It's a biodiverse world at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is one of Joburg's best hidden gems. Tucked away on the west rand, the gardens are home to a host of indigenous plant and animal species. The gardens have been a popular outdoor venue since the 1800s, and were officially named a botanical garden in 1982. Since then, the gardens have been open to the public for guided tours, hiking trails and events. Adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts and young families flock here to enjoy the lush outdoors. Here's what you can expect to find when you pay the gardens a visit:
Photo credit: Shane Wilken
The Urban Wild
Most first-time visitors to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are surprised to find a booming natural ecosystem right on their doorsteps. You would never expect to find such a diverse array of plant, animal and insect species just 30-minutes from Joburg central. The Gardens are home to approximately 240 bird species, including a breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles. Bring your binoculars along with you to see how many bird species you can spot. The eagles nest is nestled within the cliffs of the famous Waterfall. This is absolutely the highlight of the gardens and is a popular spot for selfies and romantic picnics. The Gardens also feature a variety of mammal species such as honey badgers, aardvarks and Mountain Reedbuck. Although difficult to spot during the day, these animals occasionally pop out of their territories to welcome hikers to the gardens.
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens accommodates over 600 naturally occurring plant species. If you've always wanted to learn more about our indigenous plant life or how to grow a succulent garden, this is the place for you. The Gardens offer a wealth of knowledge and abundant beauty to enjoy. There is also a children's garden complete with jungle gyms and swings to keep the little ones entertained and engaged in nature. Our favourite by far is the bird and butterfly garden situated near the main entrance. But don't take our word for it, come and explore the gardens yourself. You might just find your new favourite outdoor hangout in the city.
Succulent Garden at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens.
Take a tour
Touring the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is certainly not a once-off event. That's why the gardens offer a variety of tours to help guide you through the many winding pathways, puddles and picture-worthy landscapes. Customise your walk through the gardens according to your interests - whether its clivias, cycads or creepy crawlies, there's sure to be a tour for you. Not sure where to begin? Take a virtual tour of the gardens before heading out to experience the real thing. Once you're sure of where and what you'd like to explore, book your tickets online via Webtickets. The gardens are open to the public every day from 08:00 to 17:00, so you really have no excuse not to visit. To keep up to date with special events at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, follow them on Facebook. Events take place at the gardens year round, so make sure not to miss out.
Van Gaalen Cheese Farm is situated in the picturesque Hartbeespoort area. Famous for its on-site cheese mill and tasting centre, Van Gaalen also offers adventure seekers thrilling outdoor experiences. Bring the whole family along to learn all about how traditional Dutch cheeses are made and to sample some of the yummiest goudas, cheddars and bries around. You can enjoy a meal at the Terrace restaurant which overlooks the magnificent surrounds, or pick up a few cheeses to take home with you from the farm shop. Van Gaalen Cheese Farm also offers biking, hiking and running trails. Here's a brief overview of what to expect when you visit:
If you've always dreamed of going on a cheese tasting spree, Van Gaalen Cheese Farm is the place to be. They offer guided tours to families, schools, chefs and corporate groups (basically anyone with an interest in cheese making). Come along on an epic journey to learn how cheese is made - from milk to final product. The tour lasts sixty minutes and includes a decadent cheese tasting event to finish off. Served with coffee or tea and a slice of fresh Dutch apple cake, this is foodie heaven. Once you've gotten a taste of all that Van Gaalen's has to offer, pop into the farm shop to pick up some delicious goodies. We highly recommend the basil infused cheddar - it pairs perfectly with a big bowl of bolognaise and a tall glass of wine. But be warned - once you've tasted authentically produced Dutch cheese, there's no going back.
The Terrace Restaurant at Van Gaalen offers picture-perfect views of the Magaliesberg mountain range and Skeerpoort River. Come and enjoy their fine selection of dishes - from wood-fired pizzas, to sushi and cheese platters (of course). The Terrace Restaurant is family-friendly and is ideal for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch. The restaurant also offers delightful picnic hampers that you can order in advance. Bring your special someone for a romantic picnic along the Skeerpoort River. Each basket includes a cheese platter, cold meat platter, noodle salad, pickles and olives, bread and biscuits, seasonal fruit and sweet Dutch biscuits. You can include up to five guests in your picnic, including children. There's never a perfect time to make happy family memories, so don't wait. Book yourself and your loved ones a day out in the sunshine and enjoy the comforts of good food, good company and the fresh countryside air.
