If you’re like me, you may have the preconceived notion that Africa is underdeveloped, steeped in poverty and poor living conditions; like there’s a dark cloud over the entire continent. While many parts of Africa has its share of problems and is in dire need of improvement and proper management of its resources, Africa’s natural beauty will take your breath away. And the people….the people have the determination and the spirit to rise against all odds. If your circumstances allow, throw all caution to the wind and embark on a journey you’ll never forget.
Imagine the hustle and bustle of New York City; a melting-pot of people working hard by day, and partying hard at night. Here, and all throughout South Africa, you will find luxury cars, well paved roads on each side of beautiful green grass and palm trees, modern KFC’s, Mickey D’s and Nando’s,well dressed classy chocolate covered homo-sapiens and upscale restaurants, lounges and office buildings as your scenery during your ride from the airport to your accommodations.
Protea Fire and Ice in Melrose Arch
I would describe this hotel as chic and trendy. The outdoor pool area is great not just for swimming, but for enjoying some of the hotel’s delicious food and well prepared fresh cocktails from the swanky bar which also offers tasty milkshakes. What a treat! On Friday and Saturday nights you will find a live DJ playing hip-hop and R&B, American style. Not to mention the hotel’s awesome location where you can walk tree-lined streets full of high-end clothing stores, restaurants and an indoor mall.
Suggestions: Purchase an international adapter for your trip. The hotels will loan you one, but more than likely you will have multiple appliances you will need to plug in. Also be sure to ask for an iron and a face cloth upon check-in. I’m not sure why, but every hotel I stayed in didn’t have one in the room and there’s no guarantee they’ll bring you one right away.
Take a day and find your way to this warm spirited township that is rich in history with the struggle from Apartheid. But first, a visit to the Apartheid museum is a must as it will build your appreciation for and prepare your heart for what you will experience. A walking tour of Soweto will allow you engage with the friendly residents, see up close and personal the living conditions and contrasts, and get a true feel for its culture.
Swing over to the famous Vilakazi Street where not only will you find an outdoor market and
delicious eateries, but Vilakazi Street once had Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu as its residents. Mandela’s modest brick home is open for tours, a must see.
Before leaving Soweto, and preferably on an empty stomach, check out the Orlando Towers where thrill-seekers can bungee jump, or the faint of heart can watch while drinking a beer and dining on Braii, South Africans term for barbecue. Choose from lamb chops, pork chops, pork/beef ribs and/or chicken prepared on a charcoal grill in some slap yo momma seasoning’s with a side of chakalaka and pap to sop up the flavors.
Hopefully by now the sun is starting to set. Finish your day at Echo Park for a beautiful
mountaintop view of Soweto and Johannesburg. Sit on a rock, soak in the evening breeze and reflect on your day. Allow your senses to let you taste that delicious Braii you had at the Orlando Towers. Feel the emotions you felt as you slowly walked through the Apartheid museum or as you imagined the gun shots and Molotov cocktails that rained on Mandela’s house in an attempt to end his life.
And how can you forget the beautiful smiles, the sparkle in the children’s eyes, and the
determination in the faces of a people who refuse to allow their circumstances to kill their spirit. Trust me, you’ll never forget Soweto.
Ukutula Lion Park
You’ll need a full day for this awesome place. About two hours outside of Johannesburg you will find a world of its own, a peaceful place where wildlife roam. You’ll drive down a long bumpy dirty road but be careful! You may run into a couple of zebras and giraffes along the way. Finally you’ll arrive at the welcome center where a professional friendly staff will greet you and prepare you for your opportunity to WALK WITH LIONS. This is no exaggeration. Your group will literally walk with several full-grown lions. Next you’ll get to play with baby lions, tigers, cheetahs, and hyenas who will steal your heart. Finally at the end of a long hot day, you’ll relax and enjoy some yummy treats and refreshing beverages.Suggestion: Imagine waking up to the faint sound of lions roaring through the night.
Ukutula Lion Park also offers accommodations. I didn’t stay but from what I hear, it’s definitely something I want to do on my next trip.
The restaurant at Protea Fire and Ice
Suggestion: Moroccan Lamb Burger and a Strawberry Daiquiri
JB’s Corner at Melrose Arch
Suggestion: T-Bone steak with a side of mash potato and stir fry vegetable
Wimpy’s: (a chain restaurant that you’ll find just about anywhere in South Africa)
Suggestion: COFFEE COFFEE AND MORE COFFEE
Pata Pata at Maboneng Precinct
Sakhumzi Restaurant on Vilakazi Street
Suggestion: Anything (buffet style)
Don’t miss out on Lesley’s solo trip to Durban and Cape Town next week. Follow Lesley on Instagram @iamshaquillesunflower
Written by Lesley Sees founder of Http://setbackstosnapbacks.wix.com/southafrica