High on a hilltop south of the city center, the Voortrekker Monument is a South African National Heritage site and one of the country's most visited historic monuments. It was built in 1949 to commemorate the Voortrekkers, the Boers who pushed northward into unknown territory in the mid 19th-century.
This 40-meter-high square granite structure is a prominent landmark in the city with steps leading up to the Hall of Heroes, where 27 marble reliefs depict the Great Trek of 1838. Surrounding the monument is a wall depicting ox-wagons representing the trek wagons. On 16 December each year, a shaft of sunlight shines through an opening in the dome and illuminates a cenotaph below, which reads. "Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika" ("We are for you, South Africa").
Occasionally, the hall hosts classical music performances, which highlight its excellent acoustics. Museum exhibits depict snapshots of life during this important period. After browsing the interior, visitors can admire panoramic views of Pretoria from the roof or enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
Address: Eeufees Road, Pretoria
Sitting on Salvokop Hill with panoramic views, Freedom park traces the story of South Africa's liberation and honors those who played an important role. The site opened to the public in 2007 and encompasses a series of poignant memorials and an impressive museum with exhibits examining the nation's history from the dawn of humanity to the present day.
The site overlooks the nearby Voortrekker Monument and other key landmarks of the city below. A highlight is the Wall of Names, inscribed with the names of all those who lost their lives in South Africa's major conflicts; an eternal flame; and the Gallery of Leaders, an inspirational look at role models on the road to freedom. Guided tours take about two hours and provide fascinating insight to the stories represented here, as well as the symbolic features of the architecture.
Official site: http://www.freedompark.co.za/
Rietvlei Nature Reserve
On the outskirts of Pretoria, Rietvlei Nature Reserve offers a peaceful escape to nature and great game viewing less than a 20-minute drive from the city center. The dam was built during the Great Depression, and now constitutes 15 percent of Pretoria's water supply, as well as supporting a range of highveld game that was reintroduced to the area. Eland, red hartebeest, buffalo, blesbok, waterbuck, zebra, black wildebeest, hippo, and even cheetah are among the animals found here. Birders should keep a lookout for the comical secretary birds, as well as the blue crane, South Africa's national bird, and a breeding pair of fish eagles.
The reserve encompasses 3,800 hectares of rolling hills, sprawling grassland, well-marked roads, and of course, the dam itself, where anglers can cast their lines from the northern and western shores. Other highlights include the lion tours, hiking and horse trails, bird hides, a popular tea garden, and a playground to keep the kids entertained.
Official site: http://rietvlei-reserve.co.za/
The Lion and Safari Park in the Cradle of Humankind offers guests a very special experience with a wealth of exciting activities such as animal interactions, guided game drives and self-drives. You are guaranteed to get super-close to some of Africa’s favourite animals whether you go on an informative guided tour or self-drive. Guests also have the opportunity to engage in the experience of hand feeding a selection of animals including giraffes, ostriches and various other antelope species that roam freely on the 600-hectare property and frequently visit the wetlands in front of ‘the Wetlands’ Bar and Restaurant.
The Lion & Safari Park is home to a vast selection of indigenous species such as Lion (Brown and White), Cheetah, Hyena (Brown, Spotted and Striped), Leopard (including black leopard), Wild Dogs, Sable antelope, Kudu, Nyala to mention only a few.
Guests can enjoy a variety of different guided tours. The trained guides turn every tour into an informative and educational trip as they share interesting facts. Tour options include; Lion & Wild Dog Tour, Mini Safari, Night tours (with predator feeding), Private Exclusive tours, Alex Tour, Cheetah and Lion Walks. The 3-hour Safari is the flagship tour which includes snacks and drinks on the bank of the Crocodile river. The famous animal trainer Alex Larenty promises to provide a fun-filled experience as he interacts with fully grown lions on the ‘Alex tour’.
Official site: https://lionandsafaripark.com/
Inside a modest Victorian on Church Street, the Kruger House Museum is the oldest and best known house in Pretoria. From 1883 to 1900, it was the home of Paul Kruger, President of the former Transvaal Boer Republic.
Today it has been turned into a museum with mementos and exhibits relating to his life and the politics of the time. Note the two stone lions on the verandah. They were gifted to President Kruger for his birthday in 1896 by the Northern Cape mining magnate Barney Barnato.
Location: 59 WF Nkomo Street, Pretoria Central
The Pretoria National Botanical Garden, in the city's eastern suburbs, is a peaceful oasis close to the city. The 76-hectare gardens spotlight South African species, with more than half the country's tree species, as well as many flowering plants, cycads, aloes, and other impressive collections. A quartzite ridge slices the park into two sections, with vegetation in the warmer north-facing half contrasting with that in the colder south-facing section.
The plants are grouped according to their climatic region, such as the savannas of the Karoo, coastal forests, and the grassland plains of Namibia. Paved nature trails lead through the natural vegetation of the rocky ridge above the garden. Also on the grounds, the National Herbarium is home to the largest collection of plant specimens in South Africa, with more than a million species catalogued and stored here. After exploring the lovely gardens, visitors can enjoy a meal at the lakefront restaurant.
Address: 2 Cussonia Avenue, Brummeria, Pretoria - Official site: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/pretoria