Things To Do In Pretoria
The city of Pretoria is South Africa's administrative capital and one of its great looking cities with various numbers of lovely looking houses in the downtown area. The city is spacious with verdant green suburbs and wide roads that are lined with a purple vision of jacarandas that blooms at its finest from the months of October - November.
Pretoria’s bars and restaurants are not as cosmopolitan like the ones in the major capital cities of South Africa, but Pretoria was once the main core of the politically-sanctioned racial discrimination era (years of apartheid), with the image of being the victims of oppression. Today, it has become a land of black government servants and foreign workers, who are imbuing the city with a deep sense of multiculturalism. The structures of Pretoria reflect different engineering styles and impacts, making it an ideal and noble urban scene.
When To Go:
Amid spring the South African capital of Pretoria is the most ravishing sight and must be seen during this time. The city has around 80,000 Jacaranda trees in its region, which start to blossom in spring, their pretty blooms making a delightful purple background for the city. Pretoria is additionally called The Jacaranda City because of this natural wonder.
The spring season (September/October) is the ideal time to see the administrative capital city. An alternate decent time to visit would be April and May, the favored start of the autumn season. Likewise, the season of summer (November to March) is not a good time to visit, despite the fact that the temperatures are hot and arid, Pretoria gets a substantial measure of precipitation joined by storms that happen mostly towards the evenings.
The winter season, aside from being cold is basically gentle and dry. The normal temperature amid the day is around 20 degrees Celsius while at nights the temperature drop down to at least 4 degrees Celsius. An occurrence of frost is very common especially during the winter nights yet it also experiences smooth and quiet air in the entire city.
If you are searching for a good vacation in South Africa, here are the popular things to do while in the city of Pretoria…
Voortrekker Monument & Heritage Site
The Voortrekker Monument & Heritage Site is a worthy monument that discusses apartheid in all aspects. Nestled on a hill outside Pretoria is this colossal monument that is built in Art Deco style. It was established during the apartheid and romanticizes the Peasant Movement and the ties with the Netherlands. You can see many flags and a sarcophagus where the sunlight falls on the very day that the battle of Blood River is commemorated. You can also visit the Afrikaner heritage center to get a picture of this once divided society. Don’t forget a visit to the basement.
It is a very interesting place that shows a part of the history of South Africa. It is within the monument where one can find a museum and nearby a beautiful renovated blockhouse. It is definitely worth a visit and the best place to learn about the history of the Boers. The monumental building is not to be overlooked, and the huge relief of the imposing building is just as impressive as the grim story it tells. Also the surroundings are worth highlighting like the long wall around the green area that surrounds the historic and informative structure.
If you are in Pretoria, the Freedom Park is a must-see attraction. It was built in response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee appointed by the late Nelson Mandela. It is well organized and has an interactive museum where more South African cultures are discussed to help everyone become aware of their significance to South Africa. It is very focused against colonization, but this makes for a nice balance when you are visiting with the Voortrekker Monument.
The Freedom Park includes a museum where you can see the history of South Africa from the beginning of mankind until the end of apartheid. The museum is designed in a very interesting way and it is highly interactive. Furthermore, you can also see so many films about apartheid. The Freedom Park is a huge area with views of the city. There are different monuments and the facility is well maintained and all around they have a very attentive staff who will gladly answer your questions about apartheid with a detailed explanation complete with pictures.
Pretoria National Botanical Garden
The Pretoria National Botanical Garden is an infinitely beautiful oasis in Pretoria that is very spacious and where everywhere there is an incredible diversity of plants. At the left side of the entrance to the Botanical Garden is a cafe and restaurant where you can drink coffee on the beautiful terrace. If you’re on a diet, beware of the cake pieces that are absolutely huge and infinitely delicious! You can also enjoy picnic with your family along its well manicured gardens. It is also the perfect place to go in Pretoria if you need some peace and quiet time while surrounded by nature.
President Paul Kruger House
In the home of President Paul Kruger, one can imagine oneself at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. Everything is still there and kept intact as if Paul Kruger left just yesterday out of this house. To better understand the significance of the President Paul Kruger House, it is necessary to hire a guide inside the house/museum who knows about the life and political struggle of Kruger in a fairly objective way. In a separate room in the garden, you will come to know a lot about the international contacts of Kruger, especially in the time of the Anglo-Boer War. The train on which the president moved, is also on display in the garden. It is a truly interesting museum for those interested in the Anglo-Boer War and the establishment of the independent Boer Republic.
This home is almost completely original with the atmosphere of a Dutch farmhouse interior from 1900, which fits quite naturally with the great leader of the Boers. For additional information about this historic home, please read the wonderful book "Boer War" by Martin Bossenbroek and you will understand much better what happened here from 1880 up to 1902. If you’re in Pretoria, do not fail to visit the home of one of the most important presidents of South Africa. The history, furniture and home are very well maintained, which makes it the most interesting part of learning about this house museum in the heart of the city.
The horseback riding experience in Horseback Africa is one of the best experiences and things to do while in Pretoria. Being awakened by the roar of lions behind the lodge is still a special experience. The management and their amiable staff do not give you the feeling that you are a guest and they make ways to help you get associated with this warm and happy family. You will have enormous admiration for their efforts to save the lions and the work involved in securing a safe environment for them.
Horseback Africa is run by the Colin family. They are extremely welcoming, friendly, professional, and if you spend an overnight stay they will receive you and attend to your needs for two days. From the moment you land into their grounds, you’ll immediately feel at home. The horseback safari is well prepared to perfection and executed. The lion walk is also very impressive.
