Suburbs and Safaris in Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, RSA (commonly referred to as ‘Jo-berg’ in the Republic of South Africa) is the third largest city in South Africa. The first thing that should be understood about Jo-berg is that it is not your usual tourist destination. You wouldn’t come here, buy an ‘I heart Jo-berg’ t-shirt and have your picture taken with a crowd of locals. It’s not that kind of place. The streets of its CBD are wisely advised as off-limits to all travelling foreigners and therefore accomodation in Johnannesburg is better sought outside of the heart of the city, where a safer bed can be found. It’s here, on the outskirts of Jo-berg, where I found two wildly different experiences: one in the dust filled tracks of the South African bush and the other in the glitz and beguilement of one of Jo-berg’s top after-hour attractions.
Rhino and Lion Reserve – ‘The Cradle of Human Kind’:
Situated around under an hours drive from the outskirts of Johannesburg, the Rhino and Lion Reserve is, at first glance, similar to game reserves found all over South Africa. But there are two main differences here.
Firstly, this is the only reserve in Africa set within ‘The Cradle of Human Kind’ – where the oldest human skeletal remains in the world have been found. Secondly tigers are bred here, part of a unique worldwide conservation program to rehabilitate Bengal tigers back to their native India.
Jump in a car (or take your own) and drive through the reserves vast bush land. See wild antelope, springbok and wildebeest, catch a rare glimpse of the secretive leopard in a conservation enclosure, race a cheetah in the reception area and finish the day off with impala sausages on the braai (South African barbecue). Excellent.
Fourways Suburb – Monte Casino:
After a full day of hardened sun in the South African bush, head back towards Jo-berg for a night in Monte Casino.
You’ll need to head to Fourways, a suburban area 10 miles north of Jo-berg. Monte Casino is a vast complex set in a replica of a huge medieval castle and houses a quite astonishing spectacle. Walking through the castle ‘streets’ you look up and see the sky – only it’s a optical illusion – you are actually inside and there is a roof which is expertly lit to mimic the real sky outside. It’s a superb fantasy. ‘Streets‘ of restaurants and bars, with top storey windows and washing hanging out leads you to an open ‘piazza‘ where people flock to listen to live music before entering the delights of the opulent casino to make their fortune for the night. If the casino doesn’t do it for you there’s also a cinema, a theatre (currently showing Riverdance), and a number of top quality nightclubs. As far as Johannesburg hotels go, there are some of the best housed under the castle’s bewitching roof, you can stay at the SunSquare Montecasino for a reasonable price.
5 Things Not to Miss in Johannesburg
1. See leopards and tigers at the Rhino Lion Reserve
2. Party the night away in the magical Casino Monte Carlo
3. Have a traditional South African braai
4. Visit the oldest human residence on earth – The Cradle of Human Kind
5. Get adrenaline kicks in Gold Reef City – a theme park set about the 19th century gold rush in Johannesburg