Sadly for Johannesburg, if there’s one thing that it’s known for internationally, it’s the quite incredible murder rate. Certain parts of the city see body bags appearing on an all-but hourly basis, though fortunately for travellers, a bit of knowledge and common sense can help avoid the problem areas and make the city a surprisingly enjoyable place to stay.
Put aside the deaths (avoid the poorer neighbourhoods of the city), and you’ll quickly find the pleasant side to ‘JoBo’. Johannesburg has to be one of the greenest cities on earth. It’s invariably warm and sun-drenched, and there are a number of impressive sights to be seen. The Apartheid Museum gives you a look at the more turbulent side of Johannesburg’s history, while Nelson Mandela’s first ever house has been transformed into a poignant museum. For a more hands on glance at the impact of the country’s history, take in the intense Township’s on a tour, or visit the depths of one of the old-world gold mines, where the mining has long since finished but tourists can still travel deep into the access tunnels and imagine the conditions of old.
Of course, this summer Johannesburg will have the eyes of the world, with soccer’s World Cup coming to town, and the infrastructure, accessibility and even policing (the city’s bought in New York’s former major Guliani to clean things up) are all likely to improve dramatically as a result. If done well, the developments will simply accentuate the positive: the array of fantastic arts and crafts stalls, or increased access to the incredible selection of national parks that sit around the periphery of the city. Rhinos, lions and cheetahs can all be found within a quick drive of the city, as can massive observatories and even abseiling trips.
Kruger National Park is a must for any visitor to South Africa. The park is massive and at night it is the tourist that are locked up and the animals free to roam. During the day visitor may sit at the various water holes and watch the animals as they come to drink. This is a sight you will never forget.
As much as many travellers might be wary of Johannesburg as a destination, then, it’s only getting safer, and has more to offer than you probably realise. If you’re coming down for the world cup, you’ll find South Africa in full on party mode, while post summer, the good vibes are sure to flow for some time.
One of wealthier suburban areas of Johannesburg, South Africa. Sandton has, in recent years, risen up as the new financial hub of Jo'burg. This is due to the demise of the inner city CBD. It …