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View of the city of Johannesburg from several miles away showing the skyline and a large grainery in South Africa view larger image

Cosmopolitan Johannesburg is the jumping-off point for most South African safaris. The city of four million is a vibrant mélange of colors and cultures. Food and music are central to life in ‘Joburg,’ and its clubs and pubs are an integral part of the social fabric. Tour Soweto or visit the Apartheid Museum to gain a deeper understanding of Johannesburg’s history, travails and rich multicultural heritage.

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Gorgeously constructed building architecturally along with a nice plazza and a variety of cars and people in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa view image gallery

Sights & Activities

Interests run the gamut of culture, history, food, shopping, and more. A tour with historian Robin Binckes will feature stories of specific events in history, like the Rivonia Raid in 1963, and explore many stories of this vibrant city and its people from the apartheid era and today. Tours of Soweto, or the South Western Townships, may include the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, street market stalls, local cuisine and the house where Nelson Mandela lived during apartheid. Further afield, the modern and multi-medic Apartheid Museum is a must-see, as well as Constitution Hill, the former fort prison where visionaries like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were held at different times. A day trip to the “Cradle of Humankind” UNESCO World Heritage Site reveals the Sterkfontein and Drimolen caves, two of the most significant Paleo-anthropological sites in southern Africa. World-class restaurants and shopping abounds throughout the various suburbs of the city.

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A couple of grain silos painted voer with beautiful murals and graffiti in vibrant colors, shapes, and designs in Johannesburg, South Africa view image gallery

How to Include Johannesburg in Your Safari Itinerary

Johannesburg is the gateway, not just to South Africa itself, but to many other destinations in southern Africa, such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A one-night stay is typically required to connect to other countries or on safari, depending on your arrival time. All regions of South Africa are accessible from Johannesburg – a “big five” safari in the Kruger Park, Sabi Sand, and Zululand; exploring the malaria-free wilds of Madikwe, Southern Kalahari or Eastern Cape; and the marine biodiversity of Cape Town and the Cape Coast. Johannesburg is the best gateway into Namibia and Botswana’s world-famous wildlife reserves, and while there are international flights into Harare, Zimbabwe and Lusaka, Zambia, there are often more flight options going via Johannesburg, so accessing the variety of areas in these countries from here is a great option. The city is a hub connecting to east Africa as well, with flights to Nairobi, Kenya and Kigali, Rwanda.

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