Johannesburg & Pretoria
Gauteng is the wealthiest of South Africa's provinces. Gold was the reason at first, discovered here in the 1880's, but even today this region is the nation's economic engine with two of the nation's most important cities, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.
With a population of 8 million, Johannesburg is by far the largest city in South Africa. It has all the attending problems faced by big cities, such as pollution, traffic, and crime. But the city invested heavily in its infrastructure in preparation for the 2010 World Cup, and it’s looking better than ever. Amidst the urban sprawl you’ll find some beautiful parks and interesting modern architecture. Melville is a nightlife hub, full of coffeeshops, restaurants and clubs. Seventh Street here is lined with used bookstores, antique dealers and body-piercing salons. The Apartheid Museum, located near here, tells the story of pain, struggle and final triumph of the human spirit during that period of South African history. Outside the city are national parks where you can see lions, cheetahs, and other animals.
Pretoria, located just to the north of Jo'burg is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive center, and de facto national capital. This major center of Afrikaner culture has roughly 400,000 Afrikaners among around 1.2 million people in the metro area, giving this city the largest population with European ancestry in all of Africa. The Voortrekker Monument here commemorates the journey of Dutch settlers from the Cape Colony they had lost. The edifice combines a German-mansion exterior with interior Art Deco and African Atenist style, influenced by the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt. British colonial architecture also abounds, and English is the common language of commerce, in a city where six major African languages and Africaans are also spoken.
Although it’s not a well-known gay destination, these cities have a large gay community between them. Johannesburg Gay Pride took place at Mushroom Farm Park in Sandton in October this past year, and Pretoria Pride which broke away for it's own October event, was at the Centurion Rugby Club. Most of the gay businesses are located in areas between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Same-sex marriage became legal in South Africa on November 30, 2006 with the Civil Unions Bill -- the fifth country in the world where this was done, and the first in Africa.
O.R. Tambo International Airport is about 13 miles northeast of downtown Johanesburg and 28 miles south of central Pretoria. It’s a completely renovated facility, spiffed up just in time for the World Cup events in 2010, and serves as the main air transport hub for the whole Southern Africa region. There are rail and bus links with downtown, as well as taxis.
From Cape Town the Blue Train travels approximately 1,600 km (1,000 miles) to Pretoria and back, 3 or 4 times each month. One of the world's most luxurious train journeys, it features butler service, fine dining, smoking and non-smoking lounge cars, an observation car, and gold-tinted picture windows. Some compartments come equipped with full-size bath tubs.
A car and driver is the best way to get around Johannesburg. You can also ask your hotel to call a taxi. Metrobus is the local public transportation company, with routes, schedules and fare information online. Ghandi Square is a major hub of their route system.
See the folks at the Jozi Experience for an African adventure; the sights, sounds and tastes, up close and personal, of lifestyles in and around Johannesburg. Graton Tours & Transfers will also get you around Johannesburg, or beyond, to Sun City, Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon or the beaches of Kwazulu-Natal.
Currency and Money
The rand is the local currency. Each rand is divided into 100 cents, making this an easy currency for foreigners to learn. ATMs are plentiful in Cape Town.
Media and resources
The Queer African Reader has online African LGBTIQ news, commentary, resources, and links across the continent and around the world.
Out in South Africa, the South African Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, with screenings in Cape Town and Johannesburg for 21 years, is inactive at this time.
The Jo'burg-based Daily Maverick has online "news, analysis, insight and opinion that you need."
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Johannesburg & Pretoria listings pages.
33 On First Guest House (33, 1st Ave; 27-11-726-7172), 6 large stylishly decorated rooms in Melville near freeways to Pretoria, Sandton, airport; shops, restaurants. Substantial breakfasts.
Monchique Boutique Guest House (Portion 3 Larsen's Rd, Muldersdrift; 27-82-551-0851), gay-friendly country luxury B&B retreat, 10 guestrooms and suites, full breakfast, function catering services.
Nomndeni de la Changuion (100 6th Ave, Melville, Jo'burg; 27-11-482-3370), gay-owned B&B, 7 en-suite guestrooms, satellite TV, WiFi, full breakfast.
Quiet Mountain Country House (1 Berg Rd, Hekpoort; 27-14-576-1258), gay-owned 7 guestroom guest house, tranquil countryside gardens in the Magaliesberg near Sterkfontein Caves; WiFi, swimming pool, library, hiking trails, full breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Saffron Guesthouse (15, 7th St, Melville, Jo'burg; 27-11-726-4464), gay-owned 10-guestroom B&B, WiFi, full breakfast, garden, tranfers and tours.
Voelkop (Voelkop Rd, off our map; 27-82-880-7497), men-only holiday resort cabins, huts and tent sites; always open clothing optional Bushveld hideaway in the Magaliesberg, with unspoiled natural beauty, congenial climate, two pools, steam room, gym and restaurant/bar - 90 minutes drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria.
The Graton Guest House closed this past year. See the Johannesburg Guesthouse website for some other local options.
Amuse Café (34 5th St, Linden), gay-friendly laid-back bar/lounge, live music, games, movie nights, restaurant, northwest of Johannesburg.
Beefcakes (198 Oxford Rd, Illovo), South Beach Miami-style diner restaurant/bar, cocktails, burgers, salads, nachos, drag shows, bitchy bingo. Closed Sundays.
The Club (Fourways between Stones and Salsa, Pineslopes), every first Friday of each month LGBTQ party night by the people behind the old Babylon; international guest DJs and residents play RnB, Hip Hop, House, Electro, Electronic Dance Music, and latest hits until dawn.
ETC-Zone Centurion (Eco Boulevard Centre, Witch Hazel Ave, Centurion), small gay/mixed party bar in strip mall, theme parties.
The Gay Club (North Rand at Gibb Rds, Boksburg), new Saturday gay clubnight above Silverado Pub, DJs, dancing, food menu, theme nights.
Industry (305 Fox St, Maboneng, Johannesburg), Thursday, Friday Saturday queer entertainment space, pre or post-events bar, lounge and nightclub.
KiKi Coqtail Lounge (Clubview Corner, 72 Lyttelton Rd, Centurion), Wednesday-Sunday LGBT cocktail lounge, diva hostess Genevieve Le Coq, tasty tapas and Saturday dinner shows, hot bartenders, open stage, karaoke and bingo.
Ratz Bar (9, Seventh St, Melville, Johannesburg), gay-friendly neighborhood bar, live performances, classic cocktails, retro-music sets.
Simply Blue (36 Rogers St, Selby, Johannesburg), Friday and Saturday gay club, black men and friends, restaurant, cigar lounge, dance floor.
Trouble (36 Knoppiesdoring Rd, Randpark Ridge, Johannesburg), Friday/Saturday "back to basics gay bar" in Trinity Village Shapping Center, men/women mix, pool tablee, games, karaoke, drag; bears, leathermen nights.
Saunas & Sex
Camp David Nude Bar (46 Selati St - beneath Caraffa Restaurant), in SE Pretoria suburb of Alphen Park, members-only nude men's cruise/ sex club and full bar with clothing lockers. Open weekdays noon to 2am, Friday/Saturday noon-4am, Sunday 2pm-2am.
Rec Room (Phoenix Centre, off Malibongwe Dr), just south of N1 Freeway in Randsburg, the largest licensed gay bathhouse in South Africa, two indoor and one outdoor Jacuzzis, steamroom, sauna, video lounges, private cabins, maze, video lounge and bar.
Sinsations Adult Boutique (4 Verona St, at Main St, Rosettenville), south of Jo'burg sex shop/ men's cruise area with TV lounge, rooms, glory holes.
KINX Leather & Fetish (Shop 1D, 7th St, Melville), sexiest, hottest leather fetish gear in South Africa, best quality "made for play" products; harnesses, shoes, leather chaps, jockstraps, floggers, cockrings, male chastity belts -they have it all.