Airport Shuttle Johannesburg
If you’re landing at OR Tambo International Airport and particularly if this is one of your first experiences through the gateway to southern, and in fact most of, the beautiful, diverse African continent, you may as well live it up! That means eating the food, glorious food, that South Africa is famed for; getting around to see the splendor of nature and wildlife, and enjoying everything upmarket this bustling metropolis has to offer. You’ll find everything is done with a welcome that is hard to match on any other continent.
Speaking of food, no matter which overseas ‘South African’ restaurant you go to, it doesn’t beat the real thing! South African cuisine is famed for its unique fusion of flavours, including a few herbs and spices, and cured foods that would be hard to come by overseas, let alone ground or made. It is also hard to emulate the black-pot open-fire style cooking of potjiekos overseas, literally translated as ‘potfood’. Most of all, the hospitality and sense of welcome companionship that is so present at South African tables is very hard to mimic on foreign soil.
Be sure to get your hands on these perennial favourites when you’re here; most of it can be bought at the local stores:
- Chutney – a local condiment made from fruit
- Biltong – the local cured meat. The most common is beef but you’ll also find bacon, kudu, impala and a host of other biltong.
- Guava juice – a refreshing, slightly zingy fruit juice made from guava fruit. Some countries, such as Australia, don’t have this at all. Disclaimer: distinctly delicious and addictive!
- Potjiekos – as described above. This is a stew slow-cooked for up to five hours in a cast-iron pot over open flames. Lamb, oxtail, chicken and beef are commonly enjoyed but seafood potjies are simply spectacular, too. Should any of the locals invite you for a potjiekos at their homes, never decline!
- Niknaks – a local maize-flavoured crisp.
- Vetkoek – pronounced ‘fetcook’ and meaning ‘fat cake’. A dough-inspired confection that’s deep-fried and can be enjoyed as a savoury or sweet snack, and can be filled with anything from curry to chicken mayonnaise. Think of it as the South African equivalent to India’s roti or naan bread.
- Koeksisters – a sweet donut that’s drenched in syrup (in farm settings) or fried then coated in coconut shavings (in Malay settings). You won’t find either variation overseas.
- Pap – this is a starchy side made from maize meal and commonly enjoyed with steak and other meat.
- Chakalaka – the famed township condiment. There are many ways to make this, and flavours range from hot to mild, but common ingredients are tomato, cabbage, onion and carrot. Divine as a side if you’re lucky enough to attend an authentic local open-fire barbeque or braai, as the locals call it.
Let’s examine the practicalities first. You’ll need to get around. As the public transport system is neither perfectly developed, truly safe or even efficient, it’s best to use an airport shuttle in Johannesburg. Besides the fact that there are more than ten car hire companies to choose from at the airport, including all the international brands such as Hertz and Avis, there is also a big variety of airport shuttle at OR Tambo International. You’ll be able to dial a ride or prebook a ride online easily and painlessly, provided that you pay in the local rand currency.
OR Tambo shuttle service
This group of service providers offers basically any kind of airport shuttle in Johannesburg you require, including tours and charters, point-to-point transfers and airport to hotel transfers. Should you be looking for an airport shuttle at OR Tambo International to offer you a bespoke service, that can also be arranged. Rates vary from per hour to per day, regions in Gauteng you want to travel to, the number of passengers per vehicle and the kind of class of vehicle you require.
When you hire an airport shuttle at OR Tambo International, you’ll notice that drivers are professional, courteous and knowledgeable about their surroundings. Vehicles are neat and all the required operating paperwork is always kept up to date.
You’ll also find that almost every airport shuttle in Johannesburg offers a well air-conditioned ride. Depending on the class of vehicle booked, you’ll also receive drinks and snacks as well as in-car satellite TV.
Is the airport shuttle from OR Tambo International safe?
It is extremely safe to hire and travel in an airport shuttle in Johannesburg. The fact is, this service provides an income in a country where the unemployment rate has stayed stubbornly above 25% in the past decade. The most vulnerable in that 25% unemployed group, would be individuals such as the driver of your airport shuttle in Johannesburg, who most likely would not have a university degree. The shuttle industry therefore provides a desperately needed income for people working in the sector, so strict conduct and ethics rules govern operations in these private services.
That said, when you’re cruising around your airport shuttle in Johannesburg, exercise the normal rules of safety that apply when driving in South Africa in general. Do not drive to a township after dark, although cosmopolitan and urban areas are fine. Keep your car doors locked, and do not sit with valuables on your lap or display them prominently.
Never walk around with wads of cash in your hand, and don’t leave your bag on the car seat when you get out to stretch your legs. Why? Hijackings are not common, least of all in broad daylight and in the popular tourist spots, but there is always a risk no matter how minimal.
When you stop at a robot in an airport shuttle in Johannesburg, it is common to have street vendors try to sell you anything from fruit and vegetables, to wire art and wooden carvings and street food. If you would like to purchase anything, this is safe to do, but do be mindful and pay in the local currency. South African forex laws are strict and it would not be possible for a street vendor to change the currency into rands without proof of imminent or recently past overseas travel flights.
Should you tip the driver of your airport shuttle at OR Tambo International?
It is not mandatory, but welcome. If you’re being driven out of town via airport shuttle in Johannesburg, try to tip R20 and above. Be sure you have negotiated the fee beforehand, or that the mileage is metred, so you know the payscale. Be sure to tip in the local currencies.
Should you tip your waiter in South Africa?
Yes, definitely. The minimum wage is very low and some restaurants are still not enforcing it. Waitresses often work long shifts and are expected to maintain high standards. It is not uncommon for wait staff to actually live off their tips, as the minimum wage does not cover rent or transport costs.
The accepted gratuity is 10% but a bit more if there was a very big table with a barrage or orders, or if the service was sensational.
Should you tip your tour guide?
Your guides are seen more as professionals, so this is mostly not done, but it would not be unwelcome. It would be strange not to tip at least R50 though.