Best Places to View Jacarandas

Its that time of year when Joburg and Pretoria turn purple. There is a saying amongst students that if you haven't started revising for your exams by the time the streets turn purple it's too late. 

The Jacaranda's don’t last all that long, the best time is usually the second or third weekend in October, just after the first rains have come at the start of summer.  

best places to see Jacarandas

Half Day Trips: 


Park in Rosebank Mall, and then head out towards Tyrwhitt Avenue, and across Oxford Road into Melrose. Take a stroll around the avenue's before heading back along Jellicoe. Finish up with a drink or meal at the Keys Mile. If you are looking for viewswe recommend Marble or Mesh Club (which is open to the public after 4pm), or the Milk Bar for great vibe.  

Picnic In Emmarentia Park 

Park in Emmarentia car park, just off Orange Road, and then stroll up Troon Road, up and over Barry Herzog, and into the beautiful Clovelly Road. You can stroll all around Greenside, before heading back into Emmerentia to pick up your picnic and head into the park. (If you have kids there is a great play area right by the entrance on Olifants Road.  

Take A Heritage Stroll

best places to see Jacarandas in Johannesburg

Drive around the streets in parkview, before parking at the bottom of Westcliff Steps on Crescent Drive or the intersection of Wicklow Avenue and Westcliff Drive. The 210 steps are well worth the climb to take in a view across the whole of Johannesburg.

Westcliff is home to all the old "Randlords", its one of the oldest parts of the city. With its large properties with incredible views. It is also home to two outstanding (and over subscribed) schools; The Ridge (boys) and St Catherine’s (girls). The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation run wonderful guided walks. 

Best Places to see Jacarandas in Johannesburg

Lunch @ Four Seasons Hotel - Westcliff 

This is a must do at least once during your stay here. You can not beat the views from the terrace at this luxury hotel. But make sure you book, it is incredibly popular at this time of year. You may even want to go for a walk around the zoo in the morning, since its right opposite.  


Pretoria is usually 3 degrees warmer than Joburg, as a result the Jacarandas bloom a few weeks earlier than they do in Joburg. 

A great viewing spot is the Union Buildings, which you can get to via the Gautrain, take the Hatfield stop and then the H3 bus. 

Best Places to see Jacarandas in Johannesburg

If driving, head to the Brooklyn Area, and drive along Pienaar Street and Murray Street, amongst others. For the White Jacaranda's drive along Herbert Baker Street, and then up into the Klapperkop Nature Reserve to get an ariel view. 

For more info on 2Summers hunt for the White Jacaranda's Click here to read her post and see more beautiful photos.  

Super 6 Jozi Presents For Christmas

Expat Life

Christmas comes early in Johannesburg, mainly because the schools finish for their main summer holiday at the start of December and soon after everyone flees. My first year here I found it lonely and sad with the lack of Christmas Festivities. My favorite home comforts (Christmas Songs on the radio, Christmas parties, Christmas Specials on TV) weren’t here. Now I actually find it quite refreshing, and low key, with the celebration being about holidays and family time rather than the whole commercial take that there is in the UK and US. 

What I have come to love about Christmas Shopping here, is the ability to buy your presents from local small businesses, through the wealth of Christmas Markets that take place across Joburg (for a list of markets see Top Christmas Events for 2019)

Here are my top brands to shop from on Christmas:

1) For Anyone

A Love Supreme - Wonderful South African brand, I have just purchased one of their beach umbrellas - but also check out their cute gift tags.

Love supreme wrapping.jpg

2) For Him 

Hip Kit - Belts imported from Argentina (they also sell dog collars) 

Melville and Moon - Great place for something a bit different, handmade safari luggage, camping chairs, Leather bags, portable drinks cabinets. Based in Kramerville.  

Simon and Mary - Beautiful hats made here in Joburg. 

Simon & Mary.png

3) For Kids

Kapas Baby and Toddler - Beautiful clothes and accessories for the little ones, from Memory Cards to cute muslins and these beautiful blankets. They were also rapidly selling out of their cute clothes too.  

