Published: January 5th 2010January 4th 2010
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
On the bridge over the Crocodile River, below the waterfall.
Poor Gauteng, Jozie, Jo'burg, whatever you call her, she is much maligned by South Africans and foreigners alike, but this city has a lot to offer if you know where to look. Everything remains South African, so do not expect to be blown away by urban sophistication, but that does not mean there is nothing in the urban environment - shopping, residential neighborhoods, streetscapes, etc. that is not of interest. But the real interest is in what the greater province of Gauteng has to offer. The greatest Gold Rush in the history of the world occurred here and there is a lot to do with that and with diamond mining that has made this a great place.
Cradle of Humankind
The greatest of these is a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the name above. A place that is not even mentioned in our DK Eyewitness Guidebook (serious mistake in competency on the author's and editor's part). The caliber of such a site cannot be undervalued when you consider the company that it is in on a world basis. Many hominids have been found in Africa, mainly in East Africa, but South Africa has some of the most important sites
Waterfall at Botanical Gardens
Just seems to emanate from what is a small mountain in a rather flat area.
in recent history northwest of Jozie. We visited the Sterkfontein Caves where, through the mining of Limestone for the processing of Gold ore, fossils were found of Australopithicus Africanus - an ancestor from 2 to 3 million years ago, a precursor to genus Homo (Neanderthal, Erectus, and Sapiens). The caves are fascinating, but best done is the museum, a fascinating reversal to the 99% South African factor, and a 100% success in properly characterizing the value of the site and its place in the evolution of life and the universe. A further kudos to the curators for including a perspective on world religions and how they view evolution in light of discoveries such as Ms. Ples nearby and more recently Littlefoot - both very complete Africanus specimens.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
Ho-hum, botanical gardens in America are not a big deal. Franklin Park Conservartory, nice for a minute, but not much depth. Wow. They have a magnificent waterfall in theirs. They have these orange and yellow flourescent birds that you can watch from a special hideway at the base of a small pond surrounded by dense local flora (no, they are not spray-painted). They have a park
One of the beautiful flowering plants you will see at the Gardens. I believe this is the national flower of South Africa.
so well-executed that it has become a lover's lane where every properly-spaced nook has some young couple or another picnicking and doing God knows what. Definitely worth a visit, if you have the slightest passing interest in trees, plants, and flowers. We are so busy while in South Africa looking for the Big Five that it is easy to forget how important the birds and the bee's hangouts are.
They have renamed Pretorius' city Tshwane. Jennifer and I debated whether this had merit. South Africans were not city builders, so the founder of the city, Pretorius, deserves to keep his name whether he is liked or not today. Tshwane does NOT deserve to have a mythical chief statue placed next to Paul Kruger. This is smoke and mirrors a pandering to feeble mindedness by a government unwilling and unable to deliver real change. Certainly vestiges of oppression and Apartheid have to be removed, but a Rhodesia should become a Zimbabwe, but a Zaire should always have remained a Congo. What do I know. Pretoria is a gorgeous city, probably the most beautiful in the land. It has been butchered. It is uninviting on Church Square, even I
Calla Lillies near Pond
At the Botanical Gardens
felt uncomfortable. The whole time were were in the main downtown area, we saw between pedestrians and cars only two white people - a couple of younger women on a street corner who looked a bit lost. I hate to put it in these terms, because it is not about color, but when combined with the economic representation that the citizens offered on our drive through the city, it is most unwelcoming. I was having flashbacks of Livingstone, Zambia. Downtown Johannesburg and Pretoria have been abandoned wholesale. What a pity. Church Square is amazing, as are the Union Buildings. I wish we had spent more time there.
There are more photos below