Hotels in and around the Johannesburg City Center suburb
Johannesburg City is, undoubtedly, South Africa’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan and distinctly hospitable tourist hotspot. This city pulsates with cultures, languages, colours and creeds, all converging on a platform of cultural and economic sustainability and development. The Johannesburg locals are known for their welcoming, friendly nature, ensuring that visitors from around the world hold this epicentre fondly in their minds and hearts.
Johannesburg, or Jo’burg, is particularly noteworthy as it is the primary base from which to explore the rest of the country and southern Africa. The international airport, OR Tambo, is the main one of its kind in the country, receiving more flights from more destinations than any other.
Johannesburg is also geared towards tourism in terms of transport and accommodation. In preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, even more services and better infrastructure have been implemented. Thus, visitors to Jo’burg are assured of utmost efficiency and a broad spectrum of choices on their journeys in and around South Africa.
Before gold was discovered in 1886, the regions now known as Johannesburg and Gauteng were home to native Bushmen tribes. These ones lived off the produce of the land, hunting and gathering to sustain their communities from as early as the Stone Age. Their remains have leant Jo’burg a historical value to be envied as the multitude of rock art, tools, implements and skeletal remains fascinate tourists and scientists alike. As time progressed, the Iron Age soon took over.
When settlers from around the world began colonising Africa, they soon discovered Gauteng’s rich supply of gold. This was the beginning of a mammoth gold rush that spelt Johannesburg’s continuing success and growth. Gold and diamond mines still support the economy of the region.
Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport receives and despatches flights to and from countries all over the world. This transportation base is only 24km from the city centre and, depending on traffic, approximately 40 minutes’ drive. There are plenty of taxis available through professional services. These can be arranged directly, or with the help of your tour operator or accommodation provider. It is not advised that you use the minibus taxis unless you are familiar with local languages and customs and are happy with their certification. Should you choose to hire a vehicle, GPS or Satellite Navigation is essential. The roads in and around Jo’burg are very busy, and traffic moves fast when it is not congested.
Johannesburg is within a few hours’ drive of many other popular destinations in South Africa, i.e.:
Johannesburg promises a plethora of exciting things to see and do for every visitor. Soweto is a sizeable township, or informal settlement, just outside Jo’burg City. This township has a painful history of violence and oppression during the Apartheid years. However, the current residents, many of whom lived through this time, have adopted a positive, dynamic approach. Soweto is a vibrant, pulsating township that has produced many of South Africa’s best dancers, artists, actors, sportsmen and political activists. Tours through the shacks, stalls, shops and public arenas of this settlement are conducted regularly through formal tour operators, providing a first-hand encounter of authentic South African life. ‘Soweto’ is an acronym for South West Townships, and includes over 30 smaller settlements under its name.
Activities in and around the city centre are plentiful, creating fun things for the entire family to do. Paintball, quad biking, ice skating, hiking, etc... are all available within fairly close proximity to Jo’burg’s city centre.
Nature enthusiasts are urged to pay a visit to the world-famous Kruger National Park during their visit to this region. This park is made up of several smaller parks, lodges and reserves, all promising spectacular game viewing and a memorable African experience. Animals include lions, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, elephants, hippos, zebras, giraffes, a multitude of buck, birds, and even fascinating insects. Accommodation ranges from luxury to self-catering or camping, suiting the needs and desires of all visitors. Formal game drives are conducted morning and evening, and some establishments may even have extra drives during the day. These should be organised with your tour operator or your specific lodge / guesthouse / hotel.
Johannesburg is landlocked and, therefore, slightly hotter than coastal cities, which are cooled by offshore breezes. Afternoon thundershowers characterise the summer time, which extends from December to February. This helps to cool the sweltering summer days. Winters, between June and August, are cold and dry, with noonday highs of about 16 degrees Celsius.
Johannesburg City is not a threat area for malaria infections. However, the rural areas and the many game parks surrounding Gauteng have reported rare malaria infections over the years. Visitors that are planning to visit the northern provinces of South Africa and / or surrounding countries are advised to take precautions against contracting the illness. This is achieved by taking a course of prophylactic drugs, as well as treating your clothing and bedding and spraying citronella-based products onto your skin. In fact, precautions against any type of insect bite are advisable when visiting Africa.
Sunscreen is essential in all seasons in South Africa. Take further precautions by wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and a sunhat to ensure that your face, neck and any other exposed area is protected.
HIV / AIDS continue to be major problems in South Africa. Do not engage in unprotected sex with anybody, and do not administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or handle bleeding persons without the correct equipment (rubber gloves, a mouthpiece, etc...)
It is advised that you bring your prescriptions for spectacles and medication so that you can restock at a local pharmacy without having to consult with a doctor.
Ensure that your tetanus shots are up-to-date as some areas are fraught with litter, including broken glass, cans and metal.
Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s wealthiest and busiest metropolitans. As such, there are areas within the city centre and its surrounding suburbs that are not safe. Consult with your tour operator and/or hotel so that you may be aware of which places to avoid. When walking around the city, tourist attractions, or while using public transport (including tour busses), be aware of your personal belongings. Do not leave anything unattended, and do not accept help from strangers, especially if it requires handing over your bank cards, photographic equipment, etc…Do not stop on busy motorways, and do not assist anybody that appears to have been in an accident. Hijackings are on the decrease, but are still a threat.