Walking: Walk Tours offer walking tours of Downtown Johannesburg, Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, Parktown/Westcliff, Nocturnal visit to Johannesburg Zoo. Tel: 011 444 1639. www.walktours.co.za
Walk with Elephants: The Elephant Sanctuary, located in the Magaliesberg Nature Reserve, is home to five African elephants and offers walking tours close to the elephants, hosted by experienced guides. You can observe the elephants at play from a tree-house deck. Tel: 012 258 0423. www.elephantsancturary.co.za
The Crocodile Ramble: The Crocodile Ramble in the Cradle of Humankind offers walks, horse trails, a bird sanctuary and a wonderful array of wares can be purchased from crafters, artists, nurseries and good restaurants. There are no crocodiles – the name refers to the name of the river! Tel: 011 957 3724 - Website: www.crocodileramble.co.za
Magalies Meander: Ramble Around the Hartebeespoort Dam about half an hour north of Fourways in the hills above the picturesque dam. Tel: 011 957 3745. 014 577 1733.www.magaliesburg.co.za orwww.theramble.co.za
Melville Koppies: This small nature reserve was once the site of a Stone Age African Village and iron-smelting works. The flora includes 80% of the species recorded in the Witwatersrand. Open only between September and April. Guided tours are available.Tel: 011 888 4831
Johannesburg Botanical Gardens: This garden, adjoining the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve and Emmarentia Dam is renowned for its 4 000 rose-plants, its bonsai, herb, medicinal and literary sections, and its exotic trees fountains and pools. The hedge display is quite special and floral exhibitions are held in the Sima Eliovson Florium. Open daily; guided tours on the first Tuesday of each month . Tel: 011 782 0517.
Emmarentia Dam: The dam and its surrounds are ideal for walking dogs, picnicking, cycling, boardsailing and canoeing. The lake gets crowded over weekends, but the park is so large that you can always find a tranquil spot somewhere. Open daily during the hours of daylight. Tel: 011 407 6111.
Walking: Walking Tours of the City, Malay Quarters, various forest and mountain trails are available as well as guided walks and talks at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. A good book to purchase is the Mike Lundy “Easy Walks of the Cape Peninsula” which can be purchased from bookshops as well as Cape Union Mart.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants. The estate covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest. The cultivated garden (36 hectares) displays collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country. For further information Tel: 021-799 8899 or visit the website: www:nbi.ac.za/frames/kirstfram.htm
Hiking is a popular pastime in South Africa and there are hiking trails throughout the country, some gentle, some rather more demanding. A number of specialist operators have put together packages enabling the visitor to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the country on foot. Hiking enables you to get really close to the flora and the fauna for which the country is famous. Walking safaris, in game parks or farms – accompanied by an armed game ranger! - are very popular. All nine provinces offer a wide choice of hiking possibilities. Maps, itineraries and excellent hiking literature are available from local tourist offices. Hiking Trails of Southern Africa is an outstanding publication.
Some of the longer and a little more arduous trails worth particular mention are the famous Otter and Dolphin Trails in the Tsitsikamma region of the Garden Route, the Whale Trail in the Southern Cape, and the awesome Fish River Canyon Trail (after the Grand Canyon, it is the next biggest in the world). All three are very popular and require advance booking. Tel: 012 426 5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org
South Africa has one of the widest diversities of bird life in the world, boasting more than 870 indigenous species. The Kruger National Park and Kalahari Gemsbok National Park have large varieties of raptors, such as vultures and eagles. Reserves such as Ndumu, Mkuzi, Lake Sibaya and St Lucia in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal are highly recommended for bird enthusiasts, as they are breeding grounds for migrating flocks of pelicans and flamingos. An impressive range of birds inhabit the fynbos reserves of the Western Cape. Inland regions such as Nylsvlei in the Limpopo Province and Barberspan Nature Reserve in the North West Province and Wakkerstroom in South Eastern Mpumalanga are three world class locations that attract birders from all over the world. Closer to Jo’burg, the Rondebult Bird Sanctuary near Boksburg is well worth a visit for birders.
Many game and nature reserves or holiday resorts have dams, rivers or a stretch of coastline where fishing is enjoyed. There are about 250 species of freshwater fish in southern Africa and some 1,500 sea-water species along its coastline. Some sort of fishing or bait collection license may be required – enquire from the local Tourist Offices. Most freshwater fishing is carried out with flies, and there is a thriving tourist industry based in Dullstroom in Mpumalanga dedicated to trout and fly fishing.
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where steam locomotives are still used, so not surprisingly they are very popular with enthusiasts. Steam trains unique to SA range from the luxury Pride of Africa of Rovos Rail, to narrow gauge railways like the Midmar Steam train near Pietermaritzburg and the famous Outeniqua Choo Choo, which runs between George and Knysna.
Closer to home there is a regular steam train day trip running from central Pretoria (Tswane) to the charming old diamond mining town of Cullinan (where the Star of Africa was found). For more information: www.rovosrail.com