South Africa's city of gold, Johannesburg, is the country's business powerhouse. Also known as Jozi, Jo'burg, Joeys and eGoli it is the country's largest city and Gauteng is both the smallest and wealthiest province. Leave Johannesburg off your itinerary and you miss the hustle and bustle of a vibrant metropolitan capital. The dynamic city is often described as the heart and soul of the country – people work and play hard on this stage of urban sprawl, against a backdrop of multicultural and multicoloured concepts, people and ideas.
Reconciled to live with the city's jarring stereotypes – the provocative mix of the first and third world elements of supreme wealth, crime, and poverty – Johannesburg's people seem to suffer only from an insistent innovative energy and entrepreneurial spirit that brings about a fusion of business, culture and art in ways that can only be described as South African.
It is true that Johannesburg's setting lacks the breathtaking wonders of Cape Town's mountain, the consistent string of pristine beaches that make up most of the country's coastline, or the baking sultriness of the bushveld. And Jozi's huge gold mounds and persistent traffic jams are a poor substitute. But you do experience incredible blue skied, highveld weather complete with late afternoon summer thunderstorms, and the nightlife of a city with a pulse.
The city is cosmopolitan and as such offers a wide range of Johannesburg Accommodation – hotels, guest houses, lodges, b&bs and holiday apartments. Gauteng restaurants, live entertainment and a revitalised, formerly-decrepit inner city are a vital part of the art, food and theatre scene. On the fringes of the city are effortless escapes – Magaliesberg, Muldersdrift, Sun City, Hartbeespoort Dam and the Cradle of Humankind, whilst northern suburbs of the city like Bryanston, Melville, Northcliff, Parktown and Saxonwold provide more sedate, residential and leafy areas for stays. Kempton Park offers a convenient overnight stay for travellers wanting to overnight, before an early morning departure at OR Tambo International Airport.
The sprawling malls of Hyde Park, Randburg, Sandton and Rosebank are the feature of the weekend mall culture landscape. Sandton, Midrand and Centurion are the business centres that mushroomed as business fled the city centre during the late 1980s.
Soweto and the south, where black neighbourhoods emerged as a result of the mines, provide a more realistic experience of life for the greater part of Jo'burg's residents (take a guide or join a tour), and a visit to the Apartheid Museum is almost requisite. If you have time, a visit to the jacaranda-lined streets of Pretoria, one of South Africa's three capitals, is also recommended.
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