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What to See and Do in Johannesburg

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In October, 2012, the second AFAR Experiences event brought 43 people to Johannesburg for a four-day immersion into the city. Here are some of our favorite spots in this fantastic, vibrant city.
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R400, Mogale, 1911, South Africa
This is one of the richest paleontology sites in the world. These sites team with scientists uncovering hominid fossils aged as old as 2 million years. It's incredible to stand, watch, and reflect as our ancient ancestors are being unearthed....
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R347, Muldersdrift, 1739, South Africa
I was here in winter (July) when things were not so green (as you can see), but it was still a delightful place to relax and enjoy a sunny afternoon. Nirox runs a artists in residence program as well as displays sculptures from a featured artist...
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Moroka Bypass (N12), Protea Industrial Park, Soweto, 1818, South Africa
The stained glass window in Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto stands in tribute to Nelson Mandela. Close to the Hector Petersen Museum, the church was one of the few places where "colored" were allowed to congregate during apartheid. The...
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7 George Ave, Rivonia, Sandton, 2128, South Africa
"...no one can blame brave just men for seeking justice by the use of violent methods; nor could they be blamed if they tried to create an organized force in order to ultimately establish peace and racial harmony." -Chief Alber Luthuli: Statement...
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Stormill, Randburg, South Africa
Nothing more than this rusted and lightly colored sign, along with a non-imposing stone wall, marks one of the most important sites in the history of South Africa. This facade is the entrance to what is now George Harrison Park, a plot of land...
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Vilakazi St, Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa
Vilakazi Street is perhaps the most famous street in Soweto, or in all of Johannesburg, South Africa. The street claims a rather unique distinction, being the only street in the world to have once had as residents two Nobel Prize winners. Those...
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Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa
Wedged between the houses of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, Sakhumzi's is a restaurant started out of the childhoom home of Sakhumzi himself. Located on Vilakazi St in the country's wealthiest township, Sakhumzi started the restaurant in 2001...
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Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa
This plaza is next to the museum that honors Hector Pieterson, who was shot and killed in Soweto is 1976. The museum tracks the uprising that started in a protest against Afrikaans being taught in the schools of Soweto. it covers this very...
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Soweto, South Africa
Located across from Sakhumzi Restaurant and adjacent to Thali's Snack Bar I encountered wall art that captures the spirit of the people of Soweto and all of the once segregated townships. Walk up the street and you'll encounter vendors, dancers...
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1, 116 Greenway, Greenside, Johannesburg, 2193, South Africa
There are several shops in the trendy Parkhurst neighborhood that caught my eye. We were there with Jo'burg trend spotter Craig Jacobs who showed us the way. Essential Life was the first place we stopped. Here is a description from their website:...
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Jellicoe Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
Next door to (and associated with) the Everard Read Gallery (probably the oldest in Joburg) is this beautiful gallery. You definitely want to stop by to check out the art and the architecture. If you are lucky, you might even get to meet Mark...
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44 Stanley Ave, Milpark, Johannesburg, 2092, South Africa
The amazing coffee roasting machine at Bean There at 44 Stanley in Johannesburg. It smelled absolutely heavenly!
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Forest Town, Johannesburg, 2193, South Africa
Designed by Herbert Baker, a British architect who did work all over the world but probably best known for his work in South Afica, including the Union Buildings in Pretoria and St. John's College in Joburg (most surprisingly, he worked with...
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44 Stanley Ave, Milpark, Johannesburg, 2092, South Africa
One of the best ideas to ever come my way is the notion of the Breakfast Duo from Salvation Café at 44 Stanley. It's meant to be for those people who can't choose between all the awesome options available to them on the menu. Like me. So...
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Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Ormonde, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." -Nelson Mandela, June 1999 Opened in 2001, the Apartheid Museum is a powerful and extensive museum documenting the rise and...
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Yale Road &, Enoch Sontonga Ave, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa
The Origins Centre, located in Johannesburg's historically and culturally significant University of the Witwatersrand, houses displays and artworks showcasing the origins of humans. Full of interactive displays and assisted with guided or...
