Johannesburg

Where to see the cosmos in Johannesburg

05 Jan 2024
A sure sign that the cosmos are going to begin blooming in Joburg are the muttered utterances of, "Sjoe, it's cold hey?" that the first winter chill in the air brings about. This flowering of white, pink and lilac is an undoubted highlight of Johannesburg, and there are a few places where you can discover seas of pink and white to walk through.

The pops of colour in the veld are now an essential autumn feature in Johannesburg but this wasn't always the case. It was during the Anglo-Boer war when cosmos were accidentally introduced to the soils of South Africa. The seeds arrived through contaminated horse feed from Argentina, say the experts. As parties of people, wagons, oxen and horses flattened the earth, the seeds took root with cosmos fields erupting as Johannesburg began to expand.

The most well-known of these fields are in Delta Park where the blooms give dog walkers, runners and cyclists' routes new life. As to why the cosmos took root so strongly in Delta Park is unclear, though its use as a cattle farm in the 1900s is the most likely explanation. But enough history. This is a guide on where to see the flowers in bloom, so without further ado...
 
Delta Park gets that much more beautiful with its autumn blooms. Photo by 2summers, who has been cataloguing this season beautifully on her popular blog. 
 

Delta Park

One of Joburg's most used parks, Delta Park has become a favourite among cyclists, families, dog walkers and runners for its network of trails, picnic spaces and jungle gyms. It is also the place closest to the city where you can marvel at the turn of the season amongst fields of cosmos taller than you. To find the most extensive field, enter the park through the main entrance (at the bottom of Rd No 3, Victory Park). From there, take an immediate left and follow the fence line up the hill. After a short walk, hundreds of delicate flowers will greet you on your right. If you're going to Delta Park be sure to snap your best shots for our #cosmosinyourpocket photo competition with Delta Cafè, Delta Central and friends.

Make sure to bring shoes that you are okay with getting dirty as the ground does get muddy in parts, with these parts sometimes being unavoidable. If you want to spend a day relishing the flowers, bring along a picnic and have your camera ready. We recommend going early morning or late afternoon for the best light to make the most of it. Depending on which you choose, stop by Delta Cafè for a coffee or beer. Or start your route from Delta Central, there's plenty of food and drink options to get your walk started or to finish it off. From Delta Central walk along the spruit and take a right when you reach the Blairgowrie Scouts Hall. Continue on past the jungle gyms and up the hill and you should be greeted by some perky cosmos.
 
The Cradle of Humankind dons pink and white flowers in April. Photo courtesy of the Cradle of Humankind.

Cradle of Humankind

The rolling hills surrounding the Cradle of Humankind make it a magnificent place to visit. Add some cosmos, and it will take your breath away. Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves are good options if you're looking for a day visit as they both offer great views over the rocky grasslands. For a weekend away to explore the area to find the biggest fields, see our guide on where to stay in the Cradle.
 
Cosmos aplenty in Lanseria.

Lanseria

Ok, so we are taking you a bit out of Joburg again, but it's the only way you can find cosmos fields that give Delta Park a run for its money and sometimes outdo it. While there aren't many designated areas where the cosmos bloom there are a few fields in the Lanseria area which are pretty easy to spot once you're driving through. We've picked some highlights in the area to make the search more enjoyable. Stop at The Forum Kitchen at L'antico Giardino for uncomplicated yet serene outdoor breakfasts and lunches, or try out the seasonal menus at Culinary Table. If you want to treat someone to a luxury weekend away, look no further than Toadbury Hall Country Hotel. If your search is proving difficult, your best bet is likely The Fat Olive restaurant, where cosmos take over the hills surrounding it each year.

When is the best time to see them?

The cosmos generally start to pop up towards the end of February but only hit their peak in late March and early April. By the end of April, they have already started to dwindle, so don't dawdle, as they only stick around for a short time.

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