Gauteng is a Sotho word meaning Place of Gold. It’s an appropriate name for this tiny, elevated region: gold makes up more than 40% of South Africa’s GDP and 9% of that of the entire African continent.
Gauteng is an area that has always been a dynamic one: fortunes made and lost in the gold mines; the biggest spenders, hardest drinkers and flashiest cars; the bright lights of Jo’burg have long lured hopeful immigrants, whether from Scotland or Swaziland, Lithuania or Lesotho.
Heavily urbanised and densely populated, the region is dominated by the ever-growing conurbation of the economic powerhouse – Johannesburg – and the capital city – Pretoria, together with the industrial towns and townships that surround the two cities.
Despite its urban character, Gauteng is not without its own beauty. The koppies (rocky outcrops) of the highveld occur within the cities’ concrete sprawl and beyond it, among the grassy undulating hills of red-brown earth.
There are small nature reserves tucked away in forgotten corners and it is an area that serves well as a jumping-off point for safaris further afield.
The highveld is prone to sudden and torrential showers but also to drought. The twilights of dawn and dusk render even the blocky cityscapes a beautiful and evocative subject for photographers.