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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Pretoria
Pretoria - TravelPuppy.com
Named after the Voortrekker leader, Andries Pretorius, the town council recently considered proposals to change the name to Tshwane and ward the town city status. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, known as the ‘Jacaranda City’ due to the flowering trees lining its streets during October and November. Church Square is set in the centre of the city, and a space of historical significance, while Church Street and its neighbours are lined by some refined 19th century buildings including Paul Kruger’s House, the Groote Kerk, the old Raadsaal (parliament) of the Boer republic of Transvaal, Melrose House, and the State Theatre, which features a programme of fairly mainstream music, dance and drama.

There are also many fantastic small museums in the city, including the Pretoria Art Museum, the studios of local artists’ Coert Steynberg and Anton von Wouw, now both museums, the Museum of Science and Technology and the strange yet captivating Correctional Services Museum.

The Union Buildings, overlooking the suburb of Arcadia, are 1 of the peaks of British Imperial architecture, designed by Sir Herbert Baker. They are still the administrative seat of the national government and are as well known as the site of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration as President. A little further out, the Voortrekker Monument is an impressive granite tower built to remember the Boer victory over the Zulus at Blood River. Not politically correct these days, it is still a serious and moving monument, and the little museum beside it is charming. Pretoria Zoo is definitely worth a visit and has a cable car for a bird’s eye view of the large cats.

Excursions

Just out of town, within easy day trip distance, are many exceptional sights, including the De Wildt Cheetah Farm, Cullinan Diamond Mine (book ahead if you want to do the tour), Pioneer Museum and Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum (both ‘living’ museums with costume clad characters and displays of farming activities), and 2 superior old houses, the homes of former president, Jan Smuts, and randlord Sammy Marks.

North-West Province

This province’s most renowned feature is Sun City, gamblers’ mecca and host to major golf tournaments and star studded concerts. Its most impressive hotel, The Lost City, is an H Rider Haggard-like fantasy. Adjacent, the Pilansberg Game Reserve covers about 338,540 acres (137,000 hectares). Many farms and an extinct volcanic crater were included in 1 of the largest rehabilitation exercises ever carried out. This is now an amazing ‘Big Five’ reserve and the 3rd largest game park in South Africa. In the far north of the province, on the Botswana border, is the fantastic, little known Madikwe National Park, which offers amazing walking safaris.

South from Sun City are Rustenberg, the Rustenburg Nature Reserve, in the Magaliesberg, which offers antelope and other game, as well as some rare birds of prey such as the black eagle and Cape vulture, and 2 fairly large and very dull towns, Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp, Potchefstroom is home to 1 of the oldest Afrikaaner universities in South Africa.
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