This is the last leg of our road trip in South Africa. By this time, we have another 4 days before we flew back to London. We are in the northern part of the country (bordering Zimbabwe) and have to make our way south to Johannesburg to catch our flight.
I did not really wanted to visit Johannesburg because of all the violent stories about gang fight and the fact that it famous to be an unsafe city for tourists. But since it was more convenient to fly back to London from Johannesburg, we thought we’ll check it out.
Below are the highlights of Musina & Johannesburg.
Musina Baobab Reserve
Another Dav’s wish while visiting South Africa is to see the baobab trees, especially since we cannot take a detour to Madagascar to visit the Avenue of the Baobabs (too expensive). A good alternative is to visit the Musina Baobab Reserve. This is also one of the main reason why we travelled all the way up north from Kruger, so that we can visit this reserve.
Baobab is also commonly known as the upside-down tree. If you haven’t seen one before, you should google it. It really looks like the tree has been uprooted and re-planted upside down! It’s one of the weirdest tree I have ever seen.
We actually started seeing baobab trees while in Kruger but decided that we can get better shots and more time when we get to Musina. So we only randomly took some pictures of the tree. When we arrived at the reserve, we were told that we are not allowed because visitor with 4×4 can drive in the reserve. We were driving a small rented car!! SO FRUSTRATING! Especially for Dav who was soooooo looking forward to this place. Not only was he disappointed.. but angry as well since we checked the website and did our research before we decided to go there. None of the publication actually says anything about restriction in vehicle size!
Sigh… so looks like we’ll have to make our way to Madagascar in the future.
Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi); it contains a complex of limestonecaves, including the Sterkfontein Caves, where the 2.3-million year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed “Mrs. Ples”) was found in 1947 by Dr. Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, “Taung Child”, by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.
The name Cradle of Humankind reflects the fact that the site has produced a large number, as well as some of the oldest, hominid fossils ever found, some dating back as far as 3.5 million years ago. Sterkfontein alone has produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found.
Maropeng Visitor Centre is probably one of the most rip-off tourist attraction we have been in South Africa. We should have gone to the Sterkfontein Caves but we didnt know any better. All we did in the visitor centre is see one human skull, went on a boat ride and saw many many education display about the origins of human. Not interesting at all!
Soweto Freedom Trail
We visited the South Western Township of Johannesburg as part of our day tour. We wanted to see how a township looks like and we were surprised to see the big difference between the rich and the poor. The whole area is divided by several neighborhoods and there is a huge gap between the rich (think big bungalow) and the poor (think makeshift houses build using waste materials). The funny thing is both of these are living side by side.
This place is rich with history, hardship and suffering. Even to this date, there are still a lot of its local resident who is living without electricity and running water. As part of the tour, we were brought to see how a family live in those makeshift houses. It was quite an uneasy feeling and the experience makes us feel so much luckier and appreciate what we have.
We were also taken to all key locations of the Soweto uprising, Hector Pieterson’s Museum and Regina Mundi Catholic Church.
The museum is dedicated to illustrating apartheid and the 20th century history of South Africa. It consists of 22 separate exhibition areas which lead us sequentially through the prelude to and history of apartheid, including the situation in South Africa post-apartheid. We felt quite uneasy and sad after visiting the museum. It showed us how the country has gone through so much violence and hardship.