Upon returning to Johannesburg, the next few days would be pretty busy as they would be spent outside of Joburg, so with this open day I decided to do some exploring of the area. The first stop was to the Carlton Centre, which is the tallest sky scraper in Africa. At the bottom of the tower, there is a shopping mall that also features a few different restaurants as well, since I was a bit ahead of the opening time for the tower, I went ahead and grabbed some breakfast at McDonald’s (I know, shame on me for not doing something local, but I wanted to be quick so that I could to the observation deck by opening, so that I could not be too rushed while still catching one of the first City Sightseeing Tour Buses of the morning to stop by the area).
Upon returning to the entrance by opening, there was no one at the ticket booth to pay, and when I asked a security guard about it, he said to “Just go ahead, and you can pay when you come back down”. So I walk in through the front door, and find the elevator to head up, which was simple enough since you could only choose the top or bottom floor.
Upon arrival to the top, it became a bit more clear to me why the front may not be staffed. While the observation deck is “open”, it kind of had an abandoned attraction feel to it, although it could be that they were in the midst of some renovation work on it as I did bump into a few employees who were moving some equipment around, and they all seemed to be ay-okay with me being up there, so I suppose that was a good sign that I wasn’t accidentally trespassing.
As for the views, since this is the tallest sky scraper on the continent, it gave you a perspective of being above everything. You also were able to tell just how much sprawl there was to Johannesburg.
From here, you could also located a few major buildings and attractions such as The Hillbrow Tower, Africa’s tallest structure; Ellis Park Stadium, where the South African Rugby Team won the 1995 World Cup and were presented the trophy by Nelson Mandela; and Gold Reef City, the theme park that would be visited near the end of this trip.
There were displays in the observation deck as well that included old photos to show what you would have seen from here in the past, as well as information about the construction of the building itself.
After a bit of exclusive observation deck time, it was time for another ride with a favorite company for this trip, City Sightseeing Tours! Hopping aboard, it was much like the Cape Town version with the use of ear phones to plug-in and listen to the pre-recorded narration and selections of music from the area.
Much like the Cape Town version of City Sightseeing, the Joburg version had several stops along the way for various attractions in and around the area. The Joburg version also offers two routes, one that focuses on the main business district of Joburg and the Southern part of the greater metropolitan area, the other goes for a loop around the North side of Johannesburg, and the two routes meet at Constitution Hill. In the first part of the drive, there was a lot shared about how Johannesburg was put on the map thanks to the discovery of gold in the area, and throughout the city and surrounding areas you can find remnants of the gold mining that took place as there was old machinery in several locations from the mining. There were also several hills in the area that were called “mine dumps” as they were the dirt and rock that was displaced from the mining for gold.
From the Central Business District of Joburg, the bus goes on route along the South side of town with a stop at the James Hall Museum of Transport, and a passing along of the horse track, as well as some of the nearby neighborhoods.
One of the stops to the far Southwest corner of the tour route is to Gold Reef City by way of the Casino Hotel. Since I was planning to come back later in the trip, I just stayed on to continue my ride, but I did find that it was a great preview for my future visit getting to see some of the roller coasters that I would hope to ride soon! It also makes a brief stop by the Apartheid Museum, which I would pay a visit to with my time at Gold Reef City since it was right across the street.
After Gold Reef City and the Apartheid Museum, the bus continues back toward the core of Johannesburg, offering a view of the Skyline in the distance. You also pass by a few more of the pieces of mining equipment on display in the city, and upon arriving back into town there would be several unique buildings to pass along the way as well.
Another stop along the way is the South African Brewery World of Beer. Here they offer brewery tours and beer tastings, the latter of which I would enjoy later in the day as I wanted first to complete the tour routes.
To make out way to the North, we would cross over Nelson Mandela Bridge. While I have ridden or walked over several bridges over the years, this one was a bit different as most bridges of this nature tend to cross large bodies of water. This one, however, crosses over the rail yard leading to the Johannesburg Park Train Station. It was really bizarre to see a modern bridge like this be built for crossing over what was essentially rail car parking.
Before getting to the meeting location of the two routes for City Sightseeing Tours, we passed by the Joburg Theatre, which was near the theatre school that was attended by actress Charlize Theron. We Also passed by the Hillbrow neighborhood, which had been a more well to do neighborhood that had run on more difficult times. One that the bus narration advised one should not go through unaccompanied.
Arriving to the intersection of the two tours routes at Constitution Hill has you going around the Old Fort which had been built by the Boers during the time of war between the Boers and British. I’d come back for a visit to the fort after completing the other loop of the tour to the north side.
The northern loop seemed to cover a much smaller distance that the Southern Loop, but still featured several attractions you could stop at and places of significance to see. Some of the locations discussed in this loop included the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, The Johannesburg Zoo, The town of Sandton which is where South Africa’s Stock Market is found, St. John’s College and the Rodean School, as well as several statues and sculptures.
With doing the loop around the North, it would be time to do some more in depth exploring, which would come next with some time spent at Constitution Hill, and at SAB World of Beer.
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home