Travel to venue, (Brainline, 215 Veronica Road, Montana, Pretoria) by:
Travel for sightseeing:
http://castandcatchcampingandfishing.co.za/ (gates close at 18h00 in the evening)
Overlooking the city of Pretoria stands the majestic Voortrekker Monument which is a South African National Heritage site and one of the country’s most visited historic monuments. It was built in 1949 to commemorate the Voortrekkers, the Boers who pushed northward into unknown territory in the mid 19th-century. This 40-meter-high square granite structure is a prominent landmark in the city with steps leading up to the Hall of Heroes where 27 marble reliefs depict the beginning of the Great Trek from the beginning of the Trek in 1835 through to the signing of independence of the Boers in 1852. This is the biggest marble frieze in the world. The focus of the monument is a cenotaph inscribed with the words “Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika” (“We are for you, South Africa”). Every year at noon on the 16th of December a ray of light shine onto the cenotaph, a symbol of God’s blessing on the boers. Museum exhibits depict snapshots of life during this important period.
Sitting on Salvokop Hill with panoramic views, Freedom park is a site of remembrance where South Africa honors those who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for freedom. The site opened to the public in 2007 and encompasses a series of poignant memorials and an impressive museum with exhibits examining the nation’s history. The site overlooks the nearby Voortrekker Monument and other key landmarks of the city below. A highlight is the Wall of Names, inscribed with the names of all those who lost their lives in South Africa’s major conflicts; an eternal flame; and the Gallery of Leaders, an inspirational look at role models on the road to freedom. Guided tours take about two hours and provide fascinating insight to the stories represented here as well as the symbolic features of the architecture.
Official site: http://www.freedompark.co.za/
Set in beautiful gardens, the Union Buildings command the highest point of the city on Meintjieskop Hill near the historic Church Square, site of the city’s first settlement. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in 1913, this impressive range of sandstone buildings mixes Italian Renaissance, English Renaissance, and Cape Dutch styles. It’s the seat of government and also houses the offices of the president and the state archives. In the gardens, which slope down in terraces to Church Street, are the Delville Wood Memorial, commemorating the South African soldiers who fell in the First World War; statues of the South African prime ministers Louis Botha, J. B. M. Hertzog, and J. C. Smuts; as well as a nine-meter-tall statue of Nelson Mandela. Visitors come here to stroll among the gardens, ogle the architecture, and admire the city views. It is also the site where former President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration took place in 1994.
Address: Arcadia Park, Church Street, Pretoria
Church square & Paul Kruger Statue
Church Square in Pretoria was the site of the city’s first church, built in 1855. During its early years, the square was used as a marketplace and sports field. Today Church Square is a relaxing spot for visitors who adore 19th-century and early 20th-century architecture, as well as those who just want to enjoy a day out with the family. The square is surrounded by numerous historical buildings, including the Palace of Justice where former president Nelson Mandela and several African National Congress comrades were charged and tried for treason during the infamous Rivonia Trial. On the southern side of the square lies the Old Raadsaal (Old Government) and the Old Capitol Theater which is linked to Cafe Riche – the oldest cafe and bistro in Pretoria. Former President Paul Kruger’s large bronze statue sits at the Center of the Square. Wealthy industrialist Sammy Marks commissioned Anton van Wouw to sculpt it in 1896.
Address: Church and Paul Kruger street, Pretoria
Pretoria National Botanical Garden
The Pretoria National Botanic Garden, in the city’s eastern suburbs, is a peaceful oasis close to the city. The 76-hectare gardens spotlight South African species with more than half the country’s tree species as well as many flowering plants, cycads, aloes, and other impressive collections. A quartzite ridge slices the park into two sections, with vegetation in the warmer north-facing half contrasting with that in the colder south-facing section. The plants are grouped according to their climatic region, such as the savannas of the Karoo, coastal forests, and the grassland plains of Namibia. Paved nature trails lead through the natural vegetation of the rocky ridge above the garden. Also on the grounds, the National Herbarium is home to the largest collection of plant specimens in South Africa with more than a million species cataloged and stored here. After exploring the lovely gardens, visitors can enjoy a meal at the lakefront restaurant.