The Hartbeespoort area is well known for being one of the top adventure destinations within driving distance of the city. Van Gaalen Cheese Farm knows how much you love to get that adrenaline pumping, which is why they offer biking, hiking and train running. The Van Gaalen Trails cross over 30 private farms, with over 80km of single-track throughout the Skeerpoort Valley. The trails are open from Wednesday to Sunday, so there's really no excuse not to come and explore. Put on your hiking boots, some sunscreen and a hat, because this is one adventure you don't want to skip out on. We'll see you there!
Please note: Due to the third wave of Covid-19 infections, local bars may be closed for the safety and protection of their guests and staff. Please contact your desired establishment for further information about trading hours and safety protocols and precautions in place.
The Living Room
If you're all about trendy, then pop on over to the popular Maboneng Precinct and enjoy the sunset and hipster buzz with a cocktail in hand at The Living Room. This nature-inspired rooftop bar is vibrant and perfect to enjoy sundowners with friends, take photographs and share some good laughs. Also serving tasty food, your experience here will be unforgettable.
The Copper Bar offers a trendy hangout, but it's also a great place if you want to catch some of the most beautiful sunsets and views from Main Street and grab a few cocktails. Just keep in mind that this spot is usually closed to the public except on select Thursdays, when they host their Copper Thursdays.
Flames at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg
If you're craving something a bit more suburban and modern, thenFlames at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburgmight just be the perfect venue for you. Imagine being served succulent tapas and delicious drinks while you enjoy a stunning sunset overlooking leafy Joburg. Sounds fabulous, doesn't it?
Loved by many Sandton residents, The San Deckis the perfect rooftop bar whether in summer or winter. Summer is best to enjoy the sun with some gorgeous cocktails under the umbrellas or on the couches. Winter is also great with the outdoor heaters and glorious fire pits to keep you warm after the sun goes down.
Need an after-work hangout spot or just looking to miss the traffic? Either way, the Island Bar at the Southern Sun Hyde Park pool deck is a lovely place to unwind, sip on icy drinks and catch some of the most unforgettable Highveld sunsets the city has to offer. Their cocktail menu is quite impressive, so there's no doubt there'll be something for every taste.
Details:www.tsogosun.com| 011 341 8080 | Southern Sun Hyde Park, Corner Jan Smuts and William Nicol Drive, Hyde Park, Sandton, Johannesburg.
Sir James van Der Merwe at Katy's Palace Bar
Sir James van der Merwe at Katy's Palace Bar in Kramerville is just the place to be on a Wednesday night. The venue is trendy, hip, eclectic and lively – and so are the cocktails. Then there's their perfect view of Sandton... just stunning! They tend to host lots of cool and exciting events, so make sure you keep an eye out on Facebookto see what they have coming up.
Know of other great rooftop bars not mentioned above? Let us know below!
Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.
Be A Tourist In Your Own City With City Sightseeing Red Bus Tours
We all think that we know the city of Joburg like the back of our hands. But how much do you really know about Jozi? Most of us known about the city's iconic landmarks and sightseeing destinations, but how often do you visit them? Come and see Johannesburg with fresh eyes on the City Sightseeing Red Bus Tour. This insightful tour isn't exclusively for tourists. Joburg natives stand to learn a heap about their home turf. Here's what you can expect from the best rooftop bus tour in the city:
The Green Suburbs
City Sightseeing offers two tours of Johannesburg - the Green Tour and the Red Tour. The Green Tour kicks off in Rosebank, the veritable hub of the city. From here you will explore the city's 'Green Suburbs', also known as Emmarentia and Greenside. You will explore the leafy streets from atop the iconic red bus before making a few stops at Zoo Lake, Johannesburg Zoo, and the Military Museum. The tour comes to its conclusion at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein. Here you will learn all about our country's past and the long journey towards our present democracy. From this point you can either return to Rosebank for a delicious meal at RocoMamas at the Zone, or continue on to the red city tour loop which takes you deep into the heart of the south of Johannesburg.
The red tour loop of the City Sightseeing package includes a trip to Gold Reef City Theme Park, one of Joburg's top attractions. You'll also get to explore the Apartheid Museum which is just opposite the theme park. This museum has a wealth of knowledge and historically significant artifacts to admire. It is also an incredibly reflective and thought-provoking place to spend your time. If you are the kind of person who loves to think deeply about history and the significance of events, this is the spot for you. Once you've done some inner reflection, hop back on the bus to head back to Constitution Hill. The bus takes a meander through Newtown - Joburg's unofficial jazz town. Make sure to look out for the Market Theatre and Museum Africa along the way. Now that you've thoroughly explored the city, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride back to Rosebank. Sounds like an idyllic day out to us.
Images provided by Strategic PR on behalf of Gold Reef City.
