Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, previously known as the Transvaal Museum, holds documentation and exhibits of South Africa’s natural heritage, including hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, such as Mrs Ples. There is a large collection of fossils, skeletons, skins and mounted specimens of amphibians, fish, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals.
The museum is open daily between 08h00 and 16h00 and admission costs just R30.
At the top of the Waterkloof Ridge is Ritrovo, an Italian eatery. Co-owned by father and son team Giovanni and Fortunato Mazzone, the restaurant has established a reputation for outstanding food with award winning dishes, extensive wine list and 20,000-bottle wine-cellar. The food is classic Italian with a contemporary twist, using fresh seasonal produce to keep the menu exciting. Specialties include unusual carpaccios, fresh seafood and shellfish, handmade pasta, casseroles and roasts and crisply crusted chateaubriand-style fillet
The kitchen is open six days a week – 12h00 to 22h00 from Tuesday to Sunday and 11h30 to 14h00 on Sundays.
The Camera Obscura
The University of Pretoria’s Camera Obscura offers an all-round view of Pretoria and on a clear day it is even possible to see miniature cars climbing the pass in the Magaliesberg. It forms part of the university’s Sci-Enza Science Centre, a self-help laboratory where visitors can conduct their own experiments The Science Centre has moved to the Technical Building on the main campus, but the camera obscura is still on the roof of the Natural Sciences building (Natuurwetenskappe 1). Do not, however, expect to see a huge camera as you climb the stairs from the fifth floor to the roof.
Camera obscura is a Latin term which literally means dark room. And that is exactly what you will see – a dark room in which the development of the camera obscura from the pin-hole principle to a more sophisticated instrument consisting of lenses and plane mirrors is explained to visitors by the students on duty.
You can visit during the week between 08h00 and 16h00. Entry is free to individuals and small groups.
Carlton Café is a daytime eatery serving breakfast, lunch and all-day fare. Since opening in Menlo Park, Pretoria, in October 2002, it has drawn a loyal epicure following. Chef-patronne Rachel Botes was inspired by a chef’s jacket bought at the rummage sale of the old Carlton Hotel in 1998, and established the first Carlton Café at River Meadow Manor in Irene. Finding it difficult to source particular products for corporate clients, she extended the Carlton concept to include a small deli when opening in Menlo Park. She believes in using seasonal, wholesome fare and working with basic ingredients, which make up the dishes served at the cafe.
The Carlton Café is open during the week from 07h30 to 17h00 and on Saturdays between 07h30 and 14h00.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Situated in the Fountains Valley, Groenkloof is just 5km south of the city. Paul Kruger established the area as a reserve in 1895 to protect it from hunters and in so doing, established South Africa’s first nature sanctuary. Groenkloof offers a number of mountain bike, horse, 4X4 and hiking trails, all with varying degrees of difficulty. Bring along your binoculars to get better views of the game – impala, kudu, blue wildebeest, ostrich, zebra, giraffe and red hartebeest – and local birdlife.
During summer (September to April), the park is open from 05h30 to 19h00 daily. Entry costs R35 per person and R100 per vehicle.
The Voortrekker Monument, inside its very own nature reserve, commemorates the exodus of Boers from the Cape into the interior. It stands high above the city, one of the first landmarks visitors see as they drive into Pretoria from the south, and a great place to snap a few pictures. The massive monument is ringed with granite ox-wagons and inside contains a frieze of Boer heroics. The museum will help refresh your memory of South African history and give you an idea of what these people endured to find their freedom from British rule.
The monument is open daily from 08h00 to 18h00 at a cost of R70 per person.