I’m a 24 year old student who is soon arriving in Joburg for a couple of weeks to do some research for my final paper at uni. I’m coming alone and I will be going to quite a few companies for my research. Being a girl alone in Joburg initially sounded scary but I’m very enthusiastic about my paper. Commuting for my meetings will be a problem as I haven’t got a driving license, so I will probably have to use the minitaxis. How easily available are they? Is it possible to use a bike/scooter? I will be staying in a hostel. Of course I am aware of the safety precautions and I will take the necessary measures but I was wondering if anyone could advise on areas to avoid or has any particular tips.
I won’t be having much time for sightseeing but I definitely want to take the most of my trip. When I arrive I am going to contact travel agencies that organise trips. Could you recommend some trustworthy agencies?
Then, I was looking at the entertainment in the evenings and I thought about theatre or other performances. How safe is it to go there by myself? Any other suggestions?
I also have a question related to buying food. Is it normally done from markets, hawkers, or supermarkets?
Thanks in advance for any comments or tips, they would be greatly appreciated!
Lets start with the easy one first.
Buying food is simple just like europe, big malls and supermarkets.
As for travelling by minibus taxi...
A .. Its very dangerous (From a roadworthy as well as crime perspective)
B .. Unless the companies are on established routes you might not find a taxi that takes you where you want to go.
You could hire a normal taxi, but that will be expensive.
No to scooters, we don't have that sort of service here. Also you'd probably be well frightened by african roads.
The better way to look at this is to map out where the companies are and stay as close as possible in a back packers or city/travel lodge. Or even B&B.
Then either walk or get the people at the accomodation to help you find the right way.
Most industries are grouped together in particular areas of Joburg.
If you know some of the addresses you are going to then maybe you can plot them using google maps.
That will show Joburg
Good luck, if I think of anything else I'll add it.
Would strongly recommend you contact either of the following hostels who are Backpacking SA members and can advise and accomodate you
Piet van Rensburg - Gemini Backpackers - lodgeATgeminibackpackers.com - www.geminibackpackers.com
Steven - Backpackers Ritz - stevenATbackpackers-ritz.co.za - www.backpackers-ritz.co.za
Tell them Mike sent you <wink>
I came to SA as a foreigner, and lived in Joburg for six months. Ok, I'm a man, but foreign and alone nonetheless.
But I survived the first intimidating impressions of Big, Bad & Beautiful Jozi, and had the best time ever! I experienced nothing scary myself, although I've seen some scary stuff due to the job I did (I worked as a journalist for a large newspaper).
Don't let all the horror stories scare you away! Just take the right precautions.
For scooters and bikes, I'd go with Gary: Don't use them. (I doubt if you would find any at all)
For shopping: Ok, it's africa, and it's a third world country, but Joburg is a fairly modern city, with huge shopping malls and supermarkets. (I bet you'll find more at the nearest Pick 'n Pay than at your local supermarket bakc home - wherever that might be)
As for accomodation and transport: here comes the tricky part. Some suburbs in Joburg you just don't want to live in, particulary as a foreigner. And another aspect in Joburg life - it still DOES matter what colour your skin is, sadly enough. Avoid the obvious Berea and Hillbrow, but if I were you, I won't stay in Braamfontein either, though lots of businesses are located here, and lots of students live here, it's too close to above mentioned 'don't-go's'. Try for Melville. It's pretty close to the Central Business District and Braamfontein, and not to far from Sandton (the three biggest areas with companies). There are lots of students and lots of bars/clubs, and it is pretty safe.
oh, about safety: don't ever expect bystanders to help you when being robbed or attacked. As most robbers carry handguns, nobody will have the guts to help...
As for accomodation, there's a pretty good B&B in Melville: Idube (odd enough, there are no backpackers in this area), otherwise go to the Ritz backpack. It's big, you'll meet lots of people, and the staff is very helpful in getting you around Joburg. For nightlife, Norwood is good too. But wherever you go, don't go alone.
Ok, I hope you'll have a great time in Jozi! If you need any more specific info, don't hesitate to send me a message!
Jo'burg aint that bad, it is not as scary and dangerous as people say. I think you will be very supprised when you land in the Country to see a big city. As everyone has said shopping and accommodation is not a big problem, safety wise stay away from Hillbrow, Birea and Alexandra, try not to travel alone after dark , do not linger with your wallet or cell phone out. Just be diligent and safe at all times.
A backpackers would be your best bet for accommodation. The people are always nice and are used to helping guests with extra-ordinary needs and I am sure you would be able to discuss some kind of deal with them to shuttle you around. A couple who I have dealt with in the past are The Backpachers Ritz, Inchanga Ranch and Gemini Backpackers (they all do shuttles in around Jo'burg 24hrs a day and 7 days a week).
If you are going to travel around Jo'burg, I would definitly suggest the Cradle of Mankind at the Sterkfontein Caves, Gold Mining at Gold Reef City, the Apartheid Museum, and a Soweto Cultural. I am sure any of the backpackers will do tours to these areas as well as others like the Kruger National Park and Swaziland.
If you want to go through a tour operator I would suggest Strider Expeditions or Africa Unlimited as they would be able to offer you a good price, excellent service and are both trust worthy companies. I think though in your case, we don't really need it as I am sure your backpackers will be able to sort you out.
Good luck and if you need further advice just PM me or add to this thread.
Thanks everyone for your help, it's been extremely useful!