My trip to South Africa was a random, last minute booking. When I arrived, the only plans I had were to spend time with one of my best friend’s family. I wish I had my cold weather packing list for autumn in South Africa, it was hot during the day and cold at night during May. I didn’t do any research about South Africa and had no clue what I wanted to see. I spent a total of 2 weeks in Johannesburg and then one week in Cape Town. Here is a list of my top 5 activities in Johannesburg.
Top 5 Activities in Johannesburg:
Staying at Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls.
I was lucky enough to stay with my best friend whose father is the Principal at the school. It was an amazing experience meeting some of the girls and exploring their campus. Since my friend was also coaching there, our evenings included football and cricket practice with the girls. The girls were hard working and very polite, they really appreciate the opportunity to be there.
Johannesburg Lion Park
This was quite an epic introduction to South Africa’s wildlife. It was one of my favorite activities in Johannesburg. We drove our own car through the park with our windows up and doors locked, and spotted loads of animals. One of my favorites parts was driving through the lion’s area and seeing the cubs playing. Once you got back to the main area of the park there was an area where you could go in and spend time with the lion cubs. This is one of my more memorable experiences here, we got to pet and play with the cubs. They ranged in age from 3 months up to 6 months. We were allowed in for exactly 2 minutes and they switched the cubs around every so often so it wasn’t the same group in there all day. They were all playful and well cared for and the park rangers really seemed to enjoy looking after them.
As I said, I didn’t do too much research about South Africa so I didn’t know a whole lot about apartheid. So another one of my activities in Johannesburg was the Apartheid museum. This was my time to learn all about South Africa’s history and it was shocking. As soon as you walk in you are labelled “white” and “non-white” on your ticket, you entered through separate doors to get a feel for how it used to be. I was “non-white” and I walked through my side so quickly because there was not as much information to read. It was difficult to not be emotional as you walked through and saw the videos and heard the accounts of all the protests and violence that happened.
Dinokeng Game Reserve
We were looking for a game park that was closer than Kruger and we were not disappointed at all. This was one of my must do activities in Johannesburg, it was actually located about 2 hours away near Pretoria. We stayed in a self catering lodge and barbequed (Braai) every night. At night we could hear the warthogs snorting the ground looking for food. The next morning we did a self drive through the park and before we even got to the entrance we were spotting wildebeest and kudu. We drove through the park in the morning and spotted lots of elephants and then went back in the afternoon and didn’t find too much. The second day we went on a game drive with one of the other hotels and we spotted some lions and even more elephants. It was quite an exciting weekend. Make sure you brush up on your travel photography before you go so you get some epic shots
These iconic towers were quite a sight. The artwork on the towers was beautiful. If you are daring you can bungy or swing from the center of the towers. I was not quite ready for that, I waited until New Zealand to try my hand at bungy jumping. It was quiet when we went so we didn’t get to see anyone jump. It was definitely worth a visit. While you’re in Soweto you can also visit Nelson Mandela’s house, we skipped this but we walked past to check it out.