Gauteng: Cultural Tour of Johannesburg, Pretoria and surrounding areas, with some wildlife and action adventure

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Specialist Tours use these two main centers as basis to carefully plan all tours from. We recommend that overseas guests fly into South Africa at one of these two cities, and out of South Africa from the other one. That enable us to plan a tour for you where you can see most of the prime destinations. Though it involves a fair amount of travelling, we will plan it in such a way that you maximize your adventure, site seeing and experiences, and can still relax, have a holiday, and not only a race against time and travel distance.

Prices are subject to availability and can change without prior notice.

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The tour is mainly a cultural tour of Johannesburg, SOWETO and Pretoria. We will also visit the nearby Cradle of Human kind and Sterkfontein caves, only 50km to the West, Cullinan with the diamond mine less than 50 km to the East, and a Game drive in one of the Game Parks in the area.

Day 1: Arrival and SOWETO

Specialist Tours will pick you up from OR Tambo airport, or any other destination where you might be within Johannesburg or Pretoria.
On the 1st day, we will visit SOWETO. Soweto was originally an acronym for South Western Townships, and comprises a number of townships, which developed into a city as a result of policy of territorial and political segregation. It now consists of about 28 townships, and a population of more than 7 million people. One such mushrooming Township, Orlando produced new leaders during the 1940’s, including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu
Places that will be visited in SOWETO include:
• The Regina Mundi church is the largest Roman Catholic church in South Africa. Regina Mundi means Queen of the world and refers to the Virgin Mary. The church was built in 1961, and officially opened on 24 July 1962. The church wrote its name in the history books in the apartheid era, and specific during the June 16 riots when students fled from the Orlando stadium and looked for shelter from the police shooting in the church. Police followed them in, and fired shots in the church, some of the damage and bullet holes can still be seen in the church.
• Kliptown and Freedom square, where the freedom charter for the democratic South Africa of the future was adopted in 1955, by this new ANC leadership.
• The Morris Isaacson school, from where students marched down Vilakazi street to protest against the use of Afrikaans at schools on 16 June 1976, leading to the killing of Hector Peterson and Hastings Ndlovu. The photo taken by Sam Nzima, of the fatally wounded Peterson being carried from the scene, appeared throughout the world, and he became the symbol of the massacre and in a sense of the struggle for freedom.
• Mandela Family home in Vilakazi street SOWETO, where Nelson and his wife Winnie spent some of the short time they were able to live together as a family.
• Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s home, Vilakazi street SOWETO, only 3 houses from that of Nelson Mandela. This make it the only street in the world where 2 Nobel prize winners stayed. Bishop Tutu is internationally known as a stalwart anti-apartheid cleric and played a roll in some of the toughest events around communication and reconciliation.
• The Hector Peterson Memorial. The 1976 Soweto Students uprising, which was specific against the law of governing schooling and education and lead to the shooting of Hector Peterson, created an indelible image worldwide and turned the tide of South African history.
Overnight at Klein Kaap or Le Riba Lodge in Centurion

Day 2: Cradle of Human kind and Sterkfontein caves

We will leave after breakfast and after yesterday’s “City Tour” today we head out into more country area to the west to the Cradle of Human kind and the Sterkfontein caves.
The cradle of Human kind is a unique location, blessed with a greater wealth of the prehistory of humankind than almost any other place on earth. It is a have to visit, that will give you an incredible picture of pre-historic life, not only relevant to South Africa, but many theories about pre historic mankind start here.
Officially called the Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs World Heritage Site, the Cradle contains more than 12 major fossil sites and dozens of minor ones that present us with an intriguing mixture of mystery and revelation about much of our ancient past.
Beneath the 2,6 billion- year old dolomitic hills found in the Cradle of Humankind, lies a series of extensive underground caverns. These geological time capsules have preserved the fossil remnants of tens of thousands of extinct animals, as well as the bones and cultural remains of our own ancestors, the hominids. Included in the cradle of human kind is the world-famous Sterkfontein Cave, which has become synonymous with the South African search for human origins.


