Gauteng occupies a high and dusty interior plain and is the smallest and most densely populated of South Africa's regions, with some 20% of the country's population living within its boundaries. This is the financial powerhouse of South and Southern Africa from where industrious Gautengers often rib their Capetonian cousins for their relaxed approach to life and consider Cape Town itself a fishing village. Jo'burg and Pretoria are indeed play-hard and work-hard cities that offer endless eateries,
museums and other urban pursuits that are well worth investigation.
Many travellers wrongly assume that if they go anywhere near Johannesburg they will at best be mugged, at worst - well, worse. This is simply not true. Yes, security is an issue and Johannesburg, like any major city, can be a dangerous place. But as long as you take the usual precautions, you should have no problems. I spent some time visiting Johannesburg and neighbouring Soweto on my own and never had any difficulties.
So, don't just fly in and zip straight out. Take a few days to soak up some culture from the Apartheid and Africa Museums or on a tour to Soweto. Eat out, enjoy the botanical gardens and green urban spaces and only then jump back in the hire car and drive the easy few hours out to the game reserves.
Soweto was constructed in 1950 under apartheid as a self-sufficient housing project. The name is a contraction of South Western Townships and today it is a city in its own right, with a population of more than three million people.
Where's the capital?
Many people incorrectly assume that business centre Johannesburg is the capital of South Africa but it is actually Pretoria, with Cape Town its legislative centre and Bloemfontein the judicial centre.