Official site: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/pretoria
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, better know as the Pretoria Zoo was established in 1899. The zoo is considered by many to be one of the top zoos in the world. Spanning 85 hectares and housing more than 8000 animals, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa provides a full day of animal fun for the family. This large zoo encompasses a walk-through aviary, a reptile house with a collection of animals from all over the world, as well as the country’s only inland aquarium where visitors can see many species of fish including ragged tooth sharks. Among the large mammal collection, highlights include the lion and tiger exhibit, hippos, and elephants. Navigate the zoo’s various paths by renting a golf cart, ride the cable way for a bird’s eye view, or stroll along the paths for a close-up look at the animals; wear comfortable shoes as the grounds are expansive. Night visits and overnight camping adventures are also available.
Official site: http://www.nzg.ac.za
Kruger House Museum
The Kruger House was built in 1884 for Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal between 1883 and 1900. The house has been restored to capture the atmosphere of what it was like to live during that era. The house was one of the first homes in Pretoria to have electricity and has been graced with the presence of many famous personalities such as Cecil John Rhodes and Mark Twain.
Located 20 minutes’ drive east of Tshwane, the mining town of Cullinan is home to the Premier Diamond Mine, also known as the Cullinan Mine following the discovery in 1905 of the largest rough diamond in history. The Great Star of Africa, a pear-shaped diamond of 530.20 carats, is the largest of the nine stones fashioned from the Cullinan diamond, and is the second largest cut diamond in the world. It is set in the scepter of the Crown Jewels and is housed along with other royal jewels in the Tower of London. The mine is the third richest diamond producer in South Africa and its functioning open pit is four times larger than the well-known Big Hole in Kimberley. Daily tours of the mine are open to the public and explore both underground and surface operations including the mine shaft, hoist room, big hole and the display room. This mining town has a main street filled with restaurants in beautiful old buildings reminiscent of mining town culture in the early 19th century
Dinokeng Game Reserve
The Dinokeng Game reserve in Tshwane is located just north of the city and about an hour’s drive from OR Tambo Airport. The malaria free game reserve is the only big 5 game reserve in the province with free roaming lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah and buffalo. It is also home to other species of game such as kudu, giraffe, blue wildebeest and many more. Dinokeng translates as ‘place of rivers’ lies between rivers, and because of all the water and wetlands the game reserve has an abundance of bird life for bird watching enthusiasts. The game reserve has about 30 lodges and ranches that offer accommodation, game drives and bush walks. The accommodation varies from camping to five-star lodging. There is an array of activities available within the game reserve including game drives, hiking, horse riding, hot air balloon rides and spa treatments
Overlooking the city of Johannesburg, Constitution Hill is a former prison, which provides fascinating insight into South Africa’s history. At the site, you can explore exhibits at the Number Four museum, the Women’s Gaol museum, and the Old Fort museum. Together, the precinct was once known as The Fort, and it forged a reputation for its brutal treatment of political prisoners, common criminals, and passive resistors; famous former prisoners include Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Today, the old Awaiting Trial building has been transformed into the Constitutional Court of South Africa, a symbol of freedom that works to protect the rights of all the nation’s people. The court welcomes visitors who want to attend hearings and watch the judicial process. Guided tours of Constitutional Hill offer valuable insight into its rich history.
Official Site: https://www.constitutionhill.org.za/
The Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum graphically portrays the apartheid story through photos, artifacts, newspaper clippings, personal accounts, and film footage. The sights and sounds of the apartheid era assail visitors as they move through the thought-provoking permanent exhibits on a journey through South Africa’s history. Paths follow the country through decades of oppression to the birth of democracy. Reserve at least two hours and preferably longer to get the most out of a visit here. Those interested in learning more about South Africa’s struggle for freedom, should also visit Liliesleaf Farm Museum, the former center for the leaders of the liberation movement
Official site: http://www.apartheidmuseum.org
Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City, eight kilometers from the city center, takes you back to the gold rush days through a series of thrilling theme park rides and historical exhibits. This family-friendly attraction hosts reproductions of buildings and businesses from the era, and you can also tour a disused shaft of the Crown Mines, one of the richest gold-mines in the world. Children love the exhilarating theme-park rides. The park also offers dedicated rides for young children, as well as a petting zoo. Putt-putt golf, sideshow games, and gold panning round out the adventures. Visitors can also stay overnight in the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel.