Get your tickets
The City Sightseeing Red Bus Tour is super affordable considering all that's included in a full day's travel pass. Tickets cost between *R199 – R334 for adults, and only *R149 for children aged 4 – 17. Please note that your City Sightseeing bus pass does not include the cost of entrance to the various attractions and venues that you will be visiting on the trip. To book your tickets, visit the City Sightseeing Johannesburg website. We hope to see you out there!
Awesome Bachelor and Bachelorette Party Ideas In Joburg
Sky Dining at Higher Ground
Whether you'd like to start off the celebrations with a champagne breakfast with a sky-high twist or would like to end off the party with stunning view of Joburg's night sky, Sky Dining at Higher Ground in Bryanston is just the thing. It's a dining experience that the bride/groom will never forget. And, if the bridal couple are looking to enjoy a joint party, then this is a great option! Visit the Sky Dining website and take a look at what's on the menu, the cost per person, as well as the dates that this experience is available to be booked.
Beefcakes is perfectly positioned in Joburg’s upmarket hot spot, Illovo, and is a fabulous bachelorette party outing if you need to experience some fun drag dining. All the waiters are buff men who begin the night in tank tops (hello, gun show) and end it shirtless. A little bit of harmless cheeky fun never hurt anyone! Be sure to check out their Facebook page to keep up to date with what's happening at each of their branches events-wise. There's plenty of entertainment and themes, ranging from drag shows to quiz nights… all in all, a fun night out is guaranteed. Oh, and don't forget to order one of their moreish burgers and refreshing cocktails!
Saddle Creek Ranch
How about going on an exciting outdoor adventure, doing some fun-filled and unique activities? If this sounds up your alley, then be sure to book something thrilling and adventurous at Saddle Creek Ranch in Hekpoort. Spend the afternoon either quad biking, horseback riding, laser clay pigeon shooting, and even trying out some archery! Not only will this bring out your adventurous side, but it'll also offer plenty of unique entertainment for everyone at the bachelor and bachelorette party. Do keep in kind that all activities need to be booked prior to your set date of the bachelor/bachelorette party.
Who says that you need to go out to have an epic bachelorette party? You can plan something extra special at home or at a rented venue of your choice and let Cheeky Chicks take care of all over the entertainment. Cheeky Chicks is brings brides-to-be and her bridesmaids ladies-only events that's sure to have you all talking and reminiscing over for years to come. There's something for every type of bride and/or get-together. You can opt for something cheeky with their Burlesque Boudoir Party or simply delight the taste buds with a Champagne & Chocolate Party.
For an unforgettable casino gaming themed bachelor party to celebrate the man of the hour, be sure to contact Vegas Nights! They tailor make each individual package to suit your budget and your needs. So, whether you're looking to plan something at home or at a hired venue, this will make for a unique and cool party idea. Games that they supply include Blackjack, Texas Hold’em Poker, Roulette, Craps, Wheel of Fortune and even a Money Blowing Machine! Contact them to discuss what they can do for you and also get a quote.
Image by Freepik via Freepik.com.
Play Some Paintball
Get the bride- or groom-to-be dressed up in their party outfits and take them to a paintball field where you'll all have a blast having some outdoor fun and competition. Luckily for us, there are plenty of paintball facilities in and around Johannesburg. All you have to do is click here to see a handful of them, pick the one you'd like to visit, make your booking, shop for the bride's/groom's colourful and/or funny outfit for the party and enjoy!
Jozi X Adventure Centre
What we love about Joburg is the fact that there's always something fun and exciting to do! And if you're looking for even more adventure, the Jozi X Adventure Centre is a must! There's a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from nerf wars, zorbing and obstacle courses to bubble soccer and much more. If this sounds like something you'd like to incorporate into your bachelor/bachelorette party plans, then visit their website to book your activities now.
A Bachelorette High Tea
For a bachelorette party idea that's perfect for all ages, why not book a decadent high tea? Not only will this be a great opportunity to get to now the bride's family and friends, but you'll also have a lovely time indulging in some sweet and savoury treats and sipping on some hot tea. To find a high tea spot in the city, click here to take a look at your list of High Teas in Joburg, each with their own special offerings and ambiance.
Entertainment in the Vaal Triangle
The Vaal Triangle was once the industrial hub of South Africa, however, in recent decades it has become an entertainment and hobby mecca. Joburgers flock to the Vaal over weekends and holidays to indulge in an array of fun activities. From peaceful fishing to intense river rafting, there is always something on the go in the Vaal. Let's take a closer look at what's on offer, shall we?
