Despite the bad reputation Johannesburg is getting, there is still hope left for its tourism.
Being the second largest city in South Africa, and the largest one in terms of population, Joburg, or Jozi for most people, offers its tourists a great experience that is as splendid as the place itself. It may have begun as a humble gold-mining area in the sub-Saharan of Southern Africa during the period of apartheid, but it is now thriving as one which has the largest economy in the region.
Johannesburg stands as the capital of the province of Gauteng, and currently, it has a population of almost 3.88 M, which is expected to boom to 4.1 M by the 2015. Since the end of the apartheid period, the percentage of blacks living in city surged to 73%, whites decreased to 16%, and Asians being the least 4% of the population.
Language may be a great concern of most tourists especially those coming from English-speaking countries, but it is a great thing that although Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans are widely spoken in the area, many locals understand English and it offers ease that it can be used as a bridge language anywhere in the city.
Due to Johannesburg’s high land elevation – that is, being located on 1753 meters above sea-level, tourists will get to enjoy a nice subtropical highland climate. Although Joburg has a drier weather, people visiting the city can expect a daytime that is not too hot – averaging maximum temperature stays at 78 F, and a cool temperature during nighttime. It would help to consider the seasons if you are planning to get flights to Johannesburg for a visit, since the temperature during nighttime on winters may drop to even below zero, however, winter daytime is considered as the occurrence of sunniest days in the year.
Since the abolishment of the Group Areas Act of 1991, the city of Johannesburg has been inhabited again by the non-Whites. The law resulted in racial segregation, wherein the whites became entitled to the best places to live in the city, while the blacks and other minority races were pushed to other smaller areas that compelled them to commute great distances from home to work. Since the uplifting of the law, this City of Gold became an open area for different people who were once banned to live in there and eventually became a big melting pot of cultures and ideologies.
Due to the high diversity of people in the area, Joburg is continually thought of with a negative notion relative to its high crime rates. Aside from carnapping, street crime also comes dominant in the city, which is why it is advised to wear non-flashy jewelries and accessories if you are planning to have a smooth itinerary in your travel. Although most locals are friendly enough to give directions, it still pays to be certain where you are going to avoid having to ask wrong persons.
However, behind all these negative headlines, Joburg has, in fact, a title of being one of the world’s leading economic centres. As the economy began to grow, the crime rates also strived to decrease. Johannesburg has now numerous places to offer its visitors – from attractions, events, shopping spots, to entertainment and nightlife – and this paves the way to a more secure, unique, and once-in-a-lifetime travel of the tourists.
For serious travelers, backpackers, or people with interest in deeper social issues, go visit the following sites in Gauteng:
The sub-Saharan area of Southern Africa is indeed the home of the African lions, and Lion Park is the place where you can see these great carnivores without having to undergo the challenge of safari. Being the 3rd opened lion park in the world, this places houses three prides of lions and a clan of hyena. You can also take a closer look to leopards, cheetahs, and the second most endangered carnivore in Africa – the Wild Dog. If you are looking for herbivores, Lion Park will also give you the opportunity to see the different animals of the game, such as wildebeests, giraffes, and zebras.
If your group decides to have a longer stay around the park, this amazing place offers tent-camps accommodation at reasonable rates. Lion Park also has restaurant where you can comfortably dine in and a curio shop that has stuff you might want to get for people back home.
Aside from being open from 8:30 am to 9 pm, Lion Park proves to be one of top tourist accessible attractions for just being 30 km from Joburg.
A made-up acronym from South Western Township, Soweto was a city established in 1930s to house black people under the apartheid system. This township located just south of Johannesburg is also a melting pot of cultures, and currently, has nurtured numerous subcultures especially for the young. A sprawling township that has a diverse cultural interaction and an enterprise for the gold, Soweto is still a favorite tourist destination because of the housed historical spots in the area.
Both located in Orlando West, tourists will get to experience a taste of history by having former president Nelson Mandela’s house – that is now being maintained as a museum –and the Hector Pieterson Memorial Park – which is located two blocks away from the place where he was shot — in their itinerary. Another favorite site is the oldest district of Soweto – Kliptown. This is where the Freedom Charter came from – drafted by the Congress of the People that gathered around 3000 in 1955. Tourists may also consider visiting Regina Mundi, the largest Roman Catholic church in Africa, which plays a vital role in history because of its gathering of Sowetan people before during the apartheid struggle. It is located in Orlando East, still within Johannesburg.
If you want to greatly understand the epic history underlying the current liberty that has that of South Africa, Apartheid Museum is a must-go-to destination. This historical establishment on a 7-hectare land could be first in your itinerary being only 15 minutes away from the OR Tambo International Airport – formerly known as Johannesburg International Airport.
The museum tells the story of the apartheid – the savage man-made phenomenon that has put over 20 million people into an unfair damnation of racial discrimination. Visiting the Apartheid Museum will carve into your soul a deep appreciation of the country.
Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
There is a great place that houses ancient history in Johannesburg, and that is the Cradle of Humankind. This establishment that has been put on a 47,000-heactare private property tells the history of Africa in another angle through its collection of dolomitic limestones – in other words, fossils. The Sterkfontein Caves, the most famous of the 13 excavated fossil sites in Cradle of Humankind is a great place for sceintists and also to those who are into archaeology.
This is the best place to be to travel 4 million years back in time.