Follow in the footsteps of the earliest gold miners as they tracked the gold-rich veins of South Africa, by experiencing one of Johannesburg’s gold mine tours.
There’s a valid reason for Johannesburg being called Egoli, meaning “City of Gold”, as South Africa’s history, and more specifically Johannesburg’s history, is intricately linked to gold and mining.
The Witwatersrand area had the largest gold resources in the world, which is why South Africa is one of the world leaders in gold mining. The 1800s saw the start of South Africa’s gold rush and forever changed the course of the country’s history and heritage.
Johannesburg is South Africa’s richest and busiest city – its establishment is a direct result of the gold rush and the influx of people it brought with it. The late 1800s saw people from all corners of South Africa and the world make their way to this place, in search of untold riches lurking beneath the earth.
One of the first gold mines was the Kromdraai mine, which was initially a farm. In 1881 gold was first found on the farm, and in 1885 it was officially proclaimed a mine.
The Witwatersrand gold reef was discovered in June 1884 by prospector and explorer Jan Gerritze Bantjes. However, the immense wealth held within the Witwatersrand was only really uncovered in 1886, by George Harrison. According to scientific studies, the “golden arc” that stretched from Welkom to Johannesburg is thought to have once been a massive inland lake. The theory is that the lake’s gold and silt deposits from its alluvial gold settled in that area, forming the gold-rich deposits for which South Africa is famous.
To learn more about Johannesburg’s golden heritage and walk the gold trails of miners past, why not enjoy one of these gold mine tours?
Explore Africa Tours and Safaris offers full-day and half-day Old Kromdraai mine tours:
- The half-day – Kromdraai Gold Mine Tour (three hours)
- The full-day – Kromdraai Gold Mine/Sterkfontein Caves (five hours)
- Kromdraai Gold Mine/Sterkfontein Caves/Rhino and Lion Park Tour (six hours)
A visit to the Kromdraai gold mine, located 7km from Sterkfontein in the centre of the Cradle of Humankind, will give you an unparalleled view of old mining methods. You’ll enter the old workings through a large opening in the side of the hill, and a short walk down the cocopan tracks through roughly worked tunnels and into the heart of the mountain, where you will marvel at the conditions that people had to endure while extracting the gold ore.
Gold Reef City offers Jozi’s Story of Gold, a tour that takes you down memory lane, lasting approximately two hours. Learn how Johannesburg came to be and how gold was discovered on the reef, descend 75m underground, and witness the magnificent glow of a live gold pour!
The tour consists of the following:
- An underground mine tour, where you descend into the depths of the Earth and discover the riches of our history
- Gold panning, which has you panning mud in freezing cold water by hand, and experiencing the euphoria of finding a shiny speck among the dirt
- A gold pour, with nothing quite like the magnificent glow of molten gold
- Museum houses, where you will see what a mining official’s life was like.
These are just a few of the places covered on Ekala Eco Tours‘ gold mine tour:
- George Harrison Park: spot where the gold reef was found, and see Harrison’s original gold claim
- Langlaagte Deep Village: one of the earliest remaining gold mining villages
- Gold Reef City: the only remaining gold mine in the Johannesburg area that has an operational shaft, of the hundreds of original shafts along the east-west arc of gold-bearing rock south of Johannesburg (tourists only – not an operational mine)
- Worker Museum: a workers’ compound not directly linked to the gold mines, but identical to those used on mines in early years of mining in Johannesburg and providing insight into mineworkers’ way of life
- Ferreira gold mine stope: an excellently preserved original stope (the entrance to the Ferreira gold mine)
- Kromdraai gold mine: a tour inside the historical mine