“Welcome Home” chills went up and down my body after hearing those words. The man who said this to me was right. I was finally home and it was a long time coming. There’s really no way to prepare for a trip like going to the motherland. You kind of just go, which is the approach that I took, and using hindsight probably wasn’t the greatest of my ideas but you live and you learn.
I got off the plane, in O.R Tambo International Airport, with a group of travel friends that I met on an amazing Facebook group called South Africa Glitch Gate. The first thing I did was exchange currency. I made the mistake of taking out a wad of U.S cash before leaving the states, which didn’t make much sense because I didn’t really use it. ATMs are the way to go in South Africa, so I took out about 2,000 rand, which was the equivalent of $125, from an ATM in the airport and it lasted me the first week of my stay.
We took a van to each of our hotels while sharing our itineraries for the week. Kearan was our driver and he comes highly recommended. My hotel was in the Melrose Arch area of Johannesburg. Out of all the areas I could’ve chosen for lodging, Melrose Arch was the perfect area for me as I was traveling solo for the first few days. It’s sort of a gated community, filled with restaurants, hotels, and lavish shopping. My hotel was African Pride Melrose Arch, which I review here.
My first few days in South Africa were spent exploring. When my friend Jessica finally arrived, we went to the Rosebank Mall and shopped in stores like River Island and Woolworth. We had plans to do so many touristy things that day including going on the Hop on and Hop Off bus and visiting the Cradle of Human Kind but the reality of being in South Africa hit us and we found ourselves wanting to drink wine while sitting by the pool, enjoying the beautiful summer weather.
- I got my ticket to South Africa for $590 on Theflightdeal.com in April 2015. Sign up for their email list so you can get flight deals too!
- The South Africa Glitch Gate is a group on Facebook that allows you to connect with other people who are either traveling to South Africa or already visited. We share tips, tricks, itineraries, restaurants, advice, and drivers. It’s a very informative group, and it helped me draft my itinerary based on all the information being shared.
- Currency – The South African currency is the Rand. When I went, it was 16-Rand to 1 US dollar, which was an excellent conversion. Like I said, as far as spending money goes, I don’t think I spent over $400 the whole trip and that approximation could be a stretch.
- Kearan Fourie was the driver that we used in Johannesburg. His email address is Kearanfourie@gmail.com. Feel free to email me if you need his mobile number as well.
- List of Neighborhoods in South Africa – One of the hardest things for me while planning for this trip (and any trip for that matter) is figuring out what neighborhood is best for my lodging. I ended up staying in Melrose Arch, but for those who are curious about the neighborhoods in Johannesburg check out this blog that I discovered which helped me figure it all out. http://www.inyourpocket.com/johannesburg/A-Guide-to-Johannesburgs-Districts_73381f
- Sandton, Maboneg , and Melrose are great lodging spots in Johannesburg. I stayed at the African Pride Hotel. Click the link to read all about it.
- Kydee W South Africa Itinerary– I love sharing my itineraries for my trips. Hope this itinerary helps while you plan for your own trip to South Africa.