At the heart of Gauteng in northeast South Africa is the country's largest city, Johannesburg. Yet, despite its size and cultural pull, the greatest appeal lies in its proximity to some of the country's most prominent adventure opportunities. You've got your fair share of big-game reserves, historic caverns, epic topography, and plenty more; which, as far as we're concerned, is what makes for an adventure worth a million Caribbean cruises.
Although Johannesburg does not have an exceptional number of parks within its city limits (unlike neighbor-to-the-north, Pretoria, which is renowned for its greenery), there are plenty of natural attractions nearby to please the discriminating traveler. Like, literally, there are dozens of nature reserves within a few hours of driving from the city, most of which are home to zebra, lion, antelope, wildebeest, leopard, rhino, and many more of the animals that have made the African savannah a place that many dream of seeing. Very near to Johannesburg (just north) is the Lion Park, where you're allowed to pet the cubs and self-drive through game viewing areas. Just south of the city is the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, a stretch of grassland indicative of the region criss-crossed with hiking trails that may get you a glimpse at baboons and zebras. Then again, the Rietvlei Nature Reserve just north of Pretoria is a haven for wildlife lovers looking to view rhino, hippo, buffalo, and more. More diverse wildlife can be found at the Pilanesberg Game Reserved, which is approximate to the resort activities of Sun City, which interestingly enough, has the longest zipline in the world.
Once you've had your fix of South Africa's wildlife, it may be worth checking out why this area is in the history books. The Cradle of Humankind, which consists of cave systems where the innumerable bones of ancient hominids have been discovered, is one of the most famous archaeological sites on Earth. Try exploring Sterkfontein, Kromdraai, and Wondercave, all of which are within an hour or two of Johannesburg to the northwest. For more adrenaline-fueled activity, try bungee jumping from or rappelling on the cooling towers in the township of Soweto or heading to the Mpumalanga Escarpment to jump from King Kloofs Bridge.
Speaking of the Mpumalanga Escarpment, this is the most visually stunning area in the whole northern region of South Africa. Many will self-drive through here to see the incredible panoramas; just be prepared to pay tolls on the roads and nominal entrance fees to many of the viewing areas. Stops worth your time include a number of waterfalls (Bridal Veil Falls, Lisbon Falls, Long Creek Falls, and many more) and the spectacles that are Gods Window and Blyde River Canyon.
Lastly, there's the national park that needs no introduction due to it being synonymous with South Africa, Kruger National Park. A hefty six/seven hour drive from Johannesburg toward the border with Mozambique, this truly massive park is home to many creatures, including the big-five, against a backdrop of natural Africa as you've always envisioned it. If you aren't feeling Kruger, there are a lot of smaller game reserves within a hundred miles or so that provide similar experiences; be aware that many of these reserves are private though.
With so much to do within a day trip's time, the question is not whether to go to Johannesburg, but how you're going to fit everything into your limited schedule! For more information, visit our activity pages or consult our community for trip ideas, travel pictures and videos, and much more.