Nature, Wildlife & Birding Craighall Park, Rosebank Region, Johannesburg

There are plenty of areas in and around Joburg where your love of nature, wildlife and birding can be indulged.

Parks and open spaces
  • Every Saturday morning at 8 am is the Park Run in Delta Park – a 5km timed run or walk. Part of a world-wide initiative these run/walks are open to everyone, are free, safe and easy to take part in. Walkers, dogs and children in strollers are welcomed. It starts at the Environmental Centre accessed from Victory Park. For directions go to their website but if you wanted to walk to the start, it is a 15 minute walk from Liz at Lancaster.
    Loads of walkers (both recreational and those going to and from work) and people with dogs walk along the Spruit morning and evening and over weekends. Like all public spaces avoid when there are no other people around. For more information, read my blog A Typical Week-End Morning In Delta Park.
  • The Wilds Nature is nature reserve in the suburb of Houghton, in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The park consists of stone paths winding through 16 hectares of indigenous vegetation. During the 1990s the was a no-zone but thanks to the work of James Delaney and a group of volunteers the park is now completely safe and widely used. There are wonderful views across Joburg from the tops of the ridges. And make sure to look for all the 67 owls!
  • Melville Koppies Judith Rd Emmarentia Johannesburg ; Open 4th Sunday for a self-guided walk (with map) or a guided walk. The whole route through the 50 hectare reserve takes about 3hrs.; bring water bottle, hat, good shoes. For full programme of all the different events (and there are lots).
  • Emmarentia Dam and Botanical Gardens (still no action group organizing walks but a lovely park and open area.) Go over weekends when it is well-frequented
  • The Zoo Lake across Jan Smuts Ave from the Johannesburg Zoo. It is very widely used and after weekends and over public holiday and before the litter has been cleared, it can be VERY tacky, so avoid these days. If you have children feed the ducks (but please not with bread .. it’s very bad for them and the water .. try frozen peas or even dog food)
  • Johannesburg Zoo cr Jan Smuts and Upper Park Drive 5 and 10km walks through the Zoo every 2nd Sunday of the month 011 646 2000
  • NIROX Sculpture Park, located in the Cradle of Humankind about 45 minutes from Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse, is magnificent. What used to be a trout farm has been transformed into a sublime 15-hectare estate with ponds, weirs, streams, amazing trees and the most wonderful expanse of lawns and verdant landscape. Started as an artist’s retreat by the philanthropist Benji Liebmann, it is open over weekends and public holidays from 10am to 4pm for an entrance fee of R120 per adult (R60 per child between 2 – 12 years old) – when there are no special events. There are more than 50 permanent and long-term installations to see, by both local and international artists, and Nirox hosts at least one annual large-scale curated exhibition. Taking a picnic or indeed any food or drink is strictly prohibited as there is a superb restaurant: And Then There Was Fire. Over weekends there is a long waiting list but if you want to guarantee a booking, it is open on Thursdays and Fridays as well. And with a restaurant booking, you can access the park.
  • Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens Malcolm Road, Poortview 011 958 1750. Far out, at least an hour’s drive from Liz at Lancaster but well worth a visit if you are here for a long stay and like the outdoors. Take a full morning minimum. There is a lovely waterfall and walk up to the viewing point to see a pair of nesting black eagles.
  • Kloofendal North West Johannesburg. There are loads of events (lots about kreepy crawlies for younger people) as well as hikes and guided walks. There is a very active Friends of Kloofendal website.
  • There are great hikes in the Magaliesberg but as they are all on private farms, it is virtually impossible to have access unless you are a member of the local hiking club or mountaineering club. See Johannesburg Hiking Association 011 465 -9888
  • Mountain Sanctuary Park in Magaliesburg offers great walking, or hiking options. Clearly marked walking trails in varying lengths – also cycling trails.
  • Horse riding down in Delta Park: (5 blocks from Liz at Lancaster) can be arranged over weekends; Phone Peta-Ann Malcolm 082 452 9321
Game viewing
  • Pilanesberg National Park, home to the big 5 The best option by far is to take a day trip to the Pilanesberg. Leave at 6ish in the morning. About 2 hours from Johannesburg. We can arrange a day trip if you wish but let me know in advance. 014 555 5351 Pilanesberg is right next to Sun City and there is a charge to get into to Sun City so the rates vary if you want to do a tour with Sun City as well as the Pilanesberg. If you want to spend a night make it the last night of your stay on Johannesburg. 014 555 5351.
  • Rhino and Lion Park in the Cradle of Humankind offers the opportunity to see quite a wide range of African animals and you can also visit the Wonder Cave.
  • The Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre at De Wildt was established in 1971, initially as a cheetah breeding project but wild dog and other animals are now also bred. Guided tours give insight into breeding programmes and wildlife conservation.
    Cheetah run and 3 hour tour: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings; no children under 6; Cheetah run starts at 08h00.
    3 hour guided tour only: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 13h30; Wednesdays at 08h30 and 13h30; (012) 504 9906/7/8; Cell: 083 892 0515
  • Elephant Sanctuary Tours morning and afternoon: 9.45 for 10 am and 13.45 for 14.00

Liz at Lancaster is ideally placed for bird-watching excursions.

From BirdLife South Africa Website:
“…few people realize that Gauteng is one of South Africa’s premier birding areas. There are approximately 400 species in the region, including 60 southern African endemics. Gauteng has the largest number of birders as well as contributors to the South African Bird Atlas Projects.”