A Travellerspoint blog

'Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels'

Livingstone, Zambia.


Next morning we took an EZ shuttle to the airport and boarded a BA/Com Air flight to Liviingstone, Zambia. On the way we flew past a cloud that I fancifully thought looked like a pig - appropriate for the start of the year of the pig. At one point the pilot announced we would fly over the falls and as the flight was nearly empty we all rushed to one side of the plane to see them. We could only see the spray rising from them far in the distance but we did see the Zambesi River.

Pig shaped cloud.

Flying over the Zambesi River.

When we arrived in Livingstone, we purchased a KAZA visa at immigration for 50 U.S. dollars each. This entitled us to enter Zambia and Zimbabwe as many times as we wanted over a thirty day period. We could also do a day trip to Botswana where we did not need a visa and get back into Zambia or Zimbabwe without purchasing a new visa. We purchased some local money - kwacha at the airport. Then we looked for our transfer. Our accommodation - Gloria's Bed and Breakfast - had arranged for and paid for a taxi to pick us up at the airport. It was not far from the airport to the town.

We were both so glad we had chosen Gloria's Bed and Breakfast. It turned out to be quiet, comfortable and had everything we needed. Gloria herself is a Zambian lady originally from Lusaka. She is married to a white British man called Alan. They have several children who loved to chat with the guests. Gloria helped us sort out all our tours and transport. Nothing was too much trouble for her.

After checking in, we planned to swim then walk into town to explore it and visit the Livingstone Museum. A sudden violent thunder storm put paid to that. When the storm ended, we had a quick swim, got out to dry off and the thunder and torrential rain started again. We did eventually walk into town but it was much later than we had intended and the museum was already closed. Plus being us, although we had been given clear directions, we took the wrong turn at the roundabout and ended up lost. It was getting dark and we had no idea where we were. Suddenly we saw a restaurant called Olga's Italian and went in there and ordered dinner. We had pizza washed down with the local beer which is called Mosi. There were a lot of cats around. We paid no attention to them, though the waiter kept shooing them away. Suddenly when all our food and drink had been cleared away, a cat unexpectedly leapt onto my knee and stuck its claws into my legs. I stood up in shock which made the cat dig in harder. This caused great amusement for the staff and other customers. When I finally got home, my legs were bleeding in four different places. We did not eat there again.

Gloria's Bed and Breakfast.

Gloria's Bed and Breakfast.

Gloria's Bed and Breakfast.

Olga's Italian Restaurant.

Olga's Italian Restaurant.

Olga's Italian Restaurant.

Next day we went into Livingstone again. This time we went the right way. It is a peaceful little town with a lot of churches, some shops and restaurants. There is a very useful huge Spar in the town centre.

Buildings in Livingstone.

Buildings in Livingstone.

Buildings in Livingstone.

No-one bothered us till we got to the museum. That is where people asking for money or trying to sell you things hang out, but we did not let them bother us and went inside. It cost 5 U.S. dollars each to go in. It is not permitted to take photos inside, so I only took them in the central courtyard. The museum has several sections: one on local Zambian life and customs, one on natural history and one on David Livingstone after whom the town is named. There is a statue of David Livingstone outside the museum. The museum has a very reasonably priced gift shop.

I was interested in the part on David Livingstone as he is a fellow Scot. David Livingstone was born on March 19th, 1813 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland. His family were poor and Livingstone grew up together with his seven brothers and sisters in a single room. When he was ten, Livingstone was put to work in a cotton mill. When he was an adult, Livingstone met up with Robert Moffat, a Scottish missionary based in southern Africa. Moffat convinced him to become a missionary. Livingstone set sail for Africa arriving in Cape Town on March 14th, 1841. In addition to being a missionary, Livingstone was also an explorer and a passionate supporter of the abolition of slavery. In 1844 during his explorations, Livingstone was mauled by a lion. On November 16th 1885, while exploring the African interior, Livingstone came across a massive waterfall on the Zambezi River. He said of the falls: 'Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.' He named the falls, the Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria. Livingstone died in Chitambo, Zambia, in May 1873. His heart was buried in Africa. The rest of his body was shipped back to England. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on April 18th, 1874.

The Livingstone Museum Courtyard.

