Tuesday, October 5, 2010

World of Beer

Most travellers do not stay more than a day or two in Johannesburg either because they think there is little of interest there or because they think it is unsafe. They are wrong on both counts. It’s a shame to miss out on what this vibrant city and Gauteng province in general has to offer. Here are a few examples of how to fill in your time there.

Golf enthusiasts can play the world’s most talked about par 3 hole, the “Extreme 19th.” Set high up on Hanglip Mountain, the hole is accessible only by helicopter and played to a green in the shape of Africa 400 metres below.

Do a half or full day cycling tour of Soweto accompanied by local guides. Stop for a local burger – kota or take a beer break at a shebeen. At the end of the day you’ll return to the hotel with a totally new perception of this often unfairly maligned township.

See a stage production at The Nelson Mandela Theatre, Tesson, Thabong and Peter Roos theatres. Shows are mainly local productions – musicals, ballet and comedy. The incredible Soweto Gospel Choir regularly perform here too.

There is caving at the famous Sterkfontein Caves and 10 kilometres away at Maropeng is a world class visitor facility which tells the story of the Cradle of Humankind and brings to life the history of humankind in entertaining, educational and inter-active ways.

Visitors should not miss the De Wildt Cheetah Research Farm. This is a guided tour in an open safari vehicle with experienced, qualified guides. You will gain an understanding of these beautiful big cats and learn all there is to know about their habits, nature and their struggle for survival. You’ll also see the king cheetah – one of the rarest animals on earth.

There is also hot air ballooning, an amazing Lipizzaner horse show and the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour. This is a unique eco-adventure that takes visitors down the spectacular Ysterhout Kloof in the Magaliesberg Mountains. The tour essentially involves zigzagging down the Kloof (cliff), stopping at each platform to admire the views and surrounding ecology. Two trained guides assure the safety of each participant while describing interesting facts about the indigenous plants, bird life, ecology and geology of the area.

Then there is my favourite – the SAB World of Beer. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday and is a real fun-filled showcase of brewing. Enjoy the tour and finish it off with 2 free ice cold beers. The tour unveils the heritage of beer from ancient Mesopotamia, through Africa and Europe all the way to a honkey-tonk pub of Johannesburg , mining camp days and a traditional Soweto shebeen. Delicious lunches are available in the Tap Room from where you can take in panoramic views of the city. Try it. It’s a lot of fun and the beer’s not bad either.

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