Narrowing it Down: South Africa
Strangely, though we’d never planned on going to Africa in the first place, it’s turned out to be the first place that I researched, and the first place where we’ve actually narrowed down our travel strategy.
Africa is a huge continent (not country, sigh…it was an honest mistake Bear! – he’s never gonna let me live it down), with so many different cultures to explore that you’d think it would be difficult to narrow it all down. Actually, it was surprisingly easy! First off, there are a lot of countries in Africa that are unsafe to visit for various reasons. Secondly, the Star Alliance Around the World Trip planner is super helpful in figuring things out. Why? Because there aren’t too many direct flights from South America (where we’ll be right before) to Africa. In fact, there’s only one. And that one is to Johannesburg, South Africa. In the interest of full disclosure, since we’re admitting mistakes like thinking Africa was a country, I knew absolutely nothing about Johannesburg, other than that it was in South Africa.
My preliminary research on Jo’burg was not very encouraging. With titles like, “Welcome to the Crime Capital of the World. Try Not to Die,” or “Living in SA’s Crime Capital,” I started to wonder if, direct flight or not, we should be touching down there at all. I decided to check out Lonely Planet’s Getting Around section and see what they had to say. This, despite the fact that Jo’burg was never on our list of places to see. The sad reality is that the Bears have kind of sick addiction to checking out every place that we land in. It’s kind of a “we’re here, we might’as well have a look around attitude.” My thinking was that if it was relatively inexpensive to get into town, why not check it for a couple of days?
So, before my dad’s blood pressure goes up another few percentage points, it’s not happening. When the words mugging, mugging zone and violent crime are used just to describe transport options from the airport, we’ll pass. Maybe I’m getting more fearful as I get older, but to me, it’s not worth the risk for a city that we had no intention of visiting in the first place. The Bear might feel differently (since he’s much more comfortable with risk than I am), but fortunately, I happen to be the one planning the trip! 😉
For now, we’ve decided to use Johannesburg as a kind of travel hub for South Africa and surrounding area. There is one huge advantage in landing there…it turns out that most flights around Africa end up connecting through Johannesburg’s Or Tambo airport. Meaning, it will be super easy for us to take off to Capetown, Durban, Nelspruit or parts unknown from there. Perfect!