It’s going to be a long, warm summer, and if you and your family are staying put this festive season, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) has you covered.
‘Staycations’ have become increasingly popular and offer the most cost-effective and time-saving alternatives that are generally a short drive away. With over 2187 parks to choose from and approximately 10 000 hectares of green spaces to experience the vibrance of the city, you’ll be in for a tranquil but active Joburg festive season.
Here are a few spots and activities in Joburg to consider if you’re staying in the city of gold this festive season:
A day visit to the Johannesburg Zoo
With a huge variety of endangered and threatened animals, birds, reptiles and rare species, the Joburg Zoo stretches across 55 hectares under a dense tree canopy. The Zoo caters for the young and not-so-young at heart and remains one of the most-loved outdoor spaces for locals and tourists alike. It houses over 320 species of animals and approximately 2 000 animals and is open to the public daily from 8.30 until 16.30, including weekends, Christmas and New Years days.
On offer, is the exciting Animals of the Amazon, live exhibit with a walk-through aquarium; viewings of the new born giraffes and cheetahs and the Big 5, right on your doorstep.
Visitors are urged to make use of any of the ample parking facilities and to refrain from parking on the street. Entrance to the facility varies between R120 to R85 with a festive season offering on www.hyperli.com for pre-purchased of between R60-R40 pp.
A romantic evening at the Festival of Lights
The Zoo is also co-hosting the Festival of the Lights daily from 23 November to 3 January with a collection of illuminated life-size animal characters and festive-themed lighting. The evening offering under the Joburg skies has seen families and couples come out in their numbers, to enjoy music and dance, in the safe and secure Joburg Zoo. Tickets for the festival are available at R90 for pensioners, R75 for kids and R150 for adults online at www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670 for group bookings or www.webtickets.co.za and at selected Pick n Pay. Pre-purchase tickets on www.joburgtheatre.co.za in the month of November to enjoy a 50% discount on entrances.
Head outdoors and get active
Hiking has taken off in Joburg during the national lockdown. More and more residents are seeking, entrance-free day activities with scenic views to feed the soul. Facilities such as The Wilds, the Klipriversberg Nature Reserve, The Kloofendal Nature Reserve, Lonehill and Melville Koppies and the Northcliff Hill are being explored by both nature enthusiasts and novice photographers, alike. Pack a sandwich and a water bottle and tackle these easy walks with a sun-hat, camera and the kids in toe.
This 16ha nature reserve is a natural forest and was declared a Heritage site in February 2019. Situated on the outskirts of Houghton and amongst koppies, this pristine setting is surrounded by indigenous gardens, lush vegetation and nooks of shaded pathways. Atop the koppies one can witness great views of the Joburg skyline with abundant trees, away from the bustle of Jozi.
The Wilds offers users a tranquil, pristine natural environment. With natural running waterfalls and fountains, it is a great escape, in the heart of the urban jungle.
Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve (KNR)
This nature reserve is a popular destination for the avid hiker. Sprawling across 680ha of open veld and koppies, KNR is home to approximately 150 bird species; 600 plant species; wildlife, including blesbok, zebra and duiker. This outdoor haven is also a rich archaeological site. It boasts the highest concentration of identified Iron Age sites on the Witwatersrand.
The reserve is fenced, and has several nature trails and hikes, ranging from short sharp walks to a nine kilometre, hike.
A firm, favourite for residents living in Soweto, Thokoza Park is popular for its lush green lawns, large decade old trees, paved footpaths, modern playground equipment and the scenic Moroka Dam running through it. This 4.5-hectare space popularly enjoyed by all, boasts a heritage site where Nelson Mandela planted a tree and unveiled a mural. It is ideally set for summer picnics, family braais and spending time in the great outdoors. The lawns are pristine with park benches, bins and enough shaded trees for a lazy afternoon with family and friends. Children can enjoy the play equipment while exploring nature away from the bustle of the streets.