Pool Pillow - Hours of fun in the pool, or use it as a sun bed. These are just great for the whole family. R850 each

Yummy Baby - Great selection of kids toys on 4th Avenue, Parkhurst

PlayToys - This is a smaller toy shop that focuses on great wooden toys, educational games, and high quality playthings. Good from baby to teenager-or older! Shops are now located in Kyalami, Menlyn, and Blubird Center.

pool pillow.jpg

4) For You

Patrick Mavros - From Zimbabwe, these exquisite items make the ultimate luxury gift.  Stores on the Fulham Road, London, Harare, Mauritius, and Nairobi. This is a brand you want to start collecting.  I dream to have a dinning table with one or two of his sculptures in the centre one day.  

How can I not include the beautiful Henrietta Botha - I adore every single item! From necklace's to her ear rings, and bracelets an item and price tag for every family member! She now has a shop in Parkview, or you can purchase online here.


 5) For Sibling/Friend

I adore these beautiful throws, table linen and blankets from Mungo - if you are in Joburg you can pick them up from A Beautiful Life in Parkhurst.

For the holiday - Stitch and Social Enterprise - cotton picnic blankets, in variety of styles. 


6) Online Shopping

Whilst post in SA isn't the most reliable, more and more retailers are coming online…

Nonna - Great selection of gifts for him, her and kids!

Kramers - based in Cape Town, but head up a few times a year to run markets showcasing the best South Africa designers. 

Hello Pretty - Online network of crafters, artists, and designers across South Africa. Kind of like a local Etsy site!

What else do you recommend?? Leave a comment or let us know on our Facebook page!

Johannesburg Tours

People often ask me if I feel safe to walk around and explore Johannesburg. Like any city there are no go area's. or places I would only go through with a local, or as part of a group. But there are lots of places that you just have to be aware (rather than paranoid). Plan your trip, know where you are going, where to park, and leave your Rolex at home.  

Here are my top experiences, the majority are individually or community run, with the larger more established tours at the end. 

Johannesburg Tours

1. Day Tour With Thami 

Thami provides the BEST tour in the whole of South Africa! Every guest who comes to stay with us, has to go out with him, at least for half a day. We have sent global CEO's, and my in laws out with him. Thami has grown up in Soweto, he know everyone and everything. There isn't anything he can't show you or explain to you. Thami will personalise your tour, and give you a day you will always remember! He really is outstanding. All the profits he makes go directly back into the people of Soweto. 

2. Micro Adventures Tour Guide

Great variety of adventures to go on, from running up the stairs at Ponte Tower, to exploring Joburg's Heritage. Each event always has a great mix of people who create a welcoming environment. But be warned their adventures sell out quickly, so if you see something you would like to do, make sure you book it! 

3. Johannesburg Heritage Foundation

My good friend Heather Mason from 2Summers told me about these guys, and wow what a great find! They provide a vast amount of knowledge and history delivered in a variety of formats, from bus trips to neighbourhood walking tours. They always run a special offer on tours throughout September to celebrate Heritage Day.  


4. Joburg Photowalkers & InstaWalks 

For those who want to explore off the beaten path, join the Photo walkers facebook group, or keep a look out for the next Instawalk.

5. Dlala Nje - Hillbrow 

Most Joburger's consider Hillbrow a no-go area. Thankfully Micro Adventures and Dlala Nje are changing that, by encouraging people to return, by running Hillbrow and Ponte tours and have also just opened a bar and yoga classes inside Ponte Tower.  Dlala Nje operate a youth club based out off Ponte, all proceeds from their tours go directly to the running costs.. 

6. City Skate Tours

The tour lasts three hours and skateboards are provided (tours are for persons aged over 18 only). The first hour is usually spent teaching you how to skate, before heading into town to tell you more about the history, and point out some up and coming urban developments, graffiti and street sculptures.   To book contact Mnyandu on +27 79 839 8833, email Tours from R300 per person (including skateboard rental). Tours on Sat, Sun, start at 10:00 and 14:00.

