Johannesburg, often referred to as Jo’burg, is the largest city in South Africa and offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich and diverse culture. Here you can enjoy a vibrant nightlife, along with great outdoor adventures like river rafting, canoeing, micro light flying and wildlife encounters. Jo’burg’s many museums, galleries and theaters will thrill lovers of history, art and drama.
Here are some of the places to visit in Johannesburg:
Gold Reef City
This theme park at Crown Mines takes you back to the days of the Gold Rush in the early part of the 20th century. Everything here, from the attire of the hotel staff to the quaint streets and dwellings of miners, evokes the past. Gold Reef City has something for the whole family. There’s a casino, plenty of exhilarating rides for the kids, and a tour of the historic gold mine at a depth of 720 feet (220 metres) where you can watch molten gold being poured.
The Old Fort is actually a prison museum from the Apartheid era. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, two of the most famous freedom fighters the world has seen, spent time behind its walls.
The fort was designed in the 1890s by Colonel A.H. Schiel, who served the South African Republic. Originally, it was an armed garrison meant to maintain the peace amongst the city’s miners. It was converted into a prison after the Anglo-Boer War.
A Nature Reserve and National Heritage Site, Melville Koppies is the only place where you can see the beautiful ridges of Johannesburg, unmarked by the gold rush of 1886. The ridges are scenic with their indigenous trees, flowers and high veld grasses.
The site is three billion years old. Stone age tools found in this area reveal that Early Stone Age man lived here 250,000 years ago. On the northern slopes, you can see remnants of the kraal walls built by Iron Age immigrants.
These caves west of Johannesburg deserve to be called “the cradle of mankind.” A world heritage site, the caves have yielded remarkable discoveries such as the skull of the first complete Australopithecus which dates back to 2.5 million years and the 3.3 million-year-old skeleton of an ape-man.
Apart from these world-famous remains, numerous fossils of early man, animals and more than 9000 stone tools have been found in this region.
With its bird sanctuary and 135 meter-high balloon ride. Montecasino is well known as a place for family outings. There is an outdoor coffee house, slot machines, casino tables, shops and a multiplex offering movies in various languages.
An interesting feature of Montecasino is its false sky above a cluster of Italian-style buildings. You can spend an enjoyable half day here with your family.
For those who like to venture off the beaten track, there’s Kliptown, southwest of Johannesburg. It is the oldest section of Soweto and the locals call it “the mother of Soweto.” Kliptown has a colorful and unique multicultural community.
Freedom Square, where the Freedom Charter was signed, is now a heritage site known as the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. Here you will find a museum, boards with information about the charter and a monument dedicated to the charter.
Kliptown offers a glimpse of the real Africa. You may be able to watch the youth of Soweto enacting plays or taking part in dance routines at SKY, a youth center near the square. Founded in 1988 by Bob Nameng, the center enables children and young adults to participate in educational, sports and art programs.
Lesedi Cultural Village
This multi-cultural village surrounded by rocky hills lies north of Jo’burg in the bush veld. The village with its many tribal groups is only about an hour’s drive from the city.
This is the ideal place to catch a glimpse of the traditions and culture of the Zulu, the Xhosa, the Pedi and the Basotho tribes. You can join in the tribal dancing and sample the traditional cuisine of Africa.
About 45 minutes by car from Johannesburg, the Lion Park is a place where you can get really close to lions, zebras and giraffes. You could even fondle lovable lion cubs under the expert eyes of guides.
Be careful when you drive into the enclosures as the lions may be just two feet away from the vehicle. It is best to keep the windows up and hands inside when you take photographs. Afterwards, you can relax in the cafeteria and buy some souvenirs.
Discover the real Africa in Johannesburg where the history of the human race has come to light, wildlife abounds, and tradition and culture flourish.