Go2Africa Maximizes Long Layovers in Africa with Experiences
Close to International Airport Hubs
Cape Town, South Africa (September 15, 2022): While travelers embrace the news of new non-stop flights to Africa, such as United Airlines new direct flight between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town becoming the first airline to provide nonstop roundtrip service from the US capital to South Africa starting November 17, layovers on the continent are still a reality to get to some of our favorite destinations. Now rather than dread the long layover, Go2Africa has created experiences for travelers to help fill the downtime, and an African city layover guide with itineraries providing time to explore additional locations along your journey. Rather than wait for hours in the airport, travelers can immerse themselves in unexpected destinations along the way.
As experts on African travel, the Go2Africa team knows hot spots across 15 countries and have pulled together a list of attractions in three beautiful cities that hold Africa’s main airports and air travel hubs- Johannesburg in South Africa, Entebbe in Uganda, and Nairobi in Kenya. Whether traveling to a safari hotspot, beach break or wine country you will likely need to layover in one of these major hubs. Each of these attractions have been chosen due to their close proximity to the city’s main airport, making it easy for travelers to explore.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Handling over 21 million passengers annually, the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa serves as the country’s primary airport for domestic and international travel. The airport’s infrastructure and location help to ease visitor’s travels from the airport and there are numerous transportation options such as private cabs, Ubers, and the high-speed Gautrain. All attractions below are under one hour from the airport.
Soweto is a neighborhood consisting of numerous suburbs located near the city center. The township is a melting pot of South African cultures and also features the only street in the world to be home to two Nobel Laureates. Visit 8115 Vilakazi Street to see where Nelson and Winnie Mandela resided with their children and also stop by the house where fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived.
Opened in 2001, the Apartheid Museum has been acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa. This museum, a shining example of design, space, and landscape, provides a unique South African experience to visitors.
Gold Reef City
For travelers with children Gold Reef City is the perfect spot to check out as it features a myriad of interactive experiences that explain the history of mining in South Africa. Kids can enjoy bungee jumping, playing paintball and ‘free falling’ from the Orlando Towers.
Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton
Located in the heart of Sandton is the Nelson Mandela Square which is also Johannesburg's premier dining destination. The Sandton City Shopping Center, one of South Africa’s most popular retail and leisure destinations, can be found right next to the square, and features sidewalk cafes, popular eating spots, and almost 100 upscale boutiques for travelers to browse.
All falling within a 35-minute drive of Entebbe International Airport, here are 3 destinations for travelers to visit during a layover.
Lake Victoria Cruise
Take a day or late afternoon boat trip on the tranquil waters of Lake Victoria, one of the world’s largest lakes. The sunset cruises are particularly mesmerizing as you set out for a 2-hour journey to watch the sun disappear on the horizon.
Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Near the shores of Lake Victoria is the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, a peaceful oasis that will immerse guests in nature. Visitors can enjoy guided nature walks and picnics along the lake and to the forest canopy. If you’re lucky- you can spot a resident black-and-white colobus monkey.
Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center
For animal and wildlife enthusiasts, travelers can visit the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWCEC) which currently cares for 252 animals. Available activities include getting up-close to a chimpanzee, a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of how the animals are cared for, and guided tours by one of the keepers.
All within one hour of the airport, Nairobi offers easy transportation options to explore the city, as well as public transportation including The Nairobi Commuter Rail and Madaraka Express to Mombasa.
Sheldrick Elephant Trust
The Sheldrick Elephant Trust, which dates back to 1977, is the most successful orphaned elephant rescue program in the world. The organization cares for babies that have got lost, injured, separated from their herd, or had their mothers killed by hunters or poachers. The trust works to hand rear them and later on, reintroduce them into the wild. There is a public feeding that occurs between 11:00 and 12:00 and is a very popular activity at the Trust.
Nairobi National Park
This undercover safari destination is also known as the world’s only wildlife capital and is a large game reserve on the border of the city, situated just a short drive out of Nairobi’s central business district. Travelers can spend a few hours in the park, enjoy game drives, hikes and picnics in this little-known urban national park.
The Giraffe Center (also known as the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya) was founded in 1979 to help conserve the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, which was under threat from poaching, hunting, human encroachment, and loss of habitat. At the center, travelers can interact with habituated giraffes and learn how the breeding program helps diversify the remaining gene pool. There are also opportunities to visit the bird sanctuary and enjoy a short nature trail through an indigenous forest with potential to spot warthog, dik-dik, and other small animals.
Karen Blixen Museum
Karen Blixen was an adventuress and the author of ‘Out of Africa’, one of the most enduring tales of colonial Kenya. The baroness lived in this well-preserved stone house from 1917 to 1931, and it remains one of the most typical residences built by wealthy Europeans.
Travelers who have an affinity for eating meat should check out the Carnivore Restaurant, where staff bring out platters of freshly grilled, roasted, and barbecued Kenyan beef, pork and venison – from crocodile and zebra to impala and kudu. All meats are roasted on traditional Maasai swords, and travelers are encouraged to drink a glass of ‘dawa’ by the roaming ‘medicine man’, aptly named Dr. Dawa.
Go2Africa is a multi-award-winning and B Corp certified tour operator based out of Cape Town that curates exceptional and personalized African holidays, specializing in safaris. Celebrating over 25 years, the team has been committed to building first-hand knowledge of every destination, lodge, and activity they recommend from their 3000+ partners. Working across 15 countries in Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, 100% of its revenues stay in Africa, supporting local communities and conservation projects through its Positive Impact Initiatives. With an entire team of African-born and raised specialists, including eleven named as Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Safari Specialists in 2023, travelers are in expert hands. Go2Africa is part of the Nawiri Group, a corporate portfolio of responsible and pioneering travel brands in the safari industry.