Colours and cultures mix in the South African province of Gauteng. Home to the country's two financial hubs, Johannesburg and Sandton, this province defines the kaleidoscope that is the Rainbow Nation. The country's 11 official languages can be heard mingling on the streets, city suburbs range from stately opulence to vibrant townships, while the redevelopment of industrial hubs is adding a new creativity to an already buoyant province. Travel away from the bustling urban core and Gauteng is a rural province at heart, full of horse-lined fields and memoirs to ancient mankind. Within an hour of the cities, there are lions roaming and zebra skipping, continuing the impression that Gauteng celebrates the diversity of South Africa.
The province is centred on two major cities, Johannesburg and Pretoria, which are loosely connected by a large upmarket suburb of Sandton. These form the urban core of Gauteng and are flanked by major industrial suburbs and large townships. Johannesburg is undergoing somewhat of a revival, and its city centre is being transformed into a place of funky cafes and pop-up shops. Pretoria, around 50 kilometres due north, remains more sedate, a city of tree-lined boulevards and old colonial architecture. Both are major financial and administrative centres, although in recent years the business focus has switched to Sandton.
Sandton's suburbs are amongst the most affluent in South Africa, where grand houses roll across the hills, and there's a serenity that comes unexpectedly so close to a business centre. Further west in Gauteng is Soweto, with friendly locals and its museums remembering the battle against apartheid. Travel another 30 minutes further west, and the World Heritage Cradle of Humankind showcases early hominid discoveries. Dotted about the corners of the province are private game reserves, where elephants and rhinos are among the attractions.
Central Gauteng is connected by the Gautrain, a modern high-speed railway that connects Pretoria, Sandton, Johannesburg and O. R. Tambo International Airport, the largest airport in Africa. Local public transport is in the form of shared taxis, which run regular routes throughout the day. Private taxis are readily available, especially in the cities.
Soweto's central Vilakazi Street is the only one in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived. Nelson Mandela resided for many years at number 8115, while Archbishop Desmund Tutu still lives just a few doors away.