When arriving in Johannesburg one does not exactly have the highest expectations. It has been listed as one of the top 7 most dangerous cities in the world and the most dangerous city in the world by The Guardian. Not exactly what you want to read when setting down in South Africa’s largest city. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a safe airport transfer in Johannesburg, you should check out Blacklane. Much safer than a taxi, especially in a place like Joburg! If it’s not on your list of top things to do in South Africa…add it. Joburg deserves a chance!
Curiocity Backpackers, located in an up-and-coming urban redevelopment area called The Maboneng Precinct, is one of those places that you love from the minute you walk through the door and dispels all myths about inner city Joburg. It’s one of those places that us writers and bloggers find very difficult to describe, unsure what exactly makes it so special, unable to pinpoint the exact feelings it evokes in us.
Arriving in the hostel at around 5pm on a Saturday meant the place was totally alive, an eclectic mix of stylish locals and not-so-stylish backpackers who have probably been wearing the same clothes for two weeks! I was immediately given a flying tour of the hostel by a very friendly employee (for the life of me I can’t remember his name!!) and introduced to the main hot spots around the hostel such as the (now hopping) bar, very chilled out balcony area and the hostels very own outdoor Jacuzzi!
I was seriously impressed with the 8 bed dorm I had booked. I think it’s probably the cleanest, most spacious dormitory I have ever stayed in. I love the crisp white sheets and high ceilings, and was happy to see an extension cable to ensure all occupants could charge their phones / spare battery packs / laptops etc. Us backpackers no longer travel light, it would seem!
One of the best things about Curiocity Backpackers (in my opinion anyway) is the wonderful, amazing, super fast free WiFi. Just thinking about how fast it is makes me smile. Other digital nomads and travel bloggers will nod their heads when reading this, as nothing frustrates a blogger more than staying somewhere with no WiFi connection!
While most people staying here are just passing through, having either just got off an international flight or en route to do a 4 day safari in Kruger National park, it also seems to be somewhat of a melting pot for locals. I spent all day Sunday lounging on comfy bean bags on the balcony with 6-7 locals who were nursing their post-pride hangovers with some cold beers and reminiscing about what seemed like one crazy night out in Joburg. They were so welcoming and encouraged me to join their little posse within minutes, ensuring I got another glimpse of what it might be like to live in this crazy city. While some were born and bred here, others were from the US or France and had simply found themselves never wanting to leave this eclectic city. They said they loved chilling out at Curiocity some weekends as the accommodation was cheap, the beer is cheaper and it’s in a pretty cool area. You know you have checked into the right place when even the locals praise it.
As I often try to bring in interviews with digital nomads and entrepreneurs to this blog, it should be noted that the story behind this hostel is a pretty interesting one. One of the co-founders, Bheki Dube, was just 21 years old when he set the hostel up in 2013, a true entrepreneur who is trying to show tourists that there is more to Joburg than first meets the eye. He set it up to give both locals and backpackers an authentic experience of the city and to help them leave with a better understanding of what makes Joburg such a special place to many. Before taking on this venture, he worked as a tour guide (Founder of Main Street Walks, a walking tour on inner city Joburg) and as a photographer. His love of art can be seen all over the hostel, with interesting photographs adorning every wall.
You will also see the passion and dreams of Dube, the staff, famous South Africans and even of the backpackers who arrive here each day written on the walls of the hostel. Inspiring quotes about travel, love and life and a quick insight into what the building was used for years before Curiocity backpackers was even set up.
This hostel is full of character, the staff are incredible and it has already opened my eyes to whole new side of a city I would have overlooked in the past. If you are passing through Johannesburg, you know where to go!
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