Statues outside The Livingstone Museum.

David Livingstone Statue, The Livingstone Museum.

Zambian Mask, The Livingstone Museum.

Mural in the courtyard, The Livingstone Museum.

Mural in the courtyard, The Livingstone Museum.

The Livingstone Museum.

Fountain in the courtyard, The Livingstone Museum.

After visiting the museum, we stocked up with provisions from Spar and walked back home. We had a swim then got ready for what we had come for - a visit to the falls.

We went by taxi and it did not go well at first. Our driver was pulled over by the police and given a fine because I was not wearing a seat belt. The driver was so pleasant and calm about this that we recruited him a few more times on our stay. His name was Enock and he was very nice. The whole incident slowed us down though. When we reached the river Enock was so surprised. "Look at the water," he said. "It's so much higher than it was a few days ago." A visit to the falls is all about timing. Come too early and on the Zambian side the falls can be dry; come too late and there will be so much water you won't be able to see anything for spray. For once in our life I feel we got the timing just right. It cost us 20 U.S. dollars each to go into the falls national park. The first thing we encountered was another David Livingstone statue.

David Livingstone Statue.

Then we saw the falls them self. This is where words fail me. I am not often awestruck, but I can truly say that this was the most magnificent sight I have ever, ever seen. My photos don't do it justice. It was the length of it that was overwhelming. Apparently seventy percent of the falls are in Zimbabwe and thirty percent in Zambia, so if you are in Zambia you are looking at seventy percent of the falls. They seem to stretch on forever.

The Victoria Falls are located on the Zambezi River, which marks part of the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Falls have a length of more than a kilometer and a height of more than hundred meters. Their spray rises to a height of forty metres and can be seen over fifty kilometres away. Their noise is deafening. Local tribes call the waterfall Mosi-o-Tunya “The smoke that thunders”.

First View.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls.

Soaked at The Victoria Falls.

The Zambesi River is crossed by the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is possible to walk across it from Zambia into Zimbabwe. The idea for the bridge came from Cecil Rhodes. It was to form part of his Cape to Cairo railway scheme. He asked his engineers to "build the bridge across the Zambezi where the trains, as they pass, will catch the spray of the Falls". The bridge was prefabricated in England by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company, then shipped out to Africa. It was completed in 1905.

The Victoria Falls Bridge.

The Victoria Falls Bridge.

The Knife edge bridge is a narrow bridge offering stunning views of the Eastern Cataract as well as the Boiling Pot.

The Knife edge bridge.

The Knife edge bridge.

The Knife edge bridge.

The Knife edge bridge.

Viewing the falls we got completely soaked partly from spray and partly because it started pouring while we were there. We did not care we were in raptures over this place.

Some of the paths around the falls are filled with baboons. We were nervous of them at first but relaxed when we saw they had no interest in us.


Peter did so well getting up and down slippery slopes with his walking stick then just as we were about to leave fell over on a flat bit. He cut his hand quite badly. We had intended to visit the Livingstone Hotel after the falls, but instead took him home and patched him up.

Posted by irenevt 01:15 Archived in Zambia Comments (9)

In the shadow of Apartheid.

A trip to the Gold Reef Casino, Soweto and the Apartheid Museum.


Next day was a Monday and after eating breakfast in our room we set out to board the hop-on-hop-off bus again. Security did not mind us going out on a Monday. It is a busy day in the city centre so much safer than the weekend.

We took the big bus to the Gold Reef Hotel and Casino. This is where the Soweto tour departs from. Since we were early for the tour we had a chance to look around the Gold Reef, too. There are two hotels, a theme park built on an old gold mine and a casino here. We did not go to the theme park or gold mine. We enjoyed the impala fountains outside the hotel/casino and explored inside, too. I was told off for taking a photo of the casino and forced to delete it, but it is possible to take photos inside as long as they don't involve the gaming machines.

Impala Fountain.

Gold Reef Hotel and Theme Park.

Inside the Gold Reef.

Inside the Gold Reef.

