Adventures at Matheran Hill Station
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Matheran is a Hill Station located near Mumbai, Karjat.   It is located 800 meters above sea level in the Jambol Forest of Maharashtra.  It was found by Hugh Poynts Malet in May 1850.  It spreads over an area of 8 square kilometers in Sahyadri Mountains.  It is one of the best places to spend a two-day holiday if you are in Mumbai or in the vicinity of Mumbai or its suburbs.  To reach Matheran,  [...]

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Joburg- A Complete Tourist Package

Posted on November 13, 2009 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment


Johannesburg has everything a tourist could wish for. Even if there is no beach, the Emmarentia Dam is good enough to enjoy all water activities. If you are a complete nature freak, there are a number of parks, sanctuaries and Botanical gardens that you can relish and relax at, preserving a rich biodiversities. The city’s rich culture and heritage is reflected through many of its museums and art galleries, that take the visitors to the past.

Here are few of the attractions for tourists in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg nature reserve1. Natural reserves

A rich species of flora and fauna inhabit Johannesburg in its various gardens, natural reserves, parks and sanctuaries. The city is home to plenty of open public spaces as well. Here are few of natural hang-out zones of Johannesburg.

Among the major gardens is the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens at an hours drive from the city. It is home to a wide species of birds including the endangered Black Eagle. The garden has waterfall and a restaurant as well and about 600 species of plants.  The other important garden here is the Johannesburg Botanical garden. It includes a dam and a terrace garden of roses and eating-joints as well.

The Emmarentia Dam, in the Johannesburg Botanic Gardens is like a picnic spot with scope for activities like sailing, fishing, tanning with food vendors around.  Montecasino Bird sanctuary offers a unique blend of gaming and watching exotic birds and other animals like the two-toes South American Sloth.  There is a Croc City Crocodile Farm as well, where you can closely observe crocodiles.

An important tourist attraction of the city is the Johannesburg Zoo. Here you can take on a Safari to get around the Zoo, home to about 2000 animals. There are Zoo ferries as well, pulled by a tractor. There are animals here from Asia, Central Africa such as gorillas, local animals, from extreme places like camels and penguins and South American animals.

At Melville, the city’s  suburb, is The Melville Koppies Nature Reserve with a typical Highveld vegetation and archaeological remains.

The 200 hectare Johannesburg Lion Park is a lion reserve and breeding research station, with over 80 lions. Black wildebeest, Impala, Zebra are some other animals found here.

Johannesburg museums2. Museums

An important museum of this city is The Apartheid Museum, located along the Gold Reef City. It takes the visitors to South Africa’s apartheid regime through videos, pictures and other artifacts that you can devote a say looking at.

South African Museum of Military History, close to Johannesburg Zoo, is another important museum of the city, displaying arms and ammunitions of South Africa’s military history such as uniforms, tanks etc.

The Absa Musuem at Fox street here is the only banking and money museum (with the alargets collection of money used in South Africa) in South Arica. It also has exhibitions of bank related crimes and the coins discovered from the treasures from sunken ships.

Constitutional Hill Museum built in 1892 as a prison and jailed here were world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. It is now a museum and houses the highest court in the land. You can see the dark pits that were used for solitary confinement.

The Adler Museum of the History of Music at Braamfontein has priceless and timeless collection of musical instruments and scores. The Krugersdorp Museum built in 1993 is the oldest building of Krugersdorp, depicting its history and culture through archaeological remains, the geological department etc. The Mmabana Children’s Museum too is housed here.

Other Museums worth a visit here are the Madela Family Museum in Soweto, The James Hall museum of transport and the South African Museum of Rock Art at Braamfontein.

Johannesburg art galleries3. Art Galleries

The city has several art galleries that serve reflect the culture and heritage of the city. On the Main Street, Joburg is the Absa Gallery attached to a bank and displays work of artists who have won the banks fine art competitions held annually.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery has remarkable collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century, from the Dutch paintings to British and European art. There is also a local and contemporary art collection and the William Kentridge collection.

The Alliance Francaise stages contemporary South African and International art exhibitions. The Kim Sacks Gallery, The Standard Bank galleriy and the Premises are few other art galleries in the city.