Official site: https://www.tsogosun.com/gold-reef-city-casino
Soweto & the Mandela Museum
Soweto (an abbreviation for Southwestern Townships) lies 20 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg. This was an area of planned segregation, where black laborers were housed far from the city center, many in shacks made of corrugated iron. It was also the birthplace of the struggle for democracy. In 1976, the Soweto Uprisings sought to overthrow the apartheid state and spread from there to the rest of the country. Today you can see a land of contrasts. Mansions have sprouted up among the shanties, and the democratic government is trying to establish much-needed infrastructure and green spaces. A popular attraction to visit is the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which honors the brave students who protested apartheid during the Soweto Uprisings, some of whom were shot by police, including the museum’s namesake, who was only 12 years old. The easiest — and safest — way to experience Soweto is on a full-day Soweto City and Apartheid Museum tour. You can also take the Johannesburg city sightseeing bus with Soweto tours.
The Maboneng Precinct
The vibrant Maboneng Precinct is a fantastic example of a successful mixed-use urban renewal project. Once a rather run-down neighborhood, Maboneng, meaning “place of light,” now fizzes with life. Funky restaurants, cafes, art galleries, shops, hotels, and entertainment venues mix smartly with residential buildings. A top attraction here is the weekly Market on Main with food from all over the continent. Arts on Main and Revolution House are two of the first developments where warehouses are transformed into artists’ studios, galleries, and shops. Other developments host Bioscope, an independent cinema; a community center; designer hotels; and boutiques. This is a wonderful area to wander around, feel the vibe of the city, and grab a bite to eat or a cool drink.
Official site: http://www.mabonengprecinct.com/
Lion & Safari Park Day Trip
At the Lion & Safari Park, you can get up-close with some of Africa’s famous wildlife less than an hour’s drive from downtown Johannesburg. Animal interactions are the highlight here. You can cuddle a lion cub, take the Cheetah Walk, and hand feed giraffes. Self-guided tours are permitted, but you can also join a guided game drive in the park’s vehicles to see lions, cheetahs, zebras, ostriches, wild dogs, hyenas, and various species of antelope. Night time feeding tours and river rafting tours are other popular things to do. Make sure you adhere to all safety regulations and keep your windows up when driving through the park.
Official site: http://www.lionandsafaripark.com/
The Cradle of Humankind
About an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most productive and important paleo-anthropological areas. One of the top attractions here are the Sterkfontein stalactite caves, which consist of six linked underground chambers with a lake at a depth of about 40 meters. Archaeological excavations here unearthed the skull of a humanoid creature known as Australopithecus africanus, estimated to be two million years old, called “Mrs Ples,” and in 1998, scientists discovered a skeleton that dates the presence of early humans in the valley at 3.5 million years ago. Stop by the Maropeng Visitor Centre to view related exhibits and learn more about this fascinating site.
Official site: https://www.maropeng.co.za/
Pilanesberg National Park
An easily accessible 2.5-hour drive from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park is one of the most popular game reserves in South Africa. You have a chance to see Africa’s Big Five here (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino), and the park is known for its extraordinarily rich ecosystems and diversity of wildlife, thanks to its location in a transition zone between the lush Lowveld vegetation and the parched Kalahari desert. Apart from the Big Five, the park is also home to African wild dogs, sable antelope, zebras, and more than 300 species of birds. Strategically placed photographic hides make it easier to capture close-up photos. To get the most out of a day trip to the park, it’s a good idea to sign up for the full-day Pilanesberg National Park private tour from Johannesburg. An experienced guide will take you into the park for both a morning and afternoon game drive, tracking the animals you most want to see and sharing fascinating details about the wildlife and unique ecosystems along the way.
Official Site: https://www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org/
Lesedi Cultural Village
Situated within the Cradle of Humankind, a visit to South Africa would certainly be incomplete without a visit to Lesedi – the cradle of living African culture. In an informative and entertaining way, Lesedi provides the visitor with a better understanding of the rich cultural background of the traditional peoples of South Africa. Representatives of the various tribes facilitated the design of the cultural villages to ensure a historically representative portrayal of the cultures, highlighting aspects of the traditional way of life. Members of these historic communities live at Lesedi and continue to breathe life into their fascinating cultures.