7. New In Town Orientation Tour

Have you just moved to Joburg? There is no need to do this all on your own. We can pick you up and show you around for the day! Introduce you to people within your area, take you to the local yoga studio, shops, schools, parks, and generally help you get your weekly routine set up. We are all expats so understand whats its like, let us take you shopping and introduce you to all our favourite South African brands! Contact us to learn more.

General Tours - You Need To Do At Least Once

Red Bus Tour

Lebo's Bicycle Tour - Soweto

Past Experiences

Joburg Places  

Have a specific question? I like to hang out over on Instagram, and often have a story or two to show you around Joburg. Come PM any questions or concerns you have over at:

Joburg Expat

The Best Children's Birthday Parties in South Africa

Planning a Birthday Party 

Image by the amazing  Zsuzsanna Fedak Photography

Image by the amazing Zsuzsanna Fedak Photography

Looking for help planning a birthday party in South Africa? Whether you are looking for child-friendly party venues, party suppliers, birthday cakes or something special, such as a magician or performer, we have you covered. In this mega list, we give you a wide list of resources that will make party planning a breeze.

A Stress-Free Guide to Party Planning in South Africa

First things first, take a deep breath. We know how tough it can be to plan a child's birthday. When you are a long way from home, in a brand new country, without your usual support network, this task becomes even more stressful. To help you get started, we have put together a list of tips, resources and info that make party planning in South Africa as stress-free as possible.

Birthday Party Suppliers in Joburg

First up, here is our list of birthday party suppliers in Joburg.


REEA Urban Farm (Braamfontein)

Johannesburg Country Club (Auckland Park)

Indaba Hotel (Fourways)

Bryanston Country Club (Sandton)

BOUNCE Trampoline Park Waterfall (Midrand/ Various)

Model Train Park / The Rand Society of Model Engineers -

best childrens parties in Johannesburg

AcroBranch Melrose (Melrose)

Jungle Joes Party Adventures (Bramley)

Avalanche (Fourways)

Gold Reef City (Ormonde)


Smilemakers – wide range of entertainment options from magic to face painting

MonkeyMagic – making kids party dreams come true

Magic Circle Entertainment – magicians and illusionists

Facepaint Fanatix – balloon animals, face painting and more

Jumpees Jumping Castles Hire – jumping castles for hire

Baby Boffins – kids art lessons


Paul's Homemade Ice Cream Cakes (Parkhurst/ Rosebank - various)

Emily's Cakes (Observatory)

Inspired Cakes (Sandton)

Cake And Bake (Honeydew)

best childrens birthday party ideas in Johannesburg


Flower Spot (Woodmead)

Westpack Lifestyle (Various Branches)

Kidz Cardz & Party Buckets (Alberton)

PartyNet (Edenvale)

Party Planners


Pudding and Pie (Nicky)

Count on Us

Birthday Party Suppliers in Cape Town

Next, we have a list of birthday party suppliers in Cape Town.


The River Club (Observatory)

The Play Shed (Pinelands)

Lasertag Cape Town (Various Locations)

The Blue Train Park (Mouille Point)

Ottery Barnyard (Ottery)

Clay Cafe (Hout Bay)

Wild Clover Farm (Stellenbosch)

Ratanga Junction (Century City)


Hip Hip Hooray - helium Balloons, jumping castles, parties, carnivals, events and more

Glendini – kids magic shows and more

Face Choice – face painting and other fun

Matt Gore - The Ginger Ninja – hilarious magic and entrainment shows

Rumble Grumble Parties – jumping castles for hire


kids parties Johannesburg
best childrens parties in Johannesburg

I really hate giving away meaningless party packs, full of additional sugar, and more plastic, but its hard to think of alternatives. Here are a few suggestions, but I would love to know if you have any ideas?

  • Balloons with sweets at the bottom

  • Play-do

  • Lego pieces

  • CD of favourite music

  • Biscuits (animal or themed)

  • Glow sticks

Have a specific question? Or need advice on a party for a certain age, come and ask for feedback inside our Moving to South Africa Facebook Group.

