Visit The Gauteng Province
The Greater Johannesburg
Johannesburg is an African city of note. Johannesburg is characterised by contradiction and an apparent seamless combination of irreconcilable differences. The largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg is also the wealthiest and, without doubt, the economic powerhouse of Africa.
Johannesburg is a booming, happening city and the emphasis is on making money - whether in business or on the streets - and has been since its beginnings when the world’s richest gold fields were discovered in Johannesburg during the 1880s.
To the first-time visitor Johannesburg, or Jozi as it’s more commonly known, can be a little daunting, more so because of the misrepresentation by the media of Johannesburg as something of a war zone. There is crime; you do need to keep your wits about you, but once bitten by the vibe of Jozi, you’re going to want to come back again
Despite Johannesburg’s city centre doing its utmost to change perceptions about its capacity to function as the heart of the city, Sandton continues to reign as the most important financial and business district in South Africa, and arguably sub-Saharan Africa. It has been such since 1990 when the mass exodus to the northern suburb first began, and Sandton became known not only as a materialistic centre, but as a refuge of the ‘white flight’ from Johannesburg’s CBD.
It is hard to believe that this sophisticated district, home to the top investment banks, financial consultants, the Johannesburg stock exchange, and one of the biggest convention centres on the continent, was but mere sandy horse trails where the ‘mink and manure set’ lived on wealthy, large estates 50 years ago - small wonder it is known as one of the most opulent areas in Johannesburg.
Randburg is a large city in Gauteng. Once a separate municipality, its municipal government has since become a part of the City of Johannesburg. Randburg has over 32 suburbs, most of them residential. It is an upmarket area filled with many family friendly entertainment facilities and park like areas.
The residents in Randburg tend to be more affluent than most Johannesburg dwellers. Here one will witness large lavish homes and an abundance of boutiques. In fact, Randburg is well known for its plethora of shopping centres and entertainment areas, including the Brightwater Commons, Cresta Centre, NorthGate, Sanlam Shopping Centre and various others.
Another fantastic attraction is the Lion Park. This superb lion park features 4 prides of lions of various ages as well as a number of rhino and other herbivores. The lions are enclosed in a high-security area while the greater park area is given over to the other animals. For the adventurous, why not take your photographs with the gorgeous lion cubs?
The West Rand
Extending from Randfontein in the west to Roodepoort in the east and including the towns of Krugersdorp and Magaliesburg, the West Rand may belong to a separate municipality, but it still remains within the Greater Johannesburg metropolitan area and it is not uncommon for people to commute between the West Rand and Johannesburg on a daily basis.
The West Rand grew out of the discovery of gold in the area, although a greater part of this area remains rural and largely unspoilt, encompassing some of Gauteng’s most beautiful scenery and enviable weather. Two mountain ranges, the Magaliesberg and the Witwatersberg, grace the western fringes of the region, which, when combined with the Skeerpoort and Crocodile River valleys, makes for beautiful and interesting hikes, rock climbs and days out in nature.
The Magaliesberg mountains are of the oldest in the world. They extend across Gauteng and the North West provinces west and north from Pretoria to just south of the Pilanesberg, and east of Pretoria to the Bronkhorstspruit Dam.
Formerly known as the Cashan Mountains the Magaliesberg stretch for over 120 kilometres, separating the highveld grasslands to the south, from the bushveld savannah of the north.
Aside from their milestone age - they are a hundred times older than Everest and half the age of the earth – these mountains and the surrounding area also possess a rich biodiversity (the Aloe Peglerae and Frithia pulchra are unique to this area), and the bird life in the mountains and the surrounds is almost unparallelled - 46.6% of Southern Africa's bird species live here.
The Northern Gauteng
Gauteng has no official regions, but for simplicity’s sake is often divided into northern and southern Gauteng, which roughly corresponds to dividing the province up around the two major cities - Johannesburg to the south and Pretoria to the north.
Northern Gauteng is a charming combination of the Tshwane Metro and the Metsweding region - a mix of pretty towns and rural communities, except for Pretoria - the administrative capital of the country.
Midrand is in Region 2 of Johannesburg's administrative region plan and completely built around the N1. It is identified as one of the 8 tourism nodes in the Johannesburg area and home to large-scale industries such as textiles and motor vehicles.
Midrand is relatively modern and has experienced a great deal of growth in the last decade. Many businesses have relocated to Midrand due to its proximity to excellent highway links and its location in the economic centre of Gauteng Province.
The East Rand
But the little towns of Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Edenvale, Germiston, Springs, Kempton Park and Nigel are collectively known as Ekurhuleni Metropolitan. The Ekurhuleni’s borders encompass the vibrant townships of Daveyton, Katlehong, Vosloorus and Wattville (to name but a few), and the former East Rand has reclad itself as a tourist-friendly escape from the rat race, with more than a few hidden gems up its sleeve.
South of Johannesburg is Soweto, a city developed as a township for black people under the apartheid system. Most of the struggle against apartheid was fought in and from Soweto.
Soweto is inhabited by over two million people, with homes ranging from extravagant mansions to makeshift shacks. Soweto is a city of enterprise and cultural interaction. It is a popular tourist destination with sites such as Kliptown (where the Freedom Charter was drawn up), the home of former President Nelson Mandela, the Hector Petersen Memorial site, restaurants and shopping malls. It boasts one of the largest hospitals on the continent and the only African-owned private clinic.
The Southern Gauteng
The Vaal River is the province's main water source and water sports playground and dominates the region. The Loch Vaal reservoir, built in 1922, is a water system that provides Southern Gauteng over a billion litres daily.
Rural Southern Gauteng is dominated by the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve situated just to the West of Heidelberg.
Marketed as the place the world’s largest diamond was discovered because of its proximity to Cullinan, Dinokeng lies about 45 minutes’ north-east of Johannesburg, and a mere 14 minutes from Pretoria / Tshwane.
Referring to an area, rather than a particular town, Dinokeng is part of an initiative by the government to establish a tourist destination close to urban Gauteng that lies roughly in the catchments area of two rivers - the Elands and Pienaars - that subsequently flow into the greater Olifants and Limpopo Rivers.
The land has witnessed a number of different cultures, which together form something of a melting pot of history.
The Pretoria Region
Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees, which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a lovely, quiet city. It has a long, involved and fascinating history. Here you will find significant old buildings and fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind.