Tuesday, 12 January 2021 08:48 AM
Jo'burg is bursting at the seams with a big-city buzz. Lovingly known as Jozi, this bustling city balances historical museums with quirky galleries, urban hotspots with inner-city wilderness, and adrenaline-fuelled adventure with premier sitdown entertainment. A colourful cosmopolitan, the City of Gold is your very own blank canvas, you have the paintbrush, and all the colours you could want.
Take a trip back in time
Jo'burg has a diverse history that spans anywhere between 100 and 2.1 million years old. But no matter where in the history books you find yourself, there is always an interesting story to be told. Experience South Africa’s darker past of plight and triumph at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, and Apartheid Museum, or visit Constitution Hill. A former military fort and prison, Constitution Hill held some of the biggest political activists, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. If you head toward the back of the history books, you’ll find yourself visiting the Cradle of Humankind, the resting place of Mrs Ples, a 2.1 million-year-old fossil of our Australopithecus africanus ancestor. Dig a little deeper here, and you’ll find yourself in the Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves.
There’s a neighbourhood for that
Jo'burg and its tapestry of neighbourhoods are among the trendiest in South Africa. Be sure to visit one of the most successful urban-renewal projects in Maboneng, a cultural hub where street art towers over a flurry of cafes, craft distilleries, artisanal bakeries and the much-loved Neighbourgoods Market. Jo'burg’s eclectic culture spills out into other parts of the city, and can be found in abundance in Soweto, which is filled with historical sites, traditional restaurants, and Vilakazi Street, the beating heart of Soweto. Parkhurst has a tasty blend of restaurants to enjoy, from up-and-coming kitchens to eateries with institutional status. Melville is similar but comes with a heaped spoon of artistic finesse. Follow the scent of freshly roasted coffee or stop by a quaint bookshop and pick up a page-turner.
Concrete and the jungle
As South Africa’s very own Big Apple, Jo'burg isn’t short of natural beauty and has a selection of parks, gardens and trails for you to wander. For some inner-city bliss, you can head to Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and Emmarentia Dam, or take to Zoo Lake in a rowboat for a splash of fun with the fam. Just 10km from the centre of Jo'burg is Klipriviersberg, but you’d swear you were 10 000km from the city. As the largest proclaimed nature reserve in Jo'burg, you can spot zebra, red hartebeest, and black wildebeest as well as over 230 species of bird. But one of Jozi’s most Instagrammable spots, is the Melville Koppies. These little koppies are the last conserved remnant of Jo'burg’s ridges, before the discovery of gold in 1886.
Jo'burg’s bustle and buzz can be found around almost every corner. But there are a few unique ways to experience the City of Gold, whether you’re attached to a bungee cord, sitting atop a double-decker for one of Jozi’s famous Red Bus Tours or strapped to a roller coaster moving up and down, side to side. First up is bungee jumping the Orlando Towers in Soweto. Here, you get to plunge 100m through the air, between two decommissioned coal-fired power station. The towers are quite spectacular these days, and are covered in massive pieces of art. If this isn’t enough, then Gold Reef City is your one-stop adrenaline shop, with a multitude of exhilarating rides for you to scream through. For something a little more downtempo, a Red Bus Tour through Joburg’s city streets is a perfect and enriching way to explore Jozi.