Johannesburg is located on the eastern plateau area of South Africa, known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1753 metres. It is situated in central, south Gauteng. Gauteng is a landlocked territory bordered by the North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. The city of Johannesburg itself is located on a small ridge called the Witwatersrand (White Water's Ridge - Afrikaans) whilst the northern and western suburbs have undulating hills, and the eastern metro area is generally flat. The fact that Gauteng is the smallest of the Provinces makes it easier for visitors to Johannesburg to experience all the sights, attractions and diversions offered in Gauteng, without having to travel very long distances.
Due to the height of 1753 m above sea-level, the climate in Johannesburg and on the Highveld is temperate throughout the year. The favourable climate is one of Johannesburgs main attractions. Many local residents, who enjoy annual holidays at the coast, would never consider living in hot, humid Durban or cold, wet Cape Town year round. In summer, the days are not too hot and the nights pleasantly cool. In winter, the nights can be quite cold; even below zero, but during the day the sun shines and lets the temperatures rise up to 25 degrees. Rainfall is to be expected only in summer from October to March. Otherwise the dry climate of the African interior high-plateau, the Highveld, is dominant. Johannesburg gets an annual average of between eight and ten hours of sunshine per day. The weather only gets nasty in Johannesburg when the strong winds of August blow over the Highveld and the loose sands of the mine-dumps whirl through the air and cover the city in a yellow haze of dust.
"Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika" was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school teacher.
South Africa is home to some 10% of the world's flowering species, and is the only country in the world with an entire plant kingdom within its borders.
Of the 850 or so bird species recorded in South Africa, about 725 are resident or annual visitors, and about 50 are endemic or near-endemic.
The South African economy is the largest in Africa and 24th largest in the world.
South Africa has eleven official languages: Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu. In this regard it is second only to India in number.
South Africas surface area is 1 219 090 km2.
South Africa is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, to the west, south and east, and has a coastline of about 3 000 km.
South Africa has an average annual rainfall of 450 mm, compared with a world average of 860 mm.
The current flag of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on April 27, 1994, after the first free elections and the end of apartheid.
Dedicated to South Africas darkest days, this incredible world class museum documents the forced removals, political executions, the rise of Black Consciousness and the 1976 Soweto student uprisings and its triumphs. (Corner of Gold Reef and Northern Parkway Road, Telephone: 011 496 1822)
Constitution Hill is the home of the South African Constitutional Court, situated in the heart of Johannesburg. Overlooking Jo burgs inner city and suburbs, Constitution Hill houses the new Constitutional Court as well as the austere Old Fort Prison Complex (also called Number Four), where thousands were incarcerated before the advent of democracy, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Tours and exhibitions in the visitor center portray the countrys journey to democracy. You can walk along the prison ramparts (built in the 1890s), read messages of democracy on the We the People Wall (and add your own), or view the court itself, in which large, slanting columns represent the trees under which African villagers traditionally met to discuss matters of importance. A restaurant, a coffee shop, and a museum shop are found on Constitution Square, a central piazza, as well as a childrens room with special programs. (Corner of Queen and Sam Hancock, Hospital Streets, Braamfontein, Telephone: 011 274 5300)
The Cradle of Humankind
Take a tour to the Cradle of Humankind, at Sterkfontein, Gautengs famous World Heritage Site, where caves have produced nearly half of the worlds hominid fossil discoveries. Close to the Cradle are the Kromdraai Wonder Cave, as well as the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. At present only the Sterkfontein Caves and the Wonder Cave are open to the public. (Sterkfontein Caves: 011 956-6342, Wonder Cave: 011 957-0106)
Cullinan Diamond Mine Tour
Enjoy a surface tour of the Premier Mine, the third richest diamond producing mine in South Africa - opened in 1902, where the worlds biggest diamond was discovered. Premier Mine has produced 255 gem diamonds of over 100 carats, and nearly a quarter of the worlds gem diamonds of 400 carats and over. Visitors will see the big hole, the shaft and the diamond room where a selection of uncut diamonds and replicas of world famous diamonds are displayed. (Cullinan Tours: 95 Oak Avenue, Cullinan, Telephone: 012 734 0260)
