Drakensberg & Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park
If any landscape lives up to its airbrushed, publicity-shot alter ego, it is the jagged, green sweep of the Drakensberg Range’s tabletop peaks. This forms the boundary between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, and offers some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.
Paul Kruger used to damn troublesome politicos with the phrase, ‘Give him a farm in the Waterberg’, but that fate may not strike you as such a hardship. The 150km-long range, which stretches northeast from Thabazimbi past Vaalwater, is protected by the 15,000-sq-km Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, one of Africa’s two savannah biospheres.
Cradle of Humankind
The area to the west of Jo’burg is one of the world’s most important palaeontological zones, focused around the Sterkfontein hominid fossil fields. The area is part of the 47,000-hectare Cradle of Humankind, which is listed for preservation by Unesco. Most Jo’burg-based tour operators offer full- and half-day tours of the area.
Parys & Vredefort Dome Area
On the banks of the Vaal River, Parys is a small, vibrant town just 120km south of Jo’burg that is a growing adventure-sport hub. It is home to a few impressive buildings, including the 1915 Anglican Church, built from blue granite blocks. Parys is handy for visiting Vredefort Dome, an area of hills created by the impact of a gigantic meteorite two billion years ago.