In Gauteng, you need to head west to find some “real” rest. This area of Gauteng is relatively free of busy cities and industries and the landscape is characterised by highveld plains and hills and the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountain range.
The West Rand is richly endowed with everything from culture, wildlife, history and natural beauty to famous prehistoric sites. Wild life sanctuaries, game reserves and dams abound and the Big Five as well as cheetah, hyena, wild dog, giraffe, hippo and many other wild inhabitants call this area home. More than 230 species of birds, including the black eagle, also live in the area.
But the main tourist draw card in the area is undoubtedly the Sterkfontein Caves — one of the world’s most important palaeo-anthropological sites. This site, and the sites at Swartkrans, Kromdraai, Gondolin, Plovers Lake, Wonder Cave, Drimolen, Haasgat, Coopers B, Gladysvale, Minnaars and Bolts Farm, have been declared World Heritage Sites. The area that they encompass is known as the Cradle of Humankind, an exciting tourist destination. The Cradle of Humankind area not only includes the twelve key fossil hominid discovery areas but also boasts superb nature and wildlife reserves, beautiful scenery, a multitude of guest lodges and hotels, excellent restaurants and several adventure tourism options, ranging from water sport, walks, horse trails and angling to balloon trips.
However, Western Gauteng, better known as the West Rand, also has a strong mining legacy, to which the towns of Krugersdorp, Roodepoort, Carltonville and Westonaria can attest. Most of these towns followed the same development pattern. Gold was discovered on a farm in the area, the discovery was usually followed by the establishment of diggings that eventually became a mine and later gave rise to a small village that, in due course, became a town or city.
Most of Western Gauteng is given over to agriculture. The Krugersdorp area supports the most productive farming enterprises such as maize, fruit (peaches, pears, plums and prunes) and other staple food products, as well as small stock, cattle and poultry farming. The area bordering on the Magaliesberg Mountain Range produces fruit, vegetables and flowers and the area around Carletonville and Randfontein is also utilised for farming ventures.