The Nelson Mandela Bridge
Johannesburg has the largest cable stayed bridge in Southern Africa. Who else to name it after but Nelson Mandela, the man who led South Africa across the apartheid divide. Two years and R38 million in the making, the spectacular Nelson Mandela Bridge has emerged as a new landmark in Gauteng, and holds out the promise of a rejuvenated Johannesburg inner city. The 284 metre long bridge crosses over 42 operational railway lines in linking Braamfontein and the north of Johannesburg to Newtown in the heart of the citys central business district, and is the centre piece of a R300 million inner city renewal project driven by the provinces economic development initiative. (http://www.joburg.org.za/2003/newtownbrochure/newtownbrochure.stm)
Nelson Mandela Museum Soweto
NELSON Mandela's humble little house in Orlando West, Soweto, now called the Mandela Family Museum, is an interesting stopover for those keen to imbibe a slice of authentic history on the worlds most famous former prisoner. (Telephone Number: 011 936-7754)
Newtown Cultural Precinct is where some of Johannesburgs hot and happening cultural scene can be found. At the heart of Newtown sits the famous Museum Africa as well as the Market Theatre complex. Newtown is part of the inner city regeneration project and promises to be Johannesburgs most popular tourist hotspot. (http://www.joburg.org.za/2003/newtownbrochure/newtownbrochure.stm)
For many South Africans the Union Building is the most beautiful government residence in the world. Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of this 275 m long building and had it built in the English monumental style from light sandstone. It does indeed look majestic and lends a solemn environment to the official acts of the respective President. The Union Building has a half-round shape. The two wings at the sides represent the Boer and the English part of the population. The Union Buildings were designed to accommodate the offices of the Prime Minister in 1913. These historic buildings are set in terraced gardens modeled on the famous Villa dEste at Tivoli near Rome, Italy, with magnificent views of the city. The gardens of the Union Buildings are home to another group of memorial structures. The Delville Wood memorial commemorates the South African soldiers who died in the Battle of Delville Wood in France (World War I). Today, the Union Buildings still house the offices of the State President. (Government Avenue, Arcadia, Pretoria.)
Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site
Perched conspicuously on top of one of the many hills that surround the City of Pretoria is the imposing Voortrekker Monument. This enormous granite construction commemorates the Voortrekkers (pioneers) who trekked from the Cape, between 1835 and 1854, in search of independence from British rule. (Address: Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site, Eeufees Road, Groenkloof, Pretoria, Telephone: 012 326 6770/325 7885/325 0477, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bruma Market World is a unique speciality niche development that has attained and maintained a high level of retail success over the last 9 years. The market is a well established shopping environment that offers the shopper an experience unlike that at conventional shopping centres. The shops are all in close proximity, there are no shop fronts, and trading is intense, vibrant and tactile. (Corner Ernest Oppenheimer Road & Marcia Road, Bruma, E-mail: email@example.com, Telephone: 011 622 9648)
There are a number of Casinos within easy driving distance for guests staying in Johannesburg. Gold Reef City Casino, Carnival City, Emperors Palace, Marula Sun and The Carousel Casino are just some of the casinos visitors can relax at, whilst Monte Casino in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg offers a casino, plus numerous exciting places to dine, together with live shows and shopping. (Montecasino: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Telephone: 011 710 777, Gold Reef City Casino: (011) 248-5000, Carnival City: 011 898 7000)
Days of Gold
Spend a day at the famous Gold Reef City, where you can go underground on a mine exploration and relive the old gold rush days of Johannesburg. The fabulous theme park at Gold Reef City is a must for anyone with children. (Underground Mine Tour - 011 248-6857, Gold Reef City Theme-Park - 011 248-6800. E-mail address: email@example.com)
The Elephant Sanctuary
The Elephant Sanctuary, nestled in pristine unspoiled bush, is the home of five African elephants: Maroela, Mosadi, Khumba, Jabu and Thandi. Elephants are highly intelligent and delightful and you will discover a different character, personality and temperament within each one. You can take a ride lasting about 2œ hours, or you can simply touch and feed them, which is less expensive. Booking is essential. (Telephone: 012 258-0423 / 0332)
