Located in the province of Gauteng – a Sesotho word meaning “place of gold” – Johannesburg is the glittering city of gold, and where your flight to South Africa is likely to arrive, so spending a couple of days enjoying all this vibrant and exciting city has to offer is worth considering. It is the main hub to reach Cape Town or the Greater Kruger area through its international airport, OR Tambo International Airport.
Johannesburg is a vast, multicultural city and is the most populous one in South Africa. Created in 1886, following the discovery of gold on a farm, it has since grown into an economic, financial, and cultural hub. It’s a hip and happening place with excellent theaters, live music venues, and great markets too. The city was founded in 1886 after a gold reef was discovered. Some attractive yellow mine dumps are still visible. Revitalization schemes have created great pockets of culture with cafes, museums, markets, and inner-city living. It’s also one of the greenest cities in the world, and the suburbs turn glorious purple in November when avenues of jacaranda trees bloom. It is characterized by a cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life.
Key attractions in the area are the Sterkfontein caves near Krugersdorp, the site of the discovery of the skull of the famous ‘Mrs. Ples’, an estimated 2,5-million-year-old hominid fossil, and ‘Little Foot’, an almost complete hominid skeleton of more than 3.3 million years old.
A guided tour of Soweto leaves a lasting impression of this vast community’s life and struggle against apartheid and The Apartheid Museum tells the story of the legacy of apartheid through photographs, film, and artifacts.
Discover the home Nelson Mandela lived in before and after (just for 11 days) imprisonment. A noteworthy feature, are bullet holes and fire damage left by petrol bombs used during police raids are still visible.
To learn more about this period of South Africa’s history visit the Apartheid Museum for a sobering look at South Africa’s turbulent past. This museum, created in 2001, shows the rise and fall of the Apartheid, a system of social segregation, politic and economic discrimination that emerged in South Africa in 1948 and lasted until early 1990s. This is a ‘must do’ to understand not only the city of Johannesburg but the whole of South Africa.
From Constitution Hill you will discover a stunning view of the city as well as have an opportunity to visit the prison where a number of opponents battling Apartheid were held prisoners. A museum is available on site and the Constitutional Court is open to the public.
Just 90 minutes from Johannesburg, The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was named for the 15 fossils sites of the area that have produced more hominin fossils than any other site in the world! You can explore Sterkfontein Caves, home of the famous ‘Mrs. Ples’, the most complete skull of Australopithecus Africanus ever found in South Africa, and ‘Little Foot’, a nearly complete Australopithecus fossil skeleton found in 1994. Also popular is Cooper’s Cave, a museum displaying hundreds of fossils.
Johannesburg is a fantastic golf destination! Choosing which courses to play will be a more difficult decision to make than your club selection on the 1st tee. Two courses you must play are the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate course designed by the one and only Jack Nicklaus and the challenging Dainfern Estate course designed by golfing legend, Gary Player.
A stay in Johannesburg provides visitors the opportunity to visit Soweto. Soweto stands for South Western Township and was originally distinct from Johannesburg, populated mainly by native African workers from the gold mining industry. These non-white areas during the Apartheid were the epicenter of conflicts between governments and black communities.
Soweto is highly symbolic of the anti-Apartheid era, and now offers attractions such as the Nobel Laureate Walk, a unique street in the world as 2 Nobel prizes laureates lived here: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. In this vibrant neighborhood you will also find The Nelson Mandela National Museum and the Orlando Towers, from which you can bungee jump! Also in Soweto is the Hector Pietersen Museum and Memorial and much more.
Soweto will redefine your preconceptions of townships and is a must see!
The city is a great all-year destination. Situated on the Eastern plateau of South Africa, Johannesburg’s temperature tends to stay mild throughout the year thanks to its elevation – the city peaks at 5,751 feet above sea level.
Winter, from May to September, is dry and the average maximum temperature at this time is around 61°F. Night can get quite chilly and occasionally go below freezing, however snow is a rare occurance.
Summer, from October to April, has temperatures rising to a maximum average of 78.1 °F during the daytime. In the afternoon thundershowers are quite common and evenings are cooler. Be careful of the sun though – because of it’s height, the city escapes burning hot temperature but the UV index is very high!
Pack casual and light clothes as the weather is generally warm, and don’t forget a jacket for cooler evenings. An umbrella can be useful during summer months!