The Aquadome at Emerald Resort and Casino is an indoor water park and adventure centre. Bring the kids along to have a day of fun in the water. The Aquadome is climate controlled so you can splash about all year round. Plus, there are pools and slides to accommodate both young and old. Whether you're looking for a laidback lazy river experience or an adrenalin-filled slip and slide, the Aquadome has it all. Be sure to book a day out on your next trip to the Vaal Triangle to spend at the Aquadome. It might just be the highlight of your stay.
Nothing beats a day of competitive putt-putt with the kids. The 18-hole course at Emerald Resort and Casino is sure to challenge both you and the little ones. The animal kingdom-themed course takes you on a journey through Ancient Egypt, making the outing even more fun. The course is only open from Friday to Sunday, so be sure to bring the kiddies along over a weekend. It's family-friendly fun at its very best!
Emerald Resort and Casino is undoubtedly the home of family-friendly entertainment in the Vaal Triangle. Visit Pins Bowling Alley situated at the casino to have a good, old-fashioned game of ten-pin bowling with the kids. You can also let them have their fun while you play a game of pool and watch your favourite sports team go for the win at Pins Bar. Either way you're sure to have a grand tine at Pins Bowling Alley.
If you and your family have an interest in science, history or geography, this is the place to visit while you explore the Vaal Triangle. The Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site is the oldest impact crater found on Earth to date. It is also the largest meteorite impact site discovered by geologists! If you are the type of parent who likes to teach and learn as you explore with your family, this is a definite must-visit site on your travels through the Vaal Triangle. Who knows, you might just discover something groundbreaking.
Travel back to a simpler time by visiting Sylviavale Heritage Villagein Vanderbijlpark. This vintage village is home to a number of tenants, including Windmills Restaurant and the Rotary Club Bookshop. Bring the family to Sylviavale Heritage Village on a Friday night for the best pizza in town, live bands and a nifty craft market. This quaint village is without a doubt one of the best family-friendly venues to visit while you're in the Vaal Trianlge, so don't miss out.
Epic thrills await you at Emerald Casino.Come and play your hand at the casino's 22 prestigious Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, and Baccarat tables alongside more than 385 slots. Emerald Casino is where dreams are made, so don't miss your opportunity to win big. Celebrate your good fortune at High Stakes Restaurant afterwards, where you can dine on premium steaks and an exquisite wine menu. All in all, your night spent at Emerald Casino is set to be one for the books.
Cocktails on tap, signature burgers and great entertainment. That's what Gas Monkey Pub & Grillhas to offer. One of the anchor restaurants at Emerald Resort & Casino, this biker-bar style pub is the place to be on a Friday night out in the Vaal. Come and enjoy their famous Monkey Juice - an alcoholic slushie known for its potency and flavour. If it's a party you're looking for, it's one you'll get at Gas Monkey Pub & Grill, so come prepared to have a great time!
There are tons of fishing spots along the Vaal River. One of the best places to cast a line is Emerald Resort & Casino. Here you can test your patience and endurance as you also enjoy the serene outdoors. This is a wonderful spot to bring the whole family for a day out in nature. Set up a picnic along the banks of the river and let the little ones have a go at reeling in your catch of the day. The Vaal River boasts a diverse offering of fish species, including carp, yellow fish, muddies, grass carps and catfish. How many do you think you could catch?
If you're in the mood for a real physical challenge, get yourself harnessed up to climb the 8m high rock wall at Emerald Resort & Casino. There are four different routes you can attempt to scale the wall, ranging from beginner to advanced difficulty. Come and test your strength, agility and perseverance here. It's a great challenge for kids and adults, so get the whole family to give it a try. You might be surprised at who reaches the top of the wall first!
Calling all adrenalin junkies and thrill seekers. Tapimanzi Adventures in Three Rivers, Vereeniging is the place to be this weekend/holiday season. They offer a range of exhilarating outdoor activities to get your blood pumping. Their top attraction is white river rafting - a daring and challenging activity for even the bravest outdoorsman. Join Tapimanzi Adventures for team-building days, birthdays and family vacations. You won't regret it for a minute.
Golf is the past time of choice in the Vaal Triangle. With numerous award-winning courses situated in the area you'll be spoilt for choice. Take your pick from the area's top three golf courses - Maccauvlei Golf Course in Vereeniging, Vaal de Grace Golf Course in Parys and Emfuleni Golf Course in Vanderbijlpark. Or, give all three a try! You'll certainly leave the Vaal Triangle with a better handicap than you arrived with.
End off your tour of the Vaal Triangle by embarking on a leisurely boat cruise across the Vaal River. There are numerous boating companies that offer luxury trips across the river. On board you can enjoy fine dining dinners, cocktail parties and private events. The Vaal River Meander Wine Route takes place annually along the tranquil waters of the Vaal River. Book yourself a spot and come and learn all about wine tasting, pairings and palate cleansers.