Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and the centre of economic and financial life. It is the city of contrasts. For many it’s more of a stopping point before heading out for somewhere else, but actually you can find lots of culture in the city itself.
The huge city of Johannesburg is the centre of Africa’s gold and diamond trade. It ranks inside the 40 biggest metropolises in the world. As many of the big cities, the rugged neighborhoods, modern architecture, incredible rich and poorest of the poor people meet and make up an interesting mixture of contrasts. Johannesburg can seem overwhelming for the first timer, but if you know what to look for it is very interesting. Most travelers stick to the city's northern suburbs, which are like a series of little villages, each defined by a distinct feeling.
You can take a daytrip to Soweto township. This is truly an eye opening experience. On this trip you move from the wealthier areas towards the poorer neighborhoods. You’ll learn a lot about the lifestyle in Soweto.
It is said that in order to really understand the rough history of South Africa, one has to visit Soweto! The museum built in the former home of Nelson Mandela is worth a visit as well as the Apartheid museum and Museum Africa in Johannesburg.
The Cradel of Humankind – A World Heritage listed area is located about 25 kilometers from the city centre. Learn some fascinating facts about the history and development of humankind.
There are good connections from Johannesburg to Lesotho, Pretoria and Swaziland.
Lion Park near Johannesburg is a popular daytrip destination for those who don’t have time to longer safaris. Trips are arranged from different parts of Johannesburg. Here you’ll experience the rare white lions, giraffes and other wildlife.
Safaris of different durations depart from Johannesburg. The most famous of all is the Kruger National Park. The drive is quite long, but definitely worth taking. When planning your safaris, avoid the rainy seasons to get the best out of your trip.
KILROY recommends the Drifters Inn Hotel, which is located in a safe suburb of northwest Johannesburg. It is an ideal stopover as it has comfortable rooms, well made breakfast buffets, as well as a garden and a swimming pool. It is close to shops, restaurants and a large beautiful botanical garden It’s best to book at least one night beforehand.
The safest way to get to know the city and its surroundings is by booking a small group travel tour. Take caution with your safety, as the crime rates in Johannesburg are extremely high. Avoid walking alone and use the taxis. Safecab and Rose Taxi have good reputations. There are minibuses, which the locals use, but taxis are more comfortable and safer for a traveler. The largest bus terminal is located in Ghandi Square.
You can also use the Baz Bus, which is a well functioning hop-on hop-off, door-to-door backpacker bus service operating between about 180 backpacking hostels around South Africa. Ask more from KILROY!
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