6 South African products to include in your weekly shop

One of the best things about living abroad is the variety of new products you get to try. Here are our family favourites, and ones we will have to sneak into our luggage when the time comes to leave South Africa. 


Joburg Expat

Gourmet Greek Yoghurt 

Small family business based in KZN, we first became addicted to their double cream yoghurt when the kids were small, but now its a firm favourite in our fridge!

Click here to source your local stockist. (Usually Spa or local fruit and veg shop). 





Pauls Ice Cream  

Joburg Expat

Originally I wasn't so keen to try Pauls Ice Cream since my husband brought it back with our pizza. What quality is the ice cream going to be when sold alongside pizza? How wrong I was!!! We adore Pauls. Be sure to visit their shop in Rosebank or pick up one of their tubs from one of the many local stockist all over Joburg.


Whenever I get frustrated by not being able to find something in Woolies, or other supermarkets I head to Thrupps, who make shopping a pleasure, the staff are well trained and will always help you to find what you are looking for!  
We have lost count of the times we have braai their lamb, taken away on weekends, hosted family and friends. Its never fails to disappoint.


Fresh Orange Juice 

You can pick up fresh orange juice from most Spa's and local fruit and veg shops, the only down side is it's 100% pure orange so doesn't keep for very long, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in our house.


Mrs Balls

Joburg Expat

This wouldn’t be a South Africa food blog without including Mrs Balls, who needs tomato sauce when you have this amazing Peach Chutney. It comes in a variety of favours even crisps / chips!

Its certainly a firm favourite in almost every South African household. 



So those are our favourite items - what about you? What will you miss when the time comes to leave SA? What are your firm favourite food products in your fridge / cupboard?

Top 10 South African Local Lifestyle Products

South Africa has a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, which you’ll notice everywhere, from people selling all kinds of things at traffic lights to the range of bespoke and handmade designer products that are now more easily available online than ever before.

With a lot of creative and entrepreneurial energy centred around Joburg and Cape Town, here are some of our favourites from each city (and there are certainly a lot more!).

Johannesburg Expat Partner



1. Lulu And Marula

A business started up in Hyde Park alongside a career in advertising, Jesslyn Schlamm has created a range of handcrafted body products, all with a distinct focus on natural ingredients.

Try the Calming Balm for a relaxing transition into sleep.


2. Soy Lites

Soya candles are a popular alternative to overly scented and mass produced candles, and the range of Soy Lites are made right here in Melville.

Try the different range of scents to suit your mood.

Something similar: Also have a look at Melissa and Louise candles.


3. Saint D’Ici

A newly launched natural range of perfume, Saint D’Ici is made in Johannesburg, with scents sourced locally when possible, but with a range of other scents from around the world to complement the range.

Try the combination of the cedar and burnt orange natural scent for an uplifting, earthy feel.


4. Simon And Mary

A range of hats that has made wearing hats more accessible to the local market, Simon and Mary hats are handcrafted in Germiston and offer a variety of styles for both men and women.


5. Damn Good Looking

A handcrafted mirror making business evolved into a passion for screenprinting and textile design when Jennifer Bradley decided to handprint all the bags for the mirrors she sold, with the help of a family friend. Damn Good Looking now makes both mirrors and a range of patterned accessories.

Similar: Also have a look at the range of mirrors made by Dark Horse.



5. Carrol Boyes

A household name in South Africa, Carrol Boyes started out as a range of pewter and stainless steel kitchen and homeware and has now evolved into an iconic South African brand of crockery and a variety of other lifestyle accessories.

Great for gifts and wedding presents!


6. Skinny La Minx

A popular textile designer, Skinny laMinx is regularly featured in local magazine and online editorials, and her recognisable pattern design has no doubt inspired another generation of textile entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Also have a look at local textile accessories design team Zana.


7. Kirsten Goss And Missibaba

A duo of creatives that complement each other, Kirsten Gossmakes beautiful statement jewellery and Missibaba a range of highly coveted, handmade leather handbags and accessories.

