Overview of Gauteng
Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, but also the most densely populated and the fastest growing – not too surprising, really, as Gauteng means ‘Place of Gold’.
It is a province of contrasts – old and new, contemporary and traditional, dense cities and wide- open grasslands, all co-existing. Although dominated by urban areas, there are a number of great natural attractions, like the Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng’s only Big Five nature reserve; the Pretoria National Botanical Garden; and the Magaliesberg mountains.
There’s plenty to do in Gauteng, whether it’s a night in town, a game drive or some great shopping. Alternatively, you have an opportunity to immerse yourself in Gauteng’s cultural scene – there are museums, galleries, theatres, historical sites, cultural hubs and a number of music festivals.
There are several small airports – Lanseria, Rand, Grand Central and Wonderboom – that link the province with the rest of the country.
The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg documents South Africans’ struggle for freedom during the days of apartheid. Set on 7ha of landscaped grounds, the museum has over 20 exhibition areas that include film footage, text panels and artefacts.
Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site spans a large area of Gauteng. Key attractions here are the Maropeng Visitor Centre and the Sterkfontein Caves, which are one of the most important palaeoanthropological sites in the world. Here, scientists have discovered important fossils that tell us much about the predecessors of modern humans.
No visit to South Africa is complete without a stop in Soweto, South Africa’s biggest township and one that is steeped in history, as it was at the epicentre of the Struggle for democracy. Today it is a thriving hub with non-stop entertainment.
The mountains that span Gauteng and the North West are more estimated to be 100 times older than Mount Everest. Their dramatic quartzite cliffs, valleys, ravines and waterfalls provide excellent exploring opportunities for nature lovers.
The mountains are home to the elusive leopard, over 300 bird species, baboons, a variety of antelope and small mammals. For the adventurous there’s hiking, mountain biking, white- water rafting, horse riding and abseiling.
This is a human rights precinct and a world-class heritage tourist attraction that celebrates South Africa’s democracy. It is also the home of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land. The precinct incorporates cultural, historical, artistic, educational and recreational spaces. Located between Braamfontein and Hillbrow in Johannesburg, it includes the Old Fort Prison, where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were sent.
Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City Theme Park is built around an authentic 19th- century gold mine, making it one of the few theme parks in the world that combines a historical attraction with a theme park. Visitors can go on a tour of a replica mining village, watch gold being poured, or go on an underground tour. The theme park also offers a number of fun rides. The Gold Reef City Casino is the oldest in Johannesburg and offers some of the best of gaming and entertainment.
Dinokeng Game Reserve
The Dinokeng Game Reserve is Gauteng’s first Big Five reserve, and is conveniently located relatively close to Johannesburg and Pretoria, allowing for great game viewing close to urban centres.
OR Tambo International Airport competes with the best airports in the world. It is the hub of South
Africa’s international and domestic air travel.
Game viewing and birding
Gauteng may be an urban mecca, but there are a number great game-viewing and birding opportunities. In Johannesburg is the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, with walks, trails and waterfalls. Its biggest attraction is a pair of Verreaux’s eagles that live in the cliffs.
At the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, just a short drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, visitors can view a variety of animals, including the spectacular white lion.
The 13 000ha Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, has about 200 species of birds and a number of antelope species, including steenbok, kudu and eland.
Pretoria has a number of nature reserves within and surrounding the city. The Fountains, Groenkloof, Rietvlei and Wonderboom nature reserves are among its best natural attractions.
Travellers should also make a point of visiting the Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng’s first Big Five reserve. Here visitors also get to see rare white lions, along with hippos, crocodiles and over 300 bird species.