Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge 

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is situated in Muldersdrift, near to the Cradle of Humankind. The lodge offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages, including trail runs, cycling, swimming, paddling, fly fishing and game drives. The wildlife here is diverse, spanning over a vast sub-Saharan landscape. You can go on guided wildlife walks or game drives of up to eight people. Make your trip to Cradle Moon worth the while and book an overnight stay at one of their bungalows.

*Under level 3 lockdown restrictions, Cradle Moon Lodge is open to day visitors. Click here to see their full policy on allowing visitors into the lodge during this period.

Details: Plot 59 Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift, Gauteng | (Tel) (011) 919 5000 / 087 110 1231 | [email protected]

Ezemvelo Nature Reserve 

Ezemvelo Nature Reserve is located near Bronkhorstspruit, approximately 90 minutes outside of Johannesburg. Set out in the early morning to take a guided game drive around their farm. There are many mammal species to be spotted along the drive. Keep an eye out for zebras, black and blue wildebeests, blesbucks and red hartebeests among others. You can also do a bit of bird spotting while relaxing at the tranquil Wilge River. The game drive takes approximately two hours, so plan your trip accordingly. If you would like to stay over for the night, book out one of the reserves chalets or mountain huts. They also offer camping options for those who prefer to get right up close with nature.

*Ezemvelo Nature Reserve is currently open to day visitors for self game drives. Keep an eye on their website for updates.

Details: Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, R25, Bronkhorstspruit | (Tel) +27 13 680 1399 / 087 405 3554 | [email protected]

game farms

Photo sourced from Ezemvelo Nature Reserve on Facebook.

Valley Lodge & Spa

If you could use a good pampering on your escape out of the city, book yourself into Valley Lodge and Spa. Located in the serene Magaliesberg, this four star lodge offers a ton of activities to keep you busy. Take a meander through the nature reserve and bird sanctuary to discover a variety of animals and birds. The reserve is home to a number of Burchell's zebra, impala, rock hyrax (Dassie), vervet Monkeys and Bush babies. Bring along your binoculars to avoid missing these critters among the tall grasses and trees.

*Follow Valley Lodge & Spa on Facebook for updates on their opening dates under level 3 lockdown.

Details: 13 Jennings Street, Magaliesburg | (Tel) +27 14 577 1301 / 05 | [email protected]

Rietvlei Nature Reserve 

Rietvlei Nature Reserve is located in Pretoria, but it's well worth the drive. The reserve is approximately 4000 hectares in size, offering you tons of space to explore the wild outdoors. Come and take a drive through the park to see how many animals you can spot. Rietvlei Nature Reserve is home to a number of mammals, birds and fish as it encloses Rietvlei Dam. Bring your fishing rods along to do a spot of angling if you wish. This is the perfect place to escape from the city for a day, but be sure to head out early as queuing to get into the reserve can get quite backed up.

*Under level 3 lockdown restrictions, Rietvlei Nature Reserve is open for self game drives between 07:00 - 17:00 daily. No visitors will be allowed into the park after 15:00. Follow Rietvlei Nature Reserve on Facebook for updates.

Details: (Tel) 012 358 1811/12 | [email protected] | 14 Game Reserve Ave, Rietvallei 377-Jr, Pretoria, Gauteng.

Photo sourced from Rietvlei Nature Reserve on Facebook.

Looking to spend more time in the outdoors, exploring nature? Check out our list of top nature reserves situated in and around Johannesburg. 


Zoo Lake

Zoo Lake offers an escape from the concrete jungle that surrounds it. The willow trees that line the banks of the lake act as a wall against the Park more traffic. What once was a favourite amongst the Joburg Randlords is now a melting pot of different creeds and cultures. Zoo Lake is a public park situated right across the road from the Johannesburg Zoo and hosts lazy boat rides, an African market and the iconic Moyo Restaurant. The park is famed for being dog-friendly and often pooches can be seen chasing sticks and catching balls. It is always busy and often varsity students from UJ and Wits frequent the park to take a break from their studies.


