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Hotels in Johannesburg
A stopover of a couple of days in Johannesburg allows you to get over any
jetlag, and, sitting at 1753m above sea level, it also helps with altitude
acclimatisation. It is a fascinating city in a country facing immense social
and political challenges and a future that could go either way.
We stayed in two magnificent hotels in Sandton, the new CBD of
Johannesburg. Both are part of a luxury hotel/shopping/entertainment
complex based around Mandela Square and adjoining Sandton City
Shopping Centre. This is one of a few recommended places to stay in the
city. The complex is safe and secure and Mandela Square is delightful.
There’s a great range of shopping and we found the food and service to be
exceptional. I recommend spending time there, as well as eating at the
famous restaurant The Butcher Shop & Grill.
THE MICHELANGELO TOWERS
Rising 143m above the Sandton skyline, this has long been regarded as the
best hotel in Johannesburg. We stayed in a serviced apartment with 75m
of floor space, a fully equipped kitchen, and enormous dining and lounge
areas. The hotel is traditionally furnished with appealing art on the walls.
4700m is simply too high to be safe because most people who die of
altitude sickness die in their sleep. Walking at a lower altitude through
the wide plains on a slow decline is a welcome relief from the peak, but by
the time we arrive in camp three hours later, we’ve been on our feet for 15
hours and are exhausted.
Day 6 (3600m to 1800m)
On the final day, everyone wakes slowly, tired but elated that we have
all conquered the mountain. We depart around 9.30am and walk for
six hours to the gate, buying all the available cold beer at the cafe – leaving
the warm stuff for the English – sitting around and enjoying our victory
before a quick bus ride back to the hotel.
Would I recommend climbing Kilimanjaro? Absolutely! It’s the Everest of
Africa and has great bragging rights. The scenery is magnificent and the
Africans we met were wonderful. My only regret was not having more
time. But it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. You have to want to do it. A few
of the team said they’d never go to high altitude again – but others are
already planning their next mountain adventure.
The service was exceptional and the in-house spa and massage centre as
good as any I’ve experienced. Combined with the location, it’s highly
recommended. Visit michelangelotowers.co.za.
THE DAVINCI HOTEL
This hotel was finished one month before the Soccer World Cup, and
housed the Australian and Spanish teams, among others. It is more
contemporary in style and runs with a black-and-white theme from
start to finish. It’s beautifully appointed with a slick kitchen and
lounge area, spacious bathroom and all the mod cons, including free
The lounge bar runs 24/7 and provides meals even after the main kitchen
is closed. The food, service and ambience are all second to none and the
whole place has an exciting buzz. The restaurant was recommended by
several people as one of the best in Johannesburg before we even chose our
hotel. It’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve experienced.
We fl ew from Perth through Johannesburg with South African Airlways,
which is code-shared with Qantas so we could use frequent-flyer points
to score a flat bed in business class – the only way to fly. Another option
is through Dubai. Our meeting point with the rest of the team was at
Johannesburg Airport. We took a five-hour flight to Nairobi, then a 30-minute
flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport, before a 30-minute drive to Moshi.
If you have time, a stopover in Nairobi is recommended, as is lunch at the
Carnivore Restaurant, the city’s most famous eatery.
Allocate time for exploring the game parks and other attractions in Tanzania,
Kenya and South Africa. Pay extra for your own tent. Wear sunscreen and
protect your lips. If you have an iPhone or iPad, buy the HyperMac charger.
Get your shots early. Don’t be a hero - take Diamox for altitude sickness.
Malaria tablets have side effects, including nausea, so because you only have
one day exposed to mosquitoes, tropical-strength Rid is an alternative.
Book through a reputable tour group: climbingKilimanjaro.com worked
for us. Perth-based Perigrine Travel Centre also does tours to Kilimanjaro
and has an exceptional reputation.
Tip well, and treat the locals with respect. Tipping US$400 instead of $200
(A$415 instead of A$207) at the end can make a material difference to their
lives and means comparatively nothing to us. Remember you represent all
Australians when you travel to these countries.
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