Today we return to City environment and visit Johannesburg. Johannesburg is the heartbeat of South Africa, build on gold. It is only a 40km drive from Centurion, we will leave after breakfast and head for Johannesburg, just after the morning business traffic.
Johannesburg owes its existence to the discovery of gold by a penniless prospector, George Harrison in 1886. It is named after Johann Rissik and Johannes Joubert, chief of mining and member of the Volksraad. It is the only city of its size in the world, not developed next to a river or the sea.
Some of the Historical Monuments, buildings and places we can visit include:
• Constitutional Hill is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. This site is a former prison and military fort, that bears testament of South Africa’s turbulent past, and today is home of the countries constitutional court, which endorses the rights of all citizens. Nelson Mandela (cell no 46664), Mahatma Gandhi, Jo Slovo, Albertina Sisulu, is just a few names of world known people that was held here.
• The N.Z.A.S.M Locomotive, displayed at the Johannesburg Station. This locomotive operated on the first railway line between Braanfontein and Boksburg between 1890 and 1903, known as the “Rand Tram.”
• The Diaz Cross: The remarkable historic relic stands in the University of the Witwatersrand. Bartholomew Diaz erected this cross on 12 March 1488 near the mouth of the Bushmans river.
• The Suburb of Sophiatown, where Africans fully owned land and therefor became the special target of apartheid law enforcers in the 1960’s who wanted to enforce the group areas act. The vibrant cultures that grew here during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, were smashed by bulldozers to enforce this law in the 1960’s. A few of the oldest houses of the original Sophiatown still remains and can be visited.
• The gold claims of the discoverers of the Main Reef Group of Conglomerates of the Witwatersrand, on the farm Langlaagte. The dramatic discovery of this rich gold-bearing deposits in 1886 was of the greatest importance in the history of South Africa.
• Historic and important buildings and Streets in the Johannesburg CBD we will visit include the Carlton Centre, Central News Agency (CAN), The Rand club, the Standard Bank building, First National bank (the corner house) and the 1st & 2nd Stock exchange in Commissioner street; the Magistrates Courts, Anglo American, City Hall and the old Post office are just some other buildings we will visit.
• Lilliesleaf Farm Rivonia. In the 1960’s Rivonia was still a semi-rural area of scattered farms and smallholdings. A property was fronted by a white owner, who was sympathetic to the cause, and the house looked like a normal white owned property with people going in and out, but the “workers” and “gardeners” were actually some of the countries most wanted activists. The security police eventually got suspicious, a raid was planned, and many leaders of the movement, including Nelson Mandela was arrested here.
• Places of interest to visit include the Market Theatre, Museum Africa, the botanical gardens, the Johannesburg Zoological Gardens and Zoo lake, the war museum and war memorial and Gold Reef city.
• Gold Reef City, which is more than a museum. It is a reconstruction of history in living form. A visit to Gold Reef City will help to understand both South Africa’s past, as well as that of Johannesburg and SOWETO. Build on the site of, and incorporating the Gold mine museum, it is a living pioneer town with buildings which are replicas of the architecture and styles which grew from the mining camps. A key part of the Gold Reef City complex, is the mineshaft, which has been kept in working order so that visitors may descent to the rock face deep underground. This would not be possible in a normal operating mine, therefore this is a unique, safe, yet authentic place where you can learn about the Witwatersrand gold deposits


