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Pretoria

Just 50 km north of Johannesburg, in the northern part of Gauteng Province, lies Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital. Pretoria is a handsome city and feels like Jo'burg's prettier little sister; wide leafy boulevards and prosperous suburbs, and during the springtime the city explodes into bloom with pink protea and mauve jacarandas popping up on every street.

The city has had a central role in the shaping of South African history. In 1899 during the second Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured and held as a POW in Pretoria until his escape to Mozambique. British forces captured Pretoria in 1900 and held control of the area until the singing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902. Today, the city is home to a diverse variety of people and is also the residence of ambassadors and foreign dignitaries. This organic mixture of cultures lends a cosmopolitan appeal that is far removed from the bustle of Johannesburg.

Full of calm grandeur, Pretoria is characterised by its gracious old architecture and elegant government buildings. For a beautiful visual overview, head to the top of Meintjieskop Hill, where stately buildings with lush terraced gardens afford a stunning view of the city of Pretoria. Of particular note is the impressive semi-circular Union Buildings – where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated in 1994 (the city was once the beating heart of the apartheid regime), and it is the most recognisable and impressive landmark in Pretoria. Unfortunately, the inside of the building is not open to the public, but visitors can freely explore the beautiful terraced gardens which are popular for picnics, wedding photos and acts as a function venue for concerts and festivals.

Located on Salvokop is Freedom Park & Museum which honours fallen South Africans from all major conflicts. The museum is a beautiful architectural creation and covers a collective history from all of Southern Africa. Head up the hill within the main park for more cityscape views, and there is also a beautiful Garden of Remembrance and a Wall of Names which provide a peaceful poignancy for visitors.

During the summer showers and incredible thunderstorms pass quickly giving way to warm sunshine, and in the spring months of October and November the streets are alive with the purple haze of jacaranda blossom. With easy access to game lodges, a night or two in Pretoria before joining onto a train journey, safari or tailor-made tour is a stunning platform to start or end your holiday.

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So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
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