After looking at the Gold Reef we boarded our van for our Soweto tour. Our guide was from Soweto. He was very informative and funny. He started by introducing himself, then making everyone on the tour introduce themselves. He gave us all African names. My African name stayed as Irene. He would not change it as it was his grandmother's name. Peter got a new name, but I have forgotten what it was. On the way to Soweto we stopped at the world cup stadium. Its correct name is the First National Bank or FNB Stadium, but it is also known as the Calabash due to its shape. A calabash is an African cooking pot. The stadium is a home to Kaizer Chiefs F.C. and has a capacity of 94,736. The FNB Stadium was the site of Nelson Mandela's first public speech in Johannesburg after he was released from prison in 1990, and it was also the venue for his memorial service in 2013. The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain took place here.

At the FNB Stadium.

At the FNB Stadium.

Then we got back on the bus and headed for Soweto. We stopped at its sign post to prove we had been there. Soweto stands for South Western Township. It has a population of approximately 1.3 million. It was created in the 1930s when the white South African government started forcibly moving black people away from white people.

Arriving in Soweto.

Next we visited one of Soweto's most famous sites - the Orlando Towers. These were cooling towers for a former coal-fired power station. The Power Station was completed in 1955 but shut down in 1998. It stood vacant for several years before being transformed into an adventure and business centre. It is possible to bungee jump from the towers, but we didn't!!!! We preferred just to look at them. They are decorated with wonderful art work which shows scenes from life in Soweto. They are repainted with new designs from time to time.

The Orlando Towers.

The Orlando Towers.

The Orlando Towers.

We also passed by the Orlando Stadium, home to one of South Africa's biggest soccer teams, the Orlando Pirates. I didn't get a great photo as it was taken from our moving van.

The Orlando Stadium.

Our next stop was a sad one. We visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial. Hector Pieterson was born on the 19th of August 1963. He was a school boy in Soweto when the Apartheid government brought in compulsory teaching in Afrikaans to all schools. Hector took part in the Soweto Uprising, a peaceful protest movement against Afrikaans being the medium of instruction in schools. The police opened fire on the protesters on the 16th of June 1976 and Hector was shot and killed. He was just twelve years old. A photograph of the dying Hector being carried to a clinic by another boy, eighteen year old Mbuyisa Makhubo, with Hector's distraught sister, Antoinette , running alongside was taken by Sam Nzima and became famous around the world, creating very bad publicity for South Africa. As well as the memorial there is a small museum here. To visit that we would have had to leave our tour then catch the next tour bus an hour later. We decided not to do this. The memorial displays a giant copy of the famous photograph. Apparently Hector's sister, Antoinette , works in the Hector Pieterson Museum. Mbuyisa Makhubo, the boy carrying Hector, was forced to flee the country due to constant harassment from the security forces. He was last heard of in Nigeria in 1978. No-one knows where he is now or if he is even still alive. It is not known how many people died in the Soweto Uprising, estimates vary from between 176 right up to 700.

Hector Pieterson Memorial.

Hector Pieterson Memorial.

Near the Hector Pieterson Memorial and museum there were craft shops and stalls plus some amazingly beautiful examples of street art.

Street Art.

Street Art.

Street Art.

Street Art.

Our next stop was Nelson Mandela's house in Soweto. This is now a museum. Again you can leave the tour, visit and catch the next bus, but again we just took a quick look. Nelson Mandela and his family lived in this house from 1946 into the 1990’s, though Mandela himself spent most of this time in prison. Mandela donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust in 1997. Mandela went to this house in 1990 when he was released from prison on Robben Island. He said of the house:

'That night I returned with Winnie to No. 8115 in Orlando West. It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison. For me No. 8115 was the centre point of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography.’

Mandela House is located at 8115 Orlando West, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Streets. It was built in 1945. Mandela moved here in 1946 with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase. When they divorced in 1957, he lived here with his second wife, Winnie. After his release from Robben Island Mandela lived here for only eleven days before he had to move to a more secure house in Houghton. We saw that house as well later on in our holiday. Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a house in the same Soweto street.

Mandela House .

Mandela House .

Houses in Soweto vary from some that look large and comfortable to others that are little more than shacks.

