SOUTH AFRICA..... For me, words cannot describe. You'll need to see, feel, taste and experience it first hand for yourself. South Africa is for everyone....For the young at heart, the seasoned traveler, solo travelers, couples, families, lovers of art, culture and history, wildlife, ocean life, prairies, jungles. This country has some of the most charming cities and towns, with the most welcoming people who are anxious, and happy to share their beautiful country.
I traveled to South Africa in May with the great organization, Blacks In Travel & Tourism, to attend the world renowned trade show, the "South Africa Indaba".
Let me share my journey:
U.S. citizens only need a Passport to travel to South Africa.
No Visa is required.
Passports need to have at least six months remaining time "from the last day of your stay" in South Africa. I took a quick flight from Charlotte to Atlanta. And then an overnight, non-stop flight straight to Johannesburg, South Africa. A few tips: Wear Compression Socks, take your favorite playlist to listen to, take a good book, catch up on a couple of movies you didn't get to see this year. I had the good fortune of not having anyone sitting next to me.
The flight was pretty comfortable, but you will need to get up from time to time to stretch your legs. Fourteen and a half hours later, I arrived in paradise. We arrived O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa in the evening. O.R. Tambo Int'l airport is a state of the art airport and, in my opinion, rivals some of the best airports around the world.
Jo'Burg is in Gauteng, which is in one of the nine provices in South Africa, and a cosmopolitan city. We stayed at the Voco Johannesburg Rosebank. Great hotel. This part of the city has wonderful hotels, restaurants, banking and shopping. Anything you need, you should be able to find within footsteps of the hotel, including the well-known Rosebank Mall. There is easy access to transportation to explore the rest of the city. Just ask the front desk of your hotel to arrange.
Our tour company and guides were professional, friendly and happy to share their beautiful city, culture and history, and they were so much fun. We went on a fantastic a walking tour of Jo'burg, visiting Ghandi Square, The Rand Club, the Law office of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. From there we headed to the , Apartheid Museum, and the Hector Pieterson Center, both must sites to visit. Of course a visit to SOWETO (Southwestern Township), one of the most well-known townships on the continent of Africa, is a must if you are in Jo'burg. We visited Vilakazi Street, perhaps the most famous street in Soweto—or all of Johannesburg, for that matter. It’s the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel Prize winners—His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu. It’s also where 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot and killled, sparking the riots on June 16, 1976.
Shopping is really a great experience in SOWETO. Check out Nto Zinhle, a cute boutique store, where you can shop for beautiful African inspired clothing, jewelry, handbags and home decor, while supporting about 50 local artisans.
After shopping, we had lunch at Sakhumzi Restaurant, African Restaurant, also on Vilakazi Street that has great food. The restaurant is in a bustling, family-friendly atmosphere with high energy Zulu dancers displaying their unique high kicking skills and vendors selling their wares on Vilakazi Street.
In the evening, we had the honor of having dinner at "Sanctuary Mandela", Nelson Mandela’s primary place of residence in a suburb of Houghton, Johannesburg where he lived after he returned from Robben Island. He hosted the likes of Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey. Sanctuary Mandela is now a re-envisioned residency, a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel with 9 curated rooms and retreat spaces for reflection, healing, and thought-provoking experiences inspired by the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
Next stop, Durban, South Africa.
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