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Johannesburg

Johannesburg epitomised South Africa’s paradoxical make-up – it’s rich, poor, innovative, and historical. Traders hawk in front of polished glass buildings, as taxis jockey for position in rush hour. Sangomas (traditional healers) lay out herbs and roots next to the pavement tents of roadside barbers, and you never seem to be far from a woman selling vetkoek (dollops of deep fried dough), beneath billboards advertising investment banks or cellphones.

Johannesburg was born as a mining camp, and its downtown area – the oldest part – is a jumbled grid of one-way streets heading in opposite directions reflecting its hasty start to life. While the city centre is experiencing revival, its not somewhere that all visitors choose to visit close-up. The attractions in or close to the city centre include the Nelson Mandela Bridge, MuseuMAfrica and the SAB World of Beer in the Newtown area, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Standard Bank Gallery adn Diagonal Street in the downtown are, and Constitution hill.

About 20km to the south of downtown Johannesburg lies the vast township of Soweto, where you can take a township tour and visit the Hector Pieterson Museum. Between Soweto and the city are Gold Reef City and the Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum leave no stone unturned, black and white, as it takes you on a journey through South African apartheid history. Gold Reef City lets you take a step back in time to 1880s Johannesburg and see why it became known as the City of Gold.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site stretches over an area of about 470km² with about 300 caves. Inside these caves, palaeoanthropologists have discovered thousands of fossils of hominids and other animals, dating back about 4 million years.

Not all fossil sites in the Cradle are open to the public, but a tour of the Sterkfontein Caves and the visit to the centre provides an excellent overview of the archaeological work in progress, and a trip to Maropeng a much larger visitor centre 10km from the Sterkfontein Caves, provides even more back ground. There are also visits to the Lion Park, home to the white lion, not the mention the Rhino and Lion Park with the spectaular visit to the Wonder Caves.

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