Experience Gauteng and all it has to offer. Gauteng boasts a rich history largely based on the foundation of a precious resource – gold. Gauteng is a province that offers a fascinating blend of first-world know-how, combined with African magic. You can also visit the Gauteng Game Reserves page HERE.
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Arts & culture
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Gauteng provides plenty in the way of entertainment through its network of upmarket shopping malls, casinos, street markets, theatres, restaurants, museums and parks. Gauteng is characterised by a cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life. The province’s unique cultural and social legacy is evident from the many excellent museums, theatres, cultural precincts and craft markets. Although Gauteng is the most populated, built-up and industrialised province, it still has natural areas offering a variety of leisure activities such as day hikes, picnic spots and sports activities.
The Vaal Dam, which supplies water to most of Gauteng’s residents, covers some 300 km2 and is a popular venue for watersports. Numerous resorts line the shore. The dam also attracts diverse bird species.
Tourism attractions in and around the Cradle of Humankind have grown to more than 380, with over half of these offering graded accommodation. The broader 47 000-ha Cradle of Humankind site has many caves, the most famous of which are the Sterkfontein caves. In 1999, Sterkfontein and its environs were declared a World Heritage Site. About 40% of all the world’s human ancestor fossils have been found here, including several of the world’s most famous and important fossils. A further 500 hominid fossils and more than 9 000 stone tools have been excavated in the area during ongoing work. The famous skull of Mrs Ples, an estimated 2,5-million-year-old hominid fossil, and Little Foot, an almost complete hominid skeleton some 3,3 million years old, were discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves near Krugersdorp.
The Krugersdorp Game Reserve provides sanctuary for several game species, including four of the Big Five. The African Fauna and Bird Park houses various species of wildlife and birds.
The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden has a 70 m-high waterfall and a breeding pair of black eagles. Some 40 km north of Pretoria is a ring of hills 1 km in diameter and 100 m high. These are the walls of the Tswaing Meteorite Crater, left by an asteroid that hit the area some 200 000 years ago. There is a museum adjacent to this site. The crater is covered with indigenous trees and bushes, which attract a variety of bird life.
The old mining town of Cullinan has developed around the Premier Diamond Mine. The mine has produced some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Cullinan Diamond, the world’s largest at 3 106 carats.
Tourism West Rand
Like Johannesburg itself, the West Rand owes its existence to gold, but today visitors flock there for some of Gauteng’s most famous tourist destinations.
The 47 000ha World Heritage Site of the Cradle of Humankind, about 45 minutes from Johannesburg, is a must-see attraction for individuals and families alike.
First take a guided tour underground into the Sterkfontein Caves, where both the more than 2-million-year-old skull of Mrs Ples was found in 1947, and more recently the almost complete skeleton of 3.5-million-year-old Little Foot was discovered by Prof. Ron Clarke and his team. In 2015, the site’s latest stunning fossil discovery, Homo naledi, was introduced to the world by Professor Lee Berger.
From the caves walk to the award-winning Maropeng Visitor Centre, where you’ll ride a small boat through ice, fire, water and Earth, before enjoying the numerous interactive displays, thought-provoking exhibits and fascinating information inside the great tumulus that forms the centre.
The charming little town of Magaliesburg, full of quaint shops and a vintage railway station where a steam train puffs too and from downtown Johannesburg at weekends, is a gateway to the mountains that are a nature lover’s paradise of indigenous woodland, rolling hills, deep valleys, plants, birds and wildlife – a mecca for hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
In the Magaliesberg you can also go hot-air ballooning; visit an award-winning cheetah research station; or spend time at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, home to 30 species of animals including lion, buffalo, white rhino, cheetah, wild dog, hippo, crocodile and more than 20 antelope species. There’s attractive overnight accommodation, including self-catering chalets, and you can go game spotting on game drives, night drives or horse trails.
For a lovely rustic shopping experience, wander along the Magaliesberg Meander and browse art galleries, craft and curio shops, interesting boutiques and friendly little coffee shops and restaurants.
Muldersdrift, another extensive West Rand countryside area with easy access to Johannesburg’s northern suburbs of Fourways, Randburg and Sandton, and Pretoria, lies in the heart of the Kromdraai Valley in the Cradle of Humankind and is a quiet, but accessible place to stay if you’re on business in the big city. It’s also a popular destination for weddings and conferences, with venues ranging from old farmhouses to riverside chapels, tented bush camps, safari ranches and even establishments inside the Cradle of Humankind itself.
