Stopover in Johannesburg

Make the most of a short stay in Johannesburg

Stopover in Johannesburg

Seriously, you should never listen to someone that tells you there is nothing to do in Johannesburg. For sure, it “seems” less attractive on photos than the garden route or the Cape Area. But if you have a stop over on your way to some other destination, or if Jo’Burg is your business trip destination, you dont need to book yourself into an overpriced safari week end to be able to enjoy what South Africa has to offer. No, I’m serious!

A white cub at the Lion Park

A white cub at the Lion Park

So what are those little gems you should NOT miss if you get a day or a week end in Johannesburg (or Pretoria)?

  • The Lion Park:  Rated as one of the best animal attractions in the world, I was cautious at first. animals in captivity, of course if you wanted that, you’d go to your local zoo. But let’s be honest here for a minute, not everyone gets to go to South Africa for a 3 weeks holiday with a one-week safari in Kruger park. The Lion Park offers a wonderful experience to meet and greet lion cubs or feed Trudi the giraffe, unless she has decided to get out of her private space and crosses slowly across the parking lot to visit the cafeteria (she crossed right in front of us as we were getting in our car). Last but not least, dont forget to join one of the guided tours around the reserve, and get closer to rare white lions, cheetas and zebras.
  • Apartheid Museum : Impressive, moving, fascinating, deep, challenging, chose your own adjective, for this visit will be your to experience. We will not forget the first few minutes, going through the gates with our tickets. If you go, you will understand.
  • Lesedi Village : Years ago I saw photos of Ndebele painted house and unique craft, and promised myself one day i’d get closer. Well, except that, I just couldn’t think how to go around the Ndebele regions and then what? Go round people’s homes and ask if I can take photos? You know what, I’m actually not sure i’d be excessively comfortable if someone had that to me. The Lesedi Cultural Village is a sort of showcase village, displaying typical tribal huts from a diversity of south african tribes: Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, Pedi and Basotho. The first 5 minutes of the experience felt very “staged” but we very quickly realised the experience brought a lot more than that if you are also willing to listen, share, and communicate. You will laugh, you will learn, you will leave the place with a very moving feeling that you have felt, for a quick moment, the deep essence of this fascinating country.
  • Cullinan: If you have more than a day of spare time during your Johannesburg business trip or stop over, make your way to Cullinan. The diamond mine is famous for the record breaking diamond of the same name. But to be fair, we did not chose to Cullinan for the mine, but for the village itself. A little gem, without playing on words. Trading post architecture, a real postcard village, with cafés and restaurants, small art and craft galleries, we stopped there for a couple hours before heading back to  OR Tambo Airport. Located East of Pretoria, count an hour to drive back to the airport.

Of course this is not a limited list and those are but just a few examples of the diversity of cultural activities that a short stay in or around Johannesburg can provide. Those were among my favourite and I would happily recommend them to my friends.

 

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