As I delve into all of the different areas of South Africa over the next couple of weeks, I thought it would be best to start at home, with the Gauteng province.
Oh, Gauteng, such a unique province you are.
It truly has so much to offer and is extremely different from one area to the next- even just traveling a mere 40 kilometers away.
We live just outside of Pretoria, so obviously that is where we spend most of our time, and therefore where I know most about.
I would like to think I’m not biased, but I am. I love Pretoria.
The Jacaranda trees lining the street in full bloom in spring is something that everyone should see first hand.
There are literally Jacaranda trees everywhere; The city is basically a huge beautiful garden, the shopping and entertainment are great, and the people are a mix of posh and country while being pretty laid back.
Some must-see’s are The Voortrekker Monument, The Botanical Gardens, and The Pretoria Zoo.
There are also a whole bunch of antique stores in the area- which I can’t ever seem to get enough of. One I would highly recommend is Pieter Oosthuizen’s Antiques, on the corner of Lynnwood and Duncan (Jan Shoba) streets.
While you’re in the area, visit Duncan Yard (just north 500m on Duncan Street)- it’s quite an eclectic little area of shops and always has something to offer.
If you happen to be in the Pretoria area (early) on a Saturday morning, I strongly suggest that you go to the Silverton Boeremark– it’s the best!
After the Boeremark, make your way to one of the many parks (Groenkloof is our favorite) and take a hike or cycle along the many trails, or a 4X4 route- just don’t get stuck!
Some other places recommended to visit are the Sammy Marks Museum (Flashback to the time of the Voortrekkers and have a picnic while you’re at it!), the quaint little town of Cullinan (especially when the steam train comes through), and the Museum of Natural History.
Just outside of the Gauteng Province to the north-west, you will find Hartbeespoort Dam which has a huge curio shopping area, and the truly amazing Elephant Sanctuary.
If you go farther north of Pretoria, you get the Magaliesburg mountain range, which boasts a variety of outdoor activities such as kloofing, hiking, cycling, kayaking, horse riding, and the like.
As far as real entertainment goes, I’ve got to admit, other than going to the movies, the shooting range, and alternating braai’s at our house and friends’, we don’t really do much other than that (as the best Pretorianites do)… so I am not the best source of information for the ‘nightlife’ or extreme entertainment scenes. However, we do occasionally go to events at Montecasino in Johannesburg and that is always fun.
As for Johannesburg in general…. we really don’t go there very often.
It is pretty cool to drive through Sandton and the city central to see the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan big city life.
If I had to go to Johannesburg for a day-trip though, I would choose the Rosebank area- it is easily accessible from Pretoria via the handy Gautrain, as well as very pretty and has wonderful shops. (But traveller beware- you have to dress the part to go- this means posh! The laid-back country clothes of Pretoria won’t cut it for visiting there.)
In the Krugersdorp area near Johannesburg, you will find the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve which is wonderful, and the Cradle of Humankind (but I haven’t been there yet, so if you happen to go, or have been, let me know what you think!).
In conclusion, Gauteng has a lot more to offer than just the big city of Johannesburg. Come visit for a weekend trip, or a long holiday- there is a plethora of guesthouses and plenty to do!
La Cantina (Rietondale)
Cynthia’s Indigo Moon (Brooklyn)
Dros- Helga’s (Silverton)
Brooklyn Mall (most favorite, and best movie theatre)
The Grove Mall
Lynnwood Bridge Mall
Have you been to Gauteng? Where are your favorites?
Let me know in the comments!