Johannesburg

Jacarandas in Joburg and Pretoria

21 Oct 2021
Photo © Clare Appleyard
Each Spring, usually from early October to early November, a sea of purple petals from thousands of jacaranda trees blooms above Gauteng's suburban streets. The jacaranda is not a native African tree (it originated in South America) and is believed to have first arrived in Gauteng in 1888 (during the Gold Rush). It quickly became so popular that the trees were planted along almost every new street built in the rapidly growing cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

To see the spectacular spring blossoms you need to head to the cities' older suburbs. Jacarandas are now officially recognised in South Africa as an alien species which means no more jacaranda trees are allowed to be planted. The blooming jacarandas have found their way into local mythology. Students joke that if you haven’t started revising for the end of year university exams before the jacarandas start to bloom, then you’ve probably left it too late.

#Jacarandaniyourpocket photo competition

Every year we celebrate Gauteng's jacaranda spring with our #jacarandainyourpocket photo competition hosted on Instagram. Prizes for this year's best jacaranda photos include hotel stays at top Joburg hotels Radisson Red Rosebank, The Northcliff and Pablo House. 

The 2021 competition is open for entries from Oct 21 to Nov 15, all you need to do to enter is share your best photos with us on Insta tagged #jacarandainyourpocket #gautrainjourneys #visitgauteng #radissonredrosebank.

To enter you must share your photos on Instagram. See all the competition Ts and Cs here.
Jacarandas in Saxonwold. Photo by Mark Straw

Jacaranda photo walks, tours and special offers

As part of our #jacarandainyourpocket competition, in partnership with Gauteng Tourism, GautrainRadisson Red Rosebank and local tour guides and photographers, we are running six free jacaranda-themed walks in and around Rosebank with a focus on photography. These tours are free but booking is essential as space is limited. Check out our jacaranda events calendar for a round-up of all the walks, tours and other jacaranda themed experiences happening in Joburg and Pretoria this spring.

Celebrating the season, the Radisson Red Rosebank in Joburg is offering 20% off room rates while the jacarandas remain in bloom. To take advantage of the offer email info.rosebank@radissonred.com with a photo of a jacaranda.

Joburg's best jacaranda streets

DUNKELD Kent and Hume Roads in Dunkeld both run perpendicular to Oxford Road and Jan Smuts Avenue (east to west, and vice versa), making this the place to capture Jacaranda blooms at sunset or sunrise.

MELROSE The suburb of Melrose, next to Rosebank, has some beautiful quiet Jacaranda-lined streets that make for a great photo opportunity such as Jameson, Reform and Victoria Avenues. From the James and Ethel Gray Park (entrance at Edgewood Avenue) there is a great view of the downtown skyline fringed by the Observatory Ridge.

PARKWOOD In the suburbs of Parkwood and neighbouring Saxonwold take a drive (or a walk) along Bath Avenue and make a left (or a right) on any of these gorgeous purple canopied streets: Bristol, Wantage, Griswold or Rutland Roads.

ROSEBANK Take a stroll along Tyrwhitt Avenue or Jellicoe Avenue in Rosebank on either side of Oxford Road in the shade of the blooming Jacarandas.
 
Purple passages in Melrose. Photo by Mark Straw

KILLARNEY & SAXONWOLD Follow Riviera Road up from the M1 towards the Ditsong Museum of Military History for a magical jacaranda-fringed view of the War Memorial.

MELVILLE The pretty suburb of Melville is full of jacarandas, many of them contrasting spectacularly with bright pink bougainvillaea. Major jacaranda hotspots include 4th Avenue.

GREENSIDE & PARKVIEW When driving through the suburbs of Greenside and Emmarentia, take a detour down the quiet Clovelly Street (parallel to Barry Herzog Avenue). In neighbouring Parkview you’ll also find plenty of jacarandas on streets like Waterford Avenue and Galway Road.

HOUGHTON Munro Drive, which winds its way across the Observatory ridge in Houghton, is a scenic, historic street lined with mature jacaranda trees and epic views over the northern suburbs.

LINKSFIELD Follow the main thoroughfare Club Street through the suburb of Linksfield and take a right on Bedford Street, which becomes Linksfield Drive. The views get steadily more impressive as the road winds its way up the steep Linksfield ridge.

KENSINGTON Drive through a spectacular purple tunnel along Highland Road in this historic suburb. Nearby Juno Street also has a remarkable display. This is one of the most famous jacaranda areas in the province and a must-see on any Joburg jacaranda route.

WESTCLIFF AND PARKTOWN Among the oldest and grandest suburbs in Joburg, Westcliff and neighbouring Parktown have some very scenic jacaranda streets where the trees contrast beautifully with grand early 20th Century architecture, most notably Rockridge Road and The Valley Road. 

