Johannesburg is a very good starting point for discovering South Africa. We have previously covered Soweto, a township in the suburb of Johannesburg in Gauteng. There are also plenty of fascinating places and attractions which make for good day trips from the South Africa’s biggest city. In this post, we present interesting attractions (Lion & Safari Park, Cradle of Humankind, Voortrekker Monument and the Union Buildings) which can be easily reached within a couple of hours via car.
1. Lion & Safari Park
The park is one of the top tourist attractions in Gauteng which features close interactions with wildlife including caged bus tours, self-drives, animal feeding and bush walks. We had the opportunity to experience lion cub interactions when we last visited the park but the management banned and reintroduced this (flip-flop) due to controversy. If cub interaction is important to you, be sure to contact the Park to make sure it is still allowed. Safari tours can be booked from these two links: 1. Rhino and Lion Park Guided Tour from Pretoria, Thurs & Sun (USD 71). 2. Safari Experience at Rhino & Lion Park (USD 101).
Besides the cub interaction, the other highlight of our visit is the caged vehicle tours to the lion enclosure where we saw lions feeding and fighting among themselves. We captured a video of the fighting lions which was posted on our Instagram page. Be sure to follow the rules as there had been reports of tourists getting attacked.
2. Cradle of Humankind (Maropeng Visitor Centre)
The Maropeng Visitor Centre is the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The site is consisted of several dolomitic limestone caves containing the fossillised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and hominids. The Sterkfontein Caves located within the centre provide access with walkways and a boardwalk across excavation sites. There are also a science centre as well as underground boat facility in the visitor centre. A guided tour (USD 87) can be booked here (pickup at hotel).
3. Voortrekker Monument
The massive Voortrekker Monument, a prominent landmark, is situated south of Pretoria. The granite structure, which is located on a hill, was built to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854. It features a garden and great panoramic views of the surrounding area from the top of the monument. Online tickets can be bought via this link. Alternatively, one can book the half-day Pretoria tour (USD 73) which includes visits to the monument as well as other landmarks such as the Union Buildings, etc.
4. The Union Buildings
The expansive Union Buildings in Pretoria houses the administrative offices of the Union of South Africa. It is situated on Meintjieskop and overlooks the City – a giant statue of Nelson Mandela is located within the premise.
A visit to South Africa would not be complete without indulging in South Africa’s distinct bbq culture (braai). Traditional braai is cooked on local wood, such as kameeldoring wood, instead of coal or gas to give the meat a distinct flavour. Another braai distinctive food is ‘braaibroodjie’ – a grilled sandwich filled with meat from the braai as well as salad, cheese and sweet chutney.