Leg 2- Dar es Salaam to Durban
The second leg of the journey began early in the morning around 6am as we were looking to beat the traffic to be at the Julius Nyerere international airport, Dar es Salaam. We had been advised by Air Tanzania that we needed to be at the airport 3 hours before our flight which was scheduled for 10.30. We ordered an Uber that took us across Dar es Salaam in morning traffic which was a bit busy. We got to the airport at a few minutes plus half past and checked in, got our bags tagged went through immigration and to the gate to await our plane to arrive. The whole process took about 30 mins, so we had 2 hours to wait in terminal 2. The airport has the new terminal, terminal 3 which was currently being used by international airlines like Kenya Airways. Air Tanzania had a few planes on the tarmac with their only 787 Dreamliner and the other A220 at different gates.
Our flight arrived from Zanzibar and it was duly prepped for our flight to Johannesburg, and we boarded on time. Air Tanzania is currently the only airline in Africa with the Airbus A220-300 on its fleet. After the safety demonstration, we were on our way to Johannesburg with a flight time of 3 hours. The Airbus A220 comes in a 3 3 seat configuration in Economy though the flight was half full. The service on board was quick and efficient with the option of a beef or chicken meal. They also offered refreshments on board with the only downside being there was no inflight entertainment. I hope this wasn’t the same case for their Dreamliner which was scheduled to do a flight to Mumbai.
Anyway, we landed on time at the O.R.Tambo International Airport and were off on our way to clear with immigration and pick our bags. At the airport, we changed money at a nice Forex bureau and the guy there said he loved our new currency notes. I nodded enthusiastically as I think they are nice and definitely more modern. We then proceeded to get a local Vodacom sim card and a Charging adapter as they use round socket plugs in SA… (who knew). We got online and looked for an uber to the bus station – Park station in Johannesburg CBD where we needed to buy tickets to our bus to Durban. We, however, found a taxi driver who agreed to match the uber price and drop us at Park Station even as he gave us a free tour of Johannesburg as we headed to the CBD. Johannesburg CBD was a tad bit disappointing with the old buildings, graffiti, and the dirty streets, and neighboring Hillbrow which has the notorious distinction of being the un-safest suburb in Johannesburg.
We got to Park station and our kind driver showed us where we could book tickets on the bus to Durban, a 500km journey. We booked a bus called Greyhound CityLiner which was to depart at 10pm. As it was 3pm we had 7 hours to kill in downtown Johannesburg. After a cup of coffee at the Nando’s, we decided to explore the neighboring streets just to see what they had in store. A few shoe stores, street markets, clothes stores, and restaurants later we stopped for dinner at a KFC and then went back to Park station to wait for our bus.
At 9pm we went to find our bus and it was a luxurious double axle Volvo bus with reclining seats, aircon, Wi-Fi and video screens. The journey ahead was going to take 6 hours with a pit stop for 20 min somewhere midway for a bathroom break and some food at a Mugg & Bean. The road to Durban is a 4-lane highway tolled so the bus stopped at different places to pay the road toll. We arrived at the bus station in Durban at 5 am and we got a cab to our hotel the Durban Manor and Conference Centre which we booked online on Agoda. They let us check in early in the morning and caught some sleep
A few pointers if you are traveling to SA
- Sim Card – Since roaming rates are daylight robbery, you can buy a sim card and a plan right at the airport from one of the 3 big mobile companies – MTN, Vodacom or Cell C. The staff are very friendly and will take you through the different packages. We took a package with 1GB data and 15min talk time since we felt we needed Data more. That cost us 249 ZAR which was around about 1700Kshs.
- Uber – In South Africa uber is a reliable way to get around and a cheaper way too. Uber drivers, however, have to contend with being shunned by metered taxi’s and thus their certain places they won’t take you. E.g They don’t go into park Station which is the bus station in Johannesburg & and if you take an uber there it will drop you across the street luggage and all. Also, in Sandton, they will advise where they will drop you and pick you up.
- Language – quite a lot of people we interacted with thought we were South African, and they started talking to us in Xhosa or Zulu before we indicated to them, we don’t understand and they switched to English, so don’t get surprised.
- Electrical adaptors – South Africa uses the cylindrical plug-in sockets thus if you don’t have one you will need to buy one. They are readily available, and we got ours at the mobile network store.
Interestingly the Air Tanzania plane that flew us to Tanzania got impounded after we landed due to a judgment passed by a court in Gauteng South Africa and was only released 2 weeks later. Please find the story as per the link below.