Johannesburg is the very spirit of South Africa, in some ways; and a South Africa vacation would not be complete without a civilized introduction to the city. Let’s cover a little bit of everything in Johannesburg, and take in a couple of day trips right outside the city too. Johannesburg has great shopping; spend time rifling through a bunch of attractive ethnic handicrafts and other odds and ends, and be sure to try Deer Hunter in Greenside; you’ll find it on Greenway Road. The reason it’s such a great place for souvenir hunters to go to is, the good folks who run the shop scour artisan workshops and collectors across the country for the best stuff to bring stock. Apart from your usual ethnic paintings and clothes, you’ll also find great old records and movie memorabilia. There are so many interesting little knick-knacks in there that you’ll find yourself lingering next to any number of little objects, probably reminded of one little thing or another there that caught your fancy when you were a child. If you are interested in antiques, try the boutiques on Queen Street in Kensington (in Johannesburg, not London).
Johannesburg has great cosmopolitan food. Try the Pimento (no, they don’t just serve chili) for great South African versions of Italian originals like pizza, pasta and filet steaks. Or how about the Lapa Fo in Emmarentia on Barry Hertzog Avenue? They make dozens of kinds of pizza too. If you hanker after something a little less Mediterranean, try the sandwiches at Solly’s Corner on Bree Street; they’ve made a kind of reputation for themselves, and people from all over the world make a point of coming here when they come on a South Africa vacation. For coffee, the local Starbucks knockoff, Vida E Caffè, is pretty good.
So there was your standard Johannesburg day out. How about exploring the places around, for a little improved perspective though? One of the best day trips there are to be had, involves a trip to the mountain range of Drakensberg, a couple of hundred miles from Johannesburg. There’s a lot of great rugged activity to be had, horseback riding, fishing and so on. If you can’t venture that far, try Parys, a kind of historic old town set up with great antique stores and antique restaurants. And if you have even less time, try Lion Park, a place you can hold a lion cub in your hands. It’ll really make your day on this South Africa vacation.
If you have a little more time, The Cradle of Humankind is a wonderful day trip no more than a half-hour’s drive out of Johannesburg. This educational tour has something for everyone. Children will love all the outdoors experiences walking among the digs and the exhibits, and they will love the Rhino and Lion Nature Preserve. Those with more sophisticated tastes will love all the indoor exhibits of some of the oldest known artifacts from prehistory ever found. There is a great theme restaurant here called the Cradle Restaurant to round out your visit. No South Africa vacation would be complete without this one.
If on your South Africa vacation, you like the reassurance of having an experienced travel guide at your side giving you the perspective of a local, you cannot go wrong with Face to Face tours. Of course, there’s nothing quite like it if you have the luxury of your own personal tour guide.