Pretoria is the administrative capital of the country. Pretoria developed on a transitional area between the bushveld biome to the North and North West and the grassland biome on which large areas of the Highveld is situated.
People established themselves here because of the climate (warm summers, not to cold winters), as well as because of the availability of water from a strong fountain (Fountain Valley) that still provide water today. The fountain at Rietvlei still produces 6 million litres of water per day. As in many European cities, Pretoria developed around the church on the well-known church square.
Two years after the independence of Transvaal with the Sand River convention in 1852, the Voortrekkers decided to establish a church square for the building of a church, and with the support of the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, Pretoria was chosen. On 16 November 1855, at a meeting held in Potchefstroom it was decided to establish Pretoria as capital, but it was only in 1860 that it became official. It was originally named Pretoria-Philadelphia, and the government used the constitution of the USA as model. Because of the importance of Philadelphia during the American war of independence, the name was linked to that of Pretoria.
Pretoria is also called Jacaranda City. In 1888 two Jacaranda trees was imported from Rio de Janeiro and planted in the garden of a home in Sunnyside. They still stand in the garden of what is a school today. White Jacarandas can be found in Herbert Baker street in Groenkloof. James Clarke propagated the first Jacaranda trees to decorate the pavements of Pretoria and planted them with school kids down Bosman street. Today, about 55 000 trees line the streets of the city.
Places we will visit in Pretoria include:
The Voortrekker Monument and museum:
The awe-inspiring Voortrekker Monument, 40m high, and towering above a base 40m by 40m, dominates the Pretoria skyline. Gerhard Moerdijk designed the monument in African style, using pure African motifs for decoration and theme. Construction commenced in 1937, but with interruption of the world war, was only completed in 1949. The monument was built as a tribute to the Voortrekkers, who brought civilization to the interior. Order, geometrical precision and symmetry are therefore basic to its design.
A visit to the Voortrekker Monument will give you the history of the Voortrekkers. The way of life and experiences of the Voortrekkers are depicted on the historical frieze in the Voortrekker monument.
The symbolism in the Voortrekker monument is as follows:
• Gate: The assegais represent the strength of Dingaan and his Impis
• Laager wall: The laager wall of 64 wagons give protection to the monument
• Corner Figures: The four corner figures, namely Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter and the unknown Voortrekker leader form a symbolic guard of honour.
• Statue of mother and child: Symbolises the culture and Christianity that were developed and maintained by the women during the Great Trek.
• Black wildebeest: Symbolises Dingaan warriors.
• Triangular cornice: Around the top of the monument is a triangular cornice in a zig-zag pattern. This symbolises fertility, the cultural heritage of the Voortrekkers must grow.
• Buffalo Head: The buffalo is the most dangerous wild animal in South Africa. The buffalo head symbolically defends the monument from against onslaughts from without.
• Cenotaph: (Kenos = empty, taphos = tomb) Symbolises the resting place of Piet Retief and all the Voortrekkers who died during the Great Trek.
• Ray of sunlight: In the upper dome of the monument is an opening through which the sun shines. Each year at 12:00 on 16 December (the day of the battle of blood river) the ray of sunlight falls on the inscription “ons vir jou Suid Afrika”. The ray of sunlight symbolises God blessing on the work and aspirations of the Voortrekkers.
• Floor: The floor of the hall of heroes, is lined with ever widening rings of marble that have the cenotaph as their centre. This design which represent ripples after a stone has been cast into the water, becomes progressively wider until it fills the entire building. It symbolises the diffusion of the spirit of the sacrifice that was generated by the Voortrekkers, and that eventually spread through the entire country.
• Domes: Above the hall of heroes is a dome with a large round opening in the middle, and this is overtopped by a second dome. If the lines of this dome were extended, they would enclose the whole monument in one large circle.
• Flame: Symbolises the flame of civilization in South Africa.
The Voortrekker museum depicts scenes from the pioneer days, with the reconstruction of a Voortrekker homestead. There are weapons, bullet moulds, clothing, photographs, lamps and two trek wagons. There is a Voortrekker tapestry, which is a series of 15 needlework panels and pays homage to the heroic deeds of the Voortrekkers during the great trek. It took nine women eight years to complete and one hundred and thirty different colours of wool was used.
Church Square
In 1854, the first church was built on this square. In 1910 the square was redesigned as a bus terminus and in 1912 the centre portion was laid out as a formal garden. The Southern side of the square is styled after Trafalgar square in London, and the northern side after the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
A statue of Paul Kruger by Anton van Wouw dominated the square. The statue was completed in 1899 and arrived in Lourenco Marques where it remains till after the Anglo Boer war. It was first placed in Princes Park, Church street west in 1913 and then moved to the front of the Railway station in 1925, and then finally placed on Church square in 1954.
Paul Kruger has been sculpted in the formal clothes that he wore as head of state, facing north (symbolises growth and the future). Four burghers at the base surround the statue. On the base are also four bronz panels:
• The west panel illustrates the signing of the Peace Treaty at O’Neils cottage in 1881, resulting in the independence of Transvaal.
• The east panel symbolises the bravery of Paul Kruger when he rescued Piet Potgieter from the Makapan caves, Potgietersrus during the battle between Sekukuni and the Boers.
• The North panel shows Paul Kruger addressing the burghers at Paardekraal, Krugersdorp.
• The South panel show Kruger taking the oath of office after being elected as president of the Independent Transvaal for the first time in 1883. In total he served four terms.