Emmarentia Dam

Set in the heartland of Joburg, Emmarentia Park has two major attractions for visitors. The Johannesburg Botanic Gardens, and Emmarentia Dam. The garden has seven distinct gardens - the Herb Garden, the Hedge Garden, the Succulent Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, the Rose Garden, the Chapel Garden and the Arboretum (a collection composed exclusively of trees). The dam offers rowing enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy their sport within the city. The dam attracts a variety of bird life, while on the wide spaces to the north west of the dam people walk their dogs, picnic, jog along the pathways, or simply chill out.


Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

The gardens are the perfect place to have a picnic, go on a hike or take a leisurely stroll through the vegetation. The area in the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden is known as the ‘Rocky Highveld Grassland’ and consists of a mosaic of grassland and savanna, with dense bush in kloofs and along streams. The variety of habitats accommodates over 600 naturally occurring plant species. The Botanical Gardens are also famed for their abundance of wildlife, including over 220 bird species. The beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the garden boasts a breeding pair of majestic Verreaux’s Eagles that many a visitor spend a great amount of time watching.


bird watching

Al Fresco Dining

Moyo Zoo Lake

Take advantage of the warm weather and the sun deck or outside dining section of Moyo Zoo Lake. Have you face painted, enjoy a couple of cocktails and indulge in the best ethnic food in the city. Moyo is best experienced with friends and family, so make sure you load the car chock-full of friendly faces before heading to the restaurant. Enjoy pap en vleis like it's meant to be enjoyd - in good company!


Tasha's Melrose Arch

Grab the gang and head to Tasha's at Melrose Arch for a laid back and relaxed dining experience in the shade. The heart of Tasha's can be split into two section: 1. their food is good. 2. Their service is amazing... and the third bit would be their take on the classic hamburger. At Tasha's Cafe you can grab two 125g homemade mini beef burger patties built up with red onion, tomato, and gem lettuce served with fries... and if you add an extra R5 (at the time of writing) you can change that burger into a... cheese burger! There's a reason why we've included them in the best burgers of Melrose Arch hall of fame.


Dog Parks

James & Ethel Gray Park

Pretty laid back and relaxed, James & Ethel Gray Park is a great place to take your new puppy as it's not as busy as those mentioned above. The park is patrolled by local security and managed and monitored by the Melrose Rates Payers' Association, owing to a clean and safe environment. Be sure to take your leash with as we're not too sure about leash laws here – we've seen doggies off their leashes but can't confirm whether this is the rule.



Golden Harvest

This park is a stone's throw away from NorthGate and boasts 55ha of walking space and a very special hiking path that goes around the dam. The venue is a local favourite and a popular Sunday braai spot. Be sure to check it out whenever you're in the area. Bring a ball along, and maybe your sausage dog as well.



A stone's throw away from the Cradle Of Human Kind lies a safe space for dogs to run free, kick it with the cool kids and make new friends. With 22 hectares of awesomeness, your dog will feel right at home at Walkhaven. There are two dams for the dogs to swim in, various hiking trails, braai and picnic facilities that have been spread out to avoid congestion, and loads of maintained space in which to walk, picnic, play and enjoy a day out. The best part is that dogs are not required to be on a leash – in fact, the facility prefers them to run around and play freely. Just be sure to clean up after your dog (poo bags are available in the bar and on the deck area). The park also has a little pub and grub area which serves cold beer and hot pizza, and the restrooms are serviced regularly and remarkably clean. Check the link below to find out about the entrance fee.


Public Pools

Zoo Lake Public Swimming Pool

From its Cape Dutch Architecture to its crisp, clean water the Zoo Lake Public Pool is a summer hot spot. Entrance won't break the bank but be sure to take some sun screen and floaties with. For a very, very long time this public spot has served the community to the fullest extend. Crisp clean water fill the main and kiddies pools. This is also where Desmond and the Tutus played a free show for the kids with their faces covered in ice cream and sunblock. If it were up to us we'd label this venue a heritage site.

Details: 57 Lower Park Dr, Parkview, Randburg, 2193

Linden Swimming Pool

With a half Olympic sized main pool indoors, a smaller pool outside, and a baby pool, the Linden Swimming Pool complex is a hidden gem in the heart of suburbia. Visitors are welcome to pack a picnic basket and soak up the sun and go for a splash or three. The entrance fee is kept low and pensioners get in for free. Season passes are also available at a once-off fee. All pools except for the baby pool are heated. The facility is handicap friendly as well, including everyone in the fun.


By Shawn Greyling