Did you know that Johannesburg has more than 2 300 parks and over 10 000 hectares of green nature experiences? Instead of purchasing expensive airline tickets and hotel stays, why not substitute your summer vacation for a “staycation”. “Staycations” have become increasingly popular and offer the most cost-effective and time-saving alternative. The City of Joburg has abundant recreational facilities and is offering exciting activities throughout the festive season.
Says Jenny Moodley, Spokesperson of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo: “The trick to enjoying a “staycation” is to deviate from daily routines and truly make it a vacation by putting together an itinerary of things to do”
To encourage you and your family to enjoy a Joburg “staycation” this summer, we’ve put together the following tips:
1. Spend time with the kids or organise a babysitting trade-off. Johannesburg Zoo is currently running an ‘Animals @ Play’ programme which aims to stimulate the animals’ physical and psychological health. During the activity, a variety of fun toys are given to each animal including balls smeared with elephant dung for the lions and frozen fruit for chimps to name a few. Not only is this a fun activity for visitors to the Zoo to see, it’s also very important for the stimulation of the animals kept at the Zoo. During your baby-sitting trade-off have the children report to one designated parent or parents for a planned outing, leaving the other parents to enjoy some alone time. Children are naturally curious and creative. Delta Park is home to the Delta Environmental Centre, where a wide range of fascinating wildlife-related courses are offered to adults and children. This includes holiday programmes for children between the ages of 6 and 13.
2. Get your bike out or take a hike. Whether it’s a walk, jog or bicycle ride, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo has several walking and hiking trails. Looking for a great location? Visit the James and Ethel Gray Park on Atholl Oaklands Road, Birdhaven. This park is home to an assortment of feathered residents. The Sandspruit River flows through its 36 hectares, creating an attractive, tranquil atmosphere. Alternatively, visit Golden Harvest Park, located on First Avenue in Northgate. This park is immaculate and features rolling walks around a dam and indigenous bushveld. This scenic park is a secret treasure of which many are unaware. Other amazing walking trails can be found at Dorothy Nyembe Park in Soweto, Harvey Park in Cyrildene and Johannesburg Botanical Garden. Why not take family or friends out on a bicycle ride around Zoo Lake? Zoo Lake is a favourite for many of Joburg’s residents. It also boasts the Coronation Fountain and is a popular spot for walking your dogs and enjoying a meal at the restaurant or pub.
3. Enjoy a family or romantic picnic in the park. Pack a picnic basket and head out to one of the city’s parks for a family or romantic picnic for two while the kids are at the Zoo. Kloofendal Nature Reserve is a cultural heritage and ecotourism facility in the suburb of Roodepoort. The reserve is one of the first nature reserves in Joburg and offers a great escape from city life. The reserve has remains of early gold mining activities and is recognised as the first gold mine in Johannesburg. Wilgeheuwel X-treme Park is perfect for kids as it features swings, roundabouts and a picnic area. Dogs are also allowed at this park. Hyundai Sky Park (formerly called Mushroom Farm Park) in Sandton is equipped with an interactive children’s play area, an earth garden, amphitheatre, an outdoor gym and neatly paved walkways which are perfect for strollers and joggers.
4. Visit Joburg Zoo! The Zoo is one of the most popular local attractions in Joburg. Go on a guided tour during the day or night. Get involved by adopting an animal or become a Zoo member by purchasing an annual pass or hosting your next themed event at the Zoo.
“Whatever you decide to do during your summer staycation, remind yourself that, while you’re at home the City of Joburg has a lot to offer during the festive season,” adds Moodley.