Difference between revisions of "Gauteng"
Revision as of 15:52, 18 May 2008
Gauteng is one of the provinces in the north-east of South Africa. The word "Gauteng" is a Sesotho phrase meaning "Place of gold", referencing to the thriving gold industry following the 1886 discovery of gold in Johannesburg. The province is the centre of South Africa's industrial and commerce sectors.
Gauteng is divided into six regional districts, though the central part of Gauteng (Johannesburg, the southern half of Tshwane, western half of Ekurhuleni and north-east of the West Rand) together forms one continuous urban area.
A summer rainfall area, Gauteng experiences hot summer days that often result in short but intense afternoon thunderstorms, commonly accompanied by thunder and lightning. Summers nights are also hot.
The real-time Irene radar map  provided by the South African weather service is a great tool to help you plan any afternoon outdoor activity in summer. It gives ample warning of any approaching thunder storms.
Winter is dry and cold with temperatures dropping to a little above freezing at night, however, winter days are beautiful with comfortable temperatures.
Gauteng is considered the gateway to Southern Africa. Many spectacular destinations are a short flight or drive away. It is a small province, flanked by four other provinces in South Africa.
English is widely spoken in Gauteng and you will rarely meet someone who can't speak it. Afrikaans, Sotho and Zulu are also common.
Gauteng is bordered by four provinces:
Public transport is non-existent by European standards, so it is best to rent a car. All the national car rental agencies are well represented.
Road are generally in good condition, but peak hour traffic (7AM to 9AM and 4PM to 6PM) can be very busy and slow. Congestion is very common on the N1 between the west of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the N3 between Alberton and the Buccleuch interchange where it joins the N1 and the N12 and R24 between Johannesburg and O.R. Tambo Airport.
A rapid rail link (Gautrain) is currently under construction between Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport, but this is not expected to be completed before 2010. Construction work does however have an impact on road travel, especially in the Rosebank area of Johannesburg where a number of road diversions are in place.
Being a major metropolitan area there are a large number of museums and galleries that one can visit.
There are a number of small nature reserves located throughout Gauteng. These are surprisingly underutilized by the local population and offers a good quite getaway from the busy city life. The exception to the rule would be the Lion Park in the north of Johannesburg as it has become a bit of a tourist trap and will be very busy over weekends.
Much of Gauteng's wealth originally came from the Main Reef of gold that runs east to west through the province. A visit to one of the preserved goldmines in Johannesburg and the West Rand is both interesting and educational.
In Gauteng the locals eat out a lot, so there are plenty of restaurants & take-away places around. Johannesburg, Pretoria & surrounding areas are filled with places offering a variety of cuisine. From traditional African to American, Asian & European foods.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a non-licensed restaurant in Gauteng. There are many coffee shops, most of which are unlicensed since they serve hot beverages.
Though Gauteng (In particular Johannesburg) has a reputation for crime, rest assured it isn't all bad. As with everywhere in the world, some places are less safe than others.
It might be helpful to ask someone - perhaps several people - who would seem to know, what are or are not safe activities in a particular area. If you are staying in a hotel, for instance, you might ask the management where and when it is okay to walk or drive in the area. Even upscale parts of Johannesburg can be dangerous to drive through. As a general rule, it's smart to leave yourself an opening when traveling in traffic. If you are threatened, or even feel as much at an intersection, don't be afraid to run a red light if it's your means of escape.
Certain sections of the major cities (Pretoria & Johannesburg) are best visited in a group with an experienced guide, while others can be safely visited by the individual. Though many tourists are keen to visit a Township, be advised that the only safe option is to go with a tour operator that offers the service, do not go into a township by yourself or without an experienced guide!
Unfortunately petty theft is a problem everywhere in South Africa, so keep an eye on your belongings. Don't, for example, leave your mobile phone lying unattended on a table at a restaurant. Make sure that if you are carrying a handbag, that is is secure, & not easily grabbed off your shoulder or out of your hands. Also make sure that your belongings are not visible when in your car, as "smash and grab" incidents do occur, particularly at traffic lights.
If you are travelling with a laptop or camera, use a bag that doesn't advertise its contents. Disguise your laptop by using a normal backpack bag instead of a laptop bag & do the same with your camera.
HIV infection rate is high, DO NOT HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX.
Municipal water is safe to drink.
It is best to avoid public hospitals when possible, but private hospitals are of world class standard.
The following hospitals all cater for 24 hour accident and emergency treatment: