South Africa’s busiest and most important hub, OR Tambo International Airport (JNB/FAJS) is just a short distance from the city. Located on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, the airport lies to the north of Boksburg, closed to Benoni and Germiston and just 12 miles /19 km east of the city . The airport can be reached by travelling out of the city on the M2, and then along the N12 Highway, with clear signposts along this route. When driving to the airport from Johannesburg city center, the journey is usually around 35 minutes, but it depends from traffic.

A new high speed train (Gautrain) is available between Sandton/Rosebank and the airport covering the distance in 20 minutes.

O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is the air transport hub of Southern Africa, catering for more than 17 million passengers each year. The airport play a vital role in the city’s and Gauteng province’s economy, and boasts an impressive infrastructure that has expanded by thousands of square metres from its modest origins.

JNB was originally dedicated to Jan Smuts but some years ago it was renamed O.R Tambo in honour to Oliver Reginald Tambo, fondly known as O.R. by his peers, is renowned in South Africa and abroad for his significant contribution to the liberation of South Africa.

Spotting at JNB is still relatively easy but it’s recommended to rent a car or to move with a private transfer or a guide.Important notice to underline concerning security is that there isn’t problem with local people or local police, but use security standard especially out of the terminal.

JNB is organised in 2 parallels Runway (03/21): there isn’t a specific or more utilised rwy, beacuse it depend on traffic or wind condition but luckly, in each case is possible to find good spotting point.

We can start from rwy 03R for good landing shots, there is a slide in a public playground located a couple of hundred meters from rwy 03L: this park is on the corner of Buffalo road and Slangkop road in Impala park a neighbourhood ten minutes drive from main terminal building. This spotting place is best for morning arrivals (all european wide bodies) as the sun is directly behind you (You need at least a 200/300 mm. lense)

After 12am. You can go to catch afternoon arrivals on rwy03R in a street at the corner of ridge and Springbok roads at Bartlett neighbourhood, 5 minutes from the first spotting places. These are the 2 most common places for the most common landing rwy 03L. Spotting take off from 03R is pratically impossible except from Observation desk.

In case of rwy 21 in use you can stay for take off on 21R close to an highway ramp access, without problem, or for landing on 21L close to a football ground (Bonaero Drive).

For each places the best way to get there is to have a detailed map or consult Google maps. There’s No food or drink possibility in this all places!

Other important spotting places are the 2 viewing decks (international and domestic) located within the main terminal buildings at third level. Both have stunning view over the 2 runways and all the traffic from all the ground stand, you can still take good shots through the glass. There are some chairs and an usefull Departure and arrival timetable monitor. The international one was completely renewed before the 2010 World cup.

A lot of restaurants, fast food and food & drink facilities are available inside the terminal.

Today JNB is the most important african Hub and what will you see will not disappoint your expectation

It is home to SAA-South African Airways which bases its fleet from Airbus A340-600 to SA Airlink J41.

More than 60 carriers operate from JNB: European, Asian and Middle East major, Indian Ocean airlines and ‘exotic’ african carriers.

JNB respect also a good Cargo traffic and is home of Denel aviation and Safair: two of the most important african aircraft leasing companies, so something strange is ordinary!.

Travelling for Spotting to South Africa you have to consider different climate seasons, our winter is south african summer, with long lighty days and some showers, and on our summer (south african winter time) a good low light with less rainy days.

I will recommend you a spotting trip to JNB , including a visit to one of South African National Park or reserve for a real “Big Five” spotting.

Gabriele Cavallotti