Experience quality fly fishing in a peaceful and private environment. Wild small and large scale yellow fish are abundant in 8.5 kilometres of pristine Magalies River. The Magalies River Conservancy is situated close to the Magalies Village, 45 minutes from JHB and Pretoria. Equipment and experienced guides are available. (011 315-4503, Web address: www.sundowner.co.za, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Not only does Johannesburg boast some particularly fine golf courses, a number of which have hosted European PGA Tours and South African Sunshine Tour events, but Johannesburg is also an international business destination and South Africas financial capital. Johannesburg is on the routes of most major airlines and is close to South Africas national parks. So if youre on a business trip and would like a round of golf, Johannesburg is the perfect destination for you. You can play a round of golf with your clients or play a round on your own to pass the time pleasurably between business meetings. Johannesburg has a suitable climate for golfing and offers many challenging golf courses. (http://www.golfinginsouthafrica.co.za/courses/gauteng/gauteng.htm)
Enjoy our exciting variety of freshwater & tropical fish, crocodiles (Nile, slender-snout & dwarf, all indigenous to Africa), pelicans, seals, penguins and other aquatic animals. On weekends, we entertain you with our live pelican, seal, penguin and crocodile shows. The aquarium is complemented by a pet shop, specialising in the supply of indigenous fish (for the control of algae in ponds and dams), and a lovely tea garden. (Contact: Greg. Telephone: 012 259 0080, Cell Number: 082 469 2979)
Experience the excitement of a cable car trip on the longest mono cableway in Africa.
When riding the cable car you will experience uninterrupted views of the scenic splendour of Hartbeespoortdam, the most beautiful man made lake in Africa. Enjoy the tranquil surroundings whilst watching paragliders and hangliders soaring with the eagles.
Built on the farm Arendsnes (Eagles Nest), the cableway is situated on 150 hectares of indigenous bushveld and is the home of the endangered Black Eagle. The Fish Eagle and White Backed Vulture are regular visitors.
At the base station, a fully licensed a la carte restaurant offers country cuisine at its best. (Telephone: 012 253 1706, E-Mail: email@example.com)
We offer over 40km of riding trails on a cattle & crop farm nestled in the Magaliesberg mountain range - lasting from one hour to full day. For those not so keen on riding, we also offer walking/hiking/picnics and bird watching. Booking is essential. (Telephone: 014 577 3332)
Hot Air Ballooning
This is the ultimate air adventure. Experience the fascination of free flight with a panoramic view over scenic countryside. As you float along at tree top height, you may catch sight of a variety of wildlife and interact with the people below. For those tourists looking for something more daring to try, hot air ballooning may be just the thing for you. Clearly an adrenalin activity, nevertheless hot air ballooning is not as nerve racking as some of the other adrenalin activities available. (Air to Air Africa: Lanseria Airport, Telephone: 084 602 3491, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
A haven for endangered and exotic animals, a venue for musical concerts, or a pleasant park for a family picnic, the Johannesburg Zoo has served the residents of the city for 100 years. The large variety of animals includes rare white lions and highly endangered red pandas. The polar bear enclosure has a viewing tunnel where you can see the bears cavorting underwater (the zoo has the only two polar bears in Africa). (Opposite Zoo Lake, Jan Smuts Avenue. Telephone: 011 646 2000)
This centrally located planetarium, dating from 1960, has entertaining and informative programmes on the African skies and presentations that range from space travel to our neighbouring planets. Yale Road, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Telephone: 011 717 1392 or 011 717 1390)
Lesedi Cultural Village & African Lodge
Lesedi African Lodge is a multi cultural village set amongst the pristine bushveld and rocky hills less than an hours drive north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Live the Lesedi experience experience the vibrant and colourful traditions of the Basotho, Ndebele, Pedi, Xhosa and Zulu people on a short tour or even stay overnight at the Cultural Village. Be part of traditional Africa for just a short while. You will never forget it. The restaurant Nyama Choma serves a wonderfully variety of dishes. (Telephone: 012 205 1394, E-mail: email@example.com)
The Lion Park