NORWOOD & ORCHARDS The appropriately named suburb of Orchards and neighbouring Norwood both have lots of jacaranda-lined streets including High Road, where the Quaint St Luke's Church is smothered in purple blossoms, and the garden-like Norwood Park at the corner of Grant Avenue.
 
A jacaranda fringed view of the Joburg skyline seen from Melville Koppies
 

Great jacaranda viewpoints in Joburg

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL THE WESTCLIFF For drinks with a panoramic jacaranda-filled view you can't beat the terrace at this luxury hotel.

RADISSON RED ROSEBANK ROOFTOP BAR Opened in winter 2021 the rooftop bar at this new Rosebank hotel has one of the best views in this side of the city. Facing west it's also a great place to catch the sunset.

ISLAND BAR AT SOUTHERN SUN HYDE PARK The pool deck at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel is a great vantage point for gazing out over the urban forest of the western suburbs and another good place to catch the sunset from on high.

MARBLE Located on the rooftop of a new development along Rosebank's Art Gallery Row, much-awarded chef David Higgs' sizzling, live-fire grill house and bar has spectacular views across Joburg towards the Magaliesburg mountains.

NORTHCLIFF RIDGE AND THE NORTHCLIFF BOUTIQUE HOTEL Topped by a landmark water tower the view from the top of one of the city's many ridges, Northcliff in the West Rand, presents sweeping views all the way out towards Sandton and North Riding. Probably the very best place to view it all is from the terrace at The Northcliff boutique hotel. Booking for drinks or dinner at the hotel is essential, and be warned you might need to book quite far in advance, this is a very popular spot.

CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS The Green Route of Joburg's open top City Sightseeing bus is a brilliant way to see Joburg's jacarandas from on high. The route starts at Rosebank and makes its way through the leafy suburbs of Parkwood, Saxonwold and Houghton ending at Constitution Hill where it meets the Red Route. The best views can be captured during the bus's brief stop on Munro Drive, from where the views of the northern suburbs are unparalleled. In spring 2021 the bus only operates on Saturdays, book your tickets online here.

MELVILLE KOPPIES Climb across the Melville koppies for views of purple jacarandas against the backdrop of Joburg's distinctive downtown skyscrapers. The best way to explore the koppies is on one of the weekend guided walks.

THE WESTCLIFF STEPS The grand suburb of Westcliff set across the Westcliff ridge is where many of Joburg’s mining magnates, the so-called Randlords, built their mansions at the turn of the century. The Westcliff Steps (210 in total), dubbed the “stairway to heaven” can be accessed via Crescent Drive or the intersection of Wicklow Avenue and Westcliff Drive (pedestrian entrance). At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of the urban forest.
 
Purple spring in Pretoria. Photo by Mark Straw

Where to see the jacarandas in Pretoria

Nicknamed the Jacaranda City, Pretoria (a 45-minute drive from Joburg) has suburban streets that are lined with purple trees almost everywhere you look. It is thought that 17% of all the trees in Pretoria are jacarandas, that makes for almost 70,000 trees. From the historic streets of the city centre to the leafy wealth suburbs of the south and east, there are jacarandas everywhere in Pretoria. Note that Pretoria is approximately three degrees warmer than Joburg so the jacarandas usually bloom at least two weeks earlier.

Here are just some of the most famous places to catch the jacaranda spring in Pretoria

ARCADIA, EASTWOOD, RIVIERA AND THE UNION BUILDINGS For unparalleled views visit the majestic Union Buildings (seat of the South African government) and take a walk through its lovely terraced gardens. In the same area the quiet Eastwood Street, Government Avenue and the main thoroughfare Soutpansberg Road all have a dense collection of these trees, while in the suburbs north of the Union Buildings picturesque jacaranda streets include Pierneef, Nuffield and Rose Streets.

HATFIELD & BROOKLYN From the Hatfield Gautrain station head left up Grosvenor Street in the direction of Brooklyn where it’s jacarandas all the way. Great jacaranda streets include Prospect Street, Brooks Street and Anderson Street.

SUNNYSIDE & MUCKLENEUK The suburbs of Sunnyside and Muckleneuk are also good places to see the spring blossoms. Some of the most beautiful streets include Johnston, Reitz, Bourke, Troye and Loveday Streets.

GROENKLOOF & FORT KLAPPERKOP Another famous Jacaranda suburb is Groenkloof, just south of the University of South Africa, where on Herbert Baker Street you can find rare white Jacarandas. A short drive away is Fort Klapperkop (entrance on Johann Rissik Drive) from where there are very pretty views over Pretoria’s verdant southern suburbs, full of jacarandas in spring time.

GETTING THERE: Take the Gautrain to Pretoria and get out and explore the jacarandas in the Pretoria CBD or continue onto Hatfield and explore the jacarandas in Hatfield, Brooklyn and surrounds.
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