Some of the buildings around the square we will visit, include:
• The post office, Built in 1910, still being used as a Post office today.
• National Bank and the mint, build in 1892. The National Bank der Zuid Afrikaanse Republic was formed in 1890, it is now a First National Bank
• Palace of Justice. Paul Kruger laid the corners tone in June 1897. Under the corner stone, a box was placed, containing a copy of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, a copy of each of the newspapers of SA, a copy of the Government Gazette, a complete set of coins of the RSA, and a copy of the blueprint of the building. The building was commandeered and used as a military hospital by the British in the Anglo Boer war, and in 1902 became the home of the Transvaal supreme court. It has recently been completely renovated and restored to its original state.
• Old Reserve bank, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with F.L.H Fleming as resident architect.
• Tudor Buildings, from where George Hays ran his coaching business., build in 1904
• The 1st Raadsaal, build in 1866. In 1889, after the discovery of Gold, a more impressive building was erected.
Kruger House.
A great deal may be learnt about the character of one of South Africa’s most famous presidents by a visit to this house where he stayed from 1883 till 1900. The museum contains many relics of Paul Kruger. At the back of the house stands the presidents state coach and private railway coach.
The Union buildings.
Without any doubt the masterpiece of Sir Herbert Baker’s architectural accomplishments in South Africa. Construction commenced in 1910. On completion in 1913, it was the largest building in South Africa. The two wings, west and east representing the two language groups, English and Afrikaans.
In the front of the Union buildings, stands the Delville Wood War Memorial, built as a tribute to the South African troops killed in the first world war, also designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
There is a statue of General Louis Botha, South Africa’s first prime minister, by Coert Steynberg, at the bottom of the garden near Church street. There are also statues of General J.B.M. Hertzog, the 3rd prime minister, and General Jan Smuts, the 2nd Prime minister. Recently, a new statue of Nelson Mandela has also been added.
When the building was completed, it accommodated the whole public service, but expansion has forced most departments to move elsewhere and at present the Union Buildings only serves as offices of the President, Deputy President and part of the department of Foreign Affairs.
This is also where the inauguration ceremonies of the country’s presidents take place. The first after the countries democratic elections was that of Nelson Mandela, on 10 May 1994, after the elections on 27 April 1994.
Pretoria Central Prison.
This include where in the past prisoners who were on Death Row was kept. One such prisoner was one of the youngest activists to be hung for political activity, Solomon Mahlangu, in 1976. There is a square in the township Mamelodi named after him, with a statue commemorating his life. It was not only black activists that was imprisoned, mostly on Robben Island, but also many white activists who was mainly held at this prison. One was Denis Goldberg, who served 2o years in prison here.
Sammy Marks
Sammy Marks made a fortune in Kimberley as a diamond buyer, then in 1881 settled in Pretoria with his partner and relative, Isaac Lewis, where he became a friend of President Kruger. He made further fortunes out of coal and iron, virtually establishing the town of Vereeniging, but was also prominent on the Rand where he helped establish the Grootvlei and New Central Wits mines.
His splendid Victorian mansion, now the Sammy Marks Museum have a collection which belonged to the Marks family, features many fine examples of Victorian silver, glass, porcelain, and furniture, dates from the late nineteenth century until his death in 1920.
Other places of interest to visit, or just drive past and informed on, include:
• The Airforce Memorial, which commemorates those South African Airforce personnel who lost their lives in conflict.
• Air Force Museum, at Air Force Base Swartkop the largest military aviation museum in South Africa, uses both chronological and thematic layouts to tell the exiting story of aviation development from early days to modern day jet aircraft.
• Fort Klapperkop Military Museum. The government erected this Fort and three others in 1897 in order to protect the capital. The fort is entered by a drawbridge and gate. Here you will find one of the most remarkable curiosities, a nine-seat cycle, constructed by the British from the parts of other bicycles and equipped with wheels enabling it to travel on railway lines.
• Melrose House. This magnificent example of Victorian architecture was built for George Heys as his residential home in 1886. On 31 May 1902 the Treaty of Vereeniging ending the Anglo-Boer war, was signed in the dining room
• Smuts Museum. The farm Doornkloof and the house belonged to Jan Christiaan Smuts until his death in 1950. The house is now a museum containing the original furniture and many personal belongings of a politician and soldier of world stature.
• The Transvaal museum. Established in 1892 and is renowned for its exhibits of prehistory and natural history. Included is the Austin Roberts Bird Hall, a model on which to base all collections of birds. Displayed in the entrance of the museum is a log of a tree said to be 225 million years old. There is also a skeleton of a Fin Whale and a dinosaur.
• Museum of Geological Survey. Adjoining the Transvaal museum are splendid exhibits of geology and mineralogy, which commences with the solar system, the planets, earth and its interior, the origins of different rocks and precious and semi – precious stones

Day 5: Cullinan and safari

We will leave for an early morning 2 -3 hours game drive in the Dinokeng private game reserve. Game drives start at 06:00, we will leave our hotel at 05:00 to be there as early as possible, since that is the best time of the day for game viewing.
From there we will leave at about 9:00 and head out to Cullinan, about 45 minutes drive from Dinokeng. We will do the 2 hours tour of the diamond mine, and have some time left for other visits, like the Willlem Prinsloo agricultural museum. There are also many little restaurants, we will select one for you to enjoy a light lunch.
From Cullinan, we will head back to midrand and give you 2 or 3 hours for shopping before we leave for OR Thambo airport for you to be in time for your departure.


    It is important to note that each of these days we cover, can be a one day trip on it’s own. Prices for such a one day trip will vary depending on which places you want to visit, and the amount of people in your tour group. The estimated costs for a day trip is R 2500 p/p ($175 p/p) if a group of 1 to 3 people, and R2 200 p/p ($150 p/p) if a group of 4 to 6 people. Specialist Tours will pick you up at any specific location in Johannesburg or Pretoria, and will provide some water/ cooldrinks/ snacks during the drive, lunch or anything else will be for your own costs.
    The estimated all inclusive cost for the above 5 days, 4 nights trip is from R13 495 p/p sharing, depending on season and size of travel group. If you require to do only 2/3 or 4 days of the trip, Specialist tours will provide you with a quotation within 24 hours from your enquiry. Costs will differ depending on your needs, which will impact on which accommodation we will use.