Home Base Johannesburg, South Africa

We used Johannesburg as the base for our 7 week trip to southern Africa where we combined a safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe, the Otter Trail trek on South Africa’s southern coast and 2 and half weeks on Madagascar. Johannesburg, centrally located in the region with a good international airport, O.R. Tambo, made a great place to store our luggage and rest up between jaunts.

Arrival at O.R. Tambo

Arriving just after 9PM on a Friday evening from Amsterdam, passport control went quite quickly. Reclaiming our bags took a bit longer than it should have but still not too bad, another 15 minutes or so. The ATM is on the left after you leave the controlled area.

The rental car agencies are in the same building with the cars in the garage just adjacent. Now nearly 10PM, we got our car and headed to a nearby hotel. Driving in Joburg makes me nervous if for no other reason than its reputation for crime and especially car-jackings. We had the short route to the hotel plotted on the Ipad and easily followed the blue dot to the hotel. At this time of night traffic was light and we made it to the hotel’s gate in under 15 minutes.

Avant Garde Lodge

Stayed August 20 and 23, 2016

For those on early or late flights in and out of the airport this makes a convenient stop. It is also on the right side of Joburg if you are continuing on to Kruger National Park or other destinations east or south of the city.

Rooms are spacious and clean. Amenities include an in-room safe. Wifi in the lobby is faster than in the rooms, but both are adequate.

There isn’t much around the hotel but they have reasonably comfortable grounds around a very small pool with outside tables and a garden. They serve dinner and will make you a sandwich for lunch if you desire. We had a great ham, tomato and cheese.

Inside there is a large common area with a wood burning fireplace, self-service bar and pool table. Armand is hospitable and will store luggage for you. At 1000 Rand this place is a bargain. It works, it’s convenient and it’s reasonably priced.

Breakfast includes a simple cold buffet and eggs cooked to order.

Dinner was a chicken curry with bread pudding and custard for dessert. Simple but tasty. Beer and wine are also available.

The Parkwood Boutique Hotel

Stayed September 9-10, 19 and October 8, 2016

Wanting something a little nicer for our subsequent stays in Johannesburg we move our location to the Parkwood near the Rosebank Shopping Mall. The mall, a 15 minute walk from the hotel, makes a convenient place to shop and dine.

The Parkwood is a small neighborhood estate turned into a comfortable hotel with pleasant grounds behind a guarded gate, a common practice in Joburg.

The spacious executive suite with a large dressing area and bathroom is elegantly decorated in soft tones.

Amenities include a safe, coffee and tea service and an OK Wifi connection. There is also a computer available in the common area.

The grounds boast pretty indoor / outdoor lounge spaces with sliding glass doors that open completely.


Breakfast includes a great fruit salad along with other cold buffet items, cereals, yogurt, etc.

The hot breakfast includes a choice of eggs along with grilled mushrooms and/ or tomatoes, bacon and toast.

A limited dinner menu is available certain nights of the week. Dishes are prepared with care and the stylish dining room is a pleasant place to spend a quiet evening.

Our first evening we tried the salmon cakes and the beef fillet.

Our last evening we tasted their salmon fillet along with two marvelous desserts, apple crumble and chocolate cake.

Management is very friendly and accommodating. They happily stored our luggage while we were traveling in other parts and ensured our bags were waiting in our room for us upon our return.

The only downside is that this is a small family run establishment and there is not always someone around to take care of your requirements. They are generally only in the office in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoon.

Dining at the Rosebank Mall

The mall includes a number of restaurants from casual dining to an upscale steakhouse. We ate at Calisto’s Portuguese Restaurant, a casual restaurant with decent fish.

We started with the grilled sardines. For mains we tried the bacalhau, salt cod, served with boiled potatoes and vegies (too salty for my tastes, but Don liked it) and the piri-piri chicken – a whole small chicken with a choice of sides – potatoes, rice or salad. While the chicken was too much food for me it was moist, tender and flavorful.

September and October, 2016

For links to other posts on South Africa see the South Africa page.