Johannesburg -> Addis Ababa -> Nairobi

Posted by on Mar 9, 2013 in Africa, Play-by-plays, South Africa | 0 comments

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Although technically unrelated, the three cities were transit stops for us. We flew to Johannesburg from Buenos Aires and had a day layover. Yus and I did a quick tour of the township of Soweto and the Apartheid Museum. Soweto, home to 4 million people has everything from squatter camps to middle class streets lined with trees and expensive cars. It was the home to Nelson Mandela for a long time and the place where the roots of rebellion against the system of Apartheid sprouted. The museum is huge, so if you’re into reading a lot and learning, budget extra time for it.

Although not very picturesque, Joburg is the economic hub of South Africa. We met up with one of my former coworkers for dinner and drinks that night and he and his friends, although all from Cape Town, admit that Johannesburg is where the career opportunities are. It was awesome to hang out with locals versus backpackers and felt weird to be at an after work bar. It had been a while since I’ve seen girls in heels and guys in slacks and dress shirts. Refreshing it was.

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Cheap backpackers that we are still, we had booked our flight to Nairobi a long time ago and obviously went for the least expensive — like in South America, air travel in Africa is very expensive. This meant a 12 hour overnight layover in Addis. To our great surprise, Ethiopian Airlines provides a free hotel room, a shuttle to and from the airport and two meals to all who have an overnight layovers. So instead of sleeping at the airport, Yus and I got ridiculously unexpected 5 star treatment. And even though most visitors to Ethiopia need a visa, we had a free transit one with our hotel voucher. No idea how Ethiopian Airlines makes money since our flight + perks cost the same as any other flight to Nairobi.

In Nairobi, we arranged airport pickup and hotel through Acacia. It was overpriced so I wouldn’t recommend it, but Boulevard Hotel where we stayed is located right by all the other high class hotels and next door to the Fairmont, so we clearly paid for the location. We also couldn’t believe that the night before we stayed for free at a better venue with free wifi, but in Nairobi had to pay up for a room that had no air conditioning, no nets on the windows, and barely functional Internet. This is Africa, I guess.

We met some of our tour mates and guide at the hotel and leave for the 43 day safari tomorrow! (at the time of posting, “tomorrow” means two weeks ago…)

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