To locals, Johannesburg, the largest city of South Africa, is endearingly Joburg or Jozi; and when you are done with your visit to this teeming metropolitan town, there is likely to be a little endearment or two you have in mind for this place yourself. Johannesburg is a vibrant city of great extremes. It has deep roots in European culture as well as African culture; there is business, culture and art of the highest order in its old world atmosphere and its glittering skyscrapers; and there are miles of shantytowns, traffic that knows no laws, and people, people everywhere. The city is home to some of the worst apartheid atrocities ever known of; and it is the home of an inspiring freedom struggle. When you visit South Africa, travel to Johannesburg has to be the highlight of your trip; the city may be a bit dangerous in some of its seedier areas, but most of the places you would want to venture to are pretty great.
Let’s cover some of Jozi’s best offbeat attractions in pubs and restaurants, art galleries and everything else. Let’s start with Arts on Main, an exciting bunch of shops, all hidden away in a reclaimed warehouse right in the center of the city. The whole enterprise is a part of the city’s plans to take advantage of the history that the city possesses. There are galleries and little bohemian shops by the dozen that should easily take up a couple of hours spent exploring. Check out Artsonmain.co.za for details.
If you want a piece of history for your South Africa travel plans this time, try the Market Theater, otherwise known as the Theater of the Struggle. During apartheid times, the theater’s management felt that art could have a great contribution to make to the country’s political struggle, and frequently put up shows that challenged the government’s policies. A visit there today, and you’ll see some of the best that South Africa’s arts and music scene has to offer. Check out Markettheatre.co.za for details.
Keeping with the apartheid theme, how about a trip out to the suburb of Soweto, a massive place that all blacks in Johannesburg were forced to leave for each evening in the apartheid era, after their work in the city was done? Soweto featured prominently in the country’s freedom struggle, and is home to hundreds of thousands black South Africans. Things aren’t as desperate around here as they once were. The economy in Soweto is booming, and the energy in the air is palpable. It would have to be, what with two Nobel Peace Prize winners living there, on the same street (Vilakazi Street) no less. What South Africa travel plan would be complete without a visit to Nelson Mandela’s home (converted into a museum now)? For a little authentic Soweto cuisine, try the Nambitha Eatery, the Sakhumzi Restaurant and Wandies Place. You could be in for a treat with ox tail stew and other South African delicacies.
If you truly want to get in touch with the earth in South Africa, travel to the world heritage site of the Cradle of Humankind. It’s just a half-hour’s drive outside the city, and here you will find stunning exhibits of exactly where it is that the human race came from. The Sterkfontein Caves are a part of the tour, and they contain the oldest fossils of pre-Homosapien primates ever found. Or how about trying the site of one of the lustiest gold rushes ever, the Old Kromdraai Gold Mine?
Your South Africa travel plans should be bursting the seams before long if you plan this way; if this is how long the list of offbeat attractions goes, just think about what the mainstream ones could do for you.