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South Africa has nine state provinces, Gauteng is the smallest and wealthiest.
Gauteng is an extensive modern urban metropolis, the economic and commercial powerhouse of South Africa. The two main cities are Johannesburg, the capital of Gauteng, and Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa.
The huge modern megacity of Gauteng combines the suburbs of Johannesburg, the MidRand, Pretoria, the Reef towns of the East and West Rand, Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging, and is now one of the world’s great urban destinations.
Gold was discovered on the highveld land of an Afrikaans farmer in 1886. The gold rush followed and thousands of people made their way to the Transvaal. A shanty town was built that was the beginning of Johannesburg. South Africa became the biggest producer of gold in the world.
Johannesburg is the only city not built on a river or waterway, but on an underground seam of gold instead. Smaller mining towns sprang up around the golden arc of the Witwatersrand. There is the East and West Rand, towns like Kempton Park, Benoni, Florida, Springs and Germiston. There are 32 in all.
Pretoria, the next largest city, was made capital of the Republic in 1860 and is the capital of the country. There are lovely historical buildings and museums to visit. The streets are lined with purple flowering jacaranda trees and there are gracious outlying suburbs with colourful gardens.
The climate is one of the best in the world. Summers are hot, with afternoon showers. Winters are cool, crisp, sunny and dry. It is seldom too hot or too cold so it is a great place to visit all year round.
Things To Do
Gauteng might the smallest but it is the richest province, with a quarter of South Africa’s population in a mere 1.4 % of the land. Naturally there is fantastic vibrant nightlife, and world class exciting entertainment with cinemas, theatres, concerts, festivals, stadiums and casinos.
It is the art and music centre of the country. There are theme parks like Gold Reef City, art galleries, museums and endless amusements , and of course, wildlife and nature reserves, botanical gardens and parks.
The shopping malls reflect a city founded on diamonds and gold. Sandton City for example has gorgeous shops, with fabulous things from brilliant local and international designers. There are stunning shopping malls and the vibrant mix of so many very different people has led to a dynamic and original emergence of arts and design.
Cradle of Mankind
Oddly, the world’s youngest fastest growing modern metropolis is near the oldest fossil site of human ancestors, 3 million years old. At the 47,000 acre World Heritage Site, the Sterkfontein Caves have the richest site of hominid fossils yet found on earth. The Maropeng Centre has a fascinating exhibition, plus some alarming real size renditions of hominids.
Golf and Sports Clubs
The agreeable climate makes outdoor activities a pleasure and many sports clubs have tennis, golf, squash, swimming and other facilities. There are olympic pools, outdoor and heated indoor.
Gauteng has 36 golf courses, among the top 100 in the country. There are wonderful established courses with impeccable fairways and beautiful trees, like the Johannesburg and Bryanston Country Clubs, and others in scenic settings like the River Club and Randpark courses. Many superb golf tours are available for golf enthusiasts.
Gauteng is landlocked, surrounded by the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State provinces, but has easy access to the massive Vaal and Hartbeespoort Dams. The Vaal river has speed boating and yachting, fishing and rafting, and pretty houses along the river banks.
Hartbeespoort Dam has quaint little villages dotted about it. Among numerous family entertainment venues are an Elephant Sanctuary, snake park, cableway to panoramic views, hot air ballooning, abseiling, as well as sailing and yachting. They are delightful getaway destinations.
The natural terrain of Gauteng is gently undulating hilly savannah grasslands, and has interesting scenic drives like the Skeerpoort and Crocodile River valleys.
Only an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the open countryside around Magaliesburg has valleys, rivers and indigenous woodlands, crystal clear streams and waterfalls.
The magical Magaliesberg mountains are ancient, 100 times older than Everest. Experiencing the eerie out of time timeless atmosphere and mystery of the place is unforgettable.
Where to Eat
People in Johannesburg and Pretoria tend to be smart and sophisticated, they dress well and eat well and have a huge variety of superb restaurants.
Quality is high and eating out is a particular pleasure as there are so many excellent choices in this cosmopolitan place.
Where to Stay
Gauteng has an enormous selection of accommodation, everything imaginable. There are 5 star hotels in complete luxury and sumptuous style, upmarket country resorts, gorgeous guest houses, game lodges, bush camps, spa retreats, self catering apartments and cottages.
Oliver Tambo and Lanseria are the two airports.
The Gautrain is a rapid rail system linking the Tambo airport to Johannesburg and Pretoria. This state of the art modern high speed railway was completed in 2012 costing about R35 billion, and provides a quick efficient link to cars and taxis and buses for business and tourism.
Car rentals are at the airports.
Taxis do not cruise, they are booked. Uber is operative and an easy option for visitors.
Gauteng is the perfect central point from which to take other tours of the country, whether to Game parks, Nature Reserves or some of the incredible South African coastline.
Gauteng is a seSotho word meaning Place of Gold.
The economy, originally based on the massive wealth of the gold and diamond mines, then developed into the more sophisticated businesses of finance, banking, and manufacturing.
Grassland and savannah tend to be without trees, so private home owners continuously planted trees over the last hundred years. Today Johannesburg is a huge urban man made forest with millions of lovely trees.
In 1905 the biggest diamond ever, 3100 carats, was found at the Cullinan mine near Pretoria. Detectives came from England, and with much pomp and ceremony guarded the package, which was kept next to the captain, on the voyage back. Meanwhile, the real diamond arrived safely in London by registered post.
Gauteng is a dynamic and thrilling place to visit, with a dramatic history, and a remarkable cosmopolitan mix of races and cultures, blended into a modern multicultural urban society.