We arrived in Johannesburg at about 8am. Customs was efficient, as was the greeter from Journeys of Distinction, the travel agency that had arranged our trip. She guided three fairly weary travelers to the shuttle bus for the Southern Sun airport hotel and confirmed that Patrick, our tour guide from Wilro Tours, would pick us up promptly at 1pm for our visit to the Apartheid Museum.
Yes, we were tired but it’s always a good idea to get on local time as quickly as possible. I wanted to visit the Apartheid Museum, and the first day was our only window of time in JoBurg for sightseeing. Mum and Doug were kind enough to go with me, although I suspect they would have been just as happy relaxing by the pool. It turned out just fine though; they really enjoyed chatting with Patrick while I meandered through the exhibits.
When you purchase your ticket at the Apartheid Museum, you are given a token representing a racial identity and you enter the museum through the appropriate door (pictured above.)
Once inside the museum building, you follow a timeline of South African history that explains the roots, impact and aftermath of apartheid. I think the thing that astounded me the most was how narrow the victory was for the apartheid forces in 1948. If the opposition had been less fractured, South African history might have been very different. There was also a special exhibit devoted to Nelson Mandela.
We were there for about two hours but I could have spent a whole day. Photography is prohibited inside the museum, but I took a few pictures of the exterior. On the way back, Patrick took us on a brief tour of the city, pointing out historical and cultural landmarks.
We wrapped up the day with dinner at our hotel, and an early night. Needless to say no one had trouble sleeping!
Recommendation: I highly recommend the Southern Sun OR Tambo. The rooms are pretty standard for a luxury airport hotel, but the food and the service are far better than I have experienced in similar properties in the US and UK. When we left fairly early the following morning to catch our flight to Livingstone, Zambia, we were privileged to hear the housekeeping staff chorus that starts every day with a song or three.
The picture at left is a display at the Out of Africa store at the departure gates at OR Tambo. It gave us a bit of inspiration for the next stop on our trip: Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls.