11th of February: from Brazzaville to Johannesburg. My second stop in Africa was South Africa. Chase got some extra days off work so we decided to check out Johannesburg and Cape Town. Finally! I always dreamt about traveling to SA.
I remember that flight very well. Oh man, what a nightmare. Here is our story. The distance from Brazzaville to Johannesburg is actually not that far. A direct flight would take approximately 4 hours. Unfortunately, we booked our flight quite late (my bad!) so we missed our chance to buy an affordable ticket with this convenient itinerary. It was out of our budget.
Solution? Fly from Brazzaville to Johannesburg with a transfer in Ethiopia. The Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa. Ethiopia is in the ‘horn of Africa’, situated in the east. And then there is Johannesburg. Which is obviously in the south… (For the not so smarties among us: Johannesburg is a city in South Africa. South Africa is a name of a country, not the whole Southern region of the continent.) Ok, we had to spend more time commuting but at least we made it. Off we go!
Brazzaville 1:10 PM (UTC+1h)
Challenge number one: going through passport check. The lady behind the counter was bitching about our passports. No idea why… I do speak French but this time I really couldn’t understand her blabbing. We were lucky enough to have an expeditor to help us through. It was the same guy that helped me to find my lost luggage when I arrived. Read about my arrival and stay in the Republic of Congo here. He got the whole situation figured out. The lady got even more pissed. You should have seen her face. Hehe. Was pretty funny.
Brazzaville 1:45 PM
Got through customs, did another passport check and figured out our gate. Ready to get on that plane and leave! Ha, Nope. Delay of 40 minutes. Shit. There is absolutely nothing do to at Maya Maya airport. One little duty-free shop where they just kept on bothering us with ‘est-ce que je peux vous aidez?’. Nope, just trying to make the time go faster, mademoiselle.
Brazzaville, 3:00 PM
We claimed our seats and made ourselves ready for taking off. Sadly, Ethiopian Airlines added another 30 minutes delay once all the passengers were boarded. Drama wasn’t over yet! It was surprisingly hot in the airplane. The air conditioning wasn’t turned on until we were up in the air. The first 10 minutes of that delay were bearable. The other 20 minutes were just miserable. Sweat was running off our faces.
Somewhere in the air from 3:00 to 7:00 PM (UTC+1h)
Flying. Reading. Sleeping… The air conditioning was turned on! Yes! Turned out to be a flight to not brag about. Loud neighbors, crying baby, etc. You know, the annoying stuff that happens on a flight.
Addis Ababa, 8:40 PM (UTC +3h)
We arrived at our transfer in Ethiopia and had about 3 hours to find the way to our gate. Did some stretching, walked by all the cute souvenir shop and duty-free stores, went through customs, etc. Everything went very smoothly. If you ever travel to or make a transfer in Ethiopia make sure to buy a bag of 100% Ethiopian coffee beans! Just delicious!
Somewhere in the air from 11:45 PM to 5:00 AM
Unlike our flight earlier that day, the plane to Joburg looked super nice. Comfy seats too, by the way! We totally were ready for our last flight. Once again we were flying with Ethiopian Airlines. What a relief! Gotta say: good food on the plane, yummy!
Yes! We made it to Joburg! Going through immigration was simple. Belgians and Americans do not need a tourist visa for SA (if you leave within 90 days). And hey… guess what? This time my luggage didn’t get lost! What a miracle.
I prepared a little summary of the things we did during our short stay. Short, but awesome. We didn’t get to visit all of what the city offers… unfortunately! There’s much more to do in Joburg for sure! I got sick the first few days so didn’t really had to energy to travel that much.
- SAFARI BABYYYYYY
Definitely. Do it. Lots of people have this at the top of their so called ‘bucket list’. I can only truss that. It was seriously an unforgettable adventure. We booked our tour with Viator. The guide picked us up at the hostel, drove us through the park and drove us back. Here is a tip: When you decide to go, don’t go during the weekend. There will be too many people and it will scare the animals away. We went on a Tuesday morning (Valentine’s day!). Perfect timing.
Don’t forget that it will take you the whole day to see everything. It’s a few hours drive from Johannesburg. The distance depends on the park you choose of course. We’ve visited Pilanesberg. This one is generally recommended since it’s the nearest one from the city AND you have more chance to see the animals.
- DON’T do the hop on and off bus
We tried. It sucked. We spend most of the time in traffic. Got a flat tire. Just a waste of time. Better rent a rental car and do the drive on your own. Make sure not to do it during traffic hours.
- Have dinner at the Grill House
I get water in my mouth even thinking back. The food is delicious and affordable. What do you need more? 🙂
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any lions at our safari so we decided to check out the Lion and Safari park. It was definitely worth it. There’s lots to do. You could go for a ride between the lions, feed giraffes, etc. Pretty cool!
There are lots of markets in Joburg. Food markets, craft markets, … I recommend you to check out the Rosebank Art & Craft Market. It’s in the city center. Very close to the Grillhouse. Would be a good idea to combine those two in one afternoon!
We stayed at a guesthouse. It wasn’t too expensive and the staff was really nice. We had a great experience there. You’ll get a fridge and freezer in the room so always a good idea keeping some ice-cream there for a late night snack. The hostel was located at Randburg, a very nice neighborhood next to Johannesburg.
Just like I said earlier: Joburg offers way much more than my small list.