The Lion Park offers terrific close up views and other experiences with lions, as well as rare white lions. Other large predators at the Lion Park include cheetahs, brown and spotted hyenas, wild dogs and jackals. The Lion Park is home to over 80 lions. One of the highlights of visiting the Lion Park is the opportunity to interact with the young animals. Facilities for families to braai and picnic make this a must for families with young children. Other facilities include a Curio shop, a restaurant and a snack kiosk. Superb filming and photographic opportunities are also possible. (Location: R114 near the corner with Hans Strijdom (R512) Honeydew. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Telephone: 011 460 1814)
Magaliesberg Canopy Tour
For an out of the ordinary experience, this exhilarating adventure offers a unique activity for teambuilding or for the sheer thrill of it. Glide like a bird over the treetops in the beautiful Ysterhout Kloof of the Magaliesberg range. 11 platforms set high on rock faces are linked by ten aerial slides up to 140m long in places and over 30m high above the tree canopy. The tour lasts for about 2.5 hours. Experienced guides ensure your safety as you discover interesting facts about the history of these ancient mountains and their indigenous plants and animals. (Telephone: 014 535 0150, E-mail: email@example.com, Web address: www.magaliescanopytour.co.za)
Take a relaxing train ride to Magaliesberg. Catch the train from Johannesburgs Park Station (Platform 13/14) on the first Sunday of every month. The diesel hauled train leaves at 9.15am and arrives at Magaliesberg at 11am. Braai packs and picnic hampers can be ordered in advance, which can be enjoyed in the grounds next to the Magaliesberg Country Hotel. (Telephone: 011 888-1154/5)
View the Magalies in style. Feel the freedom of flight from the open cockpit of the Thunderbird Microlight Aeroplane. This is a truly Aeropeutic experience. Booking is essential. (Davies Aircraft Corporation. Telephone: 011 952 1743, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web address: www.tde.co.za)
Out in the Country
The Magaliesberg area offers a wonderful arts and crafts route including fabulous food options, country getaways and wildlife. The Crocodile Ramble and the Magalies Meander are two well known tourist routes in the area. (Telephone: 014 577-1733/1845/1816, Web-address: www.magaliesmeander.co.za, E-mail: email@example.com)
Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is in the Bojanala Region of the North West Province. The Volcano that gave birth to a game reserve. The crater of a long extinct volcano is the setting of Pilanesberg National Park a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature. Pilanesberg has survived ages of erosion and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains. The early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park. The park exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as Bushveld. Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone. Springbok, brown hyena, the red eyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found in cohabitation with moist area limited impala, black eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees. The colourful hues, varied habitats and panoramas will delight and entertain photographers and visitors. (Telephone: 01455553547, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pretoria Zoo (National Zoological Gardens)
The citys zoo, covering nearly 200 acres, is considered one of the worlds best, with about 4,300 animals from almost every continent (including rare Komodo dragons). The animal enclosures here are much larger than those of most zoos. However, like any modern zoo worth its name, this is just the public facade for a much larger organization that specializes in the research and breeding of endangered species. It includes an aquarium (with Africas largest collection of freshwater fish) and reptile park, where the king crocodiles wont fail to intimidate you. A cable car transports you high above the zoo to a hilltop lookout. (Boom St., Tshwane, South Africa, Telephone: 012 328 3265, Web address: www.zoo.org.za)
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
The Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve is a privately owned, non-subsidized game reserve, covering approximately 1 100 ha on the typical Highveld of Gauteng. The reserve is situated in the Cradle of Humankind, a declared World Heritage Site, about 40 km northwest of Johannesburg and 60km west of Pretoria. Rhinos, lions, wild dogs, cheetahs, hippos, and crocodiles are among the animals you can see at the park. You can spot about 600 head of game, visit the lion, wild dog, and cheetah enclosures (be careful of lions approaching vehicles) or vulture blind, or be thrilled by live snake shows on weekends and holidays. You can also visit the endangered species breeding center (and the magnificent white lions) or cuddle a baby animal at the nursery for young orphaned animals. In addition to the self driving tour, you can book an escorted game drive or horseback ride. The visitors area has a kiosk, pool, the Croc Pub and Diner, 4x4 trails, and a curio shop. (Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai, Telephone: 011 957 0109, Web address: www.rhinolion.co.za)
