Joburg is among the world’s most treed cities, with one of the biggest man-made forests on the planet covering large swathes of the city’s northern suburbs. There is no shortage of scenic green spaces for enjoying long walks, and the city has a number of interesting nature reserves crisscrossed by well-maintained hiking trails, all within easy reach.
A 45-minute drive north of Joburg, but more than worth the journey. Choose from three circular hiking routes: a short 2.5km walk, the 6.1km Zebra Route or the more challenging 11.3km Krokodilberg Route (four to five hours for experienced hikers). All trails begin by crossing the Hennops River either by a suspension bridge or via a fun, old-fashioned “cable car” that is operated by a pulley system. The trails then meander through the surrounding hills with good views of the nearby Magaliesberg mountains.
Post-hike lunch: At the start of the trail is a picnic spot with braai facilities.
- Entrance off the R511 (10km south of the R105 junction). Inquiries: 082 825 9205. Admission is R60 and last entrance is at 12 pm.
Cross the Hennops River via a suspension bridge. (Photo: Supplied).
This extensive nature reserve covers more than 600 hectares and is a popular city escape in south Joburg. Blesbok, zebra and other game roam the hillsides of the “rock river mountain” and there are various signposted hiking and biking trails ranging from 3km to 9km. The circular 8km Dassie Trail starts at the Silent Pools entrance and winds its way to the top of the hill, or take the slightly shorter and flatter Bloubos Trail that follows the river.
Post-hike lunch: After your walk, drive to the Thaba Eco Hotel on the other side of the reserve for refreshments.
- Entrance at Silent Pools, Frandaph Drive, Mondeor. Inquiries: 082 458 2816.
See blesbok, zebra and other game roam the hillsides of the “rock river mountain”. (Photo: Supplied).
A nature reserve and heritage site, the Melville Koppies boast archaeological remains of Stone Age and Iron Age settlements, and great views over the downtown skyline. The best way to explore the site is on one of the Sunday-morning three-hour guided hikes, which alternate between a 4km walk and a more challenging 10km hike. Both take in the area’s unique fauna and geology.
Post-hike lunch: End the hike with a late breakfast and coffee at the Service Station café in Melville’s Bamboo Centre overlooking the koppies.
- Corner Judith Road and Orange Road, Melville. Inquiries: 011 482 4797. Guided hike costs R50 for adults and R20 for kids.
The Melville Koppies boasts great views over the downtown skyline. (Photo: Supplied).
This peaceful, privately managed 275-hectare reserve is crisscrossed by relatively flat hiking and cycling trails that are very well maintained and signposted. There are four specially designed mountain biking routes ranging from 10km to 40km, and an 8km hiking trail complemented by shorter walks that skirt around the reserve’s wetland areas.
Post-hike lunch: Close to the entrance to the reserve is 33 High Street - a charming, family-friendly restaurant that serves great pizzas and shares space with the craft brewery and coffee roastery, Oakes Brew House.
- Arden Road (off Ardeer Road), Modderfontein. Inquiries: 079 519 1589. Open 6 am to 6 pm. Admission is R30 for adults and R15 for kids.
Try hiking at this peaceful, privately managed 275-hectare reserve. (Photo: Supplied).
Head to one of Joburg’s most beautiful and well-maintained parks for a variety of unusual flora, excellent birdwatching (look out for the black Verreaux’s eagles), a waterfall and other natural delights. There are various easy walking routes which wind their way through the gardens, the longest of which is a 3.5km nature trail which takes you up to the top of the Witpoortjie Waterfall.
Post-hike lunch: End the day with refreshments at the park’s pleasant café or pack your own picnic.
- Malcolm Road, Roodepoort. Inquiries: 086 100 1278. Admission is R40 for adults, students and pensioners pay R27, scholars pay R15 and kids under six enter free of charge.
A waterfall is one of the natural delights to see at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. (Photo: Supplied).
(Source: Johannesburg In Your Pocket City Guide.)
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