While Johannesburg and Pretoria are described as built-up and “concrete jungles” there is a great amount of open and unspoilt space in the province providing green lungs and natural settings in which city people can relax and unwind.
Bird watching is a popular hobby and the bird sanctuary at Marievale, located in the floodplain in the small town of Nigel east of Johannesburg, is one of the province’s prime spots. Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve - situated in Heidelberg - also protects magnificent fauna and flora including the sugarbush, the most common vegetation after which the reserve gets its name.
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden, located in Roodepoort, is managed by the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). This 300 hectare open space supports a range of 600 naturally occurring plant species and 220 varieties of birds. A number of reptiles and small mammals, including antelope and jackal, can also be sighted. Picnicking in the garden is popular and this is a wonderful day outdoors.
The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is situated in the heart of the World Heritage Site’s Cradle of Humankind in the west of Johannesburg. This privately-owned game park offers visitors sightings of over 30 game species, including buffalo, lion, white rhino, cheetah, hippo, crocodile and more than 20 antelope species. The reserve has a breeding centre where wild dog have been successfully reared.
Out in nature in Gauteng one can easily forget the urban make up of much of the province. There are many initiatives to protect and preserve the natural, rugged veld typical of our rocky grassland that forms part of the physical identity of the Highveld. Make sure you get into the outdoors to experience this for yourself.
Featured Nature & Outdoors attraction
Located about 5km from central Johannesburg, and adjacent to the suburb of Melville, the entirely indigenous Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is the last remaining area of the city in the condition it was before the advent of mining to the city in the late 19th century.