To run and romp with 6 month old cubs, where else can you do that? And then the icing on the cake, feeding the milk bottle of the smallest cubs! After this fun feeding time, you can chill in the cold pool; have a drink, a little time to unwind, etc. The braai (BBQ Party) that is served later in the evening is delightful. They also have food fit for the vegetarians, with an unusually tasty meat substitute. There is a campfire party where guests can interact and spend the night on a lodging house right next to the roaring lions. It is an unforgettable travel experience that you must not miss when in Pretoria.
Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre
The best time to visit the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre is during the afternoon when most of the animals are awake and active. It has a part where you can go walking in various cages of cheetahs and if you want to take a picture beside one, you must pay an additional fee of 50 Rand per person (about US $ 13). You can get in with a trained guide and take pictures. There is also a mini safari where you can see several other animals such as wild dog, hyena, birds, etc. It is one of the coolest things to do while in Pretoria.
More popularly known as” the house of cheetahs”, it is highly recommended to book your tour one day before to be able to enjoy and learn a little more about them. It is wonderful to see how Ann along with a large group of trained volunteers has managed to protect the cheetah and its natural habitat. The ability to enter a Cheetah petting area is really worth it. You can go and admire the animals up close in their own accommodation, it is also very rewarding when they try to interact, this way you do not see the animals with fences and you can make beautiful pictures. It is very special and beautiful to meet this 83 year old woman in person who is still 100% committed to its employees and hard working volunteers to preserve these magnificent animals.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
The Groenkloof Nature Reserve is a park that has a total of many possibilities, from the picnic area, to the Squad (4x 4 adventures) and the challenging hiking trail that also involves the use of a mountain bike which is the more thrilling way to discover the forest rather than taking a car into the woods. The mountain bike trail is great; very scenic and has many single trails that are spiced with some passages that represent technically challenging paths like; passing by the loose rocks upwards.
But the greatest are the animals (zebras, ostriches, monkeys, etc.) that cross right across your path occasionally on the trail! Just make sure to avail of a mountain bike that is in good condition,. Check both the screws on the handlebars and the saddle screw that might break away during the tour, which can be dangerous especially if you have no tools attached along with your rented bikes from the facilities there. This adventure is a must while you’re in Pretoria.
It is here at the complex of the Union Buildings where Nelson Mandela in 1994 took his oath as president of South Africa and where now halfway up the hill, they have constructed a meter high statue of him smiling, hands raised up and facing the city of Pretoria. The statue is very symbolic and dramatically placed in a stance like he is blessing the city or welcoming anyone who is there to see him. The statue itself is quite impressive and a very good conversational piece inside the premises of the complex. The buildings are not accessible and most of the inns now serve as the offices of the presidential staff. But still it is very worthwhile to see and take pictures beside the most important man of Africa, the driving force behind freedom from apartheid and also because of the beautiful view of Pretoria.
It has a nice view of sand-colored buildings with a well tended garden and a courtyard that is always full of people strolling, kids playing or tugging along the feet of Mandela’s monument, and foreigners who wait for their turn for a photo opportunity beside the huge image of a national hero and legendary icon of South Africa. It has easy access and free parking in front. But there is no easy access to the buildings themselves because of security reasons. It has a good view of the buildings and a very nice garden with it’s neatly kept the flowers and scents that are very relaxing.
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (Pretoria Zoo)
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa or the Pretoria Zoo is very good and the animals are well looked after. It is advisable to spend a day and explore its features. It has a very wide range of animals and the ease of seeing them is impressive. It has a cable car that provides outstanding views of the site and the city. It is a large and well laid out park with spacious enclosures. The zoo is a beautiful facility which is frequently renovated. The animals are healthy and well and mostly stay in the generous savannah areas. Many African families come here and use the specially established lawns for picnics and recreational activities.
Loftus Versfeld Stadium
The Loftus Versfeld Stadium is used for both Rugby (home of South African Bulls team) and for football. It is modern, well located, and easily accessible to tourists. In the middle of Pretoria lies the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, a Rugby Stadium that was renovated on the occasion and made fit for the World Cup. It has certainly not the comfort of a European stadium, but it has the charm of many batted Rugby battles.
The seats are mostly made of old wooden benches, the stadium is completely covered, and you can sit right on the pitch. The stadium itself is absolutely worth seeing. It is an old stadium with a lot of charm, fitted directly on the playing field and complete with seats. You can make a tour from the grandstand, bleacher sections, changing rooms, and the VIP rooms. And if you like a remembrance of your tour here there is a small gift shop right inside the premises of the stadium.
The Church Square is located at the end of the church street and along a busy pedestrian street that is lined with shops and banks. The prominent square is surrounded by a beautiful green that attracts many locals who wants to enjoy the fresh air, especially during the hottest summer months of the year. It has a number of facilities and high rise offices in Victorian and colonial architecture giving a nice old style and a Medieval like atmosphere. There are many people sitting in this square on the benches or simply sunbathing or lying on the grass. It's cool to watch the local people. There are several beautiful building surrounding the square to be observed in the center and a monument to Paul Kruger. Be sure to check out this famous square when in the city of Pretoria.
Pretoria City is an ideal travel destination that has many varied and interesting tourist spots that covers the cultural, social, and historical part of South Africa. Every monument, building, square, natural reserves, house museums, parks and monuments have an interesting story to share. Another interesting part is the tourist sites are not located so far apart from each other. If you wish to see the natural reserve safaris of Pretoria, the travel to the outskirt parts is all worth it.
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