shops, as I wrote in my post of April 28.

Thhink I have too little time for Maboneng, but where else? Parkwood, along JAn Smuts Avenue??

We arrive too late for dinner on the first night, except maybe for a wquick Nando's run. So we ahve two more nights and I think we are set, with Luke Dale Roberts at The Saxon and the Portuguese restaurant in LA Rochelle, Parreirinha, for prawns and other seafood.

Too bad we are there during the week, so no weekend markets are in the cards on this visit.

kellyee21 May 1st, 2017 08:43 PM

I think you might mean Parkhurst? I have been down there to eat, lots of nice places but I really haven't walked around there much. Have you been to Melville? I think it fits what you are looking for, lots of little, sometimes quirky shops.There is also 27 Boxes there and the area is safe to walk around.

ekscrunchy May 2nd, 2017 01:18 PM

Kellyee, thank you!!! The guide says Parkwood but I've no idea! Does this look like an interesting area to spend an hour or two?

This really looks worth visiting, I think:

We just met a pilot for Delta airlines who flies to the city often, and he was full of scary stories about getting robbed at ATMs, and while jogging in early morning. So now my partner is reluctant to leave the hotel with me alone and without a driver or guide!

I figure it's like any big city and I am not going to be walking around alone in Hillbrow at night. I did read about a tour of Hillbrow during the daytime but we don't ahve time to go there in any case.

I remember when many people were afraid to come to NYC cause they thought there were bullets flying in the subways.

kellyee21 May 2nd, 2017 08:54 PM

Thanks ekscrunchy for the info about Parkwood. We have lots of Park-somethings (Parkhurst, Parkmore, Parktown etc) but I had never heard about Parkwood.I thought that area was just Rosebank. Anyway,I know exactly where it is and just ate at the Bolton Collection(just accross from Goodman Gallery) a couple weekends ago (highly recommend). The area never struck me as a place to walk around (Jan Smuts is a very big, busy street) but you could certainly walk to at least some of them and then maybe drive over to the ones a little further. In fact, I will be down there again on Sunday and I can check it out better.

Your analogy to New York is a good one I think. We have lived here over 3.5 years now and nothing bad has ever happened to us (touch wood) and we are always out in all sorts of neighborhoods. You have to take some precautions (all bags, purses should be in the boot of the car, not lying on the seat, lock doors) but then we live our lives as we wish. I am not saying nothing ever happens to anyone, I certainly know some stories too, but take some precautions and you should be fine. We don't use random AeTMs if a lot of people aren't around (usually use ones in the inside of a shopping center) and even if I liked jogging, I wouldn't do it just anywhere early in the morning.

I really love living here, if I ever have to leave I would be going kicking and screaming. Please let me know if you have any more questions, I am glad to try and help.

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