Sedibeng’s important towns include Vanderbijlpark, the historical town of Vereeniging and Heidelberg, and the African townships of Evaton, Sebokeng, Bophelong and Ratanda, as well as the infamous township of Sharpeville, where black South Africans protesting against apartheid pass laws were shot down by police gunfire in 1960.
There’s now a historic memorial site called the Sharpeville Human Rights Precinct, and it was here that Nelson Mandela signed the post-apartheid South African Constitution and Bill of Rights on 10 December 1996.
Sedibeng, “place of the pool” in Sesotho, is also home of the mighty Vaal River where, on more than 50km of navigable water you can go boating, river cruising, white-water rafting, kayaking or canoeing. It’s also home of the huge Vaal Dam.
The 800km shores of the Vaal Dam are lined with picnic and camping sites, marinas and holiday homes. At weekends and holiday time people take to the safe, cool water to go fishing, boating, waterskiing and swimming, or just to picnic or barbecue on the malaria-free banks.
If shopping is your thing, then try out the upmarket River Square Shopping Centre or Vaal Mall, or follow the Vaal Meander Route and check out country stalls, craft shops, outdoor adventure centres, tea and coffee shops, game drives, animal farms, antiques and collectibles, beads and jewellery, brewery tours and much more. Also on the banks of the river and dam are world-class conference venues, self-catering establishments, charming B&Bs, and romantic wedding venues.
The area is also action-packed, with annual events from the Vaal River Meander Wine Route, air shows and the Jazz on the River Festival, to F1 powerboat racing and various road-running and cycle events.
Sedibeng is the site of the Suikerbosrand (sugar bush) Nature Reserve, at 11 595ha the largest in Gauteng, just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Surrounded by the Suikerbosrand mountain range you can hike, cycle or go backpacking along a 66km network of backpacking hiking trails; or why not stroll along the Cheetah Trail, a short 4km interpretive trail, or hike the 17km Bokmakierie day visitor trail?
If you prefer to drive, then tootle along the 60km motor vehicle tourist route in your own vehicle. Suikerbosrand is not a Big Five reserve, but you will see dozens of birds (there are over 200 species) and lots of plains game including zebra, eland, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, baboon, springbok, kudu and – if you’re very lucky – cheetah.
If you’re looking for a great conference venue – although there are many in Sedibeng, ranging from big to small, urban to countryside, city centre to riverside – the Emerald Resort & Casino in Vanderbijlpark has state-of-the-art facilities, plus entertainment and gambling on tap. Go for a game drive, a round of adventure golf, fishing in the Vaal or just pamper yourself with a luxurious spa treatment.
The historic town of Vereeniging was where the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in May 1902, which officially ended the South African War (or Anglo-Boer War), between South Africa and the British Empire. Today, it’s one of Gauteng’s outdoor adventure centres where you can go quad biking, river rafting, abseiling, fishing or just have fun in the sun.
Sedibeng may not be as well known as Tshwane or Johannesburg, but is well worth exploring, whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast or a business traveller. Go discover it for yourself.