Look out for the range of quirky designs and styles at their Joburg store in Birdhaven.


8. Pichulik

With a range of similar products on the market, Pichulikkickstarted a revival of statement neckpieces, with a range of other jewellery on offer too.

Also look at: Henriette Botha



9. Rain (Swellendam)

With locally sourced ingredients from Africa, and a focus on upliftment and skills development, Rain is a range of body and lifestyle products with a conscience. With a head office in the small town of Swellendam in the Western Cape, Rain now also has spas all over the country, and an office in the USA.

Try their signature foot treatment at one of their spas when you have the opportunity!


10. Jane Sews (Durban)

With a focus on sustainable design, Jane Sews make limited edition clothing and accessories, all of them with a story and a clear emphasis on conscience.

Should I send my child to an International or Local School?

An important factor to think through when choosing a school here in South Africa is to think about whats next for your children. We have interviewed a few families who have transitioned out of the local and international school system to give us their reflections on the choices they made.

International school vs Local School

Katrin Barass is mother to 3 girls, who left the UK when the girls were 6yrs, 4yrs and 2yrs. Last year they left for Dubai after 4 years here in SA. 

Katrins girls all went to Kingsmead Girls School in Rosebank. 

Why Did You Choose To Send Your Children To A Local / International School ? 

We chose the school because it was the closest to what we left behind. Simple things like uniforms, emphasis on manners and an ethos that we felt would benefit our girls. We chose this over an international school where the turnover of pupils
And staff would be higher. 

I would definitely make the same decision again. Kingsmead was a great building block for our girls

How Has The Transition Been Taking Them Into A Different System.

For the older two who I actually was worried  about, the transition was easy. They filled gaps by reading during the holiday. My youngest has had to have intensive learning support ( 3 lessons a week) to catch up on reading, writing and maths. This has been a year now. I would therefore watch out as to when you transition. So perhaps have the few critical years covered and then move back into the British System. Also choose a school that will provide support within school hours. After school my youngest is not interested or willing to sit at a desk.

Having Now Left Johannesburg, Would You Make The Same Decisions Again?

Yes, I would make the same decisions again.

My Advice Would Be:

If you are leaving the SA system, I would transition after 8 years old, (rather than earlier) as the basics will then have been covered.

If you are moving systems Choose a school that understands this transition. A lot of schools in Dubai said they could not help my youngest and would only take her if she was up to her age group level. As a result I didn’t choose what I considered the best school but one that could meet my families needs. I chose keeping my kids together over academic performance. 

Be opened minded, I thought my shy oldest would hate moving to a big school. They moved to a school with over 1,500 students. I was amazed when she told me she actually prefers it as there are no groups of popular and unpopular kids. You think small and intimate is the way forward and that your kid will get extra attention but actually sometimes it can make them feel left out by their peers. My concern over it being a big school was blown out of the water. 

What is the best mobile phone network in South Africa?



(Please note we do not have any paid affiliation or sponsorship deals with any of the accounts mentioned below - all comments are made from our personal experiences)

There are three main service providers, which all use the same telecommunications infrastructure (a legacy of a centralised communication network), and provide essentially the same kinds of contract options, but with some pros and cons:

Cell C: Affordable contracts but limited signal in some areas
MTN: There have been complaints of poor customer service in the past but MTN undoubtedly has the most expansive service network on the continent so with an MTN contract you’ll often get signal in area when others don't, which can be helpful if you intend on travelling to off the grid places.
Vodacom: The most established and accessible service provider (apart from in Bryanston area), you’ll find a branch in most shopping malls, and although there are still complaints around customer service, steps have been taken to improve this.

Personally I have found the best network to be a company called Afrihost, because it is by the far the cheapest I have come across plus their app gives you full transparency on data usage (something I fought with for 2 years over with the other networks!)

Similarly to setting up a bank account, to set up a cellphone contract you will need to provide  proof of identity and proof of address, to comply with RICA, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, which makes it compulsory for everyone in South Africa to register their cellphone number.

