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Gauteng, the smallest province in South Africa, is nevertheless the most urbanised, industrial and commercial province because it contains the economic capital, Johannesburg, and the administrative capital, Pretoria. After the discovery of gold here in 1886, Gauteng has grown as the gateway to South Africa and the rest of southern Africa, with self-drive the best way to discover its tourist gems.
Though Gauteng has arguably the most developed transportation system in the country, the road network still pales in comparison to western standards. Car rental in Gauteng is still the best way to get around. Major rental companies such as Hertz, Avis and Europcar are easy to find in Gauteng, but do compare car hire rates before travel to find the best deals around.
The main airport servicing the province is OR Tambo International Airport. It is one of Africa's busiest airports as it connects the whole of southern Africa to international destinations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the US and the rest of Africa. Visitors with car hire in Gauteng can take the N1 if coming from Limpopo in the north or from Free State in the south.
Road conditions are good; however, it is best to note that at peak hours, roads may become congested, especially the major highways of N1 and N3. The speed limit on South Africa's urban roads is generally 40mph (60kph). It is twice that, 75mph (120kph), on major highways. Remember to drive on the left side of the road.
If you only have a few days to spend in Gauteng, then a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cradle of Humankind on the West Rand cannot be missed. Ancient fossils have been excavated here. Though highly urbanised, Gauteng has a number of game reserves where visitors can spot the so-called ‘Big Five’ (lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards and rhinoceros).
Gauteng lies on a subtropical latitude. However, due to its elevation, the climate is relatively cool. Johannesburg, for example, lies 5,577ft above sea level, with summer temperatures of 15°C to 26°C in January. It is possible to enjoy a stay here at any time of the year, but summer is the best time to visit.