One of Johannesburg’s many claims to fame is that it boasts the biggest urban forest in the world. But its natural attractions don’t stop there. Just outside of the main industrial centres you’ll find parks, gardens, nature reserves and a wealth of natural attractions to take your breath away.

Did you know?

The ancient Magaliesberg mountains north of Johannesburg contain 3-million-year-old hominid fossils.  .

 

Johannesburg might be something of an urban jungle, but it also has some wonderful natural attractions, adding much to the fascinating nature of this city.

The land on which Johannesburg is built was once grassland, but is now the biggest urban forest in the world, with over 10 million trees in its city, gardens, 600 parks, open spaces and suburbs.

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Kloofendal conserves a piece of the original grassland as well as succulents and ferns. It has over 120 bird species, including the only pair of nesting Verreaux's (black) eagles in Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia is famed for its Rose Garden and the numerous waterfowl found in the reed beds of Emmarentia Dam (a great spot for an impromptu picnic). Another worthwhile spot is Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve on the way to Heidelberg: this reserve covers over 13 000 hectares and has excellent hiking trails as well as an abundant antelope and bird population.

Just as close to the city centre are the Melville Koppies, hills where an Iron Age village and smelting works are to be found. You can enjoy guided walks in this undeveloped natural area.

Further out of town, it's a good idea to make your way to the Sterkfontein Valley and the Cradle of Humankind - one of the world's most significant palaeontological sites. Take a trip underground and visit the exquisite Wonder Cave and while you're in the area enjoy a trip to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve to see the big cats.

The Magaliesberg mountains and the watersport mecca of Hartbeespoort Dam are also accessible from Johannesburg in little under an hour's drive.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Johannesburg Tourism Association
Tel: +27 (0)11 214 0700

How to get here

Johannesburg is easily accessible by plane, train and car. International and domestic flights land and depart from the very busy O R Tambo International Airport on the outskirts of the city.

Around the area

Make time to visit the townships of Soweto and Alexandra, take in a Johannesburg nightclub, enjoy the restaurants and the late night vibes, and head out of town to see the Cradle of Humankind, the Magaliesberg and the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Tours to do

Tours of Soweto, Gold Reef City, Constitution Hill, and the Apartheid Museum. Don't miss a trip to Maropeng and the Cradle of Humankind, you won't be disappointed.

Get around

Self-drive is always best to explore at your own pace, and then on foot.

What to pack

Johannesburg has exceptionally fine weather - mild and temperate in summer (October to March) and chilly winters (May to September). But even in winter, the days are usually fine and sunny.

Where to stay

B&Bs, home-stays, township guesthouses, country lodges, world-class city hotels...you name it, Johannesburg has it.

What's happening

There are winter concerts held at both the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and the Emmarentia Botanical Gardens.