Situated in the Highveld, Gauteng (Place of Gold) is the smallest province in South Africa, accounting for only 1.5% of the land area. Nevertheless, it is highly urbanised, containing the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, its administrative capital, Pretoria, and other large areas such as Midrand and Vanderbijlpark. As of 2018, Gauteng is the most populous province in South Africa with a population of approximately 14,700,000 people according to estimates.
Although Gauteng province is dominated by the urban areas of Johannesburg and Pretoria, it has several nature reserves. Gauteng is home to the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes the Sterkfontein caves and the Wonder Cave Kromdraai. Johannesburg is home to the largest man-made urban forest in the world.
The most famous and liveliest townships, some of South Africa’s best restaurants, the diverse cultural- and vibrant night life make Johannesburg South Africa’s most Africanized and cosmopolitan city. It has a reputation among both tourists and South Africans as a place to be avoided, but many are seduced by its energy and vibrancy.
The city is the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. Johannesburg is served by O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa and a gateway for international air travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa. More recently Lanseria International Airport has started international flights, and is situated conveniently on the opposite side of the metropolis.
Accommodation in Johannesburg is quite easy to find as the city is well-equipped to host large numbers of tourists and business travellers.
Despite it’s corporate orïentated atmosphere, very comfortable guesthouses and B&B establishments are spread all over town, especially in the northern and central suburbs.
Johannesburg is peppered with large chain hotels, well located and offering several accommodation options, including Self Catering.
An acronym for South Western Townships, Soweto was dubbed as such in 1963. The area began in the late 19th century as a temporary neighborhood for gold mine workers, then later became a black Johannesburg ghetto with forced apartheid settlement. In 1976, Soweto garnered international headlines with its deadly uprising against Afrikaans-only language education. The Mandela Family Museum and the recently restored Credo Mutwa Village (with its Zulu and Sotho homesteads) are two can’t-miss sights.
70 Km up north, Pretoria has a completely different atmosphere. Being South Africa’s administrative capital it is filled with civil servants and students from around the World.
With its historic buildings and interesting musea, Pretoria is a place worth visiting in its own right. It is popularly known as The Jacaranda City due to the thousands of Jacaranda trees planted in its streets, parks and gardens..
To escape the hustle and bustle of these cities one can flee to the Magalies Mountains in the north and the Witwatersrand in the south and west. In 1923 the Hartbeespoort Dam, situated in one of the valleys of the range, was completed.
It became a popular holiday and weekend destination for the inhabitants of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the villages of Hartbeespoort and Kosmos developed as a result. Less than an hour from Johannesburg, the Magalies Mountains offer ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, horse riding and nature trailing.
As a tourist, a visit to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site is almost obligatory. Some of the world’s most important pre-human primate fossils are discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves.