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Our trip to Johannesburg

When I designed the trip I wanted to include not just animals and history but landscape.  Instead of flying from Kruger to Johannesburg we drove through the Canyonlands, a very scenic route.  It was a very nice surprise for my guests.

We were sad to leave the animals of Kruger behind; be sure to check out that post here.

Canyon views
PXL_20230510_104103948PXL_20230510_075723543.PANOWe took the scenic route from Kruger to Johannesburg so we could see some of South Africa’s most beautiful scenery in Blyde river canyon.   We made three stops, each with a completely different highlight.  Our first was called Gods Viewpoint which (not surprisingly) offered great views of the canyon.  There was a nice climb up to a rain forest that provided some exercise, though the views were frankly better down below.
The second stop was our favorite called pothole canyon.  Here a series of bridges and boulders enabled fantastic views of unique geography.  We got to wander a bit, exploring different paths and views, including waterfalls.  The potholes are made of eddies swirling and slowly cutting circular holes in the rock.  The final stop was the three sisters, offerring a totally different viewpoint. Each spectacular in their own way.  Pictures speak to this much better than words however.

original_15eee9e8-7081-45b0-9649-6026f1b44b1f_PXL_20230511_072342302Johannesburg, founded by two gentlemen names John during the gold rush, came with lots of expectations and several surprises.  It’s a huge city of over 10 million people but spread out over many square miles.  Our hotel was in a very modern clean urban area called Sandton which is about 20 minute drive to the downtown area (older Johannesburg).  Our first day in Joburg was spent in SOWETO township which is largest of the black townships that the apartheid government relocated Blacks to live to segregate Johannesburg.  We toured the various neighborhoods and while we certainly saw squalor (no running water, modest or no electricity, tins sheds) most of what we saw were middle to lower class neighborhoods of well built homes. IT’s a huge and thriving area but was the heartbeat of the effort to overthrow the

PXL_20230511_073356681Apartheid government from the 1960s to the 1990s.
We stopped by the modest but highly informative Hector Pieterson Museum.  Its  named after a young boy killed by South African police in 1976 and describes, from various perspectives what happened.  But one thing was clear:  South African police (whites) were more concerned with keeping the peace than about valuing black lives.    We were heartened to see hundreds of school children learning about these events though both at the museum and the adjacent memorial. 

This would be a good time to mention load shedding.  This was something that happened everywhere in South Africa and involves cutting out the power to a particular area for several hours at a time.  Most tourist places like hotels and restaurants had back up generators so we only lost power for a few minutes.  But this lack of power capacity shut down entire parts of the city. When we were in the museum for example, all the video screens were down because they had no power (lots of natural light provided ample illumination).  There as plenty to read however so it didn’t diminish the experience at all. Most people we spoke with believed that load shedding was a failure of government to provide basic services.

PXL_20230511_083735727Our next stop was at Regina Mundi Church, a surpsingly interesting spot.  It was here than many people gathered after the 1976 shootings and here that South African police came to enforce the anti-gathering laws for Blacks at the time, firing their guns.  This was a gathering place for many in the anti-apartheid movement as well as several of the Truth and Reconcillation meetings hosted by Demond Tutu.  Other highlights included  black Madona artwork and the location wehre MIchelle Obama gave a talk to the community.


PXL_20230511_104934990.MPWe ate lunch on a nearby street – South African Barbecue of course – and were entertained by several different amateur groups – from traditional South African songs to modern duets.  




For us the highlight of the day was the Apartheid Museum.  We could have stayed all day  as the exhibits were numerous and comprehensive.  This is a must see and is a multi-media experience.  Highlights for us was TV interview Nelson Mendella made before he was put into prison that sounded just like the things he said once prime minister and the many components of Apartheid law, each enacted to close another aspect of black freedom over the years.



Africa Blog Post Links

Overview of our Trip to Africa

Cape Town

Kruger National Park


Chobe River Cruise

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