8 minutes reading time South Africa
Johannesburg, the epicenter of Africa‘s economy, was first discovered in 1884 when Jan Gerrit Bantjes unearthed gold on a farm called, Vogelfontein. As soon as the news broke, miners from across the globe stormed down to South Africa. In 1886 they declared the land a mining camp and not long after a municipality was born. Each culture brought with them their own skills and mannerisms. With a diverse society they combined their skills and tactics and started building a community. Because of the law of apartheid, people with a different culture to the “norm” had to find shelter further away from the center, and so various outskirt townships where formed.
In 1928 it was declared a city, that made Johannesburg the largest city in South Africa. Today Johannesburg houses more than 4 million people. Johannesburg consist of the Central Business District (CBD), Sandton, Rosebank and Roodepoort. Some tend to include Benoni and Germiston as well.
Johannesburg boasts a vibrant art and theater scene. Not originally known as a tourist destination, the near by airport created this opportunity as all tourist coming to South Africa stops over in Johannesburg. This created a need for a specific attraction. Art and theater was already huge amongst the locals. The City of Johannesburg had no problem advertising its art and theater to the world. Where ever you go you will find a local artist selling handcrafted art.
Your first stop, The Carlton Centre, 50 floors high in the south-eastern area of the CBD, has an observation deck on the top floor. Here you can look out over Johannesburg and get a feel for the city and the wonders it holds. On a clear day you will be able to see as far as the available telescopes can take your eye, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of Johannesburg and its surroundings.
Here are some spots to stop at on your journey through South Africa.
As you enter the museum that is located next to Gold Reef City, just a short ride from the city center in the Ormando area, you will see, The Pillars of the Constitution. One pillar for each of the seven values that forms the South African Constitution: democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect and freedom.
The ticket you purchase will randomly divide you into two groups that leads you through the exhibits separately. This aspect of the museum was added to enhance the feeling of segregation that was the groundwork of the apartheid era.
The museum exhibits tell the story of the unjust that was the leading norm in this era. An era that has brought many people together to fight for a cause that will bring equality to all.
A full tour of the Apartheid Museum will take a small group more or less two hours. Afterwards you can walk across to Gold Reef City theme park. There you will find a theme park build around the history of Johannesburg and the discovery of gold. There you will find an abundance of fun rides to choose from for all ages and fast food stands to fill the empty tummies after all the excitement.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is located in the Hillbrow district , Joubert Park, surrounded by an assortment of diversified galleries. The building was completed in 1915 and consists of 15 exhibition halls and sculpture gardens that houses over 9 000 art pieces. You will come across works from artist stretching from the 17th-century right through to modern day artist. Work from all over the world is on display here, in all shapes and sizes.
The contemporary South African collection is the largest and comprises of; photography, installations, new media and digital works, paintings, sculptures, prints and ceramics. It includes work by renowned artists such as; William Kentridge, Tracey Rose, Jane Alexander, Robin Rhode and Jackson Hlungwani. In the gallery you will also see the Brenthurst Collection that is on permanent loan together with the Collection of Headrests by Jacques.
If history and art is an attraction for you, it would be best to take an entire day and visit not only JAG (Johannesburg Art Gallery) but also visit the surrounding galleries. You will meet local artist creating the most unique art pieces you can find all in one area.
Cradle of Human Kind
The Cradle of Humankind, a world heritage site. Known as the Sterkfontein fossils/caves, located north-west of Johannesburg center, owns most of the continents richest hominoids and produced the first adult Australopithecus africanus and the first near-complete skeleton of an early Australopithecine. There has also been discoveries of ancient tools used for hunting, building and various other tasks. You can find a cornered off area that is open to visitors that finds archeological digging interesting.
You might also enjoy other attractions around this area such as the Lesedi Cultural Village, Hiking Trials, or Zip-lining down the Magalies mountains. You can stop over in Hartbeespoort Dam for great entertainment and good authentic South African food.
Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct
The Human Rights Precinct, Constitution Hill, is the house of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. It wasn’t always a place of peaceful discussions. This museum tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past.
School children from Soweto took to the streets on a cold winter’s day, in Orlando on the 16th of June 1976, to rise up against the apartheid government, reminding the world of apartheid’s brutal oppression. This flung South Africa into the stormy 1980s, that saw to apartheid rapidly unwinding.
Wild Life Reserves
Lion and Safari Park
A little bit further away from Johannesburg city center, around the corner of Cradle of Human Kind, you can find, The Lion and Safari Park. They offer a wealth of exciting activities such as animal interactions, guided game drives and self-drives. This park is home to a broad selection of indigenous species such as Lions (Brown and White), Cheetahs, Hyenas (Brown, Spotted and Striped), Leopards (including black leopard), Wild Dogs, Sable Antelopes, Kudus, Nyalas and many more.
A perfect day out for the entire family. The one-on-one interaction with these free spirited animals will be a day to remember. The tour guides are well trained and will be able to answer any questions you might have in regards to wild life in South Africa. You can end your day with an authentic South African dish at any of their restaurants. The Lion and Safari Park has made sure that you will remember your visit, they have arrange for photographers to be present at all times to capture that perfect interactive moment.
Johannesburg Zoo is located on the outskirt of the CBD area. The 200 acres that was gifted to the Johannesburg Town Council was developed into the Johannesburg Zoo, Zoo Lake and the South African National Museum of Military History in the early 1900’s. The first animals where donated shortly there after by a gentleman called, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick. Over the years more animals where donated and more enclosures where build for these animals.
Today you can find 326 different species here, 20 species of frogs, 5 of spiders, 128 of birds, 47 of reptiles, 25 of fish and 101 of mammals. This land is still owned by the City of Johannesburg and new animals are brought in all the time. You can also learn more about the breading projects that is taking place in this incredible zoo.
Emperors Palace is a proud casino and resort formed by the Peermont Group. Situated next to the Johannesburg Airport, this casino host a variety of slot machines, gaming tables and enough opportunities to walk out a winner. Gaming at Emperors includes friendly table rules, strategy cards and brochures that will teach you how to play. Emperors Palace has the widest range of slot denominations ranging from 10c to R500. The minimum bet range on the tables are, R5 on Roulette and R25 on Blackjack, R50 on Poker and R100 on Punto Banco.
Emperors Palace is renowned for its luxurious hotel and suits. There you will find a 5-star hotel, D’Oreale Grande, a 4-star hotel, Mondior, and a 3-star hotel and suits, Metcourt. You have the freedom to either dine at your hotel or take a stroll down the streets of The Palace to any of the restaurants. The interior design portrays cobble stone walk ways and painted cloud roofs, you get the feeling that you are outside on a sunny day listening to the endless conversations of people passing by.
There is never a dull moment in The Palace, both for adults and kids. With game rooms for the kids and the casino for the adults, Emperors Palace can be a day outing for the entire family.
MonteCasino a Southern Sun owned entertainment resort is situated in the Fourways areas. The hotel and casino offers guests not only the finest service and amenities, but access to a world of exploration, entertainment, and indulgence.
The design was inspired by the 15th-century Palazzo Corsini villa in Italy’s idyllic mountain region of Gianicolo, the hotel is the perfect blend of highly decorated innovation and old-world Venetian charm coupled with the modern convenience expected at a Southern Sun hotel.
The entertainment area is breath-taking experience. An entire neighborhood modeled after the romance and the charm of old Italy, with an almost endless array of shops, restaurants, theaters, and specialty stores.
South Africa is a country like non other. If you are planning your trip to this beautiful country then make sure that you spend at least 2 to 3 days in Johannesburg. You will find many tours open to all ages that can show you the many wonders of this city and the surrounding.