Finally we reached the end of our Soweto tour. We next visited the Apartheid Museum. When you buy a ticket, you are randomly assigned a racial group and should enter through that groups entrance to get your first taste of being separated out. The walkway up to the museum had images of various real Johannesburg people. You could find out about their life stories inside the museum. This is a very big museum and to do it full justice you would need a lot of time and to do a lot of reading. We did not really have enough time to do it properly, so we just looked at certain bits. We listened to a video of Nelson Mandela. Peter was impressed by the fact that although he spoke quietly, he spoke with unmistakable authority. I also took a look at the George Bizos Gallery. Bizos was a Greek who fled Greece during the second world war and came to South Africa as a refugee. He later studied to become a lawyer. He was strongly anti-apartheid and was part of the team that defended Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu at the Rivonia Trial in 1963 – 1964. The prisoners were sentenced to life imprisonment, but spared the death penalty. In one part of the museum there were lots of coloured sticks segregated into their own containers. People were encouraged to mix them up to create a rainbow nation. It was not allowed to take photos inside the museum, so I only have some of outside parts. We stopped in the museum's cafe before leaving and bought some Soweto Gold beer.

The Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum.

We reboarded the big bus, returned to Constitution Hill, then took the last bus home where we enjoyed our Soweto beer. It was time to pack. The next day we would fly to Zambia.

Soweto Gold.

Posted by irenevt 20:16 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

Ducks and drakes and prison cells.

Second day in Johannesburg.


On our first night in the Mapungubwe it was incredibly noisy. We were surprised; the hotel was not in a night life area. We later found out that the noise was coming from the hotel itself - a one off party, not repeated on the other two nights which were blissfully silent. We were so exhausted from the flight that we managed to sleep through most of the noise anyway.

In the morning we made our own breakfast in the room using food we had purchased from Woolworth Food on the previous day's outing. Then we headed out to use our two day hop-on-hop-off city sightseeing pass with Soweto day tour which we had purchased on-line. Hotel security again quizzed us about our plans and offered to escort us to the bus-stop and wait with us. We declined the offer. The first bus arrived at stop ten- mining district - at 9:55. We began to realise that the big bus was really designed for people staying in the suburbs of Rosebank or Sandton rather than those in the city centre, but even so it was our lifeline for getting around.

We enjoyed most of the red route circuit before finally getting off in Bramfontein. On route we saw artificial hills created from mining waste, groups of Christians praying, the Nelson Mandela Bridge which crosses over railway lines, beautiful street art, a big yellow mining truck and the SAB Brewery.

Hills formed from mining waste.

Christians praying.

The SAB Brewery.

Street art.

Nelson Mandela Bridge.

Johannesburg Skyline.

Big yellow mining truck.

Bramfontein is a studenty area with lots of restaurants and bars including the well-known Kitchener Bar. We had worked out from the big bus time-table that we could only visit here for half an hour. We took some photos of the Grove - a square with several restaurants, then walked to Kitchener's Bar. A street security guard stopped me and told me I was walking too fast for my husband and that I should be with him looking after him, so I waited for him. He really was not much behind, then I took out my phone to photo Kitchener's. A new security guard told me to put my phone away or it would get snatched. I said: " I want to take a photo." He said: "I'll protect you while you do that, then put the phone away." I took my photo and moved on; then I wanted to photograph a street mural of Nelson Mandela. I took out my phone; another new security guard said: "Put the phone away, madam." I took the shot but by this time we were feeling so uncomfortable we just walked back to the bus-stop ten minutes early and sat and waited for the bus.

At this point let me say: we were only visitors to Johannesburg but in our three day, then later two day stay we were threatened by no-one, asked for money by no-one, yet everyone we met was paranoid about our safety. Whereas in Cape Town on a six night stay - on three occasions people tried to lure us down dark alleys in order to mug us; we had various beggars attached to us permanently and the receptionist at our hotel had to chase away someone who tried to steal my bag as we were checking in. I know which city I found more dangerous.

The big bus.


The Grove.

Kitchener's and Nelson Mandela mural.


We reboarded the big bus and headed to Constitution Hill. This was number one on our to do list, but we did not do it immediately, instead we changed to the big bus - green route - and went to Zoo Park. Zoo Park was very unlike anywhere else we had been in Johannesburg. There did not seem to be any security yet everyone was relaxed. We walked around the lake. There were lots of people around: some were barbecuing, others picnicking, some were just enjoying the sunshine. There was a lovely restaurant with interesting sculptures outside. There were ice-cream sellers on bicycles and people selling balls to play with.

Zoo Lake.

Ice-cream seller

Ball seller.

Sculpture outside restaurant.

Zoo Lake.

Zoo Lake.

Zoo Lake.

The green route also passed the zoo, the museum of military history, a viewpoint and Saint John's College which dates from 1898.

The viewpoint.

The viewpoint.

Saint John's College.

Eventually the green route dropped us back at Constitution Hill. This time we examined it thoroughly. Constitution Hill is the site of a former military fort, prisons and the constitutional court.

The Old Fort was built by President Paul Kruger in 1893. It was originally a prison for the criminals who came to Johannesburg during the gold rush. It became a military fort after the Jameson Raid in 1896. During this raid the British attempted to overthrow the Boer government. After the Second Anglo-Boer War, the fort became a prison under British control. The Old Fort was used for white male prisoners. As well as cells, it also contained a hospital ward. South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo was imprisoned here during the State of Emergency in 1960. Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned here. He was considered too influential to be housed with black prisoners. He was here in 1956 and again in 1962. The Old Fort stopped being a prison in 1983.

The Old Fort

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort.

The Old Fort's most famous prisoner.

Isolation cells.

Next we visited the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill. If you were unaware what the building once was, you would find it very attractive. It is made of red brick. It has a central atrium, a bell tower and a flower filled garden. One side of the building was for white women; the other for black women.
This prison was built in 1910. Daisy de Melker who murdered her two husbands and her son, was imprisoned here before being hanged in 1932.

Many black women who were imprisoned here were only guilty of brewing beer or transgressing pass laws. Women imprisoned here suffered many indignities such as being forced to shower naked outside in cold water in full view of nearby office blocks. Prominent anti-apartheid activists Barbara Hogan, Fatima Meer, Albertina Sisulu and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were all imprisoned here.

The Women’s Jail.

The Women’s Jail.

The Women’s Jail.

The Women’s Jail.

In 1902 additional prison sections, known as Numbers Four and Five, were built to house black prisoners. These sections had large overcrowded communal cells which were filled with disease, and governed by gangs. Former political prisoners at Number Four include: Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Sobukwe, the founder of the Pan African Congress and Albert Luthuli, former African National Congress president.

Inside Numbers Four and Five.

Inside Numbers Four and Five.

Inside Numbers Four and Five.

Next to these prisons stands the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court was opened by President Nelson Mandela on the 14th of February 1995. It was deliberately built in a place once associated with the apartheid regime and human rights violations to symbolize a new beginning with South Africa being reborn as a constitutional democracy.

The Constitutional Court.

In the centre of Constitution Hill stands the remains of the Awaiting Trial Block. This was built in 1928 and housed thousands of black people on trial for transgressing apartheid laws. The Awaiting Trial Block was demolished, with the exception of four of its staircases. Inside one of these burns a perpetual Flame of Democracy. The bricks of the demolished awaiting trial block were used to build the new Constitutional Court and to create the Great African Steps, which run between Number Four Prison and the court, symbolizing a bridge between past and its present.

The Great African Steps.

Flame of Democracy.

In addition to all this Constitution Hill has several works of art such as 'History' by Dumile Feni which explores the master slave relationship, a sculpture called 'Moving into Dance' by Mozambican sculptor Orlando de Almeida and several wall paintings.

'History' by Dumile Feni.

'Moving into Dance'.

Nelson Mandela mural.

Art work.

Art work.

We then returned to our hotel, set off for a swim but it started thundering and lightning so we could not go. We ate in The Marshall again. I had lamb chops, chakalaka and pap, which is a spicy vegetable relish with course maize porridge.

Posted by irenevt 09:00 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

Into Johannesburg.

City of Gold.


There was only a four week stretch between my Christmas holiday and the start of Chinese New Year, yet despite this being short it was incredibly busy and I felt exhausted on the day I finally stopped work and flew to South Africa. I thought I would sleep on the flight, but it was so cramped and uncomfortable I could not sleep at all. I watched several movies and prayed for the twelve and a half hour journey to come to an end. On the flight I was sitting next to a very pleasant lady from Swaziland - a place I would not mind visiting in the future.

Leaving Hong Kong in the Year of the Pig.

Before I describe our first day in Johannesburg, I will outline the overall plan for the holiday. We would spend three nights in Johannesburg, then fly to Livingstone, Zambia to see the Victoria Falls. We had booked six nights in a bed and breakfast in Livingstone, but would actually spend the third of these nights in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to view the falls from the other side. We would also go on two safaris: one to Chobe National Park, Botswana and one to Mosi Oa Tunya National Park, Zambia. Then we would return to Johannesburg. This time staying in a posh suburb and doing a day trip to Pretoria. After two nights in Johannesburg we would fly back to Hong Kong.

Eventually after what felt like a very, very long flight we arrived in Johannesburg. We knew Johannesburg had a reputation as a very dangerous city, so we made sure we had arranged a safe and reliable transfer service to get us from O.R. Tambo Airport to our hotel. The shuttle company we used was called EZ (easy) Shuttle and we were able to book and pay for our transfers on-line. When we arrived, we were very happy to see the driver there waiting for us.

Our hotel was called the Mapungubwe Fair City Hotel and it was in Marshalltown, right in the centre of the city. We had been in two minds about staying in this location. Apparently it was safer to stay in one of the posher suburbs, but the city centre had more interesting things to see; plus we had read that crime rates had fallen in recent times and security had been stepped up in the city centre in an attempt to reclaim it for the local people again. We decided to give it a try, but take great care when we went out.

We had paid extra for an early check-in at our hotel but arrived one full hour before this. Still we had no problems checking in immediately which we greatly appreciated as the flight had left us exhausted. Our room was actually a suite. It had a large living-room with an attached kitchen. The kitchen had a large fridge, a proper cooker with an oven and a microwave plus a kettle and teas and coffees. No cooking utensils were provided, so we had to phone reception and just ask for anything we needed. The bedroom was also large and comfortable. It came complete with a huge spider which we kept finding in a different location each day. Fortunately, I like spiders so this did not bother me at all. There was a safe in the bedroom which was great as we would not need to wander around carrying our valuables. Our bathroom had a bath and a shower. We were very happy with the room. We decided to take a nap for a few hours to try and recover from the exhausting flight then go out to look around.

Our Kitchen.

Our Bedroom.

Feeling a bit better after a nap, we set out to look around. When we reached the front door of the hotel, security stopped us and asked us where we were going. We explained that we intended to explore the mining district of Johannesburg which is located along Main Street and which was really very close to the hotel. They offered to come with us to protect us. We said there was no need and that we would be careful. They gave us directions for where we wanted to go. They told us when we reached the mining district area we must go to the right. We set off. We got to the mining district area, saw an interesting fountain displaying leaping impala on our left and went to have a look. Immediately we heard a voice saying: "I told you to turn right." Our security man had followed us from the hotel to make sure we were safe. We pointed out that we were just looking at the fountain and he took a photo of us in front of it, then stayed to ensure we went to the right as we had been told. We did. There was a building we wanted to see off to our left, but we put off going to it until another day in order not to upset the security guard. Now that I am writing this blog I am safely back in Hong Kong and I have a greater understanding of why the security guards behaved as they did. It was a Saturday and the mining district is quiet on a Saturday. The security guards were also unhappy to see us go out on a Sunday, but were perfectly OK with us going out on Monday, because from Monday to Friday during the day the city centre is full of people going to and from work. On weekends it is empty and quiet so that is when you are more likely to be attacked.

In reality since we did not go off exploring to the left we did not see Chancellor House until Monday, but logically it should be combined with the mining district walk which should go from Chancellor House all the way to the Carlton Centre so I will describe it as if we did it that way.

Before I describe our walk, I'll explain a bit about Johannesburg's history. The area where Johannesburg now stands was originally inhabited by San people. Later, in the thirteenth century, groups of Bantu-speaking people from central Africa moved in. By the mid-eighteenth century various Sotho–Tswana communities had settled here. They were farmers, but they also extracted iron-ore from the ground.