Krugersdorp, once an early gold-mining town, the seat of West Rand, is a bustling, small modern town, best known to visitors for its 1 400ha Krugersdorp Game Reserve. If you haven’t time to go further north to Kruger National Park or further west to Pilanesberg Game Reserve, then this lovely reserve, which you can tour by car, guided walk or by horseback, is another inviting West Rand attraction. Take a picnic or stay overnight and spot rhino, antelope of all kinds, giraffe and, in a special enclosure, lion. If you’re a birdwatcher then you’ll have the opportunity to tick off over 200 species.
If you feel the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life, then the West Rand, only a short drive away from Johannesburg and Pretoria is a tranquil, attractive alternative.
Gauteng, the “Place of Gold”, is the commercial powerhouse of the country, but its offerings are not limited to commerce and industry. Anchored by the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng provides plenty in the way of entertainment through its network of upmarket shopping malls, casinos, street markets, theatres, restaurants, museums and parks.
You can also hop on the super-fast, hassle-free Gautrain at OR Tambo International Airport, which will whisk you off to Sandton, Johannesburg’s upmarket business and shopping hub; downtown to Park Station, where you can catch the open-top tourist bus; or to Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa.
At the much smaller domestic Rand Airport in Germiston there’s a fascinating aviation museum, where you can catch up on South Africa’s high-flying past with a veteran expert guide, and even take a flip in a two-seater, Harvard.
Ekurhuleni, which means “place of peace” in the local Tsonga language, is known for its superb shopping opportunities. Two of South Africa’s most popular and successful grocery store chains, Checkers and Spar, started life here. Only 7km away from the airport is one of the country’s biggest shopping malls, the East Rand Mall, with over 175 stores and a nine-theatre digital cinema centre.
If you’re looking for entertainment, then check out Emperors Palace, alongside OR Tambo International Airport, where you can have a flutter; watch musical extravaganzas, comedies and dance shows; see a movie; enjoy different restaurants and bars; or watch a boxing match.
History buffs can visit late Iron Age settlements or newer historic landmarks such as the OR Tambo Narrative Centre (one of South Africa’s greenest buildings) on the banks of the Leeupan Wetland; or pause to take in the poignant memories at the Thokoza wall of remembrance, commemorating the thousands who were killed during the apartheid freedom struggle.
At the Ke-ditselana Tourism and Multicultural Village in Germiston, you can discover indigenous cultures and traditional ways of life, watch African dancing, sample local food and buy lovely handmade curios and crafts. Take a tour with a local guide to the vibrant, edgy township of Tembisa, where you can quaff a local beer at a shebeen (tavern), sample local delicacies, and discover the township’s best places to chill and party.
If you’re in Boksburg, then make time to visit the privately owned Hechter-Schulz Afro-Cultural Museum, with its fantastic collection of cultural artefacts from all over Southern Africa.
The towns of Springs, Germiston and Alberton have art-deco architecture, while Benoni is the birthplace of Hollywood star Charlize Theron.
Ekurhuleni is also famous for its permanently flooded wetlands, formed by the water run-off from the gold mines, and bird sanctuaries such as Marievale Bird Sanctuary and Rondebult Bird Sanctuary could find you ticking off over 280 species.
Outdoor sports rule in Ekurhuleni. Go horse riding, hiking, mountain biking or, because of the region’s numerous lakes, go sailing, waterskiing or windsurfing. Play a spectacular round on one of the many lush golf courses, or pamper yourself at a spa.
If you’re in Ekurheleni on business you have a choice of dozens of conference venues, with state-of-the-art facilities and accommodation ranging from a country B&B or lodge to boutique and upmarket hotels.
But wherever you are in Ekurhuleni, you’ll find excellent service, friendly people, and lots to do and see.
Today, Joburg, Jozi, Joeys, or Egoli (City of Gold), with one of the best climates of any city in the world, and a population of nearly 4.5-million people, is the largest city in South Africa, and the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa.
Once brash and raw, like most frontier towns, Johannesburg has over the years transformed itself into a sleek, modern city without sacrificing any of its high energy or historic past.
Gracious old colonial buildings like the Rand Club, original post offices, old police stations, historical hotels, farmhouses and shops rub shoulders with the Carlton Centre (still Africa’s tallest building at 50 storeys), glitzy shopping malls, five-star hotels, major highways, classy restaurants, award-winning museums, art galleries, lovely parks and newer historical landmarks.
