One of the most exciting drives in Gauteng must be travelling at night along the edge of Johannesburg on the M2 North with the city to the right. City lights, advertisements and skyscrapers give the impression of a pulsating African city – but there are also other less obvious gems hidden in Joburg.

High up on the Observatory Ridge there is a short drive up to the actual Observatory and beyond to the other side of the koppie, (hill for those not familiar with South African terminology!) with views across the eastern suburbs of Johannesburg. The Munro Drive, which featured in the film Stander, winds up from Lower Houghton through Houghton Ridge to Upper Houghton and offers amazing views over Rosebank, Sandton, Houghton and as far as Midrand. On a clear day one can see as far as the Voortrekker monument in Pretoria. Off course, there’s also Stewart Drive which winds its way forever up and over a heavily treed koppie into Yeoville.

A great view of the Joburg city skyline can be seen along the highway from Soweto heading towards the city. A few personal favourites include Rustenburg Road, a narrow road which snakes its way through Emmarentia and along the edge of Melville into Richmond; and Judith Road from Beyers Naude to Emmarentia with Melville Koppies to the right - with a careful camera angle it could look like a drive through the bushveld.

Apart from Johannesburg, there are many other spectacular routes to drive in and around Gauteng.

The landscape of the West Rand is highveld plains studded with mine dumps, headgears and the Magaliesberg mountain range. The main attraction to the area is the Cradle of Humankind, which incorporates the Sterkfontein Caves – one of the world's most important palaeo-anthropological sites. There is the R563 between Maropeng and Hekpoort which is particularly spectacular in the late afternoon, also the R560 from Hartebeespoort towards the Magaliesburg is worth exploring. The Crocodile Arts and Crafts route sprawls across much of the North- western Gauteng bushveld, through Honeydew and Muldersdrift, past Lanseria Airport, to the beautiful Broederstroom area – only 30 kilometres from the centre of Johannesburg. The quaint town of Magaliesburg lies in the valley, and a number of country retreats and weekend guesthouses and lodges are found in the area. The Magalies Meander tourism route, a favourite attraction to the area, takes visitors from Rustenburg to Krugersdorp and the Haartebeespoort Dam. Contact details for the Magalies Meander are +27 (0)14 577 2063 or www.magaliesmeander.co.za and for the Crocodile Ramble contact Marian on +27 (0)829236120 or www.theramble.co.za.

Metsweding offers nice drives in and around the historic town of Cullinan. The old Victorian houses in Oak Avenue have been lovingly restored and has been used on numerous occasions as period film locations. Adriana, from the Cullinan Meander, can be contacted on +27 (0)723443072 or info@cullinanmeander.co.za for more information on how to access the many dams, rivers and stunning rock formations in the district.

Wind along the country lanes of Irene with cows grazing in green pastures. Take the Jan Smuts Drive out of the village to Doornkloof, now known as Smuts House Museum, along a deep-shaded country avenue of plane trees, poplars and old oaks.  After about two kilometres you come to the gates of the of Doornkloof where you can catch a glimpse of the old house through the trees.

Sedibeng is a cluster of towns near the majestic Vaal River. It is the industrial heartland of Gauteng and some quite extraordinary sights from the N1 of factories belching smoke at night make these seem strangely surreal. Sedibeng also has some beautiful routes from Suikerbosrand towards Heidelberg and the Vaal Dam. The Vaal Meander traverses the banks of the Vaal River with some spectacular scenery. Contact details for the Vaal Meander are +27 (0)16 424 1121 or www.vaalmeander.co.za.

Ekurhuleni, as one of the most intensely mined areas in the country, provides views of mine dumps and machinery on many routes through this district. But the district is not only about mining - Benoni and Boksburg both provide wonderful scenic drives along the dams in and around these towns.

And then there are the many and varied nature drives.

Suikerbosrand
Off the N3 highway an hour’s drive from Joburg, there is a 60 km circular drive through the reserve that encompasses all the major habitats. At the entrance gate there are a number of small dams off to the left and you may even spot a pair of white-backed ducks on the first dam.  The reserve includes a range of habitats and varied topography – flowering proteas, clumps of acacia trees. In addition to its bird-list of more than 250 species, the reserve protects a number of large mammals as well and the drive usually provides good viewing of impala, blesbok, black wildebeest, eland and grey rhebuck (if you are lucky).

The first part of the circular drive takes you up to the highest part of the reserve through montane grassland. As the drive descends, so the habitat slowly changes to grasslands and then to Acacia thornveld.  The picnic spot (presently closed) is set in Acacia savanna.  The drive gradually climbs back up to montane grassland.

From Johannesburg take the N3 towards Heidelberg. Take the Kliprivier / Glenroy off-ramp (this is also signposted Suikerbosrand).  Turn back over the highway towards Kliprivier (R550) and after six kilometers, turn left towards the entrance.
Tel: +27 (0)11 904 3930/3/7 or +27 (0)716027581

The Lion Park
The Lion Park offers amazing close-up views and other experiences with lions, as well as rare white lions. There are also other large predators at the Lion Park including cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and jackals. Terrific filming and photographic opportunities are possible. A self-drive can be taken in the main park on an easy to follow route that will take you through the antelope area set in African grassland replete with a watering hole, where you will see various buck. The drive takes you past the hyena and cheetah enclosures and finally into the four treed camps which house lion prides.

Tel: +27 (0)11 691 9905-11 or www.lion-park.com

Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is the place to visit if great mountain vistas are what you are after. It’s a privately owned Gauteng game reserve, covering on average 1 200 hectares of land, and is located in the Cradle of Humankind, a declared World Heritage Site, central to Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Reserve is situated near Kromdraai.

A game drive through the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is one of Johannesburg's closest wildlife experiences. Game species include white rhino, lion, buffalo, hippo, wild dog, cheetah, crocodile plus abundant bird life.
Tel: +27 (0)11 957 0349/0106/0109 or www.rhinolion.co.za

Heia Safari
Heia Safari, a 650 hectare game reserve, is nestled at the foot of the Swartkop Mountains. You can take a 1.5 hour drive through the reserve with the opportunity of watching 22 varieties of game such as rhino, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, impala, kudu, giraffe and of viewing the magnificent Lake Heritage.

Tel: +27 (0)11 919 5000 or www.heia-safari.co.za

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