This can be a pain, but to reduce crime, needing to provide a permanent address has recently been introduced to make cheap phones and pay-as-you-go contracts more difficult for criminals to buy on the fly.

You can set up a contract at any franchise store around the country, provided you have the right documentation, but be aware that these stores can be busy, especially on weekends, and are often understaffed.

With rare exceptions, everyone in South Africa will have a mobile phone, but not everyone will have a smartphone, so keep in mind that communicating with some people will be largely via text, calls or Whatsapp. 

Be aware that to get onto a contract you will need to have a work permit that is valid for the full 24 month period. But once on a contract it is cheaper than pay as you go for data and calls.

The best way to get set up is to pick up a SIM card at the airport, (you then don't need to have proof of residence). One company that offers this service is: B4 I Travel   


If you want to get connected straight away, the fastest way to do this is to purchase a router through Vodacom and use their pay as you go service, this will enable you to get wi fi until you or your landlord set up the fibre or connection for you.

For more info click here: 

Tip: Where possible try to get the wifi included in your rent, since often the contracts are 24 months, and hard to disconnect (particularly Telkom) 

Telkom is the national telecommunications provider, and is a company you will often hear South Africans complain about due to poor customer services (although this has also been challenged to improve with recent industry competition).


Telkom provides fixed line voice and ADSL services, but they only provide the line. Once you have secured a Telkom line (which can sometimes be a lengthy process), you’ll need to take out an additional service provider contract, although they will manage the line for you. 

If you are renting an apartment or house that has been lived in before you’ll often find that there is an existing Telkom line that just needs to be reactivated. In order to set up a Telkom line you will need to set up an appointment for a technician to activate/install the line.

While inconvenient, you will need to set aside a day to be at home, or arrange for someone to be there, as the technicians work on a rotation basis and won’t give you a definite time of arrival. They will also be leaving and coming back in order to check the line and how it corresponds with the central hub for your suburb/area so expect this to take at least an hour or two, depending on whether there is a problem or not.

You will be billed separately for the Telkom and the ISP accounts. You will receive all of the invoices via email.

The easiest way to pay your Telkom is by setting up a private beneficiary on your online banking profile and pay via EFT, otherwise you can pay in person at various physical locations, like Checkers and Pick n Pay stores, Telkom stores or at the Post Office. Easy Pay is another online payment option: 

There is the option to set up a debit order for payment to your ISP, which you can set up through your online client profile (this is the case with Afrihost).
You will need to buy your own modem, although you can order this through your service provider for an extra fee. You will also need to do the setup yourself but if the Telkom line is working correctly this isn’t difficult at all.

Some options include:


Some Recent Reviews: 

NOTE: When dealing with Telkom, especially when logging a fault (when your internet doesn’t work), always get a reference number.


In many areas of Joburg there are various companies setting up fibre-optic lines, which are contracted by suburb.

Check with your apartment complex manager or residents association to find out which fibre optic service providers are in your area, and to find out specifics about contracts. In the case of an apartment complex, there will be a central fibre connection point that all apartments will connect to.

The difference with fibre is that it is independent of Telkom infrastructure, so you can deal with the service provider directly instead of having to go through a third-party line provider.

Some Options:

Vox Telecom
Cool Ideas


To own a television in South Africa, you will need to pay an annual TV licence fee, which gives you access to all of the free national channels: SABC 1, 2 and 3 and eTV.

Read more: 

To be able to watch a more diverse variety of television shows you will need to subscribe to DSTV. Premium access currently costs R759 a month, with various other packages available depending on the channels you want to watch. Note that there will be an additional cost for the DSTV decoder.

Read more: 

While many South Africans will have a DSTV subscription, online subscriptions are also becoming more popular, like Netflix and Showman. Particularly when linked to your own VPN service. 


It’s not as common for households to have a fixed voice line anymore as everyone is contacted via mobile phone, but in the case that you want one for international calls, you will just need to follow the same contract setup process with Telkom as you would for an ADSL line- you’ll just be paying extra for voice line rental, and for calls.