Johannesburg is beyond any shadow of a doubt the shopping Mecca of South Africa, with great shopping malls situated all over Johannesburg. Sandton City is probably the best known of these, but there are a number of other malls where one can shop till you drop with every type of retail outlet available. For an equally exciting but very different shopping experience there is the Oriental Plaza, a true bargain hunter's paradise. (Sandton City: Telephone: 011 217 6000 E-mail: email@example.com. Eastgate: Telephone: 0800 454 863, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Oriental Plaza: 011 838 6752 E-mail: email@example.com. Northgate: 011 794 1687 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Montecasino: Telephone: 011 510 7777, E-mail: email@example.com)
Snake and Animal Park
The Snake and Animal Park is not big (you can walk through in less than two hours) but has more animals than you might think, including rare white lions, gray wolves, many primate species, and birds of prey. Its selection of reptiles is overwhelming. Snake cages line the walkways, containing anything from harmless little garden snakes to poisonous cobras and giant pythons. Keep an eye out for snake shows, especially on weekends. The park also runs a ferry restaurant on the dam and a tea garden. (1 Scott Street, Hartebeespoort, Telephone: 012 253-1162, Web address: www.hartbeespoortdam.com )
Sun City Resort
Sun City Resort has a unique heartbeat and an African rhythm of its own and is unlike any other Resort destination in the world. This is pure fantasy and your every desire is met. There are four world-class hotels including the magnificent Palace of the Lost City that glitters like a jewel beneath the African sun, brilliant in its rain forest surroundings and luxurious in its detail and design. (Sun City Resort, Telephone: 014 557 1000)
Johannesburg is a cultural visitors delight with a myriad of different theatres and live shows to choose from. Children are well catered for in this area too, with numerous childrens shows available, especially in the school holidays. (Web address: www.jhblive.co.za.)
A tour of Soweto is a must for anyone wanting to experience township life up close and personal. Visit Regina Mundi Church, Sharpeville Memorial Site, Nelson Mandelas home and/or stay for the night at any of Sowetos famous Bed and Breakfasts. There are also township tours offered in Alexandra as well as the keen hospitality offered by township dwellers around Tshwane. (Various companies offer these tours best to browse the Internet for information)
Valley of Waves Sun City
The Valley of Waves Water Park is a central feature of the Lost City. This R830 million African fantasy world immerses visitors in the atmosphere of an ancient, exotic civilization. The 18 hectare playground of the Valley has been described as the best in the world. The Valley of Waves recreates the mystery and marvels of an age old mythical civilization covering 25 hectares of exotic jungle, threaded with a wonderland of waterscapes, and adventure areas in the Valley that is the largest and most imaginative ever created. (Sun City Resort, Telephone: 014 557 1000)
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
An easy drive from Johannesburg, this well maintained nature reserve with over 600 species of flowering plants, 210 species of birds, as well as a number of reptiles and small mammals is a great venue for family outings. (Malcolm Road, Poortview, Roodepoort. Telephone: 011 958 1750, E-mail: SisuluGarden@sanbi.org)
Wonderboom Nature Reserve
Situated in the northern part of the city of Pretoria, and straddling the Magaliesberg Mountains, is the Wonderboom Nature Reserve, a 200 hectare reserve famous for its magnificent specimen of the Wonderboom. The Wonder tree is a wild fig (Ficus salicifolia) that grows at the foot of the northern slope of the Magalies Mountain area. The large Wonderboom fig tree at the Wonderboom Nature Reserve is more than 1 000 years old, and legend has it that it grew this big because the chief of an indigenous tribe lies buried beneath its roots. (Telephone: 012 341 0591)
World of Beer SAB
South African Breweries World of Beer is the fun filled showcase of brewing. Visit here for a uniquely memorable experience of the magic of beer and brewing and two ice cold frosties afterwards. South African Breweries multi million rand investment in the area helped lay the foundations for what has become the Newtown Cultural Precinct. Since opening its doors on 15 May 1995, the World of Beer has grown in stature and has become a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. From ancient Mesopotamia, through Africa and Europe, the tour unveils beers heritage all the way to a honky tonk pub of Johannesburgs mining camp days and a traditional Soweto shebeen. The greenhouse nurtures beers natural ingredients and a full scale brew house reveals the intricacies of the brewing process. (15 President Street, Johannesburg, Telephone: 011 836 4900)