“Tour your background” is something I always encourage to in all my posts and I finally took my own advice by touring Johannesburg, Gauteng. Johannesburg is South Africa’s biggest city which began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement. In this week’s blog post, we explore the places that make Johannesburg a place to be (minus the night life) on a budget.
I always avoid staying at a hotel because Airbnb always has better accommodation offers. It is advisable to travel off season and that is in Winter and December. Johannesburg tends to be really empty and cheaper to do anything and everything during December because everyone in the city goes back to their homelands.
Airbnb: In order to keep track of your spending before your trip, make sure that you have planned your sightseeing activities so that you can map out the nearest accommodation. This we managed to do in Paris as well. It is always easier to book an accommodation in the middle of all the destinations or at a point where you map out a circle so you round up your visit.
Below is a map of all our activities: Getting a map done and ready makes it easier to plan out your stay and finances. We rented out a car because we had other personal trips planned to Limpopo so it made sense to have a car for the trip. (P.S: Book your car days in advance, we learned the hard way).
Here are the spots you can visit:
Constitution Hill: Located at 11 Kotze Street in Braamfontein, near the western end of the suburb of Hillbrow. Constitution Hill is the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and this is where we started our trip. I had not visited the historically unlawful prison for prisoners wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit. We paid R160 in total for a full tour with a guide- . It was a bit traumatising given the history of our country. We ended up enjoying a quick lunch at the restaurant on the grounds located by the women’s prison.
Mandela House: Right after our Constitution Hill visit, we made our way to Mandela House. I felt it was only right to visit historical museums first before arts galleries. Mandela house is at No. 8115 Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto. I would suggest visiting early morning between 9 and 11 because it cane get crowded. Entrance is R40 for AU citizens and R60 for internationals unless otherwise stated on their website. This price also includes a guide; we always make sure to leave a tip especially when we enjoyed a tour.
Origins Center: this museum and gallery is dedicated to exploring and celebrating the history of modern humankind. It also showcases the fascinating beliefs of the San, their customs and footprints in Southern Africa.
Opened in 2006 by former President Thabo Mbeki, the Origins Center has on display extensive collection of rock art, ancient stone tools, artifacts and spiritual significance and the impact of colonialism on the San. It is also a must visit however, I would recommend paying extra for a guide because I did not understand most of the artefacts that are on show.
Did you know you can pay a little extra to for your own DNA test and trace your origins?
Johannesburg Art Gallery: On show is the contemporary visual art exhibition “AND COUNTING”, presented by the !Kauru Contemporary African Art Project and curated by Tšhegofatso Mabaso (South Africa) and Julia Taonga Kaseka (Zambia). One of the many pieces that stole my heart is a painting of a black female astronaut by Aaron Mulenga because it just screamed “it is possible black woman!”. The gallery is free but donations as always are encouraged.
CIRCA Gallery: Jaw-breaker is the expression I have for this modern artistic building housing provocative exhibitions every single season! We were lucky that when we visited, Lady Skollie’s work was on show and you know why I love it? It is not complicated- what you see and interpret before you read the description is exactly what you get. There is no starring at it ponder what it could be, you simple stare and connect. It’s either you love or hate it. The gallery is funded by Deutsche Bank and the work curated by Everard Read.
James Hall museum of transport: This was one of my favourite places to visit only because the “keepers of the grounds” as I call them were so friendly to everyone that walked in. It was almost as if they didn’t want us to leave and I don’t blame them- the museum is not known so much thus it receives less visitors.
Did you know: The JHMT is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa. It was established by the Late Jimmie Hall together with the City of Johannesburg in February 1964.- JHMT website
The museum gives a transport history dating back from 1870 to 1986 and counting- I hope. Please make sure you donate towards the museums and galleries you visit.
P.S: A little outing to Fourways Farmer’s Market is a must! Make sure you go early to find the best seats. They are open Saturdays and Sundays with just R10 entrance fee. Enjoy a video below of Johannesburg tour:
I wish there was more time to visit all the other places we had planned to see like Gold Reef City, Orlando Towers and many other cool and scenic spots.