Johannesburg, also known as Jo'burg, Jozi, and EGoli, the "city of gold," is South Africa's financial and industrial metropolis, founded on a rich history of gold mining.
Lion Park, Image Credit/Leighton Robinson/Unsplash
The city hasn't always been the most welcoming to visitors, but everything is changing gradually. Johannesburg is currently undergoing an urban renaissance, so now is an excellent time to visit the city.
South Africa is famed for being Nelson Mandela's home or for its incredible museums. There are attractions in Johannesburg, such as Lion Park and Gold Reef City Theme Park, that would change anyone's mind about the city being only for history lovers.
South Africa recently has implemented a Traveller Health Questionnaire to Enter South Africa to protect foreign visitors and citizens from COVID-19.
The Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum, a sobering reminder of South Africa's not-too-distant past, is one of the most important places to see in Johannesburg. Through photos, artifacts, newspaper clippings, terrifying personal accounts, and film footage, the Apartheid Museum graphically depicts the apartheid story. Tourists can experience the sights and sounds of the apartheid era as they move through the thought-provoking permanent exhibits on an emotional journey to South Africa's most significant history. You will witness how paths lead from decades of oppression to the birth of democracy in the country.
Such an important museum generally requires at least two hours of your time. If you are eager to know more about South Africa's struggle for freedom, you can visit the Liliesleaf Farm Museum, a former headquarters for liberation movement leaders.
Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City, located eight kilometers from the city center, carries visitors back to the days of the gold rush through a series of thrilling theme park rides and historical exhibits. It is, in fact, a former gold mine that was closed in 1971, and the theme park was built in its place. The giant wheel of the park provides an excellent view of the city skyline and Soccer City.
The Trampoline Park, ten-pin bowling alley, and thrilling theme-park rides, such as the twisting and turning Anaconda roller coaster, are popular with kids. A petting zoo and dedicated rides for young children are also available at the park. In addition, there is gold panning and putt-putt golf, casino, as well as other sideshow games and entertainment.
In fact, you can stay overnight at the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel. This is one of the best Johannesburg vacation ideas, where there are so many things to do.
A visit to Lion Park is a must for anyone interested in animals and wildlife. It's also one of the cool places in Johannesburg to take the family. The Lion Park is the ideal place to get up close and personal with magnificent beasts. In fact, the 500-acre park is home to around 80 animals, including rare white lions! Aside from Lions, visit the park to see jackals, hyenas, painted hunting dogs, and antelope.
In this family-friendly park, kids will enjoy being able to cuddle a lion cub, feed a giraffe, and walk along the cheetah walk. A self-guided tour is available, but a guided game drive through the park is even better. You can try your hand at river-rafting and night-time feeding adventure as well.
The Cradle of Humankind
About an hour's drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world's most productive and important paleo-anthropological areas. This 180-square-mile site contains the oldest hominid fossils ever discovered, and it is possible that this is where the human race originated.
The Sterkfontein stalactitic caves, which consist of six linked underground chambers with a lake at a depth of about 40 meters, are one of the top attractions here. Archaeological excavations discovered the skull of a humanoid creature known as Australopithecus africanus, estimated to be two million years old, dubbed "Mrs. Ples." In 1998, scientists found a skeleton dating the presence of early humans in the valley to 3.5 million years ago. Visit the Maropeng Visitor Center to see related exhibits and learn more about this fascinating location.
Pilanesberg National Park
The Pilanesberg National Park, which is only a 2.5-hour drive from Johannesburg's city center, is one of South Africa's most famous game reserves. Aside from providing wildlife enthusiasts with the opportunity to see Africa's Big Five, the park is also one of the most Instagram-worthy places in Johannesburg due to its vibrant ecosystems, diverse wildlife, and lush location smack dab in the middle of the Lowveld vegetation and the Kalahari Desert.
This park is home to lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalos, and leopards, as well as African wild dogs, zebras, sable, antelopes, and more than 300 bird species. However, don't rely solely on the photographic hides presented here. You must choose the full-day Pilanesberg National Park private tour with an experienced safari guide if you want to see most of the animals at the right place and right time.