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ZZoo Lake's history dates back to the city's early years when, in 1891, a timber plantation was started by banker and mining magnate Herman Eckstein and more than 3-million trees were planted in the area.
In 1908, the business partners of the then deceased Eckstein granted over 200 acres of ground to the Johannesburg Town Council to build the Johannesburg Zoo and the Herman Eckstein Park. Today, Zoo Lake forms part of this park, together with the zoo itself and the South African National Museum of Military History.
The park was designed around an artificial lake, to which a central fountain was added in 1937. The fountain, a Johannesburg heritage symbol, was built to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and was subsequently named the Coronation Fountain.
Zoo Lake is particularly popular over weekends and public holidays, with many Joburgers (and those from out of town) opting to spend the day with friends and family on the park's rolling green lawns or making use of its various sporting amenities. Tennis and basketball courts are available for public use, and the grounds also host the Zoo Lake swimming pool, sports club and bowling green. Small rowing boats can also be hired from the water's edge and there is an outdoor gym.
If you're looking for something to munch, the sports club serves scrumptious and affordable pub grub. For something a little more upmarket, however, wander over to Moyo, the African-themed restaurant situated on the Zoo Lake premises, where you can enjoy traditionally African fare with a view of the lake.
Each year, Zoo Lake hosts a number of events; two of the most popular include the annual Jazz on the Lake in September and Carols by Candlelight in December.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Johannesburg City Parks
Tel: +27 (0)11 712 6600
How to get here
Zoo Lake is located on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Westwold Way in Parkview, Johannesburg. The area is well serviced by taxis and buses and there are a number of parking areas off Jan Smuts and Westwold Way, as well as off Lower Park Drive, which also borders the park.
Best time to visit
Zoo Lake is open year-round, and Johannesburg’s temperate climate means that an afternoon stroll is a possibility even in winter. That said, the park is best visited during the summer, between November and March when it is at its greenest.
Things to do
The Johannesburg Zoo is situated directly over the road from Zoo Lake, on Jan Smuts Avenue. Zoo Lake is also close to the suburbs of Parkhurst and Greenside, which will satisfy food and shopping desires equally.
What to pack
Picnic gear if you plan to be stationary, walking shoes if you plan to be active, and binoculars if you plan to take a look at the birds grooming themselves on the lake’s islands.
What to eat
For fine dining and a beautiful view of the lake, visit Moyo.