Parks and jacarandasDespite both being young cities whose wealth has always been closely associated with mining, both Johannesburg and Pretoria have a wealth of excellent parks and botanical gardens. Sit on a suburban rooftop or climb atop one of the Joburg’s ridges such as Westcliff or Observatory and you’ll see nothing but green. In fact Joburg has the distinction of being one of the world’s largest human-made forests.
Pretoria meanwhile is known as the Jacaranda City, famous for its thousands of jacaranda trees that burst into a purple bloom every spring. In Spring, usually from early October to early November, a sea of purple petals from thousands of jacaranda trees blooms above the suburban streets of both Joburg and Pretoria. If you are in Gauteng at this time, put your walking shoes on, charge your camera batteries and take to the streets of the suburbs and explore this unique lilac splendour that showers the province.
Countryside walks and mountain hikingFollowing months of lockdown in early 2020, during which time South Africa's city parks were closed, many Gautengers discovered a new passion for hiking, and hitting the many day trails scattered across the province is now one of the most popular weekend activities for locals.
The most famous hiking area is the ’Magalies Meander’, about 1.5hours drive north west of Joburg, the local nickname for the sprawling farmland that skirts up the foothills of the ancient Magaliesberg mountain range. Among the many interesting day hikes to tackle in the area are celebrated beauty spots such as the De Wildt Adventure Trails, Rustig Hiking Trails, Kings Kloof Trails and the Hennops Hiking Trail.
Closer to Joburg there are also some interesting and very gentle trails to explore within the Muldersdrift and Cradle of Humankind area such as the always popular Cradle Moon and venues such as Ground and Avianto.
In eastern Gauteng adventurous hikes await in the gorges close to the historic mining town of Cullinan and within the sprawling Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, while in the south of the province the immense Suikerbosrand reserve is quite simple spectacular.