Safe, prosperous and packed with shops and restaurants, the northern suburbs seem a world apart from the CBD and its surrounds. The name is actually a catch-all term for the seemingly endless urban sprawl running over 30km from Parktown, beyond the N1 ring road and into an area known as Midrand, which is itself creeping toward the southern edge of Pretoria. With the notable exception of Alexandra, this is a moneyed area, where plush shopping malls are often the only communal meeting points, and the majority of homes use high walls, iron gates and electric fences to advertise how security-conscious a life the owners lead. Despite the often numbing sheen of affluence, however, interesting pockets do exist, such as the centres of the suburbs of Melville, Rosebank and Parkhurst. Most of the suburbs are close to major arterial roads and best explored by car, though the new Gautrain and its bus routes now also offer easy access to some areas.

 

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