And because it’s such a diverse and cosmopolitan city – a magnet of opportunity for peoples from all over the world, especially other parts of Africa – as you go from one part to another, you’ll find yourself travelling from posh upmarket suburbs like Sandton and Rosebank, to mini villages like downtown Fordsburg that is a melting pot of different global cultures; and from Chinatown to traditionally Indian areas, from bustling local markets to a revitalised, culturally stimulating inner city.
Jozi is a young city, exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, but always exciting. Spend a few hours, a day, a week – you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The Gautrain from OR Tambo International Airport, Sandton, Rosebank or Pretoria will whisk you downtown to Park Station in no time, where you can board the double-decker red City Sightseeing bus. Hop on and hop off at any of about a dozen stops, or just stay aloft and watch this vibrant city roll past.
If you fancy some history, then take the add-on tour to Soweto and visit the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Nelson Mandela and Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, once lived. If you need a bit of physical exercise then tour Soweto on foot or by bike with registered guides, or if you’re an adrenalin junkie then bungee jump from Soweto’s iconic Orlando Towers.
Need something less adventurous? Then what about a stroll through the lovely Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, where black eagles nest; or a hike along a heritage trail through historic Westcliff.
If you’re a culture buff visit the Johannesburg Art Gallery, WAM (Wits Art Museum) in Braamfontein – which holds one of the world’s finest collections of African art, including African beadwork – or any one of the private art galleries along Jan Smuts Avenue in Rosebank. If you’re at all interested in our history as humans (and who isn’t?) spend time at the University of the Witwatersrand’s user-friendly and fascinating Origins Centre; or if you want to look beyond our universe, try the Johannesburg Planetarium.
If it’s relaxation you’re after, the city has plenty of lovely spas, and for entertainment, there are casinos, theatres, cinemas, and a Disney-like theme park, Gold Reef City, where you can take an underground mine tour, watch street performances, and hurtle along on roller coasters.
If you’ve no time to go to the Lion Park just outside the city, then a trip to the Johannesburg Zoo, one of the world’s finest small zoos set in 55ha of gardens and water features, is well worth a visit. If you don’t feel like walking, then take a golf cart.
Talking of golf, Joburg is home to dozens of excellent golf courses, where you can hire clubs and use facilities.
If you’re in town on a Sunday morning then take yourself off to Kyalami, where the only other school of performing Lipizzaner stallions in the world (other than Vienna) puts on a dazzling display of equine elegance with their all-female riders.
The city is also always event-full. Whether it’s a visiting pop superstar, a mega wedding show, a garden and home exhibition, an outdoor and travel expo, a retail or mining one, an African cities conference, a London or Broadway theatre hit, a food festival, or a big sports event (think soccer, rugby and cricket), there’s& always something happening.
But Johannesburg is not only about leisure, entertainment, events and sport – it’s also the business hub of Africa, its economic heart, and home to hundreds of international and local companies hosting regular conferences at superb venues with state-of-the-art facilities. All major hotels have business centres and you’ll find Wi-Fi access almost everywhere. There are also dozens of restaurants and cafés for that power lunch or breakfast.
Cape Town may have the mountains and the wine farms, but there’s no doubt about it – Johannesburg has the edge for energy and excitement.
Sedibeng’s important towns include Vanderbijlpark, the historical town of Vereeniging and Heidelberg, and the African townships of Evaton, Sebokeng, Bophelong and Ratanda, as well as the infamous township of Sharpeville, where black South Africans protesting against apartheid pass laws were shot down by police gunfire in 1960.
There’s now a historic memorial site called the Sharpeville Human Rights Precinct, and it was here that Nelson Mandela signed the post-apartheid South African Constitution and Bill of Rights on 10 December 1996.
Sedibeng, “place of the pool” in Sesotho, is also home of the mighty Vaal River where, on more than 50km of navigable water you can go boating, river cruising, white-water rafting, kayaking or canoeing. It’s also home of the huge Vaal Dam.
The 800km shores of the Vaal Dam are lined with picnic and camping sites, marinas and holiday homes. At weekends and holiday time people take to the safe, cool water to go fishing, boating, waterskiing and swimming, or just to picnic or barbecue on the malaria-free banks.
