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Jazz fans from around the world appreciate the skill and vibrant talent of South African jazz musicians. It’s no surprise that the country hosts a number of internationally-recognised jazz concerts and festivals throughout the year. South African jazz is in a class of its own, made up of a series of uniquely diverse influences that give life to that distinctive African sound. The Sophiatown Bar Lounge is inspired by the multicultural Johannesburg suburb from which it takes its name. Historically, Sophiatown was a hive of creativity and political activism. In the first half of the 20th century, it produced some of South Africa’s most famous jazz musicians. Today, this Newtown jazz venue celebrates their legacy. The Sophiatown Bar Lounge is literally and figuratively at the heart of the South African jazz scene. As well as serving up large helpings of iconic jazz sounds, the venue also hosts well-known and emerging contemporary artists. Enjoy an evening of South African jazz – a truly unique experience.
An entertainment hub of note, celebrating Johannesburg’s mining heritage. Delegates can go down a gold mine, dine at any one of the many restaurants and/or enjoy a night of jazz at a stylish cocktail bar. The theme park is built around a 19th Century gold mine and has an abundance of exhilarating thrill rides including the Anaconda, Dream Boat, Golden Loop and Miner’s Revenge. Another highlight of this Jozi gem is its 96-seater 4D theatre, which has hydraulic seats that emit various scents to match whatever is playing on the screen. After an eventful day of an adrenaline rush, experiencing the best of the theme park’s rides, delegates will be pleased to know that the Southern Sun Gold Reef City hotel – a small, four-star, hotel – is close by, where they can spend the evening.
It is not only fun and enlightening, but healthy too. There are numerous walking tours on offer, including a fascinating Graffiti Tour, a Public Art Tour, Tour of Newtown and a Tour of Fordsburg, home to a large South African Indian community and the famous Oriental Plaza. Of course, a tour of Soweto is a definitely something to tick off on your delegates’ to-do lists. Westcliff and Parktown are also good options to consider walking about and immersing yourself in the areas and everything it has to off. Gauteng tour operators are on hand to ensure delegates get the most out of their walking tour experiences.
A multi-purpose venue in the north of Johannesburg, Montecasino is hub of entertainment. There are numerous restaurants, coffee shops and bars at Montecasino, as well as the beautifully kept Montecasino Bird Gardens. Whether delegates are in the mood for a dazzling night of theatre, trying their lucky hand at slot machines or having a relaxed evening enjoying fine cuisine at one of the many eateries in the casino’s food court, there’s definitely something for everyone. Beautifully decorated to resemble a Tuscan village, one can’t help but gaze in awe at the incredible architecture of Montecasino. This Fourways gem also boasts a bird garden where over 100 unique and exotic bird species are housed.
Not too far from both Johannesburg and Pretoria is the Lion Park in Lanseria, which is well-equipped to deal with large groups. Viewing these large predators at the Lion Park is a major highlight for any visitor to the region. This is a perfect way for delegates to get an up-close encounter with one of Africa’s fiercest cats. From guided three-hour game tours in semi-opened safari vehicles to viewing opportunities to see white lions, cheetahs and various African wildlife species, this park offers visitors a true outdoor experience. After an eventful day, settle down for a light lunch at the Wetlands Restaurant and Bar.
Visitors to Tshwane can enjoy a day trip to the old mining town of Cullinan (where the Cullinan Diamond was found in 1905). Take a tour of the old diamond mine, there are three to choose from – surface, motorised or underground. Shop at the various antique shops and have a fun group event at the quirky Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas. If delegates were amazed by the Kimberley Big Hole, they haven’t seen anything yet – the Cullinan’s open-cast mine is three times bigger than Kimberley’s Big Hole. Other attractions to enjoy include the historical and cultural attractions displaying paintings by Sir Herbert Baker and World War II prisoners, and for history buffs, a visit to the Sammy Marks Museum and Cullinan Station is a must.
When visiting Tshwane, visit both the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park. The monolithic Voortrekker Monument sheds light on South Africa’s pioneer history, while Freedom Park is largely dedicated to the heroes of the struggle and also has a fantastic museum - //hypo - which tells the continent’s history from an African perspective. What delegates will notice upon arrival is the large grounds, which has been declared a National Nature Reserve, and the small game that can be seen wondering about the reserve. It’s recommended that delegates take a guided tour of Freedom Park to get an in-depth understanding of the park’s architecture, which is all based on spiritual, historical and ideological themes.