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University Corner, Jorissen St & Bertha St, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa
An amazingly curated museum, the Wits Art Museum, fondly referred to as WAM, hosts a stunning collection of contemporary and traditional African art. It's located in a bright and airy space and feels relatively undiscovered. My favorite piece was...
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264 Fox St & Berea Road, Maboneng, Johannesburg, 2094, South Africa
When in Jo'burg definitely come to Arts on Main, a hub for the city's creative community to come together and share ideas, beverages, and each other's company. Every Sunday from 10am-3pm they hold a market where you can buy everything from ice...
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17 4th Ave, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, 2198, South Africa
This is the rooftop at a wonderful small hotel in Houghton between the golf course and the new mosque just off the M1. It was the home of Edgar and Aaron, and thankfully they have decided to share it with guests. They recently bought the house...
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Johannesburg, South Africa
... youths randomly jump out of van and start a dance/taunt competition ... was really something to behold randomly ....
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70 Juta St, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Breakfasts are little godsends after a big night out, and Post at 70 Juta Street in Braamfontein is just the place to revitalise after a big night out and before working on your weekend party habits again. The Big Bomber is a drink combination of...
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Westgate, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Nelson Mandela was best man at their wedding in 1944. Walter went on to be a leader of the ANC and the anti-apartheid movement. Ma Sisulu was a leader in her own right, starting with her arrest and two month stint in solitary confinement in 1963....
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Fashion District, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Chancellor House, where Mandela and Tambo officed in the 50's is being restored. They were the first blacks to have their own law firm. It hasn't opened yet as of May 2012 but is very close. They already have a lot of great pictures and historical...
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11 Kotze St, Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
The court is housed in a beautiful building atop Constitution Hill. Outside is the old jail, the new Flame of Democracy, and the even newer bust of Ghandi (he was jailed here 4 times). Inside, the art is incredible. Worth the trip just for it.
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Fashion District, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
This is the original handwritten manuscript by Nelson Mandela of his famous statement from the dock at his trial on April 20th, 1964. In this statement he declared that apartheid was "an ideal for which I am prepared to die" These handwritten...
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65 Ntemi Piliso St, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
The site of an old power plant, it has been turned into a beautiful modern building used for events and entry to the HQ for AngloGold Ashanti.
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Fashion District, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Cool little park in the heart of the CBD. Originally the home of the Impala Stampede sculpture that is now on the Main Street pedestrian mall, and donated by the founder of Anglo American and De Beers. The park struggled In the CBD's down years,...
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Scibono Discovery Centre, Miriam Makeba Street, corner of President Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
On the western edge of downtown Johannesburg, a neighborhood named Newtown has emerged as the city’s cultural heart. Once a gritty industrial center, Newtown is now a gathering place for South African writers, artists, and musicians. Begin your...
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73 Juta St, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa
This semi-outdoor market on Juta Street in Joburg's Braamfontein neighbourhood is fun fun fun. Eat oysters from Namibia, drink craft beer from South Africa, and devour paella, gelato, cheeses, chocolate...a food lover's paradise! Open on...
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Ferreiras Dorp, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
This Impala Stampede sculpture was originally donated by the Oppenheimer. It was vandalized many years ago at its original location in Oppenheimer Park, but has been repaired and moved to this spot on Main Street, a beautiful pedestrian mall,...
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39 Kerk St, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa
Walking through the CBD, I was delighted to come upon this buzzing shopping area. The street has been turned into a mall, with a covered area, where vendors can set up to sell all kinds of things. Haircuts are one of the favorites. There are nice...
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68 Juta St, Johannesburg, Braamfontein, 2017, South Africa
There are a number of unusual stores and creative co-ops around this area. This one, Dokter and Misses, has fun prints, furniture, lighting and table top objects–all created by local designers.
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138 Lilian Ngoyi St, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Meet the other Prince – a jewelry designer who has his workshop at the Unity Gallery, inside the Bus Factory. Prince makes rings, bracelets, necklaces and pendants out of ...silverware. We had a good laugh when I told him I wouldn't let him...