If shopping is your thing, then try out the upmarket River Square Shopping Centre or Vaal Mall, or follow the Vaal Meander Route and check out country stalls, craft shops, outdoor adventure centres, tea and coffee shops, game drives, animal farms, antiques and collectibles, beads and jewellery, brewery tours and much more. Also on the banks of the river and dam are world-class conference venues, self-catering establishments, charming B&Bs, and romantic wedding venues.
The area is also action-packed, with annual events from the Vaal River Meander Wine Route, air shows and the Jazz on the River Festival, to F1 powerboat racing and various road-running and cycle events.
Sedibeng is the site of the Suikerbosrand (sugar bush) Nature Reserve, at 11 595ha the largest in Gauteng, just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Surrounded by the Suikerbosrand mountain range you can hike, cycle or go backpacking along a 66km network of backpacking hiking trails; or why not stroll along the Cheetah Trail, a short 4km interpretive trail, or hike the 17km Bokmakierie day visitor trail?
If you prefer to drive, then tootle along the 60km motor vehicle tourist route in your own vehicle. Suikerbosrand is not a Big Five reserve, but you will see dozens of birds (there are over 200 species) and lots of plains game including zebra, eland, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, baboon, springbok, kudu and – if you’re very lucky – the cheetah.
If you’re looking for a great conference venue – although there are many in Sedibeng, ranging from big to small, urban to countryside, city centre to Riverside – the Emerald Resort & Casino in Vanderbijlpark has state-of-the-art facilities, plus entertainment and gambling on tap. Go for a game drive, a round of adventure golf, fishing in the Vaal or just pamper yourself with a luxurious spa treatment.
The historic town of Vereeniging was where the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in May 1902, which officially ended the South African War (or Anglo-Boer War), between South Africa and the British Empire. Today, it’s one of Gauteng’s outdoor adventure centres where you can go quad biking, river rafting, abseiling, fishing or just enjoy some fun in the sun.
Sedibeng may not be as well known as Tshwane or Johannesburg, but is well worth exploring, whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast or a business traveller. Go discover it for yourself.
Easily accessible from Johannesburg by road or the Gautrain, Pretoria is a friendly, attractive little city, a charming mix of old and new, and is spectacularly beautiful in October, when over 50 000 purple jacaranda trees that line the roads burst into vibrant colour and give Pretoria its nickname of the “Jacaranda City”.
As you would expect of a historical city, now the seat of democratic government, Pretoria itself is packed with things to do and see.
Church Square, its historical centre, is the home of the first House of Parliament and historic houses and museums. Here a large bronze statue of Paul Kruger, first president of the Transvaal Republic and regarded as the master builder of the Afrikaner nation, looms over fine examples of 19th- and 20th-century architecture, including the Palace of Justice, where Nelson Mandela’s infamous Treason Trial took place.
Another iconic Afrikaner monument and one of South Africa’s most-visited tourist attractions is the Voortrekker Monument, a heritage site that towers high on a hill in a nature reserve overlooking the whole city. The huge 62m-high brown edifice celebrates the pioneering spirit of the early trekkers, who journeyed far from the Cape Colony in the 1830s and 1840s to escape British rule.
Freedom Park, a huge outdoor space, pays tribute to the leaders and people of South Africa who rescued the country from its dark apartheid past.
Go 40km north-west of Pretoria, even further back in history and visit the Tswaing Crater, where a giant meteor crashed into planet Earth approximately 220 000 years ago and left its mega mark – 1.13km in diameter and 200m deep.
But Pretoria is not only about history. It’s also home to award-winning parks; one of the world’s top 10 zoos; botanical gardens; and wide-open spaces where birds and small mammals live, such as Groenkloof Nature Reserve and Austin Roberts Memorial Bird Sanctuary. It is also regarded as one of South Africa’s top cities for restaurants, malls, museums, galleries and nightlife hotspots.
Areas such as Hatfield, site of the prestigious University of Pretoria, are pumping at the weekends, and if you’re looking for boutique lifestyle centres, clubs and trendy eateries, you’ll find them all here. If you’re a sporting fan, you will certainly have heard of Loftus Versveld stadium, home of the Blue Bulls rugby team, and venue for many top sporting events.
Just under an hour’s drive from Pretoria is Dinokeng, the only Big Five game reserve in Gauteng, where elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo and lion all roam free. Spend a night at an upmarket lodge, go camping or caravanning, choose a tented camp or just take a guided day trip from the city.
Tshwane really does have it all – from history, heritage, nature and wildlife, to shopping malls, theatres, clubs, restaurants, street markets and sporting venues. Make sure it’s on your itinerary.