72 Hours in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa

Mall of Africa
So after all the entry drama, which I shared in my last post, the road to South Africa...I finally got my 72 hours in South Africa. How did I end up leaving Nigeria just to spend 72 hours in South Africa?

1) I paid for the ticket which I used in applying for my Kenyan E-Visa because flight fare had gone up by the time I was finally ready to pay.

2) Fear, let me just say it was only one person who I met on the Irin-ajo trip to Accra who assured me I had nothing to fear by visiting South Africa. Almost everyone else fueled the fire of fear in me, even those who currently live in the country. At some point, I almost canceled the South African part of the trip.

What I did/Saw:
Mall of Africa
Mall of Africa
Rhodes Park

Mandela House, Soweto

Union Building, Pretoria

University of Pretoria, Hatfield
CBD, Johannesburg


Sandton City
Sandton City

Monte Casino
I pretty much realized how little time I had the moment I stepped into Johannesburg. I tried to see as much I could while there. The rain which fell the next morning after I arrived, did not help matters. 

Luckily for me, my high school friend agreed to drive me down to Soweto. He has been living in South Africa for almost 5 years minus the 2 years he spent in South Korea and has never been to the Mandela house or any of the tourist destinations in the country. 

I sadly did not get to see the Apartheid Musuem, Maboneng and Consititution Hill as I expected.


So I rented a Orchid room in a Victorian House, the Kensington area of Johannesburg on airbnb. The neighborhood pretty much gave the European vibe and was pretty quiet. The main house is occuppied by 3 permanent housemates. 

The two men (Anthony and Maku) were from the DRC and have been living in South Africa for a while. I enjoyed my night time conversations with them. We talked about everything, from religion to our varying culture and economy, finding love, Boko Haram, their experience living in South Africa. Maku runs a foundation and hopes to meet Tony Elumelu someday. 

The third housemate is a white lady whose name I can't remember now. The first thing she said to me when we met was that she hope I did not come down to South Africa to settle down, for if I have come to settle, she would advise me to go back home. I kind of found that weird and over reaching, like what if I had actually relocated, that wasn't a nice thing to say to anyone at first meet. 

I am not really sure where she said she was from, I assumed she was Polish or German but I think she is a white South African or has always lived in South Africa all her life. She moved into the house 3 days before I visited. We chatted briefly whenever we met but nothing deep. I could tell she preferred to always be alone and I never went beyond the cordial hello, hi, how was your day compliment. She was nice enough to borrow me her umbrella when I visited Rhodes Park and gave me advise to be really careful at the park. 

What I ate:

So when my friend asked me if I would like to try South African food, I gladly said yes.
We went to a "buka" behind the complex his shop was located in the CBD area.

Let's just say I could not wrap my head around eating this "semo" like food with coleslaw and all the other things inside this plate. I tried my best and swallowed a few wraps. I just told them to pack it for me, because the meat was too good to throw away. 
A post shared by Lara A' (@lhararom) on

Asides from this attempt, I pretty much stayed off their food food.
I had burger and chips on my first day. Had chips and fish fillet, the chip was quite soggy sha when I visited Pretoria.

Asides from these, I survived on Fanta, biscuit and the "minimie" chinchin which followed me from Nigeria.

How I moved around:

I took the Gautrain from the CBD to get to Pretoria and Sandton City. My airbnb housemate gave me his card which saved me a few rands. Asides from the confusion when we had to change trains because the one we got in from CBD developed a fault, it was pretty much a good ride. But it was annoying having to change platforms like 3 times, watch trains stop and zoom off without picking up any passenger and finally getting a train and having to stand because it was full.
The train was pretty much a good ride and way cheaper than taking a taxi. It reminds me of the trains in Germany. Foods and drinks are not allowed on the platform and on the train. It was one lady that called my attention to this while I was obliviously eating my chips on the platform.

My friend's sister and her husband picked me up from the airport. My friend also drove me to Soweto. I took the bus to the CBD from my airbnb apartment on my way to Pretoria. The public transport (bus) is not so easy to assess, I had to take a long walk before I found the bus station.

Taxify was also my go to app for movement around the city. I used it to get from the Pretoria Gautrain station to the union buildings. Also from the CBD to my airbnb apartment when I lost my way trying to find my friend's shop. It was also my ride to the airport on my way out of Johannesburg. I say never underestimate the power of these apps.

The weather:
So before I left Nigeria, I asked two of my friends living in South Africa about the weather and all I heard was that it is very hot, summer hot in short. So I really did not pay attention to the weather forecast. Alas, my second day in Johannesburg and there was rain. The weather was pretty much cool all through my time there, and I had to buy a sweater at some point. 
A post shared by Lara A' (@lhararom) on

With the recent renewed xenophobic attacks in South Africa, I would most likely have cancelled my trip. Because it was one of the fears I had that what if I got caught in the midst of it all. Yeah I found South Africa to be beautiful and way more organized and I can understand the reason why our people would rather be there than be back home in Nigeria. Their system works, they have good roads and there is stable electricity. They only have to worry about creating more employment opportunities and conducive business environment for entrepreneurs.

But I am not sure I want to live in an environment where I will always have to sleep with one eye, always watch my back and might lose everything I worked hard for because some citizens feel threatened by my presence in their country.

What do you think of South Africa?
 Have you been to South Africa? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it?

Stay tuned to more posts on my adventures.


Molara Brown


  1. Nice recap, Lara. You sure did a lot in 72 hours. Glad you went on with the trip to SA and didn't cancel. For some reason, I was never worried about xenophobia. I had a great time during my visit - we spent a longer time in Cape Town though.

    I would certainly recommend a visit to SA.

    1. If I ever decide to visit South Africa again, I will go straight to Capte Town, the pictures are so beautiful.

      Xenophobia is a worry for me and it is just sad to see it happening again this year.

  2. I enjoyed reading and seeing SA through your eyes..beautiful.
    I believe the lady meant well...I would have done same to a fellow woman whose safety I am concerned about.
    Xenophobia attacks sure worries me .

    1. The attacks definitely worries everyone...I am so scared for my friends right now but at least it is contained in Pretoria for now.

  3. You did alladat in 72 hours?? You'll be the perfect travel-buddy. I honestly get worried for my friends in SA. I wish i could visit without having to worry if a random person would club me

    1. I worry for my friends and I keep tabs on them every now and then. It is just sad how they turn on Black immigrants. You should definitely visit if you can.

  4. I think your experience was partly shaped by your terrible experience by the customs officer at the airport. Bad start to the country seems to have shped your views about the city and country. I am reading another Nigerian blogger who was recently in South Africa around the same time as you and is currently there and her experience is worlds apart from yours she is having the time of her life and her review is mostly positive. I do hope you get another chance to visit hassle free like a trip from South African Tourism Board or something along those lines so you can resee the country again.

    1. Yes, I do hope to someday win a free trip with a tourism board.

      But I am glad I visited independently and I am able to share my story. People go through this daily. My friend's sister was not surprised and told me people have been refused entry simply because their booked hotels did not pick up on time and other issues like that.

      I did enjoy my short time there and asides from my negative entry the trip was not that bad.

  5. I would definitely love to visit South Africa. Though the xenophopbia scares me a little but would still be an awesome experience.

    ­­Subomi|My Fashion Musings

  6. I loved reading this, very interesting. You were able to do a lot of stuff in the three days that you spent there. I've always wanted to visit SA but I'll have to put that on hold for quite a while. These recent xenophobic attacks are scary. Hope your friends there continue to be safe. xx

    Coco Bella Blog

  7. Just 3 days? Wow. Glad you made the best out of the trip.