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What to see and do in Johannesburg – a guide to notable attractions and activities

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Johannesburg’s attractions are more ample and varied than many realize, with all sorts of attractions dotted around the city.  World class wildlife roams in the national parks and zoos while the country’s rich history is constantly apparent in the many notable landmarks and museums.  Shoppers will delight in the diverse retail opportunities while outdoorsmen will have a ball at the various extreme sports venues.

Peter Thompson

My Destination local expert on

Johannesburg

Outdoor activities

 

Johannesburg is a city of extremes, and its activities are no different. In the Soweto neighborhood, for example, visitors can brave the heights and fling themselves from the colorfully graffitied Orlando Towers in a bungee jump. Swing through the treetops at one of the zip line courses with Ama Zwing Zwing or Magaliesberg Canopy Tour. If you’re after something a little gentler, the city has hot air balloon tours with Air Trackers that float seamlessly over the Pilanesberg National Park and surrounding city.

 

The Cradle of Humankind

 

Johannesburg’s beauty is far from skin deep, and the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is proof of that. The Sterkfontein Caves scientists have made many famous discoveries leading to the conclusion that this area is the place where Mankind actually originated. Regular tours take visitors down into the caves, finishing off along the boardwalk past the excavation site. A visit to the nearby Maropeng Visitor Centre, where the whole story of the fossil finds and the evolution of man is presented in beautiful displays and exhibitions.

 

Golf

 

Johannesburg is filled with golf courses for the keen visiting players, catering to all levels. The diverse topography of South Africa means that the courses are as beautiful as they are enjoyable. Undulating greens wrap around bushy hills, lakes and streams break up the courses, as do the tricky sand dunes that so often stumble players. The Lost City Gold Course in Pilanesberg is unique because of its remarkable location close to the Palace of the Lost City. If that wasn’t enough, tee off on the edge of the Nile crocodile infested pool at the 13th green.

 

City tours

 

Discovering Johannesburg’s many appeals is a large and exciting task. A popular method is recruiting the help of knowledgeable locals through city tours. In Soweto and Kliptown you can learn about the country’s history by discovering the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication and Mandela House, naming only a few. Instead of traveling by car, bicycle or walking tours are a fun alternative with an eco-friendly edge.

 

Wildlife and Nature

 

While thousands of tourists flock to Kruger National Park as if by automatic, Johannesburg itself actually has a number of wildlife parks that are certainly worth a visit. The Pilanesberg and Black Rhino Reserve is one of the country’s most acclaimed wildlife parks, situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, and is only a short drive from the city center. Zoos are another popular outing, from Predator World to the Lion Park and the Johannesburg Zoo.

 

Cultural villages

 

Visit a traditional tribal village to experience South Africa’s rich heritage. At the Lesedi African Lodge and Cultural Village in Broederstroom, for example, a variety of African tribes are showcased to the public through performances, interactions and accommodation. Traditional dances and singers provide a warm welcome before some refreshments quench your thirst ready for the tours of the five villages given by informative guides, and the night ahead.

 

Shopping

 

Johannesburg is full of unique shopping experiences. Browsing the outdoor markets, independent stores, local shopping areas, and of course the world-class shopping center, visitors will find it hard to choose between the thousands of retail choices: authentic African art and crafts pieces rival high quality jewelry, traditional dress contrasts the high street fashion and souvenirs beckon seductively from shop fronts.