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Gauteng is South Africa's smallest province at 17 010 km², but it is also the most populated. Largely thanks to Johannesburg and the natural resources, it is also the wealthiest. It wasn't formed until April 1994 after South Africa's first all-race elections, and was named Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (PWV). In December of the same year it was renamed Gauteng. Pretoria, the executive capital of South Africa, is located in the north of the province.
Gauteng's southern border is the Vaal River, which separates it from the Free State. It also borders on North West to the west, Limpopo to the north, and Mpumalanga to the east. Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border. Most of Gauteng is on the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland (about 1,500 metres above sea level). Between Johannesburg and Pretoria there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magaliesberg Mountains and the Witwatersrand. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savanna habitat.
Johannesburg and Tshwane/Pretoria were host cities for the World Cup 2010. World Cup matches in Johannesburg were held at Soccer City Stadium and Coca Cola Park. Soccer City was host to the first mass rally after the release of Nelson Mandela and was also the venue for the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations final. Current capacity stands at 80,000 with an upgrade set to take it up to 94,700. Ellis Park has been a rugby stadium for most of its history and it was the scene for the famous SA victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Once work has been completed, it should hold 65,000 fans.
In Pretoria, the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, is one of the oldest stadiums in South Africa. The stadium has been used for major sporting events since 1903 and since 1948 it has undergone perennial upgrades. It has been used for both rugby and football matches and is home to one of the country's top rugby teams, the Blue Bulls. Loftus Versfeld is in the heart of Pretoria and currently has a seating capacity of 50,000.
Launched in 2004, the Soweto Wine Festival brings over 100 of South African's finest wineries offering over 1,000 wines to taste into trend-setting Soweto. Held in the first weekend of September over three nights, the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus, is transformed into an up-market VIP experience for thousands of visitors. The Soweto Wine Festival boasts wine lounges by some of South Africa's premium wine producers, wine and food pairing classes hosted by Cape Wine Masters and Celebrity Chefs, Soweto's Finest Restaurants, Entertainment and wine for sale. The festival attracts an international audience of wine lovers who spend three days in Soweto tasting South Africa's fine wines by night, and touring some of Soweto's top tourist destinations by day. The Soweto Wine Festival is organised by South Africa's official wine and education authority, the Cape Wine Academy.
Gauteng has dry, sunny and mild winters from June to September when temperatures are usually 20 °C during the day on average and days one end with blue skies are possible. Frost at night is possible but not common though in most places. Summers start in November and until March/April it's generally hot though nights are refreshingly cool sometimes. This is also when most of the rain falls. Although it rarely rains days on end, some heavy rainshowers are possible, especially after extremely hot weather when temperatures can rise to 35 °C or more.
Johannesburg is the main gateway to and from Gauteng. There are services, mainly by bus, from other cities as well, like Pretoria. Many of the connections originate and terminite in Johannesburg though.
Gauteng is served by the largest and busiest airport in South Africa, OR Tambo International Airport (JNB). The airport is also an important gateway (or hub) for international air travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa.
From Johannesburg there are many flights within the continent and South African Airways has flights to and from Abidjan, Accra, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Hong Kong, Kigali, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, London, Mumbai, Munich, Nairobi, New York, Perth, Sao Paulo and Washington, D.C. among many others. Numerous other airlines from all continents in the world fly to and from Johannesburg and it has one of the busiest airport within Africa. Other examples of destinations include Bangkok, Dubai, Paris, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Athens, Sydney, Jeddah, Zürich, Moscow, Lisbon and Madrid.
Shosholoza Meyl is the national railway, with services between most major South African cities. Most of the connections are budget, but there is a Premier Class train between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Blue Train and the Pride of Africa by Rovos Rail are luxurious options to cross South Africa and beyond.
The main routes with Shosholoza Meyl are:
Sample distances from Johannesburg are:
From Johannesburg there are connections to Maputo in Mozambique (8 to 9 hours), to Gaborone in Botswana (6 hours) and to Bulawayo and Harare in Zimbabwe. To Lusaka in Zambia, there are buses, most of which stop on their way in Bulawayo, taking a total of 26 hours. It takes almost as long to get from Johannesburg to Windhoek (21 hours), the capital of Namibia. Daily connections also travel to Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland. There are even daily buses between Blantyre in Malawi and Johannesburg, travelling through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, taking about 30 hours to cover the distance.
Minibus taxis travel between Johannesburg and Gaborone, Johannesburg and Palapye (Botswana) and between Mafikeng in South Africa and Lobatse in Botswana.
Minibuses also travel between Johannesburg and Manzini in Swaziland (4 hours).
There are many companies offering services, but the main operators are Greyhound South Africa, Intercape and Translux, all offering at least services between major cities in neighbouring countries from Johannesburg and also to dozens of domestic destinations, including Cape Town, Durban, Nelspruit, Upington, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein.
The Baz Bus is a bus where you can hop on and of and is mostly used by backpackers travelling on a budget. They are dropped off at hostels. There are three routes two of which are routes between Durban and Pretoria via Johannesburg: one via the Drakensberg (Drakens Mountains) and one via Swaziland.
A recent addition to the sights and sounds of the highveld is the controversial Gautrain, running between Pretoria and OR Thambo International Airport and stopping at Sandton.
If you would like to travel around by car, there are numerous car rental companies available from the airports and downtown locations. Just make sure that you have sufficient insurance to cover you if the need arises. Some of them offer the possibility to reduce excess (the amount you pay when involved in an accident) for a daily fee. Car hire companies include Avis, http://www.europcar.co.za/Europcar, First Car Rental as well as many other international and local ones. Usually, the local ones are cheaper but don't have the same standard as the international ones, which have more branches throughout the country and therefore are able to help you more quickly if needed.
If travelling by car, be sure to plan your routes carefully to insure that there are sufficient places to fill the tank with petrol as some towns are located quite a distance apart with no filling stations in between. It's a good idea to fill up with fuel when you have about half a tank left if possible.
Scheduled bus services are provided in the larger urban areas such as Johannesburg and Pretoria, but the service is limited.
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.
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