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Johannesburg

Country
South Africa
State
Gauteng
City
Johannesburg
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Johannesburg (Jo'burg to the white population, E'Goli, the "city of gold", to the blacks), the third largest city in Africa, after Cairo and Alexandria, and the world's youngest city to pass the million mark, lies on the highveld, South Africa's central plateau, on the edge of the Witwatersrand, an 80km/50mi long range of hills, rich in minerals, which rises only 300m/1000ft above the surrounding country. Johannesburg is steadily expanding to join up with Pretoria to the north and the industrial towns of Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging to the south, together forming the province of Gauteng (until 1994 Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging, or PWV for short). The province, with only 2% of South Africa's total area, contains 25% of its population.

It is difficult to establish the exact population of Johannesburg. The white population has remained fairly constant for some years at around 500,000; estimates of the black population range widely between 1 and 2 million (excluding the black ghetto of Soweto, which was separated from Johannesburg in 1983 and has a population of at least 2 million).

Although many gold-mines in and around the city have been closed down, Johannesburg is still the financial and industrial metropolis of South Africa. Most of the country's leading industrial firms have their headquarters here, and 70% of South Africa's industrial production comes from the Witwatersrand area. The city's Stock Exchange is one of the busiest in the world.



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How to Reach

By Air

Johannesburg International Airport (JNB) is located 22kms to the east of the city and both domestic and international flights arrive here. The six terminal airport has a huge amount of traffic going all over the world, and is used by all the world’s leading carriers. On arrival at Johannesburg International, the city is accessible by both bus and taxi, though fares for the latter tend to fluctuate somewhat arbitrarily, so it may be advisable to agree on a fare before entering the vehicle.

By Rail

Trains arrive at the Central Train Station in the city centre. The station is quite safe, although travellers are advised against wandering around the city centre with loads of luggage. Daily services arrive at Johannesburg from Cape Town and Durban, while frequent metrorail trains run from Naledi (Soweto), Pretoria, Vereeniging, Springs, Randfontein, Carltonville and Oberholzer, and stations en-route. Train travel is reasonably comfortable, with a choice of four classes to suit all budgets.

By Bus

A number of bus companies provide transport in and out of Jo'burg including one that specialises in backpacker travel as well as the conventional private and government-owned lines. Most services, other than city-to-city buses or north-bound buses, tend to begin in Pretoria at the Pretoria Bus Station.

As well as the services leaving from Park Station in Johannesburg, you can also get adventurous and take minibus ‘taxis’ going in the direction of Kimberley, Cape Town and Upington from Wanderers Street, near Leyds Street. Bulawayo can be reached by minibus from St George Street, while Pretoria-bound taxis are found at Noord Street. Lesotho, Bloemfontein and other Free State destinations can be accessed from Noord Street, east of Joubert Park; and Durban taxis depart from near the corner of Wanderers and Noord Streets. Fares tend to go up and down in line with petrol prices.

By Car

Johannesburg connects with almost anywhere in South Africa by road. The country has by far the best network and standard of roads in Africa, and there are very few places where a four-wheel drive vehicle is required. Some main highway routes are the N1 from Cape Town and Harare (Zimbabwe); the N3 from Durban; the N4 all the way from Botswana; and the N12 from Kimberley.

Key places to visit
Lion Park, Soweto, Heia Safari Ranch, Rosebank Rooftop Market, Gold Reef City


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Places to Visit

Lion Park

The Lion Park can be explored on 10km/6mi of roads. Visitors can observe numerous animals from their cars, including lions, zebras, ostriches, wildebeests and various species of antelopes and gazelles.

Soweto

The rejuvenated Soweto is an increasingly popular attraction for tourists who are aware of its turbulent past and eager to see the transformation of today. Sights include the Constitutional Court, which was opened in 2004 in the notorious former prison known as The Fort. The city centre used to be notorious for violence, but surveillance has improved, with the buildings of the gold rush era and the view from the Carlton Tower now providing interesting sightseeing. The Market Theatre precinct and Museum of Africa are both fascinating, while Newtown, which is home to the Nelson Mandela Bridge, is also worth a visit. The Apartheid Museum is also here.

Heia Safari Ranch

Between Krugersdorp and Randburg is Honeydew, set in beautiful hilly country. Near the little town is the Heia Safari Ranch, where visitors can spend the night in luxuriously equipped rondavels or, more modestly, in reproductions of Zulu huts. Every Sunday there is a typical braai, when great quantities of meat are grilled over an open fire and there are performances of Zulu tribal dances (the Mzumbe Dance Show). The Zulus live in a reproduction of a Zulu village, which was inaugurated by King Zwelethini in 1988. Visitors not spending the night can go on a stalking tour, on which, with luck, they may see buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, rhinos and antelopes.

Rosebank Rooftop Market

Regarded by many as South Africa’s best flea market, the stalls and outlets here are busily frequented by both locals and tourists. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and things that are uniquely African. Over 500 trading stalls sell quality clothing, tasteful ceramics and excellent art and craft collectibles as well as antiques and jewellery. Jo’burg’s flea markets are awash with bargains and surprises, so if you are looking to pick up something to take home, Rosebank is a great place to look around.

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City is built around an authentic 19th century goldmine and serves primarily as an entertainment park and also as a popular casino. While failing somewhat to reach the standards of Disney-style theme parks, there are still an abundance of adventure rides and things to keep you well entertained. You may wish to take an underground tour into the mine itself, or partake in a spot of gold pouring. There are also a large amount of historical exhibits, a range of restaurants and a Victorian Hotel. Add to this, amusement rides to suit all ages, and Gold Reef City is sure to be a good bet for both families and adults travelling alone.

Right Time to Visit

August - October

Temperature

December - January -> 26(°C) - Summer
June - July -> 4(°C) - Spring


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