I dreamt of visiting Johannesburg in the early years of my life as inspired by the South African series, Scandal, I was so desperate I even entered into a competition to visit since I couldn’t afford the trip at the time.
Reviews and stories from Johannesburg could be scary and discouraging. I remember recommending a few days stop in Johannesburg for our honeymoon clients enroute Cape Town and their reaction was ‘God forbid’.
I always admire people who visit Johannesburg and I am grateful Ann granted us this interview. Check out www.anntheadventurist.com for more stories.
Did you really solo travel to South Africa ?Did the reviews not put you off?
I visited South Africa alone and I would redo my trip in a heartbeat. Prior to my trip, I heard about crime being an issue mainly in Joburg, but that didn’t stop me. Crime is inevitable and occurs everywhere. Nigeria isn’t any less safe than South Africa. Same can be said about the United States. The overall vibe I gathered from those who have traveled to South Africa was that their experience was good. I did not find anyone that hated it.
How many cities, (please name them)?
Total cities: 4 (Joburg, Durban, Cape Town, Nelspruit). I visited a bunch of towns like Graskop, Stellenbosch, and Underberg.
What safety measures did you put in place?
Made sure that whenever I was leaving my accommodation, I had a spare ATM card and a small amount of cash stashed in my bra
– Had a mini-pocket knife at all times
– Carried a paper copy of my passport in my wallet
– Left my passport, some US dollars, and a spare credit card in my main luggage for emergency purposes
– When walking outside, I never wore jewelry or pulled out my phone (particularly in Joburg). Remained vigilant and acted like I knew where I was going.
– When I had a rental car, I cleared out all belongings when not in use
– Avoided driving at night when possible
– If driving at night, do not stop at the red light
No stopping at the red light at night? Were you advised by a local or read it somewhere prior to your trip?
No local told me to run red lights. It was an observation from driving in Nelspruit at night. I noticed drivers running the red lights and i was confused. Found out later that you’re not supposed to stop at red lights at night to prevent carjacking.
You spent a lot of time in Johannesburg (the least favourite part for tourists), what did you love most?
Joburg, as a city, did not impress me because I adore natural landscapes over a city filled with man-made buildings and structures.
What I loved the most was the connections I made. I met so many people from Curiocity Hostel and outside of Curiocity that I spent more time hanging with people than visiting sites. I ran out of time to see everything I wanted. Spending time talking to people is what made me stay longer in Joburg. But if I had to pick what sight I loved the most, it would be the Apartheid Museum. It’s filled with historical information of South Africa that left me wanting to know more.
Top 3 must do in Johannesburg
Top 3 places to visit: Soweto, Apartheid Museum, Neighbourgoods Market, Curiocity Hostel at night (4th place, lol…you can omit this if you want)
How many days did you spend in SA and how many of this was solely allocated to Johannesburg? Was this intentional or the air fare deal you could get at the time?
I think I spent 22 or 23 days in SA. 7 days were spent in Joburg by choice and not due to airfare as I used my accumulated mileage for my airfare to South Africa.
Would you recommend Johannesburg to the next solo traveller?
YES! Joburg is still worth visiting because it has a different vibe and things to offer than the other major cities.
Is Johannesburg still on your bucketlist? Would you be applying these safety tips when visiting? Do make sure you discuss all travel worries to this destination with your travel agent before embarking on it.
Have you been to Johannesburg? Would you recommend a trip there despite all scary reviews?