4. Townships

A number of old and new townships, the sprawling suburbs and villages attract the attention of tourists.

The Alexandra Township

Also known as Alex, this  place founded in 1912 has a number of historical sites. Some of them are the Roman Catholic Church and the old St Hubert Church, the Nelson Mandela Yard where Mabibas lived in the 1940s when he was a lawyer, The Kings Cinema precinct with a 1950s style, and theMen’s hostel, designed to house labourers in the Apartheid era. Underway is a cultural centre and The Alexandra Arts Factory.

Soweto

This township is 15 minutes to the west of central Johannesburg.

Soweto or the South Western Townships was hoem to the iconic leader Nelson Mandela. This township was built only to provide shelter to contract mine workers and it soon became a place were South Africa’s peaceful revolution was conceived. Guide historical tours are a good idea here. For evenings, there are shebeens or the informal pubs. Among the historical sites here are the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, Mandela’s residence, Walter Sisulu square of idependence, the Regina Mundi Catholic Church; a venue for protest meetings and the Morris Isaacson School where the 1976 uprising started.

Among the hangout places here are the B’s place with beer and mogudu, a traditional dish, the Rock to name a few.

Newtown

After a revamp in 1998, the otherwise neglected attractions such as the market theatre, MuseumArica and Oriental have been brought to the notice of tourists along with newer additions like the Nelson Mandela Bridge over 40 railway lines, the Mary Fitzgerald square, clubs like Horror Café, Bassline, The South African Breweries or SAB World of Beers etc.

The Market theatre was the venue for much of the protest theatres. Newtown is also emerging as a favoured night out place.

Melville Village

Close to the city centre, this place has streets just apt to roam on, especially the Bohemian Seventh Street, lined up with second-hand bookshops, pavement cafes, antique shops, body-piercing salons and pretty homes now converted to guest houses that date back to the 19th century.

Another attraction of Melville is the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve.

Johannesburg Casino5. Gold Reef City Theme Park and Casino

At 5 kilometers from the city centre is the Gold Reef City with museums, casino, curiosity shops, the Glob theatre and other attractions. There is an original 200 meter deep gold mine shaft that operated between 1887 and 1971 and there are tours of this shaft. This place offers a perfect blend of amusement and insight to the tourists.

6. Historical sights

The city is home to some significant historical sights. The Gandhi square is one such sight that acknowledges Gandhis’ struggle against apartheid. Troyville at Albermale Street is where Gandhi lived with his family for a short while, with his Jewish friend Henry Polak.

Maropeng is the gateway to many world heritage sites such as the as is called the Gateway to the cradle of humankind. The Sterkfontein Caves is home to fossils finds that are known to the world.

Nelson Mandela bridge opened in 2003, is Gautend’s recent landmarks and commorates Nelson Mandela’s 85th birthday. It links Braamfontein to Newtown.

7. Excursions

If excursions are what you enjoy, Johannesburg has lot to offer. Some places that are worth a visit nearby are Pretoria and the Sun City. The world famous Kruger Park is at a distance of about 500 kilometers from Johannesburg.

Few nature reserves close by are the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Tshwane and the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Kromdraai.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sight- Cradle of Humankind, deserves a day to itself. It starts 35 kilometers northwest of Central Johannesburg. You could marvel at the limestone caverns or the Little Foot –  millions of year old hominid skeleton.

At about 50 kilometers west of the city are the Sterkfontein caves. About 7 kilometers from the caves are Maropeng, with boat rides amidst tunnels depicting volcanoes, earth gases and other elements that make the Earth. You are taken to the beginning of the time and journeyed to the present day.

The humangena Zulu Kraal, depicts an authentic Zulu village built from materials entirely from Zululand.

Touring the city

There are a number of organizations that arrange a walking tour for you as per your itinerary. There are tourist buses as well in the city, with pick up points at almost all the hotels.

You could, if you have money, fly over the city in old aircrafts. There are Ballon safaris you could opt for.

An important tour is the GALA’S Queer Johannesburg tour, that takes you to places symbolic of struggles for gay rights in South Africa.

All this and more, make Johannesburg a complete tour package, with insight, amusement, fun and frolic mixed well for complete entertainment.

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