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Johannesburg, the city of gold

Never called by name, Jo’burg, Jozi, or Joeys is South Africa’s largest city, and is the largest one in the world not built by water. Yet despite the lack of beautiful coastline or mountainous ranges, Jo’burg delivers a lot for the casual tourist and travelling in a motorhome is one of the best ways to experience it.

From Johannesburg, you can head to Durban if you want to explore the coast. Alternatively, you can head West to Upington before crossing the border to Namibia. Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are also close-by in case you would like to start of cross-African road trip.

Big is beautiful

The manmade forest is an answer to the concrete playground that is Johannesburg. From the top of the Carlton Centre, you can look down over the trees and forget that you’re in a major city. A visit to Soweto is an eye-opening exploration of life in South Africa. Soweto is a site of historical importance, featuring Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was drawn up, and the Hector Petersen Memorial stands. A guided tour of Soweto usually takes at least half a day but you can change it up a bit by taking a more unusual tour of Soweto – by bike.

MuseumAfrica, Mary Fitzgerald Square, World of Beer, Workers’ Museum, the Sci Bono Science centre,Brenda Fassie statue and iconic Bassline club could keep you busy for most of the day in Newtown.

South Africa has a heavy history. A visit to the Apartheid Museum is a must see, but prepare to be moved. It gives a thorough overview of the rise and fall of apartheid.

At Lion Park you can expect to see cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas, as well as zebras, giraffes and antelope. Not forgetting the lions, of course. Unlike Kruger Park, Lion Park simply requires a trip no further than the west of Johannesburg.

If you’re into shopping, the place to be is Sandton City. It offers upmarket designer boutiques and fountains to play in. However, if malls aren’t your thing, try the markets. Market on Main on Sunday morning is a hipster’s paradise, with quirky designer goods and great coffee. Rooftop Market at Rosebank Mall is a huge market with everything from old movie posters and antiques to souvenirs. Jozi Food Market is the best way to sample Saffa foods at a local price.

Laying with Lions

Two-and-a-half hours from Jo’burg is Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. Here you might get to see the Big Five, but also rare species such as cheetah, wild dog and even brown hyena. Manyane Resort is ideal for families who love to camp. It’s large and has ample shade and power points, as well as a swimming pool, restaurant and small shop. Mabalingwe Nature Reserve near Bela-Bela is a good family resort. There’s a large caravan park with 67 shady stands and an assortment of self-catering options. Hand-raised lion cubs are available for petting at R30 a sessionat the caravan park.

It is quite common for game to wander through Bontle Campsite in the Marakele National Park. The site sits at the base of the imposing Waterberg Mountains. Three hours from Jo’burg, it’s sufficiently far enough from the city to feel completely removed, but close enough to make the journey without taking up too much of a precious day.

Camp on the banks of the peaceful Magalies River at Magalies Sleepy River Campsite. Only 60 minutes from Johannesburg,you can share a braii or head out for a bit of horse riding, mountain biking or hiking. Malonjeni Guest Farm is a privately owned game farm with 12 species of antelope and 250 caravan sites. It is only 30 minutes south of Johannesburg.

Bistros and restaurants: On the Braai

Coobs embraces the atmosphere of its hip 4th Avenue location.The menu is small but well thought out and the portion sizes are just right. Everything from vegetables and herbs to pork, lamb and wild boar is free-range and organic. A Portuguese eatery in Rosettenville has been turning heads. Parreirinha offers superb seafood without the exorbitant price tag you might expect of Sandton.

Leafy Greens is a partially raw food, vegan-friendly cafe.With its laid-back ‘kasi’ vibe, NexDor Food and Wine Emporium on Soweto’s iconic Vilakazi Street offers traditional South African cuisine in an energetic bar/grill setting. It feels new and modern and everyone seems to leave happy. Kong Roast is an Asian fusion restaurant in the northern suburbs. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisines are combined to create a delightful experience. Recently voted ‘Best Italian’ in South Africa, Cafe del Sol keeps it simple and authentic, with marshmallow-fluffy gnocchi a speciality.

When to visit

In summer it gets really hot, but it’s generally pleasant enough to visit all year round. If you are intending to do game viewing during your trip, you will see much more when it is dry – as the animals congregate around water holes. Thus, visiting during June to October is best.Just bear in mind that the nights can get very cold (often below freezing), with quite a wind chill during these months.

Campervan hire in Johannesburg

  • Bobo Campers is South Africa’s most experienced camper hire and motorhome rental company. They have the largest rental fleet in Africa.

  • Maui Motorhome Rentals offer a range of motorhomes for couples or families. They have a depot at Johannesburg Airport (O.R Tambo International Airport).

  • Kea Campers provide free transfers, not only from the airport but also the city. Their fleet is large, new and comfortable.

  • Britz promise to find your perfect Johannesburg motorhome, and with depots close to the domestic and international airports, they make it easy for you.

  • Energi Campers vow to deliver South Africa’s lowest prices for motorhomes and campers, ranging from 2-berth all the way up to 6-berth, with 4WDs also available. 


Handy tips for camping

  • If you’re planning to bring any electrical appliances, be warned that South African plugs are unique. Grab a travel adaptor at the airport before you fly.

  • The water is very safe to drink. You don’t need the bottled stuff.

  • Plan your route in advance. Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in South Africa. Remember SA drives on the left-hand side of the road.

  • Go to the nearest business or petrol station to ask for assistance if you get lost.