In June 1884 a gold reef was discovered on Vogelstruisfontein Farm by Jan Gerritse Bantjes. Then in September 1884, the Struben brothers discovered another gold reef on the Wilgespruit farm. Later in February 1886 George Harrison discovered a gold Reef on Langlaagte farm. These discoveries started the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the founding of Johannesburg in 1886. With all these finds, it is hardly surprising that Johannesburg is known as the City of Gold.

Johannesburg was originally a rough, dangerous and disorganized place. Its population consisted of white miners, African unskilled mine workers, African women who brewed beer, European prostitutes, gangsters, impoverished Afrikaners, tradesmen, and Zulu "AmaWasha" who carried out laundry work.

Our walk began at Chancellor House which is situated at 25 Fox Street. In August 1952 Chancellor House became home to the law firm of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. This was the first law firm in South Africa to represent black South Africans. In his autobiography 'A Long walk to Freedom' Mandela said of his law firm: "For Africans we were the firm of first choice and last resort." Outside Chancellor House there is a huge six metre tall statue of Nelson Mandela boxing. This is called Shadow Boxer and was designed by Marco Cianfanelli.

Chancellor House.

Shadow Boxer.

Next we walked to the Anglo American Building at 44 Main Street. This building, occupies an entire block and has been the headquarters of the Anglo American Mining Company since 1939. Its entrance way has several carved friezes of African flora and fauna.

The Anglo American Building.

Friezes outside The Anglo American Building.

Friezes outside The Anglo American Building.

Opposite the Anglo American Building stands the lovely Impala Fountain, also known as The Stampede. This was created by sculptor Michael Wald. It was funded by Harry Oppenheimer, head of De Beers and the Anglo American Corporation. He wanted the monument as a memorial to his late father, Ernest, who had died in 1957.

The impala fountain.

The impala fountain.

Further along Main Street we reached a mine's headgear. This was imported from a platinum mine to show the discovery of platinum in South Africa.

Head gear of a platinum mine.

Near the mine's headgear stands the Miners' Monument in memory of Johannesburg's many gold miners.

The Miners' Monument.

Nearby is Hollard Street, home to the South African Chamber of Mines. In front of this building is a historic stamp mill that used to be used to crush rock at one of Johannesburg’s first mines. Hollard Street was once Johannesburg’s "Wall Street" as it used to be home to the city’s stock exchange. there is still a sculpture of a bull and bear here. The City Perk Café is also situated here. There are also many vehicles which were formerly used in the mining industry. There are also strips of mosaic art by Marco Cianfanelli on the ground.

Stamp Machine.

The Bull and Bear Sculpture.

City Perk Cafe.


Mosaic art by Marco Cianfanelli.

The South African Chamber of Mines.

Mining Vehicle.

Mining Vehicle.

A little bit further along Main Street stands a sculpture based on the golden rhinoceros of Mapungubwe. The golden rhinoceros of Mapungubwe was found by archaeologists from the University of Pretoria in a royal grave on Mapungubwe Hill in 1932. The real sculpture is small enough to stand on the palm of your hand. It is more than 800 years old. After the rhino there are more mining vehicles.

The golden rhinoceros of Mapungubwe.

The golden rhinoceros of Mapungubwe.

The golden rhinoceros of Mapungubwe.

More Mining Vehicles.

Then we reached Gandhi Square which is, of course, named after Mahatma Gandhi. The square is just off Rissik Street. Mahatma Gandhi once had his legal offices on Rissik and Andeerson streets . There is a statue of Gandhi on this square. It was erected in October 2003. I think it is sad that several African countries are now demolishing their Ghandi statues amidst controversy that he was a racist. Personally I think he was a good and very brave man. Ghandi Square is home to a bus terminal, restaurants and shops.

Ghandi Square.

Ghandi Square.

A bit further on from Ghandi Square is the Carlton Centre, the tallest building in Johannesburg. It is possible to go to the fiftieth floor known as the Top of Africa for city views but we did not do this. The Carlton Centre contains a shopping centre and offices. It is next to the Carlton Hotel.

The Carlton Centre.

We then returned to our hotel, had a swim and ate in the hotel's excellent The Marshall Restaurant. I had a huge and very reasonably priced steak; my husband had a chicken burger.

In for a swim.

Dinner in the Marshall.

Posted by irenevt 02:27 Archived in South Africa Comments (6)

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