With Johannesburg as quiet as a mouse, this is the best time to explore the city’s unheeded treasure troves. We’ve located a number of fun family destinations open over the festive season to keep you busy on lovely summer days.
Just 6km from Johannesburg’s city centre, the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens provide a large open space where families can come and enjoy the lush green treasures. A popular weekend picnicking site, the park is open throughout Christmas and New Year. Why not take the dog for a walk, plan a picnic or enjoy a light meal at the small café near the main entrance on Olifants Road? You can also chill next to the dam, go fishing or sail the waters in a canoe.
Entry fee: Free
Time: 6am to 6pm
For more information visit: jhbcityparks.com
Red City Tour
See the City of Gold in one day by hopping on and off the open-top double-decker Red City sightseeing tour buses. The buses offer easy access to all the attractions, with 12 fascinating stops and on-board commentary. It’s a great way to learn about the city you live in, though filled with poignant reminders of South Africa’s oppressive and turbulent past. The buses are in full operation over the festive season. Plan for at least half a day.
Entry fee: R150 to R470, dependent on the different route options
Departure point: Gautrain Station at Park or Gold Reef City
Time: Every 40 Minutes
For more information visit: citysightseeing.co.za
Observe one of the world’s most spectacular predators at close range at Croc City, just five minutes’ drive from the Fourways area. On display are some of South Africa’s biggest Nile crocodiles and various venomous snakes. For the less squeamish, you can hold a baby croc, various exotic snakes, lizards and even a tarantula. This is an ideal opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures.
Entry fee: R70 for adults and R50 for children under 12
Open: Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm (Closed on Christmas Day)
For more information visit: croccity.co.za
Acrobranch Outdoor Activity Park
Go from tree to tree at Acrobranch aerial outdoor adventure parks (pictured). Here Tarzan swings, zip lines and canopy tours take you deep into a forest adventure. Swing from high ropes and other fun obstacles and satisfy the adrenalin junkie in you.
Built in the James and Ethel Gray Park, in partnership with Johannesburg City Parks, within walking distance from Melrose Arch, this park is the first Acrobranch built in South Africa and features the longest zipline in Africa (200m).
Entry fee: From R100 a person depending on the course
Time: 9am to 5pm from Monday to Sunday (Closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1)
For more information visit: acrobranch.co.za
The Sterkfontein Caves
Within the Sterkfontein Caves, scientists have discovered hominid and other animal fossils dating back more than 4 million years to the birth of humanity. These fossils tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, homo sapiens.
Please wear comfortable shoes when going to the caves and leave your handbags and other luggage behind. There are a number of tight spots and pathways to negotiate in and it is not advisable to do the tour if you are claustrophobic.
Entry fee: R150 per adult and R88 for children under 14
Time: Every day from 9am to 5pm
For more information visit: maropeng.co.za