South Africa flag

South Africa map

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012:

On Friday I had a nonstop flight to Johannesburg that left Dubai at 10:15AM.
I flew on an Emirates 777-300ER.

I arrived in Johannesburg at 4:30PM local time.
I joined up with my tour group at the airport and we were then transferred to
our hotel, The Southern Sun Hyde Park in Sandton.
By the time we got to the hotel it was dark so we just settled in for the night.
Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel

2 minute video of my Johannesburg accomodations at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel.

Hello friends & family,

Not much to talk about today, just wanted to let you know I have arrived safely. Friday the 13th wasn't unlucky for me. I safely traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa from Dubai. Dubai was 8 hours ahead of the east coast, we are only 6 hours ahead here in South Africa. It was an uneventful 8 hour flight here from Dubai. Had lunch and then a snack later in the flight. The food was delicious. I watched 2 movies and took a little nap. The eight hours went by in a flash, I was surprised when they said we were landing. I had arranged a car to take me to my hotel. Since I did my own air arrangements I was told I would have to get to the hotel on my own. But the plane carrying the rest of the group from Dulles arrived just after I did so I let my driver go and went with the group. The tour director seems like a very nice man. As usual I think I am the youngest member of the group. By the time we got to the hotel it was dark so there were no activities planned for today. Below is the map of my African tour.

I didn't take any pictures today. I didn't have a window seat on the plane and arrived here to late to do anything. So I'll just include a picture of my hotel room here at the Southern Sun Hyde Park in Johannesburg and write more about my African adventures later.


Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.


Saturday I began my "Best of Africa" tour with Vantage Deluxe World Travel.
Our first stop was in Pretoria. It is one of the country's three capital cities,
serving as the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital;
the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.
The city lies about 33 miles north of Johannesburg and has a population of about 525,000 people.
We made a brief stop at Church Square in downtown Pretoria.
In pride of place is a bronze statue of Paul Kruger, resplendent in top hat,
and guarded by anonymous boar citizen-soldiers, bearing arms.
Paul Kruger was a farmer, soldier, and statesman, noted as the builder of the Afrikaner nation.
He was president of the Transvaal, or South African Republic, from 1883 until his flight to
Europe in 1900, after the outbreak of the South African (Boer) War.
Many historic buildings line the square's four sides, including Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre,
the Tudor Chambers, the Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the General Post Office.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Church Square in downtown Pretoria, South Africa Church Square in downtown Pretoria, South Africa The Palace of Justice on Church Square in Pretoria, South Africa

The Pretoria City Hall (pictured below) is the largest public hall in South Africa.
Pretoria City Hall

The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African
government and also house the offices of the President of South Africa.
Though not in the center of Pretoria the Union Buildings occupy the
highest point of Pretoria, and constitute a South African National monument.
The building is surrounded by beautifully terraced gardens of indigenous plants.
Various monuments adorn the expansive lawns, including the Delville Wood War Memorial.
The Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, South Africa The Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, South Africa Gardens and Pretoria skyline fron the Union Buildings

13 minute video of my visit to Pretoria, South Africa.

We made a brief shopping stop in Pretoria and then made our way to Soweto.
Soweto is an urban area of the city of Johannesburg with a population estimated at about 1.3 million.
The area is mostly composed of old "matchbox" houses, or four-room houses built by the government,
that were built to provide cheap accommodation for black workers during apartheid.
Our first order of business in Soweto was lunch at the Sakhumzi Restaurant.
After lunch we walked past the house of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
We then toured the house of Nelson Mandela.
Sakhumzi Restaurant in Soweto, South Africa Nelson Mandela's Home in Soweto, South Africa Children in Soweto, South Africa

Two cooling towers are a prominent landmark in Soweto. Both towers are painted, one functioning as an
advertising billboard and the other containing the largest mural painting in South Africa.
The towers are also used for bungee jumping from a platform between the top of the two towers.
Soweto came to the world's attention on June 16, 1976 with the Soweto Uprising, when mass protests
erupted over the government's policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than English.
Police opened fire in Orlando West on 10,000 students marching from Naledi High School to the Stadium.
The rioting continued and 200 people died on the first day in Soweto. The first to be killed was
Hector Pieterson, who was 12 years old, when the police began to open fire on the students.
The Hector Pieterson Memorial is pictured center and right below.
Orlando Towers in Soweto, South Africa Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa

19 minute video of my visit to Soweto, South Africa.

We did not spend any time in Johannesburg itself.
The picture below was taken from the motorway of downtown.
Downtown Johannesburg, South Africa

2 minutes video of Johannesburg shot from the freeway.

After returning to the hotel we had our tour briefing.
John showed us the image below to illustrate the size of the continent of Africa.

After the tour briefing we had our official welcome dinner at the hotel.

Hello all,

It was a beautiful day here, sunny and about 70 degrees. After breakfast at the hotel we headed out for the day. Our first stop of the day was Pretoria which is one of the three capitals of the country. Pretoria is the legislative capital. We stopped at Church Square in downtown.

Below is a statue of Paul Kruger. He was an avid hunter but feared that all the amimals would become extinct if they weren't protected. He was responsible for creating sanctuaries and areas of the country where hunting would not be allowed. Kruger National Park, that we will visit next week, was named after him.

Pretoria isn't far from Johannesburg. About half the country's population of around 40 million people live within a few miles of Johannesburg. We passed city hall which is pictured below.

The picture below is of the Pretoria skyline from the government buildings.

Looking the other direction from the picture above are the government buildings.

Our next stop was in Soweto. This is where all the black people were forced to live during Apartheid.

We had lunch in Soweto on the same street where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tu Tu lived. We couldn't see much of Tu Tu's house, it was hidden behind a stone wall. But Mandela's house is now a museum and we walked through it. Below is Nelson Mendela's home.

There were some local children singing and dancing on the street corner.

We didn't spend any time in Johannesburg itself. But we did pass through on the motorway. I snapped a quick picture from the bus window.

This evening we had the official tour briefing followed by the welcome dinner. We are leaving Johannesburg tomorrow and flying to Botswana. It's an early flight so I better get to bed.

More later,

Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.

Click on the arrow above to continue to the next adventure:
Botswana & Chobe National Park!

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