City of Jacarandas.
Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a lovely, quiet city. It has a long, involved and fascinating history.
Here you will find many significant old buildings and some fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has wonderful natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind. Also worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and the Smuts Museum, just outside town.
Probably the most heartening thing about the new government in South Africa is that, unlike many successful revolutionaries, we have not gone on an iconoclastic, monument-topping orgy. The Union Buildings changed overnight from a symbol of white, neo-colonial unity to one of true unity, and the iconic Voortrekker Monument still stands.
Ironically, though, the bust of one of apartheid’s most ardent supporters, JG Strydom, which stood in Strydom Square near the State Theatre, toppled without any help other than gravity and the erosive quality of time on steel supports – on the 40th anniversary of the day South Africa became a white-governed republic.
It’s a great town – there are quite a few open spaces where you can walk or mountain bike. Nearby is the Premier Game Reserve, next door to the Cullinan Diamond Mine, where the largest diamond in the world was found.
You could do a short horse trail at the Voortrekker Monument or through the Premier Reserve, taking a careful look at some white rhino and a number of eland – which are pretty much the size of a big horse. You could do a tandem skydive or a first jump at the Pretoria Skydiving Club, which is the largest in the country.