North West Province
After seeing the sights of Johannesburg and Pretoria you will be chomping at the bit to get out into the wilderness. Now's your chance. The highlights of the North West Province to my mind are the Magaliesberg close to Pretoria and the Madikwe Game Reserve so we've suggested an itinerary that takes you to both.
You can of course do all of the Magaliesberg suggestions within an easy day trip from Jo'burg or Pretoria and they can make a pleasant change from the hectic city streets.
The Magaliesberg is estimated to be one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth. Almost half the age of the planet itself, it stretches 120km from Pretoria west to Rustenberg. Looking south sheer quartzite cliffs stare down onto a wide valley where tributaries drain into five different rivers, while watercourses down the northern slopes have carved deep kloofs and gullies.
Hartbeestpoort Dam (on the R512 if you're coming from Jo'burg), known as 'Sandton-on-Sea' after the smart Johannesburg suburb, is the focal point of most activities in the area though not, itself, a beauty.
Depending on what you fancy, De Wildt Cheetah Project and Paddle Power Adventures are among the best of the area's action activities. For those after slightly more sedate pursuits, we recommend a visit to the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves. If you're in no hurry a couple of days here should give you time for plenty of book-reading in the sun (or shade) wherever you choose to stay.
The North-West Province (can you guess where it is?) covers about 10% of South Africa's landmass, stretching along the Botswanan border. Much of the region is swallowed up by vast and arid tracts of land crossed by few roads and dotted with even fewer towns that lead you west into the Northern Cape (though it's tricky to tell exactly where one ends and the other begins). Even we have spent little time there and have instead focused our attention on the north-eastern corner of the region - where the action is.
And this is a pretty good place to start, an area populated since the arrival of early man on the scene and nowadays the out-of-town play area for the hard-working city folk of Jo'burg and Pretoria. The 120km-long Magaliesberg range makes for the most obvious geographical feature, standing over the Hartbeestpoort Dam and providing the gateway to easily accessible wilderness.