What To Do In Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa
By now, hopefully, you’ve seen the movie The Black Panther.
I loved it for so many reasons including the layers and layers of innuendos, analogies, and how much pride it has given Black people from all over the world.
With this, I have noticed an increased interest in people from all walks of life with a new found fascination in visiting The Continent.
While Wakanda is not real (or is it? I’m kinda a conspiracy theorist, but we can talk about that later lol), you can still experience the beauty, wonder, and majesty of Africa.
One of my favorite countries in the world is South Africa.
It’s been my favorite since the first time I stepped foot there in 2012.
I spent about a month in South Africa from the end of December through January to bring in the New Year at #AfroPunkJozi and to take a breather.
I feel in love even deeper with the country, people, and culture.
South Africa has a deep and rich history that many Black Americans can identify with which is why it’s such an easy introduction into visiting Africa for the first time.
If you’re ready for a taste of Wakanda, then here is a blueprint to seeing and experiencing the country through Johannesburg and Durban!
Oh, Jo'Burg. Honestly, I kept hearing "be careful in Jozi!" before coming. Now, this is just a personal opinion, but I didn't feel any more (or less) safer in Jozi than I do in Atlanta, Chicago, or NYC.
Speaking with some of the Black South Africans, they explained that after Apartheid ended and there was integration in the country, the White South Africans got scared and put walls and gates up everywhere, hence creating this fear-based culture.
Needless to say, I love, Love, LOVE Jo'Burg.
It reminds me of Atlanta or any major Black city in the States.
A city filled with beautiful black folks, creatives, amazing nightlife (they party until about 6a so just be ready), great food, and lots of history and culture.
The first time coming to South Africa I didn't spend much time in Jo'Burg but, it's safe to say - I got my fill this go 'round.
Where to Stay:
There are tons of really cute and safe neighborhoods in Jo’Burg. If you’re looking to stay in the heart of the city, want to be walking distance from cute shops, restaurants, and nightlife then stay in The Maeboneng Precinct. I got the cutest exposed brick, loft-style AirBnB in the area.
If you’re on a budget, traveling solo, or just want to meet other travelers in Johannesburg, then check out Curiosity Hostels, which is also located in Maeboneng. They also offer amazing day excursions and have a location in Durban.
You could also stay in Sandton which isn’t quite so urban but has your usual malls, shops, and more.
This area of town gives me Buckhead Atlanta or the Upper East Side of NYC.
Jozi is a large, major city that offers a TON to do.
A few suggestions are:
- Visiting the Township of Soweto
- Apartheid Museum
- Constitution Hill
- Kwa Mai Mai Market (The Healers Market)
- Pilanesberg National Park (if you don't have time for a full safari)
If you want to experience some great vibes, easily meet other travelers, and enjoy some of the best sunsets in the world, then head over to The Rooftop at Curiosity Hostels. Tell them I sent you!
WHAT TO EAT:
There are entire to many restaurants to try in South Africa.
However, you must go to a braai (we would call it a BBQ) while here.
And must get the bunny chow (I didn’t like it, but gotta try it for yourself!).
Often overshadowed by Jo’Burg and Cape Town, Durban was actually named “Best Quality of Life” amongst cities in South Africa. This beach town is like a smaller, suburban version of Miami (if that makes sense lol).
The weather is pretty consistent throughout the year (warm!) and the beaches are warm enough to actually swim in (unlike Cape Town).
Thanks to #VisitDurban, I was able to pack in and see a lot of Durban in a just two days.
Honestly, the flights were so reasonable to get to different cities in South Africa that it’s an easy and affordable option. However, if you have time and/or are on a budget, then consider some of the buses like BusBud to get to different cities in the country. They’re super clean, safe, and you can get tickets online.
While in Durban, Curiosity Hostels is a great option. I stayed in a private ensuite and it was AMAZING.
It was like a luxe hotel room! It was about 2x as big as my loft studio in Johannesburg and a few blocks from the beaches in Durban.
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[Swipe for a Tour] This folks is my private suite at @curiocityhostels . Yes, a hostel. A BLACK- owned hostel. I love the sexy, yet simple, minimalist scandanvian design of the room and hostel in Durban. Hostels typically get a bad rep, but if you're looking for a easy way to meet people, get connected to the community, access cheaper excursions, and save money - hostels are a great option. @curiocityhostels have locations in both Jo'Burg and Durban. They also have private loft suites in both cities (if you're not feeling a hostel). #RachelTravels #CuriosityHostels #Durban #EasternCape #SouthAfrica #LuxeHostels
THINGS TO DO:
UShaka Marine World was really cool. It like their version of Sea World and you can even go shark diving!
Want to feel like you’re on South Beach in Miami? Then head over to The Golden Mile. During the summer months, it’s really crowded but there are a lot of great restaurants, sightseeing, and more.
For a bit of culture and history, you must do The Inanda Heritage Route. I cover it more in the video travel guide.
It explores four major movements, including:
1) Gandhi’s home while he studied in SA ( I know people say Ghandi was racists, but he has strong ties to Durban)
2) John Dube's Ohlange Institute for African boys (Dube is also the founder of the ANC)
3) the Shembe church
4) the Inanda Seminary, a mission secondary boarding school that catered exclusively for African girls.
And since Durban is on the coast, there's also the option to go shark diving, get surf lessons, and much more!
For nightlife, Durban has plenty to offer. Looking for a swanky, cute jazz spot? A friend personally suggested The Chairman.
While it's out in the township of Umlazi, also check out Max's Lifestyle, a chisa nyama (a South African term used for a BBQ or Braai in the townships). Not only is it pretty swanky, it was voted on Conde Nast!
Are you ready to experience Wakanda IRL (in real life)? Visiting South Africa is a great place to start!
This blog post is from our Founder's travel blog.