The Maboneng Precinct in downtown Johannesburg is a great place to explore urban culture. There are a number of restaurants, galleries and bars worth visiting – and on Sundays, there is the wonderful Market on Main food market. But it’s not just the market, there’s so much more that’s fuelling this inner-city creative hub – think incredible buildings, boasting old-fashioned yet imaginative architecture. These buildings comprise studios, boutique shops, art galleries and coffee shops. Main Street Life on Fox Street consists of a lifestyle development that has sweeping views of the city below. For delegates who are into contemporary design and history, the Museum of African Design, where the best of African art and design is showcased.
Explore the famous township of Soweto by bicycle. A local guide will take your group to see all the main attractions, finishing up at a neighbourhood restaurant, where you can sample the local home-made beer. One of the best ways to see the sights and sounds of this vibrant township is with Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers. Here delegates can either take a bike tour or hitch a ride on a Tuk Tuk and explore the bustling Vilikazi Street, the former home of Nelson Mandela, and the wide variety of shebeens. But if you’re up for a thrilling adrenaline rush, bungee jumping off the Orlando Towers is a must-do. Imagine jumping down 33 storeys? It’s exhilarating!
Johannesburg has a chequered history that goes back to the mining days of old. The best way to get a perspective of the city is to go on the big red bus that starts at Gold Reef City and stops off at all the main attractions. From the Johannesburg Zoo and Constitutional Hill to the Carlton Centre, hop on and off at various tourist hotspots in the city including the Apartheid Museum, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Soweto, one of South Africa’s famous townships. This exciting city adventure allows delegates the freedom to see the best that Johannesburg and its surrounds have to offer.
Nothing beats going on safari, and the Dinokeng Game Reserve is about an hour from both Johannesburg and Pretoria. Delegates can enjoy a game-viewing excursion and a sundowner stopover in the African bush. What’s unique about this game reserve is that it is free-roaming, which means that the wildlife including lions and elephants are not restricted. From game drives and sunset boat cruises to bush lunches and picnics, Dinokeng Game Reserve doesn’t disappoint when it comes to outdoor activities. Delegates will be pleased to know that Johannesburg and Pretoria is under an hour away from the game reserve, so travelling should be a breeze.
Attendees will gain real insight into South Africa’s history with a visit to the Apartheid Museum. This interactive world-class museum is one of the highlights of any visit to Gauteng. Under apartheid, non-white people were disadvantaged and were disposed of land, economic opportunity and their democratic right to vote – and the Apartheid Museum displays artefacts, portraits and information that highlights this tumultuous period in South Africa.
Treat attendees to an authentic township shebeen experience, complete with local cuisine and traditional favourites. Throw in some jazz from a neighbourhood band to add to the fun atmosphere. There’s a variety of shebeens and taverns in Soweto should delegates find themselves strolling about in this vibrant township. From Wandie’s Place to Sakumzi Restaurant, these lively shebeens are sure to enhance the visitor experience in Soweto.
Visit Vilakazi Street, the former home of two Nobel laureates: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Enjoy lunch in a township shebeen and visit freedom struggle sites. As soon as delegates arrive in Soweto, they will discover that this vibrant township is buried with rich South African history, sprawling with charming locals and has a lively atmosphere. To fully immerse themselves in Soweto, it’s best for delegates to take a half-day or full-day tour where knowledgeable guides are available to explain the history and present-day life of the thriving township. The famous Vilakazi Street is known for the vibey taverns and eateries where visitors get to taste traditional cuisine while taking in the township life.
Visit the Maropeng Visitors Centre and Sterkfontein Caves to discover your human ancestry. The caves have produced more than 850 hominid fossil remains. Send your delegates to this World Heritage Site to uncover humanity’s past and what stories these hominid fossils have to tell. From the Sterkfontein Caves and Swartkrans to Kromdraai and other fossil sites, each location has an individual story to tell about our ancestors who walked the Earth approximately three million years ago. In 1886, gold lime was needed for the extraction of gold in Witwatersrand, which led to locals blasting the caves in the 1890s to retrieve it. As a result, fossils were discovered.
Learn about South Africa’s road to democracy by visiting the Apartheid Museum, the Hector Pieterson Memorial, Mandela House Museum, Constitution Hill, Freedom Park and Liliesleaf Farm. When delegates travel to downtown Johannesburg and take an emotional tour of the Apartheid Museum, they get to truly understand what it was like to be racially segregated. Visitors enter either the “white” or “non-white” entrance, depending on which ticket they’re randomly given. The Hector Pieterson Memorial gives visitors an insight into the 1976 Soweto Uprising and the events that led up to the tragic death of Hector Peterson. Another great institution that delves into South Africa’s freedom journey is the Mandela House Museum where delegates get an awe-inspiring opportunity to walk around the former house of Nelson Mandela and learn more about this great leader’s struggle and accomplishments. Other institutions displaying South Africa’s freedom struggles are also worth a visit.