The West Rand, Gauteng, commands an ever-changing landscape that shifts from the suburbs outside the city limits to rolling hills, open plains and eventually rugged mountains. It offers spectacular scenery and natural diversity, all within an archaeologically-significant area that has helped uncover some of humankind's greatest secrets.

Did you know?

The Magaliesberg are some of the world’s oldest mountains and are believed to be almost 100 times older than Everest.

The West Rand, Gauteng, makes up the province's most western region, extending from Johannesburg to the North West border. Hiking, walking, game viewing, bird watching and steam train rides are popular West Rand activities, while the national botanical garden and Cradle of Humankind are the biggest West Rand attractions.

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is an absolute gem. Its complex of walks, trails, waterfalls and mountains are perfect for picnics and afternoon strolls. Visit the Witpoortjie waterfall and look for the garden's famous pair of Verreaux's Eagles soaring above the cliffs.

The region's typical highveld bush makes it ideal for game conservation. At the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve you can view a variety of animals and reptiles, and pet lion cubs. Game drives allow you to explore the surrounding bush, while the visitor facilities are great for braais (barbecues) and sundowners.

Around the corner is Kromdraai's Wonder Cave. This two million-year-old natural phenomenon features stalactite and stalagmite formations of up to 15m. A guided day or night tour of this subterranean wonderland is recommended.

The Wonder Cave forms part of the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also includes the Sterkfontein Caves. It was here that the hominid fossils, Mrs Ples and Little Foot, were discovered. These fossils are aged at two million and three million years old respectively and are among the world's most important archaeological finds.

They speak to the existence of pre-historic man, the life of which can be explored at the nearby Maropeng Visitor Centre. Take a boat ride through time and see how man evolved with the centre's informative interactive exhibits.

Just past Maropeng is the country village of Magaliesburg. Set in picturesque mountains, this quaint town is worth a visit before following the Magalies Meander route to discover its natural and historical wonders, adventure activities and country retreats.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Gauteng Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0) 11 639 1600

Maropeng Visitor Centre
Tel: +27 (0) 14 577 9000
Email: info@maropeng.co.za

Magalies Meander
Tel: + 27 (0)14 577 1733/ 18845/6
Email: info@magaliesburg.co.za

How to get here

Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities into OR Tambo International Airport at Johannesburg.

If you’re driving, from Durban take the N3 motorway to Johannesburg and from Cape Town take the N1 motorway to Johannesburg.

From Johannesburg, take the the N1 north. Take the Malibongwe Drive offramp, connecting to the R512. This road takes you past the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Wonder Cave and provides access to the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng Visitor Centre.

Best time to visit

The West Rand is an all-year-round destination. Spring to autumn (September to May) is sunny and warm, with hot summer days that usually bring rain. Winter days are mild, but mornings and evenings can be cold.

Around the area

Visit West Rand attractions such as the Water Sisulu National Botanical Garden; Maropeng Visitor Centre; Sterkfontein Caves; Wonder Cave; Krugersdorp Game Reserve; ride the Magalies Express steam train; go hot air ballooning over the Cradle of Humankind or Skeepoort, or try your luck in the Silverstar Casino.

Tours to do

Guided walks in the Magaliesberg, including Anglo Boer war tours, motorcycle tours, Sterkfontein and Wonder Cave tours, and the Magaliesberg canopy tour. The Crocodile Ramble, an art and craft route, and the Magalies Meander are popular with day-trippers.

Get around

Public transport options to the West Rand are limited to commuter buses or metered taxis. Self-drive or a tour operator is recommended.

Where to stay

Around Mohale City (Krugersdorp) there are hotels and motels. Four and five-star country houses and lodges abound, and camping and self-catering options are available.

What to eat

Roots restaurant at the Forum Homini Hotel near Maropeng appears regularly in the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa. Casalinga, the Post & Rail, Bellgables, and Mount Grace’s restaurants offer superb country dining.

In season, buy avocados, citrus fruit, and tree nuts from farm stalls.

What's happening

The Cellar Rats Spring Wine Festival in September, Mampoer (home-brewed alcoholic spirits) Fest in February, Magalies Steam Train Challenge in November, and Citrus Festival in May, all in Magaliesburg; Randfontein Show in Randfontein in February.

Best buys

A number of painters, sculptors, and ceramicists are resident in on the West Rand. The Welwitschia Market and Chameleon Village sell African crafts and curios.