Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa.

Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees, which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a lovely, quiet city. It has a long, involved and fascinating history.

Its many attractions include a plethora of significant old buildings and some fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has wonderful natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind.

Also worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and the Smuts Museum, in Irene, just outside Pretoria. The Union Buildings changed overnight from a symbol of white, neo-colonial unity to one of true unity and the iconic Voortrekker Monument still stands.

Ironically, the bust of one of apartheid's most ardent supporters, JG Strydom, which stood in Strydom Square near the State Theatre, toppled without any help other than gravity and the erosive quality of time on steel supports - on the 40th anniversary of the day South Africa became a white-governed republic.

Nature lovers can enjoy Fountains Valley, the bird sanctuary, the National Botanical and National Zoological Gardens, the Wonderboom, Groenkloof and Rietvlei Nature Reserves. Pretoria is famous for its performing and visual arts and boasts many art galleries.

More adventurous travellers could do a short horse trail at the Voortrekker Monument or through the Premier Game Reserve, taking a careful look at some White Rhino and a number of Eland - which are pretty much the size of a big horse. Or perhaps a tandem skydive or a first jump at the Pretoria Skydiving Club, which is the largest in the country.